In the home inspection profession, quality photos and video are worth a thousand words–making your inspection reports more concise and to the point. At the same time, quality documentation helps protect your business from complaints and claims, so it’s important to get the right shots. Follow these home inspection photo and video tips for the best results.
Inspection Photo and Video Tips
1. Start with a Clean Camera Lens
Though we all put phones through the ringer, camera lenses are delicate equipment. Keep a microfiber cloth handy to clean the lens before taking snaps that will go in an inspection report.
2. Take Multiple Shots of Everything
One and done is risky when it comes to inspection documentation. Take multiple photos of each system and component and vary lighting and angles to give yourself more options when you’re choosing what shots to include in the report.
3. Take Photos of Both Issues and Non-Issues
Many inspectors are in the habit of documenting the overall condition of each room on the day of the inspection, whether there’s a problem or not. A photo showing the lack of any defect is your best defense against meritless claims of a problem.
4. Use Wide Shots
Wide shots are important for showing the general condition of a whole room or exterior face. In a claim situation, these shots help you show what isn’t visible, due to overgrown hedges, siding, paneling and so on. Consider buying a wide-angle lens for your phone or camera to make these shots better.
5. Zoom in for Closeup Shots
Use your camera’s zoom and macro functions to show defects and conditions in high detail. Closeups are also great for readable documentation of tags, labels and gauge readouts.
6. Pair Close and Wide Shots for Context
Document the same system and component details with a variety of close and wide shots to give better context to your report and make it easy to locate the problem areas you point out.
7. Pay Attention to Angles
The correct angle can quickly document the extent of a problem, such as a sagging gutter or bowed beam. Move around to find the angle or angles that make these problems apparent at first glance.
8. Read up on Lighting
Lighting is one of the keys to good photography. Look for tutorials online on how to use the camera and video features of your device. Pay attention to apertures, lens types and exposure settings needed for different lighting.
9. Avoid Under-Exposed Shots
Too little light causes dark and grainy pictures that lack enough detail. Attics, basements, chimneys, crawlspaces and other dark corners are notorious. Learn how to use a camera flash to light things up.
10. Bring a Tripod
Low-light shots can be greatly improved with longer exposure, but that requires a steady shot. An inexpensive tripod is a great investment that can improve image quality with less blur and better exposure of your shots.
11. Be Careful Not to Over-Exposed Shots
Too much light can be as bad as too little. Bright light on a light-colored metal, walls, siding and windows can wash out image detail, hiding the defects you’re trying to show. Try a different position or a different light setup.
12. Invest in External Lighting
With an external flash, you can do a lot better than your camera’s built-in flash, in terms of brightness and the ability to move the light source around. Clip-on LEDs start at $30 while pro setups can run up to $300.
13. Bring Backup Power and Memory
You don’t want to get into a situation where you have to limit your shots because of a low battery or full device storage. Bring chargers, backup batteries and external memory drives to your appointments.
14. Take Advantage of Photography Advances
New photography technology can be quite beneficial. Image stabilization helps with video and photo settings that manage low-light and composite shots are great. Just be careful not to distort the real appearance of a defect.
15. Take Time for Post-Production
When you’re back at the office finalizing your report, take time to perfect your visuals. Add in pointer arrows or circle important details, edit video clips for length and add captions to explain your shots.
The importance of good photography during a home inspection is often overlooked, but it can make all the difference when you need to ensure each inspection ends with a satisfied client and minimize your risk of a complaint or claim.