The magician Amit Kalantri once said, “A photograph shouldn’t be just a picture, it should be a philosophy.” Choosing a photograph for a luxury real estate advertisement isn’t simply about capturing a good image of the property. It’s also about capturing a lifestyle.

The photographs you choose should convince buyers that they need that home to live the lifestyle of the person they imagine themselves to be. You will, of course, hire a photographer who knows how to present the most flattering image of your luxury property. You should also know how to take advantage of your property’s visual strengths so that you can choose just the right photos to effectively market your luxury real estate listings.

Pictures seep into our unconsciousness

For most of us, sight is one of our most important senses. We are driven by instinct and emotion far more than we like to admit. ‘Love at first sight’ is not just a cliché. Use this to your advantage when choosing photos of your luxury real estate listings.

A picture that is dramatically lit and presented from a dramatic angle affects us on a subconscious level. Think about classic films like Laurence of Arabia, or The Shining. The images from these classics are what stays with you.

In a visual stimulation study, John Suler, a professor of psychology at Rider University, found that when shown a parade of pictures, the conscious minds of students became numb. Their unconscious minds, however, remembered images that could have appeared anywhere in the slide show. Suler was able to determine that the unconscious mind does not become numb. It’s ready to notice something interesting in a stream of visual stimulation.

He concluded that contemporary media continually bombards us with a never-ending stream of fantastic, supercharged, and exciting images when what really attracts us is simple tranquility.

You can appeal to luxury real estate buyers by selling a simple and emotional experience, highlighting the best qualities of your property. Include fantastic views of beaches and mountains. If it’s a grand estate, show off the fantastic tracks of beautifully landscaped grounds. If it’s a luxury apartment, show off its elegant style and views. Most importantly, make sure the photograph displays some aspect that will bring the new owner comfort.

Take a Cinematic View

Film is very much a visual media. I’ve produced award-winning short films and what I’ve found is that the same basic principles that apply to video also apply to still photographs – lighting and angle. This should be your focus for all photos because both affect us on an unconscious level. You can change the entire feel of an image and make it far more stimulating for the viewer with just the right light and angle.

Set the Mood with Lighting

Take the goldilocks approach to lighting. Too little light will make your luxury property dark and details will be hard to see. Too much light will make things look flat. Extra light makes even the most beautiful luxury property look harsh and unappealing.

In filmmaking, it can be a challenge to shoot outdoors. The hours immediately following dawn and just before dusk are the optimum time to shoot. We call it the golden hour. The light is softer and far more flattering. The same goldilocks rules apply for indoor shoots. Nighttime can work well also because you can create a romantic mood with artificial light.

Find the Right Angle

Your photographer should never shoot the property straight on. Photos should always be taken at an angle. If it’s straight on, you see only one part. It’s boring for the subconscious. The angle allows the viewer to see more of the property as a whole, stimulating the imagination as the mind tries to complete the picture. It will also help hide aspects of a property where the camera is less forgiving. In most situations, it doesn’t work well shoot too low an angle. It makes things feel imposing and not relaxed.

It pays to find the best possible photographer you can afford. Take a look at their portfolio. Don’t just go with your initial impressions. Take a day to think about how the images made you feel. Think back on the portfolios you reviewed. Think about the one that you really remember and which photos really made you feel good.

The right photos for your luxury real estate listings will not just attract attention, it will sell the attitude and a potential lifestyle of your property.

I talked a lot about technique, but those are just tactics to make something feel right. In part two of this series, I will talk about do-it-yourself photography tools that can help you create polished and professional photos for luxury real estate advertising.