Anytime we take an exterior photograph, we make small choices that add up to give us a high quality image. We consider different lenses. Angles. Exposures. The list of variables is long.

Our decisions are technical, and artistic too. Sometimes, they’re complicated.

There’s one factor, though, that has a bigger impact on our exterior photos than any other. And, it is the easiest and least technical to control.

Whether you’re an amateur photog or a professional new to shooting architecture, here’s the trick:

The key to great exterior photographs is taking them at the right time of day.

Exteriors look their best when the sun shines directly onto them. Contrary to what you might think, this doesn’t always happen in the early afternoon. It all depends on the direction a property faces.

Photographed in the morning: notice the bright white sky and views that are difficult to make out

Photographed in the late afternoon when the sun was shining on the house and its view

So, how do you figure out when a building gets the best sun? Unless you’re a wizard with angles, compasses, and time, we recommend finding an app that you love. Our most used has been SunCalc.org, but there are more than few out there. Test a few to see what you like!

If you’re not into apps, don’t worry: when you schedule an exterior shoot with us, we’ll always check to make sure the light will be fantastic. If it’s not, we’ll contact you to propose another time.

Occasionally, this will mean shooting on a cloudy day (think of a B&B with a romantic, mysterious atmosphere) or even considering a seasonal update. Since we offer “exterior only” shoot options, it’s easy for us to replace a drab winter shot with a beautiful spring view.

To see more of our favorite exteriors, follow us on Instagram and Facebook. You can also get more Swartz tips and tricks right in your inbox by subscribing to our newsletters. And if you need an exterior photographed, click here to schedule an appointment.