Today, more than ever, buyers are spending most of their time online searching for homes, and mostly looking at the photos. As a real estate professional, and an amateur photographer, I have taken my own real estate photos and I have hired a professional. If you're in the market to buy or sell a home, I'm sure you've been looking online to see what's out there. I'm also sure you've seen some really amazing photos and some completely unacceptable "smart phone pics" If you are hiring a real estate professional to represent you in the sale of your home, insist on professional photos, unless they happen to be a really good photographer.
You get ONE shot to properly market your home to a very wide audience. Don't be the listing with the dark, blurry pics. Be the listing that stands out, even if it's not a high end listing, you are still paying a commission to your broker, and part of that should include professional photos and marketing.
Bottom line: Ask your agent who they use as their professional photographer. If s/he indicates that they take their own, ask to see their listings online so you can see what the photos look like. New top-end smart phones today take amazing photos, and sometimes almost look as good as professional, but proper lighting, lenses, and just plain know how, can make or break your photos.
Preparing your home for photos can be just as important as the photos themselves. I offer my seller clients advice on how they can use a professional stager to bring a vacant property to life, or how to use some of their own furnishings, with a bit of de-personalization and de-cluttering, to make their lovely home look more like a model home. This helps potential buyers to imagine themselves living in the "house" instead of visiting your "home".
Buyers: Don't be fooled by the super wide-angle photos that are often used as real estate photos. They only look that big in person if you're a small child!