Apartment photography is one of the rare marketing tactics that is truly universal in our industry.
If you manage a dozen units around town, all duplexes, you won't have Google My Business listings for your properties. You probably aren't making enough money, yet, to think much about Google or Facebook ads either.
In fact, you may not even need a website for a portfolio that small, which means you also probably won't be using video. But even a company this small will have a use for photography so that they can advertise on sites like Craigslist.
Of course, the need for photography doesn't go away if you get bigger—it grows, in fact. Once you have large communities, you'll need photography for Craigslist but you'll also need it for a website, for the Google My Business listing, and maybe even for some remarketing ads through Google's Display Network. (You'll also need good apartment walkthrough videos, at that point.)
You're never too small to need good apartment photography, and you will never outgrow the need for good apartment photography.
In this post, we want to talk through three basic things to consider as you are shooting and editing photos of your properties.
Apartment Photography Composition
In photography, "composition" refers to how you arrange the elements of the photo within the frame. In other words, it is about what you fit into the frame of the photo and how you position yourself relative to it when taking the photo.
Composition is a huge concern with apartment photography for a few reasons:
- It is important that you capture as much of the unit as you can in your photography so that prospective residents know what to expect.
- If an image is poorly composed, it can dramatically change how a room is perceived in a photograph.
- Well-composed images can give the room a larger, more welcoming feel.
To illustrate how this works in practice, let's look at a few before and after examples. These are all examples from our own work. The "before" images are ones taken by a community's leasing staff; the "after" images are taken by RentVision media professionals:
In this image, the main problem with the "before" photo is that the photographer was simply trying to do too much. He or she tried to shoot both the kitchen and living room space at the same time. The result is that the image feels cramped (note all the things that get cut off at the edge of the photo) and you actually miss a lot of detail from the living room—the door going outside plus the doorway into another room.
This photo, meanwhile, has a different sort of composition problem. This photo is not fitting enough into the frame.
It seems like the photographer was thinking "I need a picture of this stove" instead of "I need a picture of the kitchen." So he or she took a photo with the stove in the center of the frame, which means that a lot of the kitchen is left out entirely. The sink is cut off along the edge of the frame and the dishwasher is not even present in the image at all. There is also far less visible counter space in the first photo. This framing also makes the kitchen seem smaller.
So simply by composing the image poorly, the photographer has both left out key features in the kitchen and made the kitchen feel smaller and claustrophobic. This is why composition is so important in apartment photography. It can dramatically alter the way a prospective resident sees your community and their particular apartment.
Apartment Photography Lighting
Good composition is foundational for apartment photography. But composition alone will not help you if the lighting in your photos is bad. Here's a good example:
In this case, the chief problem is almost certainly that the photographer was shooting the room with the light turned off. It's possible they wanted to rely on natural light and thought it would create a softer, more inviting feel to the room. Or maybe they were just in a hurry and didn't turn the light on. Either way, the photo is badly lit. The composition isn't great either, of course: You barely see the room at all. But even if they framed the photo more like the one on the right, it would still suffer from poor lighting.
Here is another example:
Once again, there's a composition problem here, but note the lighting issues as well. In the right lighting, you can see that the room is bright and attractive with some very nice hardwood floors. In the dimmer lighting, however, the room looks old, dingy, and the floors don't shine out as they do in the properly lit photo.
Lighting can make your community look bright, friendly, and new or it can make it look dreary and dumpy. You need to get it right—it may even be worth investing in some professional lighting equipment depending on your situation.
Apartment Photography Conditions
Finally, we need to talk briefly about the conditions when you shoot your photos. For exterior photos, you'll want to shoot on a sunny day if at all possible. Shooting in the summer is also preferable to shooting during winter because you'll have green grass and trees in bloom.
Depending on the room you're shooting inside, you may also need to consider outdoor lighting when shooting interiors—if a room has a lot of windows, the light conditions outside could impact the quality of the light inside. Though not as important as composition and lighting, outdoor conditions can influence your photography as well.