Written by Carly O'Brien | 8th March 2019

Lifestyle

MICHAEL GRAHAM MEETS: Professional Photographer Beth Saunders

First impressions count, and when it comes to marketing a property nothing is more important than the quality of the photography and how interiors and exteriors are presented. A massive 82% of us search for houses online, so how can you make sure the photos are right and propel as many potential buyers as possible in through the door for a viewing?

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We talked to Michael Graham’s in-house professional photographer Beth Saunders to find out.

How did you get into photography?

Photography has been my passion since I was 16 years old and picked up my brother’s camera. I’ve worked exclusively for Michael Graham for the last three years and in that time I’ve probably photographed around 4,000 properties.

Can you pick a favourite property out of all those you’ve photographed?

The property that stands out for me is The Old Rectory in Akeley in Buckinghamshire. The interior design is stylish and sympathetic to the period and the kitchen is incredible.

What equipment do you take out on a shoot and do you have a favourite gadget that you couldn’t do without?

My camera is a Nikon D8 10 with a a14-24 mm wide angle lens. I also take flashes, a tripod and a pole and aside from my camera the pole is the one thing I would never leave home without. By mounting my camera on top I can send it up to 30 feet high to get a slightly different angle on a property. Michael Graham use drones too, but I think a high camera position gives a really special shot.  

What is your thought process when you arrive to photograph a property?

I always start by asking the owner to show me around inside so that I can get a feel for the whole house. Clutter free kitchen and bathroom surfaces do make for a better photo, but I think you can go too far to the point where the house doesn’t look like a home. I personally think a few objects and pictures add character. I then start downstairs by turning on lamps and use the flashes to bounce light off the walls to create an even, natural light which resembles daylight. The extent of lighting varies from house to house. Quirky cottages with low ceilings need more than a bright and airy penthouse where I only need a flash to illuminate nooks and crannies. In every room I take an all-encompassing shot and then close ups that emphasize focal points, like a log burner with a roaring fire.

How does the weather affect photographing the exterior?

My job is to show the house at its best and photographs taken in the pouring rain will not do any home justice. A blue sky day is ideal and even a cloudy day is fine, the key is to be patient. Waiting a few extra days for the right weather can make a huge difference to the exterior photos. Photography also needs to be arranged for the right time of day so there is as much light hitting the garden as possible. I photograph four properties a day and north and south facing gardens have to be scheduled carefully.

Do you have a favourite shot to take?

My favourite is what photographers call the “through shot”, which is a photo taken from one room into another room and shows the flow of the house.

What are your feelings on pets at the property?

If there are pets in the house I usually take two shots, one with them in it and one without. Not every buyer likes dogs or cats, but they’re useful pictures to use on social media!

What happens once you’ve taken the photographs?

I keep post-production minimal simply because I don’t want to make my photos look any different to the reality of the house. If photos are taken properly there’s no need to digitally enhance them.

What is your number one tip for photographing a property?

No matter how big or small the house, every buyer is looking for a home with a feeling of natural light and space, so make sure windows are clean and curtains pulled right back to maximise the light before you take any photographs. If you don’t have a very steady hand, use a tripod for a clear, crisp shot.

 

What’s the first thing you notice in a photograph of a property? We’d love to know. Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and to see Beth’s photographs of Michael Graham town and country homes, see below.

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