Great location photography is essential to capturing the Imagination of prospective buyers. You’ll want to include some great photography on your Location pages – images of the views, of the nearby beauty spots and points of interest, and of the lifestyle benefits that the location offers.
Having done the work to figure out who your target market is, you’ll find it easy to think of what you need to show on these pages in terms of what sorts of things are going to seem like benefits to your potential buyers. You might picture nearby shops and restaurants, nearby countryside, photos that reflect the diversity or cultural offerings of an urban location, the peace-and-quiet or convenience of a semi-urban or suburban district, or the natural appeal of a rural spot.
You might also use location photography on your brochure cover. A stunning full page photograph of your location can work really well on the front cover, or you might choose a photograph of something that evokes the essence of your brand – I’ve seen nature photos work well for rural schemes, and urban skylines or details of the cityscape work well for city-centre projects.
So, given its huge importance, here’s our advice on sourcing great location photography for your brochure and for your property marketing in general.
1. There are two principle ways to source great photography of your location. Either you’ll want to hire a local photographer to go out and capture the specific shots you want, or you’ll want to browse existing local photography and then request and/or purchase permission to use selected images in your marketing materials. We have had success with both methods and we often use a combination of both.
2. Search Google for photographers working in your local area, and you’ll often find their websites are home to a great selection of imagery that showcases the best of what your location offers. If you happen to be developing in a beautiful part of the world or a big city, you’ll have no problem finding some great photography online.
3. Just be sure to contact the photographer before using any image you find on the internet (or anywhere else): it is a breach of copyright law to include other people’s photography in your brochure without first securing their permission. When we find a photo we want to use, we’ll usually email the photographer with a polite request, explaining that we’d love to use one (or more) of their photos in our sales brochure, and asking them to provide a price. They might ask how many copies of the brochure you are intending to print, but there’s no need to volunteer this information up front, because it is often not relevant to the price they’ll charge. But you will want permission to include the photos in your brochure, on your website and in your other marketing materials, so make this clear. And it’s worth assuring them that you are only seeking permission to use the imagery in the marketing of this specific development – not for any future or more general use.
4. Be friendly, show appreciation for their work, and you’ll generally find photographers are happy to provide permission – usually for a fee. It is only right and proper that you should be prepared to pay for great photography, so budget a few hundred pounds and please try not to haggle. Photography is a skill and a job, and it’s not as though you’re a charity: you’re a property developer and you’re making a profit. If you can support a local photographer in the process, everybody wins. If you are slightly shocked by a high quote, one way you can politely request a reduced fee is by offering to credit them and include their website link in your brochure. Some photographers will see some value in this, and you can include the credit discreetly, either in an image caption on the page, or in a footnote-style list at the back of the brochure.
5. You can hire a local photographer by the day or half-day to take photos of the views you particularly want, and this can be a cost-effective way of getting a good selection of images for use throughout your marketing materials. You’ll provide a list of the places you want photos of, and some instructions as to whether you want close-ups of details or full landscapes – or a mix. You can also provide the photographer with a description of your target market and the benefits of the location as you see it. A good local photographer will be able to suggest places that will provide some good photos, and might have some ideas you hadn’t thought of. They’ll also be happy to wait for a sunny blue-sky day – it goes without saying that you want to show your location at its best! You might want to request a selection of both ‘portrait’ and ‘landscape’ orientations.
6. You can quite quickly judge a photographer by the portfolio on their website, so choose someone whose style you like and whose work looks professional and appealing. Ideally you’re looking for a small local business – someone who knows the area well and who makes a living as a jobbing photographer. This type of business will usually be happy to charge you for their time and provide you with the high resolution digital versions of all the photos they take while they’re out working for you. They won’t expect a credit, and they won’t place any restrictions on how and where you use the images, now and in the future.
7. Be aware that someone who considers photography as their ‘art’ and who primarily makes their money from exhibiting and selling prints, might be more precious about the idea of selling their time and giving away all the rights to the photos they take. They might want to sell you the individual photos as ‘works of art’, and generally this isn’t going to be a cost-effective approach for you to take. Aim to spend a few hundred pounds for a day or a half day of someone’s time, and to receive a good selection of photos – maybe 20-30 shots of 6-10 locations.
8. The advantage of hiring your own photographer is that you can specify exactly what you want and get a good library of imagery to use across your different marketing materials. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a particular ambience, season or time of day, you might have more chance of getting what you want from a photographer’s existing portfolio. We recently procured a beautiful golden sunset shot of a stretch of coastline close to a client’s development, so good that we used it full size across a double page spread. We would have been lucky to get such a stunning photo from a jobbing photographer because the time of day and weather conditions had to be perfect. Also bear in mind that in the depths of winter, your photographer will be limited to wintry photos of your location, and this probably isn’t what you’re looking for…