Marketing Technology

How to get the best property photos every time

At Campaigntrack we take our craft very seriously and real estate photography is an important part of what we do. Constantly striving to be at the top of our game, we enlisted the help of world-renowned real estate photographer Scott Hargis.

San Francisco-based Scott Hargis travels the globe capturing the world’s most interesting architectural feats, as well as imparting his breadth of photography knowledge through specialised workshops.

Scott joined Campaigntrack’s photography team to share his award-winning professional perspective, to discuss international trends and to observe Campaigntrack’s unique real estate approach.

What we learned from architectural and real estate photographer Scott Hargis.

Clock Tower Lofts

Real estate photography with an architectural eye. By Scott Hargis.

Immersed in the feeling. By Scott Hargis.

Immersed in the feeling. By Scott Hargis.

1. Australia is on par with international trends

According to Scott, new technology is dominating real estate photography around the world, as it is here. Drone photography and 3D modelling virtual tours are becoming standard practice. “Now that interior 3D models are produced, you can digitally drop in and fly around a house,” Scott says. “With actual measurements buyers can work out if their table will fit in the dining room while they’re there.”

On the aesthetic front, it is all about the ‘magazine style’. “It’s more about creating a lifestyle feeling in images and less about wide shots that look like a catalogue.”

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Using lifestyle images in property marketing is a growing trend. By Scott Hargis.

2. Feeling is key

“I care less about what a room looks like and more about what a room feels like and clients respond really well to that – they say, ‘I recognise how the house feels,” Scott explains. “Everywhere real estate agents want you to go wider and wider but that is not what attracts clients.”

Scott admits discovering the emotion within a home is still something he struggles with. “Because I am into technique in a big way, it’s difficult to push that to one side and just really experience what it feels like to be in the space. This is what you need to do to create feeling.”

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Scott prioritises finding the best angle and composition – this creates feeling in the image.

3. Check your technical bases are covered

A technical excellence checklist.

  • In focus
  • Colour balanced (colours are correct)
  • Lighting (aperture and shutter speed)
  • Architectural rules (vertical lines are correct)
  • Appealing composition

In light of Campaigntrack’s high technical standards, Scott took a different approach with the photography team. “Usually when I teach real estate photography, it’s all about lighting technique, so this was a terrific chance for me to focus entirely on composition and the ‘feel’ of a photo — two things that are at least as important but which often get short shrift.”

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High technical standards are at the heart of premium real estate photography.

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Once the technical boxes are ticked it’s time to incorporate an artistic element. By Scott Hargis.

4. What Leonardo da Vinci taught us

The objective of any advertising is to hold the viewer’s attention for an extra few seconds, long enough to get your message across.

“We think about the photo as if we were painting a picture. We use the rule of thirds, leading lines, and sophisticated light to direct the eye and create a captivating picture,” Scott says.

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Not every home is palatial but you can always capture a beautiful composition. By Scott Hargis.

5. Voice your opinion

When shooting a home, Scott puts together a shot list and runs it past the real estate agent. This way he finds out who the agent is targeting, makes sure he hasn’t missed a special part of the home and finds out how the images will be used.

“If the images are going in a printed brochure or strictly online… all of this impacts how the images should be shot and which image should be used where,” Scott says. “I advise which photos are best for which medium, and which shot is the hero shot, as this is not always obvious to the agent.

“For example, thumbnail pictures need a strong graphical element to stand out, while very busy, intricate photos look amazing printed large.”

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Different compositions suit different mediums – thumbnail or large format?

6. Real estate is a lot like internet dating

Yep, internet dating. “People swipe, playing hot or not, so you have to edit the pictures and use the money shot that will catch someone’s eye.”

7. Think of it as commercial art

Whether it be a stunning luxury home, modest family dwelling or ‘renovator’s dream’, there is always an angle you can capture.

“When I arrive I don’t even pick up the camera, I take a slow walk around and just look. This applies to outside, I might even walk down the street to find the right angle,” Scott says. “It’s a crucial step some photographers don’t do. They start straight away and overshoot – maybe three angles per room and they miss the good angles.

“More looking and less clicking I always say, it pays off massively and you save time.”

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Sometimes a little distance gives the perspective you need.

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It’s about telling the home’s story. By Scott Hargis.

8. What Campaigntrack does differently

When Campaigntrack shoots a property, the team focuses on delivering five to eight high-quality shots.

“That’s really unusual and really, really smart. In other parts of the world, including America, for a three or four bedroom house we would shoot about 20 shots which is overkill. People don’t need to see every single aspect of the home,” Scott says. “By focusing on just five to eight shots, you can put all your time and energy into making those shots really good and let people discover the rest of the home on their own.

“Those five shots carry ten times the weight of 20 mediocre shots.”

The man himself – Scott Hargis.

The man himself – Scott Hargis.

9. Going above and beyond gets results

Working with the Campaigntrack team, Scott was taken aback by the lengths our photographers go to get the perfect shot.

“They were doing things I have not known anybody else to do – moving tables and sofas, straightening chairs, cushions and flowers – I couldn’t keep up with them on that,” Scott says.

“I would look at a shot and say, ‘I think that’s as good as we can get it’, and they would say, ‘no, no, let’s grab the sofa from the other room and get the chairs from down the hall’, things that never occurred to me!”

Talk to our content team today to find out how we can help you capture your property’s true potential.

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Stefan Williams

CEO of Campaigntrack, Stefan's goal is to connect real estate agencies with the industry's best marketing strategies and suppliers.