Words by Gabriella Chidgey
“IF it’s cloudy the shoot will be cancelled,” warns Charly Simon, one of Spain’s top real estate photographers.
“Light is key for a good property snap, particularly on the Costa del Sol which draws people for its sunny climate,” he explains.
An experienced hand, his portfolio includes over 5,000 stunning luxury properties. But today the Marbella-born photographer has been testing his skills with a different sort of property in the old town of Ronda – Ronda Romantica, the 18th century aparthotel that we renovated and opened to the public last autumn.
Charly wanted to prove to the Olive Press how an ‘impactful photograph with an emotional punch’ is the way to get a property sold or rented.
It’s an old cliche but a picture sells a thousand words of real estate jargon. However there are pictures and pictures.
“With people seeing around 3,000 images a day, you need to have something really special to stand out,” says Charly.
“My photographs get viewings for houses because people connect with the image so directly that they can already see themselves there.”
And apparently, his photos can turn a house that has been overlooked for years into a quick sale.
I am intrigued to see what his team will do with Ronda Romantica and luckily the sun is shining on the designated morning we set for them to visit.
Entirely clad in black with smart monogrammed jackets, photographer Ani and interior stylist Rocio appear on the dot of the allotted time.
Other than keeping a keen eye on weather apps, the team also prepare by using an app to determine the orientation of the building so that it can be photographed at exactly the right time to capture the best light.
This tends to mean photographing east-facing buildings in the morning and west-facing ones in the afternoons.
Clutter is a major obstacle to creating an unforgettable image, and since Charly is particularly known for his clean lines and oft-repeated mantra ‘less is more’, the interior stylists remove as many things as possible to create an unfussy space.
Although the team send a detailed checklist of their requirements before the shoot, emphasising that the house must be clean and organised, they often arrive to a home overburdened with personal items littering floors and walls.
The clarity of the composition is so important that the photographer is always accompanied by a stylist to arrange furniture and belongings.
Rocio explains that this basic staging is part of the package, since it helps ‘bring out the essence of a property”.
If more is required you can arrange for the stylist to bring props – bread, fruit, wine, glasses, flowers and plants to dress the space.
In our case, I had already thought ahead and styled the apartments the day before so Rocio use the extra items to lay a table place and create a specific focus or ‘colour pop’ for the photo.
While changing lenses for the close ups, Ani explains how a manually-operated camera offers a breadth of possibilities and control that is quite simply unavailable with the automatic settings on even the best mobile phones.
Charly ensures that they always use the latest professional equipment but he’s adamant that it is not the camera but ‘knowing how to take a photo that makes, not takes, the picture’.
Having a good eye is a great starting point but it is the hours of training, practice and experience that finally distinguishes the pro from the keen amateur.
They calculate that the minimum time needed to photograph an apartment is an hour, a villa takes two to four hours, hotels and rental properties longer since the focus will be as much on the details as the general views.
Despite the preparation and time on site, Charly affirms that the most important work is executed back at the studio by the graphic designer.
And Ani and Rocio confess that the final success of the image ‘owes 70% to the retouching’.
Not only are colours enhanced but exterior and interior photos can be merged so that the landscape outside the window is as vivid and clear as the internal space. And unsightly details such as electrical cables or damp patches on walls can be removed.
Should the space be empty or old-fashioned, the designer can even digitally furnish and decorate the room to provide inspiration for the client.
This professional and friendly team certainly put me in the picture as they worked systematically through each apartment and outside space. Quick as a flash in their methods, it still took over three hours of unrelenting focus to photograph five apartments.
And now their job is finished and the images are in the hands of the graphic designer.
Here are some of the final results. They certainly sold me!
Or for more information on Ronda Romantica contact Gabriella on 0034 6541 52122 or visit www.alcantarilla.co,uk