As you may know, over the last 5 years we have seen an explosion of drones used in real estate marketing. Their low cost and ease of use makes it a great tool in property marketing. The newer drones are so cheap and easy to fly that many realtors are become FAA certified themselves and buying a drone. (For more information about FAA drone certification, click here)
The problem is 80% of these aerial photos are awful. Poor lighting, bad cropping, horrible editing and bad image composition can make these aerial photos ineffective. (unless your a roof inspector) Lets talk about what goes into an effective aerial photo for property marketing.
Lighting: Good lighting is critical to a good aerial photo (just like any photo)
-Clear Days: As a general rule of thumb, the best aerial photos are taken on clear days (it an’t rocket science) Not only will you get better lighting, but the property will look more “cheerful” and “inviting”
-Solid overcast layer of clouds: If you’re shooting a building surrounded by foliage on a clear day, the shadows from the leaves can be overwhelming, cluttering the photo and distracting the viewer. In this case, consider shooting on a day with a uniform solid overcast layer of clouds. This virtually eliminates shadows. This is a great tool anytime shadows are a concern.
-Partially Cloudy Days: Beware of partially cloudy days. Those summer afternoons with the popcorn looking clouds can wreck havoc on your photos. The cloud’s shadows make for dark blotches on the ground, which can easily distract from the property’s features.
Time of day: Be sure and pick a time of day where the sun is facing the front of the building or the area importance. (High noon is sometimes best) This can be problematic in the winter with the sun low on the horizon, making southerly facing photos appear washed out. As a general rule, try and have the camera with the sun behind the lens. Also, long building shadows caused by the sun low on the horizon can be distracting. For these reasons, generally the best time of year for great aerial photos is around the summer solstice on June 21ish (in the USA). If your not able to complete all your aerial photos for the year on June 21st, consider using suncalc.net as a reference. Its a great planning tool for seeing where the sun will be in different locations at anytime of day. If you forget all that be sure to remember that the best aerial photos are always taken facing away from sun’s rays.
Altitude: This is one of my pet peeves. Most drone aerial photos are taken too high above the property. Unless your goal is to showcase the property boundary or nearby attractions, most aerial photos should be taken relativity low. Most people done’t want to see the roof. They want to see an elevated perspective of the building.
Camera Lens: Most consumer grade drones (like the ones at Best Buy) have a fixed wide angle lens. Thats ok for some applications but sometimes, depending of the property, the really good aerial photos need a telephoto lens. A telephoto lens is usually only available on the more expensive drones that can lift a variety of cameras and lens.
Property Size: If you trying to market real estate more than 5 acres, a drone might not work. As you may know the FAA limits drones to 400ft and below. For larger properties a “high” altitude photo may be the only way to showcase the entire property. Or perhaps the property is close to an airport. In these cases consider hiring a professional aerial photographer with a fixed wing aircraft. You’ll be surprised by how much they are able to do.
Editing: Photo editing has gotten easier and easier. If you use a Mac, the Photo application that comes free will do an amazing job. Adjusting photo brightness, color contrast and cropping can be done is seconds using the the standard
Too many aerial photos: Remember, people attention’s spans are at all time lows. Usually 1-5 well composed aerial photos is all it takes to showcase a property from the air. These photos, combined with effective ground photos can “paint” a very effective picture of the property for the prospective customer.
Thanks for reading!