The saying, “Seeing is Believing”. I like it. It is true for me. But when I sell somebody’s home… I do not want the buyer to see the home. I need the buyer to feel the home. I go through great lengths to stage a home’s lighting with the seller before going on the market so that when the buyer walks in the door… they can feel the home… emotionally. That is what I want… emotional attachment from the moment they enter the home. Softer lighting is better. Take those energy efficient curly bulb things out and put back the warm glow of incandescent energy suckers!! Create that warm French Bistro atmosphere. Hmmm… If only our homes were still lit by gas lamps!! That would be perfect!!
But how can we get the buyer to feel the home when they are looking online?
Bokeh – The blur or aesthetic quality of the blur in out-of-focus areas of an image. Photographers use this technique all the time to illicit something more of their photos and their subjects. To illicit… feeling. Bokeh can turn a normal completely focused portrait into one that the viewer just cannot take their eyes off. I started experimenting with Bokeh about a year or so ago. Not in terms of real estate photography but just to understand the mechanics.
I came across a great blog that got me started on my way to creating what I needed to be the perfect Bokeh for my home listings. The name of the blog is The Photographer’s Dream House by Jackie Boldt. The specific post on Bokeh discussed the four main aspects of achieving desired blur and I was off and running from there.
If you follow my listings or my blog you know I love photographing and featuring details within homes… especially!!!… door knobs! I discovered that I can feature the knobs and create the feeling in the photograph as well by using bokeh to blur the background of a master bedroom with a table lamp or blurring the soft light of a kitchen glass door. I didn’t want to just take a photo of the architectural detail or feature I wnted it to be special. When the buyer looks at one of my listings online I want the photos to make them say, “Honey!! Get the car! We need to go see this house!!!”… not just “Oh… that is a nice home.”
Below… the soft blurred light of the kitchen door in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robert Parker House at 1019 Chicago Ave helps the buyer feel the rich materials and bright light as well as view the detail in the original hardware.
And now Your House Behind The Lens makes its spring debut!! Waaaaaaa!!! Yes, I have been gone from this blog for a little more than two months. A major “No… No!” in the blogging world… silence. But the spring market, real estate CE requirements/testing, tax season and a brief but awesome spring break to Sanibel left me no choice but to put the blog in sleep mode for a little while.
But get ready for and get used to… bokeh! BOKEH the definition. According to the Wikipedia entry, is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image. And really… it is how the out of focus areas of light and color appear. Mostly, we are looking for that out of focus or blur that is pleasing to the eye.
Here we have a photo I took more than a year ago. Our 2013 spring break to Sanibel. The annual Easter Egg hunt at the golf club, The Sanctuary. The eggs for the hunt were spread all over and the shot was taken long before the kids were let loose. See how the blades of grass on the putting green come in and then out of focus. Hover over the image right now and click to enlarge. This really shows the depth of field or short depth of field to achieve the pleasing bokeh. Cool, huh?
But how does this help me in Real Estate and marketing my clients homes?… Take a look below and think… romance and emotions. And stay tuned for more posts on… bokeh.
So I have decided to start a new trend here on my photoblog… “Just A Photo Friday”. Friday’s (maybe not every Friday) I will post a photo… maybe a title to the photo and that is it! No descriptions… no stories… no EXIF data! For you email subscribers you will need to click through to the actual blog site to see the photo. Hope you enjoy! Steve
You want to sell your home. You or your agent comes in… takes some pictures… makes note of the home’s features… and then throws it on the multiple listing service. Heck! those photos may even be by a professional photographer showing your beautiful rooms and lush green and flowering exterior. But is that enough to separate you from all the other homes that got tossed on the multiple listing service that day? You’ve visited sites like Trulia or Realtor.com… You know how fast you rip through those house photos. What is going to separate you from every other Victorian or Bungalow or Colonial on the market and on those sites?! You (really it is your agent’s job) need to find something in your home that stands out.
It is my belief that every single home has something special to photographically showcase. Take a look at the very top door knob photo. (Those of you who subscribe to this blog by email need to click the actual link to view the whole blog. Sorry, WordPress has no fix for this yet.) The one with all the very intricate details. This was the inside original knob for the homes main front door. It was tiny! Maybe an inch and a half diameter at most. But when I put this house on the market the clicks I tracked to that photo were unbelievable. Higher than any other.
Original glass door knob in the colonial at 1140 Edmer, Oak Park.
Everything starts with the multiple listing service. After some unspecified number of hours that data and all the photos that go with your home will get catapulted out to other websites like Zillow, Trulia, ChicagoTribune.com, Homes.com and more!!… (If your agent pays for that extra special marketing.) I preach over and over… “Everything needs to be perfect and completely ready for the moment the listing enters the multiple listing service. The MLS is the catalyst that starts the show… creates the hype… creates ‘the legend’… and ultimately brings the buyer or maybe… buyers.
I like to use door knobs and simple hardware when I list a property. Knobs are easy to shoot as they are at an easy tripod level. And I am not sure why but even in the most simple plain homes I have found beautiful intricate door knobs. I think that if a home has been altered over the years the door hardware is something that hardly ever gets replaced. Look at the above wooden door knob found only on the 2nd floor of an Oak Park grand Victorian. Builders often spent the money on precious metals like bronze and brass for the 1st floor where the guests would enter. Look at the door knob plate behind the wood knob. This is some form of “pot metal” which was just a mixture of whatever metals the metal-smith or caster had available.
It isn’t just door knobs that can be showcased. Get up close and personal with other details in the house. Above is a tile surround on a Victorian fireplace. This particular tile was most likely made by the American Encaustic Tiling Co. out of Zanesville, Ohio. (c.1891) (see TileHeritage.org) I rarely see these but when I do they are front and center in the home’s marketing. The photo shot needs to be up close and dramatic. Remember, try to be different and catch the eye of the buyer on the internet. “Click” optimization!!
This art-glass window in a South Oak Park home on Kenilworth showed great. Art-glass windows can be difficult to shoot for even the most experienced enthusiast photographers. The bright outdoor sunlight behind the glass and a dark interior will require some post processing.
Some homes are so full of details to shoot you don’t even know where to begin. This was the case for one of my favorite sales… 239 S. Grove, Oak Park. This Farmhouse Victorian was certainly not original on the outside with it’s years of stucco over the original clapboard but the inside had so much amazing woodwork and added detail. Even little stuff like this bronze sun face on the stair’s newel post.
Remember, there is more to showcasing a home in this digital age than just a bunch of room photos. Get creative! There are details in your home you take for granted everyday. Details that some buyer is going to absolutely love. Stop. Look. Try to view these details as a more macro photograph on a website that is showcasing your home. Now experiment with the photography and post processing. Go get the attention of those buyers!
We take how many photos a year with our digital cameras? Hundreds? Thousands? Do you like them all? No! Every shot does not turn out perfect. So what do you do? Delete the photo? The next time you think you have an only “OK” shot… go to the cropping feature of your photo editing software and do some experimenting before you delete the photo!! Ok… so now this is where you say, “Aaaaa… Steve? What photo editing software?” Well, get out your camera’s original box and look for a CD that came with it. Many times the manufacturer has included software that gets loaded on your computer and contains some basic editing features. And let me tell you… cropping is basic.
So the other day I was shooting a condo to get it ready to go on the market. I step outside to take a photo of the back porch and it is a sunny day and the deck area is set with chairs and it is a beautiful shot!!! Well, I get to my office and look closer at the photo and see that the shot captured a section of the neighbor’s window that has a sign in it “BEWARE OF DOG!!!” Uhg… and I do one of those head drops at my desk in frustration. So I call my seller and I say, “Hey… we got a problem. How bad is that dog that lives in that condo next to yours? Cujo-like?” And the seller replies heck no! Great dog. And when I ask about the sign the seller says that has been there for years and he is sure the owner has it there as their format of a security system! So the sign gets removed. Well, rather than go back to the house and try and create the great shot all over again minus the sign… I cropped it out. In other words I changed or decreased the framing of the photo to leave out the sign. Problem solved. Picture still looks great! See?!?!
Now! Take a look at the peacock featured image at the top of the post. Like it? If so then tell all your peeps on your social outlets. I need to get the word out about this blog so help me out please. Anyway, can you believe that photo came from the original pic that I have given you below? It did. So here is the key to really closely cropping an image almost making it a “macro” photo… image size. The higher the megapixel your digital camera can take a photo the more flexibility you will have to play and crop the picture… to perfect. Because what are you doing when you crop? In essence you are taking scissors and cutting out a good amount of the photo. If the image is large enough then “so what!”… you have more to work with.