Building Photography Guidelines

The Purpose of this Guide

Hello! If you are seeing this page then chances are you will be handling photographs of one of RPM’s properties. Thank you for taking the time to look this over.

With so many properties spread across NC and PA it simply isn’t possible for one person to take all the pictures we need for our website(s). It’s important that pictures of different sites are handled in a way that lends to some cohesion within our brand.

In many instances photography features on the RPM network of websites will be the first impression for many of our potential clients, we need to put our best foot forward!

Please take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with the DOs and DON’Ts of the building photography we need.

Don’t feel like you need to be a  professional photographer to help with this project! Having access to a nice Digital-SLR camera is great, but not required. A cellphone from the last couple of years will be more than fine in most cases. We’re using relatively low-resolution pictures for internet distribution. Fine-quality printing requires higher megapixels, but that’s outside of the scope of our project.

TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES! We can’t have too many!

Photo Example #1 – Good, usable photo

This photo was taken with a Samsung Galaxy S6 phone from 2015.

We’ll start with this picture of a stand-alone building at our Wesley Heights property.

There are several reasons why this shot is usable for our purposes….

  • This is a well-lit scene.
    • Shadows are present but they don’t disrupt the small details.
    • Highlights are present but not blown out (over-exposed)
  • The scene is framed properly.
    • We can see space above the building, space in front of the building, and on the sides.
    • It’s better to err on the side of lots of room in the frame than not enough room in the frame.
  • The building is shot from the correct angle.
    • We can easily see the front face of the building, and a lot of the side of the building.
      • The picture can be from straight-ahead, but be sure to include the whole building if doing this.
    • The path along the front of the building moves from a low position to a higher position, giving our eyes something to follow.
    • Finding the right angle is important! Don’t skip this step.
  • The subject (the building) has a pleasing look.
    • In this instance we’re looking at a charming building. The building has a cheerful color, there are flowers present and nice landscaping.
    • These elements aren’t always present and are sometimes out of our control.
    • If possible look to shoot visually pleasing structures and buildings.

Photo Example #2 – Good, usable photo

This picture includes the sign identifying the building.

This picture features the sign out front, giving an overview of the property and the identifier.

Once again, we see multiple faces of the building; the front and the side.

This building is too large to take a picture straight-on, we need to do a wide shot featuring angles in order to include the whole building.

Plenty of “space” above and below the building; this makes it easy to crop for any use we have in mind.

Photo Example #3 – Bad, NOT usable photo

This photo is framed poorly and over exposed. This won’t be usable.

This is another picture of Wesbury Plaza.

As you can see, the picture is framed poorly. There is no focal point (like the front door, a porch, or a sign). Seeing only a featureless building-side relays no information to the viewer.

This picture is over-exposed. This can typically be avoided by leaving your camera set to “automatic exposure” mode. When over- or under- exposed, the picture loses a lot of detail in the highlights or shadows. It also looks unnatural.

Photo Example #4 – Good, usable photo

We need interior shots as well as exterior shots.

This is a picture of one of the common areas at Wesbury Plaza.

It’s a broad overview showing a community kitchen.

This area is of interest to all the residents, and could be considered an amenity.

Photo Example #5 – Bad, NOT usable photo

This is a photo of an insignificant detail.

This picture is of a bad subject.

It’s boring and not of importance to a potential client.

Remember that we’re picking and choosing the best pictures we have available that give clients an accurate overview of the property. A generic door serves no purpose in telling the story.

Photo Example #6 – Good, usable photo

This picture isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely usable.

This is a picture of a sign at Manley Estates.

 

There is plenty of space around the subject so we have room to crop the picture if needed.

It doesn’t feature the building, but that’s OK, we can still make it work.

The contrast of the letters on the sign isn’t great, but it can be fixed before we use it on the website.

Photo Example #7 – Bad, NOT usable photo

This photo is framed poorly, lacks a subject, and has unnecessary post-processing.

This picture is very poorly framed. The subject (the building) is only barely in the frame. We need to see the WHOLE building!

The white vignette border is distracting and looks unprofessional. Please refrain from doing heavy post-processing to the image. We will handle image correction on a case-by-case basis as needed.

Remember that we’re picking and choosing the best pictures we have available that give clients an accurate overview of the property.

We want the pictures represent the best possible look at our properties.

Photo Example #8 – Bad, NOT usable

Three images lacking subjects and context. Things can be pretty but that doesn’t mean they’re interesting. Where are these flowers? What else is on this brick wall? Think BIG PICTURE!

In this last example we’ll do 3 BAD pictures that we can’t use.

On the left we have some pretty flowers, but since the picture is an extreme close-up we lose context. This bush could be anywhere in the world for all we know. If there are beautiful flowers at your property, definitely show them, but we need some context. Include them in the shot of the building!

In the middle we have another bad shot for similar reasons. A handicapped parking sign. No context, and it’s not conveying a message of any significance. If the parking-lot is noteworthy take a picture of the ENTIRE parking lot. Maybe include a building, a common seating area, or a property sign in the picture.

The picture on the right lacks a subject. A generic brick wall. Get away from the wall and include as much of the building as possible.

In Summary

Put yourself in our client’s shoes. Imagine you are looking for a place to live, a place to perhaps spend the rest of your life. The pictures we show should include as many features and amenities of the property as possible.

You’ve heard “a picture is worth a thousand words” and that’s certainly true when done right.

Make sure you have a subject in mind for every shot.

If photographing a common area, take a picture of the entire room, not a chair in the room.

Include empty space around your subject, we can always crop later.

Tell a story! Does the property have a name? Is there a sign? Where is this garden located? What’s near the gazebo?

We need great shots of our exteriors and interiors.

Most importantly, TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES! We can’t have too many.
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