How to capture high quality property photos with your iPhone
Jana Haecherl |March 20, 2017 |9 min read
When you’re creating a website for your storage business, it’s vital to have high quality images of your property. You might think you have to buy an expensive camera and special equipment to capture web-worthy photos of your business, but the truth is, all you need is a smartphone and a few professional tips to get the shot.
What You Need:
- an iPhone
- a free photo editing app (we'll discuss this more later in the article)
- a golf cart or vehicle
- a tennis shoe
- optional: a friend with a drone
Get to know your camera.
To get the best shot, you’ll need to know your camera’s capabilities. Check out the table below to learn find your iPhone’s camera features and compare it to other models.
Learn iPhone camera tricks.
Before you start strolling around the facility and snapping photos, check out these tips to take iPhone photos like a professional real estate photographer.
Lighting is everything - Lighting is crucial to get the right shot of your facility. The ideal weather is partly sunny - try to avoid full sun or full clouds. If you can, try to take your facility pictures in the morning around an hour after sunrise or in the evening around an hour before sunset - that is when the light is best. Avoid taking pictures during midday when the lighting is worst. If your property has exceptional artificial lighting at night, you might want to consider taking a few night shots to show off your lighting features.
Turn on gridlines - Have you heard of the rule of thirds? This basic photography rule says that your image should be divided into nine equal parts, where the main focus of the image is placed along the intersections of a vertical and horizontal line. You can turn on gridlines on your iPhone in camera settings to help you compose your shots.
Use burst mode - If you’re trying to capture a tricky shot, like a shot of your office where your flag is waving in the wind at just the right moment, try using burst mode. Burst mode is the best way to capture several versions of the same shot, very quickly. To take burst photos, simply hold down the capture button and release when you think you’ve gotten the shot.
Tap to focus - If you’re trying to focus on something in your facility photo, like your business’s sign with your phone number on it, tap on the screen to autofocus on that area. A yellow square will appear wherever you tap, showing you the area of focus. You can also adjust the brightness in the square.
Avoid zoom - If you can, try walking closer to your photo subject instead of zooming in on it. Zoom reduces the quality of the image you’re taking, and the quality difference will show up when the image is blown up on a large screen.
Use HDR - Using HDR, your iPhone takes three photos - each of them with different exposure and focus areas to show various highlights and shadows in the image. Then, HDR combines all three of these images to produce a single photo that captures just the right exposure. HDR is a fantastic feature in your iPhone camera for capturing a landscape photo of your facility.
Use timer mode - If you’re trying to capture a shot of yourself standing in front of your storage business, and you don’t have an extra set of hands to help you take the photo, try using timer mode. Timer mode starts a self timer that counts down before taking the image, giving you three seconds or ten seconds (you pick) to get in place before the photo is taken.
Use everyday objects to create your own tripod - If you’re trying to capture a shot of you standing in front of your storage business, and you’re using timer mode, you’ll probably need something to prop up your phone while it’s taking the photo. You don’t need to buy an expensive tripod to do this - you can use everyday items!
Tennis shoe - Tennis shoes are nearly the perfect size to prop up an iPhone. If you have a tennis shoe nearby (or one on your feet), use it as a holder for your phone for hands-free shots.
Golf cart - Sometimes you want to get a higher angle shot than eye-level. The top of your golf cart is perfect for this. If you’re already using the tennis shoe, you can easily place it on top of your golf cart’s roof to get a higher angle shot of your facility.
Vehicle - If you don’t have a golf cart, a large vehicle (like a pickup, SUV, or minivan) will work just as well for getting a photo of your facility from a higher angle. If you’re able, climb up on top of your vehicle’s roof to get an even better view.
Make a shot list.
Figure out every shot you need of your facility and write it down so you know exactly what you’ll need to take photos of. Also, consider lighting and direction when writing down your shot list. If your building faces to the east, consider taking photographs in the morning. If your building faces to the west, consider taking photographs in the late afternoon. For your self storage facility website, all you’ll need are a few high quality shots that show off your business’s best attributes and storage amenities.
View of your facility from the road - You want to make it easy for your customers to find your business, so take a shot from where most of your customers enter. If your facility is by a busy road, pick a time of day that offers excellent lighting and low traffic (like right after sunrise). Make sure the curb appeal of your facility is shining bright for the photo - put a fresh coat of paint on your fence or sign, brighten up your landscaping, and perform parking lot maintenance (like power washing entryways, fixing potholes, and cleaning up oil stains) to ensure your facility looks spotless in the shot.
Shot of your office or main building - Once your customers are inside your facility, show them where to go to rent a unit or pay their bill by snapping a photo of your office building and its interior. Be sure to straighten up the office and remove clutter from the photo for the best possible shot.
Shot of your best amenities - If your key selling point is security, show that off in your facility photos. Make sure your fence and gate are on full-display, with cameras in view. If night lighting is one of your top amenities, consider taking a shot at dusk to show how bright your facility is lit up for night owls. If you offer interior storage, get a shot of your building’s interior amenities, such as wide hallways, locking entry doors, and large elevators.
Overhead view of your facility - If you have a friend with a drone (almost everyone does), this is the perfect time to ask them for a small favor or buy them dinner in exchange for a drone-view shot of your facility. These shots are excellent for showing off RV, boat, and vehicle parking facilities, or large outdoor facilities. Again, make sure to time it right so that the lighting and time of day help your shot - especially since this one is a little harder to recreate.
Use photo editing apps.
Here’s a secret you may or may not know: most people use photo editing apps for their iPhone photos before sharing them on social media or using them for a professional website. You don’t have to know how to use complex software like Adobe Photoshop to edit your photos. Check out these easy-to-use, downloadable apps for your iPhone.
Camera+: If you’ve never used a photo editing app and want to download an all-in-one editor that’s extremely easy to use, this one is for you. Edit exposure and focus, shoot photos in the app, take photos with front flash (even if you have the old iPhone), and improve clarity to bring your photos to life.
VSCO: This is one of the top photo editing apps out there, and it’s fantastic for giving your photos that DSLR-quality look by adjusting lighting, clarity, temperature, contrast, and more. The app is free to download but offers in-app purchases for extra editing tools and filters. I’ve been using the free one for years without upgrading - it’s the secret behind all of my Instagrams!
Snapseed: Snapseed is a free photo editing app developed by Google. The app offers precise photo editing to transform your iPhone photos into professional looking images. Snapseed’s tools help you enhance HDR images, balance lighting, add focus, soften the background of photos, and more. If you’re a fan of Google apps, check this one out for easy photo editing.
Prisma: This free photo editing app allows you to add an artistic effect to your iPhone photos. Add filters, layer photo effects, share from the app, and geotag your images to retain the location information from the original photo. The app also works on iPad, so check it out to edit images right from your office iPad.
Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, you may also like: How to Clean Up Your Website’s Content, The Importance of Adding High-Quality Images to Your Website, and The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Your Web Marketing Services.