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In Product Photography for E-Commerce, designer Dane Howard shows how to take professional-looking photographs that showcase products and build buyers' trust. Using a practical approach, Dane covers objects from collectible coins to real estate, and the lessons can be applied to just about anything that can be sold online. When it comes time to capture images in the studio, Dane discusses how to select a camera and other equipment on any budget. He shares his favorite tips and tricks for getting the most out of camera angles, backgrounds, and scene lighting. He reviews image editing basics, such as cropping and retouching photographs, and explains how to take a presentation beyond a 360-degree view with the integration of rich media.
Dane Howard: I wanted to talk a little bit about real estate photography. Now how does this relate to ecommerce photography? What's one of the largest two good items out there on the Web? Whether you're selling a house, renting your apartment, the most important part of showcasing it well will translate to literally thousands and thousands of dollars, if you photograph it well. I am no expert in this regard at all, but I know someone that is. I have a trusted agent friend that has helped sell houses, and helped me buy mine. Her name is Mary Pope-Handy and I've asked her to help me with a few of these items.
Now, the first is all about curb appeal. Curb appeal with any type of the house is one of the most important shots. Here are a few words from Mary as she has helped us with some of these ideas. Mary Pope-Handy: When photographing the front of the house, there are a whole bunch of things to remember. This is probably the single most important thing when you sell a home, because if people don't feel that it's attractive from the outside, they may never come inside. And that's probably true on the MLS too. I see the stats all the time, and the number one picture that people look at is the exterior front of the home.
So, what you want to do is create something appealing and inviting, not too distracting and you want them to really see the home as something that they could see themselves in. So, you want to depersonalize it just like you were the house. You don't want to have giant pictures of yourself in the home when you are taking pictures of it. You want to have no car in the driveway. If the driveway is super-shiny and reflective because it's the middle of the day, you might even consider wetting down the driveway, so that it's more muted and doesn't draw as much attention.
When you're photographing the home, it looks best if you can see the front door and the windows pretty much unobstructed. So, if there are large hedges, and I have seen homes like this in my own neighborhood, where hedges are growing halfway up the window. You want to trim them back. You'd like to have a little bit of color going up to the front walkway. So maybe some potted flowers if there is not a planter. Something pleasant near the garage. If the house has a big, giant white door to the garage and the rest of the house is a darker color, the eye is going to be drawn to that whiteness of the garage door.
And that's not really going to be very helpful, because we don't want people looking at the house and seeing so much the garage and the driveway, we want their eye drawn to the front door, the windows, the front porch, the front landscaping. So if that garage door is a white or a bright color that contrasts sharply with the house, I'd say mute it out. That's money well spent. Then I would try to get pictures of the home away from the driveway and garage if that's possible, just so that that's kind of minimized in the picture.
One of the cardinal sins I see as homes where it looks like what you are selling is a garage. Dane Howard: Well, it was very important that Mary just explained to us was the idea of the first read, the curb appeal. From this particular shot, you can see a number of things are kind of countered to what she was actually inviting us to do. Some of the things that I observed in just walking around with her were some of the things about depersonalizing it, about big white spaces. All these things are really helpful. Again, think about pulling back from the house itself.
Here, this actually has a fence, which is very important to the attributes of the house. So, you want to juxtapose this particular shot here with this one here. How is it set off of the street? Is it more secure, less secure? Am I going to have to open up this gate and close it all the time? Now again she said, don't have the cars in there. Some of these things are very critical and important. I will invite you to look at this image itself, the time of year or the time of light might be really important to allow someone to imagine themselves. So as you think about curb appeal, let's listen to Mary and let's see what else she might have to say.
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