What goes into making a property photo great? Obviously a nice camera, carefully styled home and meticulous retouching are three useful ingredients, but what are the skills that a talented property photographer brings to the table?
For this month’s blog, we interviewed Skyline Creative’s head photographer, Andrew Patterson, to try and gain some insight into what’s going through his mind whenever he shoots a property.
“It’s a difficult thing to explain, a lot of it is intuition and experience”, he says. “Whenever I walk into a room, the first thing I’m thinking about is composition. I’m looking to create free flowing spaces with straight lines.”
Andy believes he had a natural talent for photo composition and aesthetics which was encouraged by time spent studying conceptual art. The visual aspects of the role came easily to him, but he says that the more challenging side of the job was balancing his instincts against other people’s requests and opinions.
Patience, good people skills, an easygoing nature and a ruthless eye for detail are all must-haves for a good property photographer. A common issue that photographers come up against is a vendor’s emotional attachment to a room or space. Vendors and agents often have pre-conceived notions about must-have shots or angles – ideas which sound good on paper, but might look very different through the lens.
Professional photographers are always looking to get the most out of a space, but this will not necessarily always make practical sense in terms of furniture placement or angle choice.
“What the camera sees and what the naked eye sees are completely different things,” Andrew explains. “You have to try and help to remove a vendor’s emotional attachment to a particular approach and convince them why your method will be the most effective for that space.”
Despite the many daily hurdles of moving furniture, managing expectations and dealing with often messy tenants, Andy still prefers shooting property to shooting people. “No one likes to have their photo taken,” he laughs. “If I’m shooting someone, I can control the light and the set-up, but I ultimately only have so much control over the subject. With rooms and inanimate objects, there’s still limitations of course, but I have more control over the variables.”
So how would he summarise his approach?
“My aim is for your eye to naturally lead from one point of the room to the other. That goes for everything – whether it’s colours, shapes, whatever – everything has to be complementing everything else. You don’t want your eyes to be stuck in one place.”