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Land Discussion Blog

Use Photos to Sell Your Land!

 Using Photos to Help Sell Your Land

(Note:  We just moved this article over from our Resources Page.  We felt it would be more appropriate here!)

By Rich Waite

Iowa timberlandOkay now this may seem like such an obvious thing to say, “use photos to sell your land”. Of course, you’re going to do that, right? I mean why wouldn’t you. Everyone has a camera these days, albeit a cell phone in many cases! (That’s okay – cell phones these days are capable of taking pretty extraordinary photos…. More on that in a bit.)

The thing is, selling a piece of rural land is a big deal. I mean even a few acres of “rough” ground is worth a significant amount of change. So why “sell” it short (if your the seller) by putting it up for sale with poor photos (or, as I’ve seen many times, with NO photos!) Please, do yourself a favor and don’t do that! You got to have photos….and, while your at it, you should just go ahead and make them good photos….great photos if you can! Because the better are your photos, the better are your chances of attracting buyers.

You see, it’s so easy, as a seller, to just think something along these lines, “well it’s just a piece of timber ground, everyone knows what timber ground looks like”. Or, “it’s just a cornfield… how do I take a good picture of a field of corn”? Well, it’s important to just put yourself in the “buyer’s shoes” for just a bit.

deer track in mud

Just think of it. You are here – let’s just say Oklahoma – and the buyers is here – let’s say somewhere in Washington state. You have 15 acres of timber ground you are trying to sell. Well, be absolutely sure that your Washington state, prospect, potential buyer, and anyone, and everyone else browsing for such a property across the world wide web, can see what it is you are trying to sell! Don’t just try to sell it with words. You sell it with the pictures. Because just as people eat with their eyes, they shop with them too. Over the last 15 years, or so, I’ve sold allot of land – thousands of acres, as a real estate broker and investor, and if there is one thing that I have learned it is just that! This is something you don’t just want to get but that you want to beat into your head – though words help define what’s being offered – it’s the pictures that actually sell the property!

Winding lane going through a patch of timber
Winding lane going through a patch of timber

I know, I know, I’ve been in the same boat. Your out in the field and all you have with you is your cell phone for photos. Well, it’ll get some for you – and cell phones these days are capable of taking some pretty great photos! In fact, I use mine all the time for snapping quick shots that I may use to update clients with on their farms.

But while there’s no doubt that modern cell phones have “got some game” for taking good photos, there’s also no doubt there are better options. Most point and shoot type small snapshot cameras in the $80 and up range will out-perform your cell phone in regards to taking quality photos, for the simple reason they are dedicated units built specifically for photography and, thus, normally have more and better features than does the typical cell phone camera. Also, these dedicated cameras have larger sensors, typically, than does your cell phone camera, which means they have larger pixels, which can do a better job of transferring gathered light into the fine detail that shows up in the finished pictures it produces – (you know, the one’s you want to look extraordinary of your land that you are trying to sell!)

So my point here is really to find yourself a good point and shoot or dslr camera to shoot your land photos instead of just relying on the camera in your phone! A good camera is a tiny price to pay in relation to what you are trying to sell. It’s really a land selling tool that you need to purchase to do the job right. Just as you would need a good hammer to do any amount of construction. You’ve got to have the right tool to get the job done right!

And how do you do the job right? How do you take good photos of your land to use for marketing? Well, that is definitely a huge topic to cover. It’s something we will discuss in future articles, for sure.

Shot showing rather intimate details of a property:

wildlife refuge sign

Photography below showing the various aspects of the land: agricultural mixed with timber.

bean field in Iowa

Including images of wildlife/game animals the land has on it can REALLY enhance your listing. Though not discussed in this article, wildlife game/trail cameras are a GREAT tool for capturing self-triggered images of wildlife, such as deer, at specific locations. We’ll discuss using trail cameras more in future articles.

Big Iowa buck

Lets discuss some basic things to consider for taking photos of your property.

deer track in sand
Heavy deer sign/trail cutting across a small creek drainage
  1. Get Close! Don’t just roll your window down and stick your arm out the door and snap a photo willy-nilly! I’ve seen this too many times before. Sometimes you can even see the photographer’s elbow in the photo or reflection from the window of the vehicle! Do your potential buyers a favor and get out and get close! Even though a far away shot may look grand or scenic in real life, a photo taken from a distance like that usually will fall flat! You need to get close!
  2. Take a variety of photos! Don’t just snap a few random shots of the landscape. Take some landscape shots for sure, showing the lay of the land and the features of the land – the trees, the cornfield, the creek, etc, – but also get up tight to these subjects and define them individually. Take a close shot of the running water in the creek. Take a snapshot of an elm leaf in the forest. And be sure to get any shots you can of wildlife sign – a deer track in the mud or buck rub on a sapling, for instance, tells potential buyers that there is little doubt the land has deer!
  3. Shoot more than you think you’ll need. Remember, digital photos are essentially free. It doesn’t cost anything to push the shutter button these days….so go ahead and push that thing! Too many times, people take a single photograph here and then one over there and go home and realize the one over there didn’t turn out so hot and they wish they’d taken another. I know, I’ve been one of those folks many times! Not any more though. I’ve learned to push that shutter button! You should push it too! (Don’t worry, it’s easy to delete all the ones you won’t need but when you push that button, you have a much better chance of at least getting some of the ones you do need!:)
  4. Hold Steady! That’s right. Hold tight! Actually not too tight or you’ll get a wobble and you don’t want a wobble when you shoot! Hold the camera with two hands and try to brace your arms if you can. A basic key to taking a sharp photo is holding the camera steady. Of course, you probably already knew that, but it’s worth reminder ourselves that from time to time. I even try to hold my breath when I snap a photo to avoid further movement of my upper body when the shutter fires. Use built in camera stabilization or lens stabilization features when available to help steady the shot as well. And, consider using a tripod when the light is low.
  5. Watch the light! Photography is all about using the light correctly to expose the image. We all see and react to scenes somewhat differently so shooting with varying light conditions keeps things interesting for everyone and makes the scene more dynamic. Avoid direct daytime light when possible – this is often a rather harsh light and often results in an overly contrasty images with washed out highlights and harsh shadows. Early and late in the day, or all day in overcast conditions, or during the winter when the sun is low in the horizon, are the best times typically to get great photographs. Try to mix up the lighting by shooting a variety of shots with sun over your shoulder and from the side and even some with back-lighting. This will help ensure you have photos that people not only want to look at but want to STARE at. You are trying to sell your valuable property, remember, why not try to get these sorts of shots?

So there you have it – fire away! Use photos to sell your land!