In my book, “The Definitive Guide to Apartment Marketing,” I stress the importance of good photography. I feel it’s one of the best investments you can make for your communities.
But how do you make sure you get the right shots?
In this article, I’ll give you the outline we use at Resident360 for anytime we send a photographer out to shoot an apartment community. This should give you a general idea of what you need to pay attention to.
Let’s jump into it…
The first step is you want to hire a photographer that specializes in real estate or multifamily. Make sure and ask the question, “Who owns the exclusive rights to the photos.” You want to make sure you own them, so you’re not charged extra when using them in different media.
The second step is the planning that’s involved on your part. This is the area that can really make or break your photoshoot. So, to help make sure yours runs smoothly, I am covering:
Your photographer needs a list of everything you want to capture. Here’s what we recommend:
Tip #1 – Have a community point of contact to meet the photographer to escort around the community and provide access to get the necessary photos. Be in constant communication with your photographer before, during, and after the photoshoot. Don’t let any questions you have go unanswered.
Tip #2 – Make sure the grounds have been picked up, and that the landscaping/lawn care has been done prior to the shoot. Inspect the entire property before the shoot.
Tip #3 – Prepare models and available units by making sure models are styled the way you want (wearing the right colors, hair, and makeup), and units are clean and staged appropriately.
Tip #4 – Set up a Dropbox or Google Drive to store any documents with instructions and images, so you and your photographer can share easily.
While copy is important, we’ve become a nation of skimmers. A few stats:
This is why images should be used to communicate your main messages. Make sure your apartment photography communicates everything you want your prospect to know, without having to read the accompanying text.
For example, you have state-of-the-art Bosch appliances in your kitchens? Make that absolutely clear in your photos – maybe even zoom in on the brand label if that’s a unique selling point. You have spacious balconies or outdoor patios? Show a perfectly staged patio as a visual representation for how your resident can utilize this vast space.
You are doing more than just showing your apartments, you’re communicating all your important messages through imagery.
Residents want to see themselves actually living in your apartment community. Sure, you can go dig up some stock photos of perfectly put-together people. But prospects will view these images as inauthentic, and there’s always a chance of running into that same image on another site. Yikes!
Or, you can show real people in action at your apartment community – for example, someone jumping in the pool or cooking in the kitchen. Action shots are a great way to tell a story with your imagery. Consider recruiting a few of your residents for the photo shoot.
Add some pops of color around your community for more intriguing photos. Make sure the photographer captures the boldness and vibrancy of any colors – for example colorful pillows in the lounge or artwork around the property.
Figure out what kind of apartment brand you are – modern, luxury, fun, hip, urban. Yes, your apartment does have its own style, or personality. Make sure this is reflected in your images.
For example, if you are all about having fun and being social, your images may be brighter and more colorful. If you’re more modern or luxe, you might have more muted lighting and darker tones. Check out some of the apartment imagery on X Miami. The photos do a great job at selling the social vibe of the community.
Gloomy or rainy weather ruining your photoshoot? Think again. Overcast weather actually offers the best natural light for photographs. The sun can cause harsh lighting and create shadows that you want to avoid.
Plus, consider this: Where do people want to be when the weather is less than ideal? Home. If shooting indoors, this presents the perfect opportunity to light a fire in the fireplace and create a warm and cozy environment.
When shooting outdoors, dusk, nighttime, and dawn are also great times to shoot to avoid that harsh sunlight and capture the soft glow of lamp lighting for a beautiful effect.
Tip for pool shots: have the deck area hosed down around the pool with water to give it a nice sheen, especially for sunset dusk shots. Ensure the lounge or pool furniture is straight and well organized.
Try shooting from different vantage points. For example, you might want to stand across the street or over on the street corner to shoot the exterior.
Or, get some aerial shots with a drone, or from a neighboring rooftop, your community rooftop, or a top-floor balcony looking down. Different angles and perspectives make for more compelling photos and give the prospect a look at what’s around your community.
Photos always look better framed. Have your photographer create the sense of a framed photo using doorways and window as a natural, built-in frame.
When shooting apartment communities, avoid catching the photographer, crew, or random spectators in the reflection of windows or mirrors.
But you can also use reflections in your favor.
For example, maybe you can capture a beautiful sunset or view in the reflection of a window – whether it’s the beach, a lively city, or serene suburbs. The reflection can actually give the future resident a glimpse of the location of your community.
It’s a good idea to take photos of the surrounding neighborhood anyway, and this is just another cool, artistic way to do that.
The eye is naturally drawn to clean patterns. So, have your photographer capture patterns – for example a row of chairs lined up in the community dining area or a row of stationary bikes in the gym.
Ideally, you want two folders of images for your apartment community:
300 dpi photos will be used for your print pieces, and 72 dpi photos will be used for all web projects.
Images are a representative of your community, and usually what a prospect sees first before viewing your property in person. Poor-quality images could give the perception of a poor-quality brand.
Hire someone with experience in apartment photography with a portfolio you like. And don’t forget that you play an important role in the shoot as well. Make sure you spend time planning with your photographer, so you can get all the right shots.
Take this apartment photography guide with you when meeting with your photographer, and go through everything you want to achieve.
I cannot stress enough how important your photos are to your marketing efforts – get them right.
Josh Grillo is a #1 Best Selling Author, Speaker and Co-Founder of Resident360.