Blog

Welcome to my Property Photography Blog.

Here I will keep you updated on my photographic journey and items of interest and importance.
Feature article from a recent shoot on Homify
29th May 2015 - 0 comments
'Homify' is a major property/design/interiors/exteriors website, on which I have a profile; they have just featured a recent shoot of mine, of a cute cottage in Loxwood, in one of their articles.

Follow this link to have a look https://www.homify.co.uk/ideabooks/28993/a-cottage-of-two-halves
Photography of a backlit and dimmable, ceramic kitchen splashback
03rd March 2015 - 0 comments
I was recently commissioned to photograph a local ceramicist's work, which was a back-lit and dimmable, ceramic kitchen splash-back.

I really did not know what to expect, but on arrival, I was stunned at how pretty it looked and at how much work had clearly gone into it.










Five top tips that will improve your property interiors photography overnight
10th February 2015 - 0 comments
Five top tips that will improve your property interiors photography overnight

1. Get your camera off ‘Auto’ and onto ‘Av’: This setting on the camera's main dial gives you control over how much of the scene in front of you is going to be in focus. Banish those blurry shots and ensure your photos are sharp front to back.
2. Buy a tripod and use it: Most rooms are quite dark (as far as your camera is concerned) even with the lights on. Low light levels = long exposure times to gather enough light = blurry shots when hand-holding. Put the camera on a tripod and long exposures are no longer a problem
3. Use a hot-shoe (bounced) flash: The pop-up flash on your camera is not powerful enough to light a room and direct flash gives harsh light and tricky flash reflections in windows and mirrors etc. Use a hot-shoe flash and bounce it off the ceiling or even better, off a wall behind you to create a softer light.
4. Shoot from a lower position: Don’t stand in the corner, point and shoot; that gives horrible perspectives. Pointing the camera down off horizontal distorts the image and gives you walls that lean out of the picture. Extend the first set of legs on your tripod and take the shot from there. It doesn’t seem right, but it will make your rooms look far more ‘natural’.
5. Straighten the verticals as much as possible in camera: Unless you are shooting a Hobbit house, the walls should be vertical. Use the edges of the viewfinder or the grid overlay on the LCD screen (if present) as a guide to line up your walls with.
Manual Photography Cheat Sheet
20th May 2014 - 0 comments
Here is a very helpful cheat sheet courtesy of Miguel Yatco http://miguelyat.co/ which explains the various settings used when shooting manually and the effects they have on your exposures.

What is good real estate photography?
14th September 2013 - 4 comments
WHAT IS GOOD REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHY?

Recently, I photographed a house which was on a handover from a large corporate estate agency firm, to a leading independent agency. Due to the price-tag (which was not insubstantial) the existing agents had placed this beautiful Georgian village house with their ‘Country Homes’ department, who then proceeded to butcher it with incredibly poor photography.



Who is at fault here? The estate agent? – Clearly, but also the client!

I was having my usual photography rant with (at) my wife and she said “maybe they (the client) don’t know what good photography is?” to which I replied “but they move in ‘Country Life’, ‘Tatler’ and ‘Vogue’ cirles; they know what good photography is!”
Then it dawned on me that perhaps they don’t know what good real estate photography is.
You will never see a badly shot car advert in a magazine – why is this? It is because the manufacturers understand that they are selling a lifestyle, a dream and are prepared to throw vast sums of money at their marketing. Surely this is even more the case with the estate agency business; are they not selling a lifestyle, a dream too? So why is poor property photography in the UK the expected standard?

Why most estate agents fail, is that they have not realised they are in the business of property marketing, not in sales.
Estate agents simply do not have the time to take high-quality images of every instruction themselves, even if they do possess the skills and necessary gear to do so, but most are shortsightedly not prepared to spend the money on a professional to do the job instead.

82% of property searches start online (Zoopla 25/07/13); now that is a huge amount of first impressions, estate agents have to get right! In these days of internet-based, speed-dating-style property searches, quality presentation is of the utmost importance.
When I was in the estate agency business, I had a case where a property we took over from another estate agent was re-shot and subsequently sold to a couple who had received the details from the previous agent, but had put them in the bin as it looked so awful! This situation will still exist, but will be made worse by the clinical speed of the initial online search process.

So, what is good real estate photography?

Good real estate photography begins with the property being ‘dressed’ or ‘staged’ properly i.e. clean and tidy, with fresh flowers, working lights and a tidy garden for starters. This should be carried out by the owners, but professional home-stagers can be easily found. There is an old photography saying (and one of my favourites) that goes “to take better photos, you need to stand in front of better things!”
With the staging complete, the professional photographer can go in and do their work. One of the most important decisions they make is deciding which rooms to photograph; leading estate agents would prefer to see 5-8 great photographs over 15 poor ones; the object is to tease/entice the viewers across the threshold rather than showing them everything up front from the comfort of their armchair.

Next comes selecting the best compositions for each chosen room; there may only be one, or there may be many, with each one requiring additional staging by the photographer to suit their own personal styles. Then the room is shot with the correct white balance, focus point, aperture, focal length etc. and all the editing done once back in the office to make sure that it is processed correctly and crucially that all the verticals are vertical http://foresteyes.co.uk/maintaining-vertical-verticals.

What this time, care, skill and attention gives is a selection of photographs that presents the house and garden at its very best, with carefully selected and photographed shots that sell the lifestyle and the dream whilst being true to the building itself and the current owner’s personal impression on it.




What this means to the estate agent is a higher ‘click-through-rate’, higher offer-to-sales ratios, an improved presence in the market, better quality listings and ultimately, for the agent (and the seller) more money http://foresteyes.co.uk/a-picture-is-worth-1000

So, why do sellers not demand better quality property photography?

With potentially more people through the door, more offers and higher sales figures, I can’t understand it, but I think the tide is turning (slowly) http://foresteyes.co.uk/vendors-demand-professional-photography, but it is a matter of education and I hope that this message goes some way to change seller’s expectations in this industry.

Estate agent or seller? I would love to hear your feedback on this.
Maintaining vertical verticals in interior photography
06th August 2013 - 0 comments
Maintaining vertical verticals

I see a lot of interiors photographs, mainly from estate agents that look as though the houses are falling down, with their walls leaning out wildly. Unless it is just that all the houses I go to are built better, there is a bit of a problem with estate agent’s photography.
Architects and builders have spent a lot of time getting stuff properly upright only for it to be shown all wonky when it is put up for sale (quite why the sellers accept this I don’t know).

The first thing I learnt about professional property photography was “don’t charge until you can get your verticals vertical.” It is that important!




Why does this happen to me?

When you tilt your camera off the horizontal plane, you get lens distortion which gives you either ‘Diverging’ - moving apart or ‘Converging’- moving together verticals.
Both forms appear regularly in estate agents photos; Diverging inside and converging outside.
Diverging: I think it is safe to say, that most agents walk into the room, stand in the corner and shoot. Yeah? When you do this, you are looking down into the room and therefore tilting your camera downwards. This makes your walls lean outwards.
Converging: When photographing a tall building, you point the camera up to get it all in the frame; tilting your camera up off the horizontal plane will make the walls lean inwards.

How can I fix this?

Photographing interiors:
• Don’t stand in the corner (nobody puts Baby in the corner!) get down and shoot from about 4ft, yes really! Bung it on a tripod (ideally) and take the shot from down there, it will all but eradicate the problem and give you much nicer compositions. Better floor/ceiling balance.
• When looking through the viewfinder, use the edges of the black frame to line up your verticals.
• If you shoot from the rear screen, use a grid overlay and check your verticals with that.
• Don’t shoot too wide. You are packing that amazing 10-24mm lens and want to smash that room with it! – No. The wider you shoot, the more distortion you will get and remember this, the more room you have to light with your single pop-up or hot-shoe flash! Try to shoot no wider than 17mm, although I know there will be many occasions where this is not possible.
• Fix it in Photoshop (or the like) Put up a grid or drag on some line-guides, select the whole image, drag out the walls till they are straight, crop and save. – Simples. (Ok, there is a little bit more to do than that, but this is just a starting point)

Photographing exteriors:
• If you are faced with a tall building and you (now) know that it is going to look all wonky, get back, far back if you can and shoot from a distance. You may need to change lenses or crop in later, but this will stop you tilting your camera upwards.
• Fix it in Photoshop: Again, grab a grid or some line-guides, select the whole image, drag out the walls till they are straight and then, oh, you are left with a squished looking house; no worries, drag the whole image upwards to reinstate its correct proportions. – Simples again!

Presenting your home for photography
25th July 2013 - 0 comments
Presenting your home for photography

Zoopla stats show that currently (25/07/13) 82% of property searches start online and the first things that are looked at by the prospective purchasers are the photographs.
The seller relies on their estate agent to market their house well, with quality brochures, shiny offices and keen, professional staff, but we, the photographers have to rely on the seller to present their properties at their best for the photographs.





Here are some simple home-staging ideas that can make all the difference to the quality of your photographs and possibly, even your eventual sale figure.

Tips on preparing your home for the shoot
Potential buyers respond most positively to a clean, tidy and uncluttered look, with signs that the house is loved and well cared for:

• Clear away clutter such as newspapers, shoes, cards, personal photos, children’s toys and so on, and ensure each room looks clean and tidy;
• Ensure all light bulbs are working, including down-lighters and table/floor lamps;
• Clear away bottles and products in the kitchen and bathroom;
• Remove magnets and children’s artwork from the fridge/freezer;
• Tidy away pet beds and food/water bowls.
• Arrange vases of flowers or a bowl of fruit; they help make rooms look appealing;
• Arrange scatter cushions and throws to give rooms colour and warmth;
• If you have a dining table, try dressing it with a runner or cloth, and arrange place settings and glasses;
• If you have an open fire, lay and light it for a welcoming look




Tips on preparing your garden for the shoot

Buyers respond most positively to clear, tidy and well-cared for outside spaces:
• Remove cars from the driveway so that the front of your house is unobstructed. Ensure they are not visible through the windows as this will also affect interior shots. If necessary, park them down the street for the duration of the shoot;
• Mow the lawn, sweep up any leaves, and remove dead or dying plants;
• Consider adding colour such as patio pot-plants or hanging baskets;
• Hide wheelie-bins and other unsightly objects somewhere discreet;
• If you have garden furniture, arrange it neatly and consider dressing it, for example, put out chair cushions, outdoor candles or a pitcher of squash; Tidy away clutter such as garden tools, children’s toys etc wherever possible.


Vendors demand professional photography from estate agents
13th April 2013 - 0 comments
In my recent excursions around the estate agents of Sussex, I have been surprised but very pleased to see a shift-in-the-wind as far as professional property photography is concerned.

Many of the estate agents that I have been speaking to have admitted that although they resolutely "do their own photography", they know it is limited and that they have had requests from existing vendors and potential clients for professional photography over their in-house photography.

Back in 2008, when I started shooting for estate agents, only a very few progressive firms were looking at professional photography. Now, more are recognising the massive importance of quality pictures in what is a very visual-based industry. They also see the added value (perceived or actual), increased viewings,quicker sales and increased revenue that professional property photography brings.

It would seem that the buyers and sellers are demanding better photographs from their estate agents, but very few of the agents have noticed this, or are currently prepared to acknowledge it and do something about it.

Agents, are you ready for 'the change'?
A professional real estate picture is worth $1000
26th February 2013 - 0 comments
A study in America by the National Association of Realtors and Redfin shows that professional real estate photography is worth a lot to the real estate company and the seller.

Marketing and Networking Summit.
03rd February 2013 - 0 comments
The True Colours Interiors Marketing and Networking Summit.

Friday, June 21st, 2013 8:00am to 4:00pm

I am proud to have been asked if I will be one of the speakers at this superb event happening later this year. I will be discussing the importance of professional photography and talking about some of the methods I use in my work.

The other guest speakers will be covering a wide range of topics from architectural design, to Feng Shui in what looks to be a great day out for anyone involved in interiors.

For more information, have a look at the website of Katrina Smith of 'True Colours Interiors' who is hosting the event.

http://www.truecoloursinteriors.co.uk/events
New client - True Colours Interiors
10th October 2012 - 0 comments
I am very pleased to now be working with leading interior design company 'True Colours Interiors'.

Based in Horsham but covering the whole of the south east, they work alongside private clients, developers and hotels.

http://www.truecoloursinteriors.co.uk/

Photography guides
24th September 2012 - 0 comments
Over at the 'Download' section will soon be a selection of photo guides covering the basics of sharpness to composition to exposure settings and techniques. Please feel free to download and enjoy!

I have started the ball rolling with a guide on shutter speeds.
Etsy Paypal Scam - Rachael Cox
13th September 2012 - 4 comments
*Important Message – Paypal scam on Etsy*

I have recently set up an ‘Etsy’ store http://www.etsy.com/shop/ForestEtsy for selling my canvasses and was amazed to receive an enquiry within hours of going live.

Below is the initial enquiry verbatim.


Listing: [name of item here]

Hello Seller,
Am Rachael Cox,I came accross your item on Etsy, i will like to buy the item,is it ready for the immediate purchase, before i proceed with the payment i will Like to ask about the item..

1) Is the item still available for sale?

2) What is the present condition of the item?

3) Do you accept PAYPAL as your mode of payment?

4) what is the final asking price?

kindly get back to me with your reply to my private email:

( rachael_cox10@yahoo.com )

hope to read from you soon,

Best Regards.


I replied, answering her questions (which I thought odd at the time as the information was all there in the item description online) and heard nothing back until I chased on Tuesday. This is the response I got, again verbatim.

Thanks for the respond,i am an oceanographer and am currently on the sea at the moment, i am buying the item as a gift for my Mother,i want to make it a surprise gift for her,she won't know anything about the gift until they get delivered to her, so i want you to reassure me that the item is in good condition as you have described.i can only pay through PayPal.Soplease kindly get back to me immediately so i can proceed with the payment and after the payment has been done,i have a pick up agent that will come around to pick the Item up immediately after payment.


Regards.



My first reaction was that the whole ‘picking up’ thing was odd (who does that when they order online
?) and that I did not want to hand out my address for security reasons. The language was odd for an oceanographer who must have studied to Degree level or higher and the message, just plain weird.

I spoke to my gurus of all things internetty http://digitalessence.net and they suggested googling her name/email address etc to see if there was anything about her on the web. I would not have thought of doing this, so thank you guys! I quickly googled “Rachael Cox Etsy Scam” and was shocked to see a whole page of listings with her name in it.

This scam http://stopartscams.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/scam-email-rachael-cox.html has been going on for some years now and (although appallingly written) people must be still falling for it.
If you have an Etsy store, or know someone who does, please share this with them.
Thanks,
Ross
Wedding Photography
07th September 2012 - 0 comments
Tomorrow I am shooting my first wedding! I am one of two photographer-friends of the bride and groom who have been given the honour of capturing their special day. I have just taken delivery of a hired Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L-Series zoom lens.



Below is a photo comparing the physical size of my 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 EF zoom with that of the hired 24-70 f/2.8 L-Series zoom lens.
My 24-85mm weighs in at a very comfortable 385g, whilst the 24-70mm is a hefty 969g; I am gonna know that I am carrying this one tomorrow!
So, why have I gone and hired this beast when I already own a lens that covers and in fact exceeds the hire lens’s focal length?



1. At a fixed f2.8 throughout the zoom range, the wider aperture will allow much faster shutter speeds which will give me sharper images when shooting at the higher end of the zoom range and in the lower light conditions of the ceremony and dinner.
2. Better glass. It is all about the quality of the lenses; L-Series are Canon’s professional range and they feature specially coated glass and fluorite elements to give you improved sharpness, contrast, colour and bokeh (background/foreground blur quality)
In short, I wanted to ensure that, assuming I am doing everything right, the photos of the couple’s wedding day will be the very best that I can obtain.

France - August 2012
04th September 2012 - 0 comments
Just back from a holiday in southern France which culminated in a friend's wedding. I was not the photographer for this do, but I did take a few photos of guests outside. I was mainly taking good old holiday snapshots and the odd arty pic as well.

The weather was beautiful, the scenery amazing and the food just plain gorgeous.


National Open Art Competition 2012 - Results
23rd August 2012 - 0 comments
Fantastic news!

For the second year running, one of my photographs has been shortlisted for the second round of judging in the National Open Art Competition to be held at the Goodwood racecourse on the 17th of September!



Sadly it did not make it through to the exhibition this year, but it is fantastic to have got this far in a national competition.
Pop-up Shop - Midhurst
23rd August 2012 - 0 comments
I am very pleased to have been invited to sell my photography in the pop-up shop 'Handy and Divine' in Midhurst. I am part of a group of artists and makers who are selling their wares for one week this month, utilising an otherwise disused and therefore empty shop in the town.

Please support us by paying us a visit and have a look at the other artists who are selling by visiting the website http://handyanddivine.co.uk/wordpress/ and 'like' the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HandyAndDivine
National Open Art Competition 2012 - Submission
22nd August 2012 - 0 comments
After last year's success with my image 'Final resting place' I have entered four images into this year's competition. Round one judging is any day now, so I will soon be either drinking a bottle of Champagne or a glass of water!







People's choice winner - WWT photography competition 2011
10th July 2012 - 0 comments
My photograph of a swan resting at the Arundel 'Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust' centre has been selected as the winner by the fantastic general public in the 'People's Choice' category of the 'WWT photography competition 2011' 'Wetland wildlife' 'Spring' section.

http://photo.wwt.org.uk/gallery/gallery/spring-2012/winners/

In print - June edition of 'Sussex Life' magazine
03rd June 2012 - 0 comments
I have had another of my images selected for print in the brilliant 'Sussex Life' magazine!

This photo was taken at a derelict chapel in Petworth, West Sussex and features the pillared entry gates to the site.

I treated the photograph to a black and white conversion with a hint of infra-red to give it a spooky feel.

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