When taking either a series of photographs or footage for video, it’s a good idea to start with your ‘establishing’ shot – the main view of the property exterior. The sun should be illuminating the house but the light needs to be even, which means avoiding sharp light and shadows. Experiment with varying conditions and times of day; you may find early morning or evening best.
Start with a good, wide shot of the house, keeping it well in the frame. Avoid making it look too far away. Then come in closer and photograph any nice features like a pretty pathway, decorative stonework or a character door. Show the house from as many angles as possible, obviously concentrating on the most attractive features. However, do not show pylons, washing lines, cars, people or clutter – this is extremely important as it makes you look unprofessional and can really put people off.
Shooting Inside your Holiday Property
Inside the house, it is crucial to de-clutter. Look critically at your rooms not with the naked eye but through the camera lens – and notice the difference! Aim to pare interiors down to ‘dressed simplicity’. Occasional highlights of co-ordinated colour are good – flowers, a bowl of fruit, cushions, a lamp. But busy rooms that appear stuffed full of furniture and ornaments will seem darker, smaller, untidy and less inviting. So clear off tables, polish surfaces, organize shelves and if there's a surplus of furniture in the rooms you're shooting, move it out of the way.
Include images of the living room - especially seating - the dining area or room with the table beautifully set and chairs evenly arranged and the kitchen, which should be tidy and spotless, with uncluttered worktops. Show the bedrooms with invitingly made-up beds and evidence of wardrobe hanging space and include bathrooms, if they are attractive, but remember to remove rubbish bins and close the toilet lid!
It’s best to shoot in every room, to see what works best – the results may surprise you. Focus in on details like a nice mantle piece or new floors but avoid shooting into the backs of chairs or bookcases. Generally, it’s good to face away from the windows to avoid backlighting but many French properties, especially older, stone houses, are quite dark inside. Video the room as best you can at different times of day and supplement this with some stills taken with a flash to create an even light. It’s also good to show attractive views looking out through open windows in the house or doors giving on to the garden.
Filming Outside your Holiday Property
When it comes to outside space, show the garden looking tidy and well kept. If you have a brick or tile patio, sweep it and then wet it down to make the colour look rich and minimize glare. Dress the swimming pool and outdoor living area to look really enticing. Pool water should be crystal clear and, if you are videoing, show the movement of rippling water as it sparkles in the sunlight and leaves as they dance gently in the breeze. Arrange furniture and dress the dining area, maybe including salad, French bread, cheese and wine.
Many summer holidays revolve around the pool and outdoor living, so it’s important to make this area totally relaxing, charming and appealing. You could show a sunhat or an open book, hinting at human presence, but do not actually include people. Your customers want to think of this as their very own holiday home. Experiment with after-dark photos in this area, juggling until you get the light balance right. You don’t have to show every detail, just create an inviting, fairytale evening effect.
Also include features that enhance the main ‘sell’ of your property such as family play, sports equipment or a romantic ambience. If you offer activities and classes, show images of these in progress. Concentrate too on the secondary sell by showing potential visitors what your area has to offer. Take shots of a gorgeous setting, local landmarks, festivals, market day, beaches, other attractions of your local town or village. show colour, community, things to do, places to eat and people watching. Establish, if possible, that you could only be in France and this is where your customer’s next holiday should be.