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PAP: A Little Added Elevation Really Helps Exterior Real Estate Shots

It never ceases to amaze me how much a little added elevation can help out a exterior real estate shot. Because the front exterior shot is what buyers doing web searches initially see of homes a little extra effort and expense can be well worth the added cost.

There are a number of ways to get a little higher that street level:

  1. Stand on a vehicle while shooting… I have a pick-up and regularly stand in the bed or better yet on the cab to get the camera high.
  2. Use PAP (Pole aerial photography). This means mounting a camera on a long mono-pod or window washer’s pole and use either the 10 sec timer or a remote shutter release. Don’t try this with a big heavy camera!
  3. Helium balloon or RC helicopter. For example, Tabb Firchau of AerialPan Imaging uses a electric R/C helicopter with a Canon 5D mounted on the undercarriage to capture spectacular low altitude panoramic images.

Paul Deines, real estate photographer in Denver, CO sent me the example above of a PAP (Pole Aerial Photography) that he did recently. Paul says, “it’s really making a difference in my exterior photos. Using this technique, I can shoot over cars parked in front of properties. 9 feet of elevation makes just enough of a difference to change the regular eye level perspective of my exterior shots.” Paul is using a Nikon 8700 on a long mono-pod, a remote shutter release and a Casio monitor to get this kind of shot.

For reasons I don’t understand PAP is used much more extensively in AU and the UK real estate photography than here in the US. For example, it’s hard to find a real estate photographer that does PAP the Puget Sound area but in the UK and AU they are all over the place; almost all do it. For homes that are sited high above the street PAP can be essential to get a good shot of the front of a home. For homes sited at street level like Paul’s example above, an added 10′ of elevation vastly improves the view.

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  • I’ve never heard PAP, but it certainly makes sense. This specific photo really makes the home look awesome.

  • Scott Lockhart

    Interesting post. PAP is definitely the standard way of shooting homes in Australia. They are also doing a little more artistic things with the shots as well such as over-saturating the sky (or replacing it) and different day and night pre-photoshop (NO?!?!) lighting/filtering techniques. Some are going as far as using some techniques that border on HDR (high dymnamic range) stuff which is kind of cool but somewhat fussy and therefore expensive, but for the right home it sure does pop.

    What many people don’t understand in the biz is that a superior “main photo” can sell a house faster than an average one. I would say it is worth the extra investment. I would prefer 10 professionally produced shots of a house than 50 amateur ones, because those photos are the honey you want to use to bait the consumer into calling you for more info. Make the honey sweeter and I think good things follow.

    Unfortunately in my experience, most real estate photographers are either not truly trained professional photographers and/or are in such a hurry that they just don’t care (or they are realtors/assistants).

  • Such and eazy concept yet it makes such a difference to the final product. Thanks for sharing!

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  • I’m fully appreciate the view from above…I’m 6’5″ tall, but when taking photos of homes for sale in Alpharetta, GA I always try to get to the highest vantage point. So much so, that i have a dent in the roof of my car, which kinda bums me out.

    Still, the importance of a main photo cannot be overstated. I’ve looked into radio controlled helicopter photography. There is a guy outside of Denver at who does a great job with it. I haven’t made it past getting the flight simulator to see if i can even fly one of the contraptions, let alone strap my $1000 nikon to the bottom of it. Hot shot takes photos are 50 feet…they are amazing.

    PAP seems like a good a alternative in the short term…now i just need to figure out how to get a 9 foot pole in my smallish car.

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  • I'm not finished read this yet, but it's so fabulous 'n I'll back again when I was finished my job 😀

  • Well, interesting post, thanks!

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