Getting it picture perfect can be just a click away

Pictures used in selling a house have to be set up right to make the maximum impact and persuade the potential buyer that this is the home for them

East London property photographer Roxanne Wentzel ensures homes are clutter-free and well-lit before capturing their unique architectural features and settings.
East London property photographer Roxanne Wentzel ensures homes are clutter-free and well-lit before capturing their unique architectural features and settings.
Image: Roxanne Wentzel

Great photographs entice prospective buyers to your home and it is worth paying a professional property photographer to highlight its best features when putting it on the market.

So says home photographer Roxanne Wentzel who started shooting properties for Pam Golding East London about four years ago and has now gone freelance.

For her it is vital to capture not just the physical attributes of a house but also the essence of a home and she has a knack of capturing even the most humble of homes with magazine standard results.

“A first impression is important and buyers looking for a home will be drawn to the one with really good photographs. The better the images, the more viewings you will have.”

Wentzel cautioned against taking cellphone photos of properties when listing them for sale. “Cellphones don’t have the wide angle which shows the entire room.”For her, the biggest mistake sellers make is forgetting to clean or de-clutter their homes ahead of a shoot – and underwear hanging in the shower to dry.

Wentzel became entranced with photography as a teen when she lived near a photographer in Southernwood who would display matric dance photos in his windows. “I ended up being his assistant at a Grens matric dance, but then I fell into waitressing.”

A first impression is important and buyers looking for a home will be drawn to the one with really good photographs. The better the images, the more viewings you will have.

Her life went off the rails when she became addicted to crystal meth (tik) but she has beaten her addiction, thanks to the support of her husband and has been clean for five years.

Wentzel’s dormant interest in photography was re-ignited when she was asked to photograph a wedding. “I only had a point and shoot camera, but borrowed a better one and became obsessed with doing the best possible job.”

She fell into property photography by chance when Pam Golding’s Hanlie Bassingthwaighte saw a sunset photograph she had taken which included the agency’s signage and offered her a job.

“I was working as a dental assistant at the time, but jumped at the chance. The camera and the job gave me a new lease on life. I joined the Bonza Bay photographic society and fell in love with photography.”

Wentzel now shares her own tips on how to highlight a home’s best qualities when preparing it for a photographer, saying there are certain basics that should be in place before pictures get taken. “When I arrive at a house I put my equipment down and walk through the home. I put all the toilet seats down and switch on all the lights for ambience.

“All beds should be neatly made, windows cleaned, dirt bins and washing baskets tucked away and clothes out of sight. Kitchen counters should be clear of clutter because the eye gets drawn to clutter and you are trying to sell a lifestyle.“

Prospective buyers should be able to visualise their own belongings in your space. Piles of suitcases and medicines are also a big no-no. But for me, the biggest thing is dirt. Even a humble house should be clean.”

And, while Wentzel says a bouquet of flowers is a welcome centrepiece, less is more when it comes to décor. “If you have coffee table books, rather just leave one out.“If possible remove your dogs and their beds. No one wants to see a dog’s tail in the photo and it is not easy to edit it out, but if a pet doesn’t want to leave, I find a way of working around them.”

East London property photographer Roxanne Wentzel ensures homes are clutter-free and well-lit before capturing their unique architectural features and settings.
East London property photographer Roxanne Wentzel ensures homes are clutter-free and well-lit before capturing their unique architectural features and settings.
Image: Roxanne Wentzel

Wentzel has come across slimy green pools, backyards scattered with toys and dog mess strewn on the lawn. “I have to photograph the pool and so then I just edit it to look blue.”

Light is all-important for the best shots. While the exterior of high-end properties photograph well at night with their lights a-twinkle, an overcast day works best for daytime photography because light is more even. “You are not fighting shadows and highlights. I’ve seen phenomenal homes like one for R16.5-million which has three storeys, a private jetty, walk-in closets and every bedroom en-suite, but I’ve also photographed ordinary homes that give you the feel and remind you of Sunday lunches and children splashing around in the pool.

“These are homes, not just properties.”More of Wentzel’s photographs are on Instagram – @roxannewphotographer

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