A Chat with Local Photographer Paul Keppel

Posted: 17th June 2024

Today something a little different for us; we are interviewing local photographer Paul Keppel. Recently, we’ve been working with Paul to capture some of our properties and we are delighted that he has agreed to become our exclusive property photographer. Over to you Paul…



Tell us about you - how did you get started in photography?


I’m a local boy, Falmouth born and bred. I studied photography in school at GCSE and A-level, on film in a dark room which I loved but then I had a massive gap. During this time, I worked in hospitality. I started as a silver service waiter at the Royal Duchy Hotel then worked up to Duty Manager within a pub chain which led me to doing ski seasons in Les Deux Alpes. I trained to be a skiing instructor by day and ran a hotel bar by night.



It was when I was working as a ski instructor in Switzerland that I got back into photography. A friend of a friend is a photographer – we were on the ski slopes and he was taking photos to look like we were jumping high, then pointed to some off piste and said “I wish I could ski that and take photos of you guys” I thought I can ski that and I used to take photos, so I bought a camera and a few lenses and the following season I started photographing for the ski school and combining my passions. I was around 31 when I started photographing for the ski school. Following that I studied a degree in photography at Truro College as a mature student. 



And what made you diversify and start in property photography?



After Covid hit, weddings were really affected and so many of us went without work almost overnight. Of course, although the wedding market suffered, the property market thrived. Properties were booming in Cornwall during covid. I realised that the majority of weddings take place on Fridays and Saturdays whereas property photography is more flexible and works around my personal life. I also don’t have the pressure of capturing the intimate moments before they pass!



The wedding photography industry has become increasingly accessible, leading to a surge in competition. With many new photographers entering the market, often offering lower prices, it has become challenging to maintain the value of high-quality wedding photography. Moreover, success in this field requires not just excellent photography skills but also proficiency in SEO and social media marketing to ensure visibility. This adds a whole new dimension to running a photography business. You can’t just take good photos. I really enjoy property photography and now have found a perfect balance alongside my wedding photography.




What is the difference between photographing weddings and properties?


They are both very specialist. They require unique skills and a particular approach. Wedding photography is more about fleeting moments, being in the right place at the right time. It is a lot more pressured, whereas property photography is about creating a lasting visual impression of space. I have a lot more time, thinking about lighting, staging and composition. Whereas with weddings it’s those smiles, hugs and laughs, you have to be in the right place at the right time and you have to have your finger on the pulse. You’re in the moment and you don’t know what’s going to happen, so you have to be reactive. With properties I can take my time. Look at the property, walk around, work out where the light is – where the sun rises, where it sets and understand the story of the property and the features of each room.



What are the benefits of having a professional photographer take images of your property for sale?


It means you’ll receive high quality images, it’s basically an investment. I also photograph a lot of Airbnb properties and there’s so many poor quality photographs on Airbnb and even done by estate agents; often the images are all taken at eye level, tilting down. Many times, estate agents don’t understand the lighting and the shadows, they are using flash in the wrong instances, the windows are blown out so you can’t see the view etc. Good photography is about maximising the features and investing in the presentation of the property. 



With a professional, you get the expertise in lighting, composition and staging. I’ll select what lights to turn on in the property as it can help set the atmosphere. I look at the living area and what it needs to set the scene and remove distractions. Toilet brushes, bins, bright colours, hand soaps etc. I remove things that might distract from the image and ensure that it’s visually appealing and shows the property at its best.



The client will receive more engaging photos and hopefully the property will command a better price. Good images usually result in more viewings. I think it’s such a small fee to pay for what you will gain on the price. The internet is your first port of call for most buyers, so if you haven’t captured your customer from the first photo, you’ve potentially lost that viewing. It’s not about faking anything, you won’t find me using editing to make something look like it is or isn’t a certain way but just like make-up can accentuate features, photography can really position a property in the best light.



Property photography is a fairly recent venture for me but I’m really enjoying it and I am proud to be working exclusively with Heather & Lay.




Regardless of whether someone has the luxury of a professional photographer, how can people make their homes look better for their property photos?


The biggest thing is to declutter. You almost have to depersonalise your house. I wish my house looked like some of the places I photograph! All of “our stuff” makes the home look busy and takes away from what makes it appealing. Also, make sure it’s clean. That sounds obvious but it makes such an impact. If you clean your taps for instance, they will gleam in the photos and that could make the difference between a nice bathroom and a brilliant bathroom.  I hide leads of toasters and kettles when I’m photographing – I’m constantly reducing, removing and streamlining to get the sharpest sleekest image. Lighting is another big one – consider adding lamps if the room is dark. Open all the curtains and blinds to let as much natural light in as possible. In my home, I ended up buying different colour Kelvin lights – it was so disorientating. All my lights are now 4000 Kelvin so it’s the same light throughout the house. I notice these things as a photographer, and it means the photos are not really cold looking and it doesn’t jar to look at. Lighting is so important for showcasing your property.



It takes time to get things right.  For instance, I purposefully captured The Liner at 9am because of the position of the sun. Sometimes I have to go back if I want to make sure I get the best of the property. I came back at 6pm, as the sunset lights the other side of the apartment. It has to be right and I’m meticulous about getting the property at its best. I’m there to advise and to assist visually. I’m very passionate about positioning the properties. It’s the editing that takes the time – this is longer than the shoot. Your camera cannot see everything the eye can so I have to bracket the images which involves taking multiple images of different exposures then blending them together to pick up the shadows and give it a nice balanced feel so it imitates what your eyes can see. 



How would you describe your work?


Within weddings, I would call it storytelling. I try not to orchestrate any moments; they are all natural and candid. I want the best photos, so I advise on the best light and positioning and let the moments happen. I have taken that from weddings into property. I walk through and photograph the story of a property. I try to put the selling points first to capture the audience and then the experience of the property unfolds from there. 



What is next for you?


To continue being busier and keep doing what I’m doing. My degree is in Applied Media and I’m delving more into video this year. I’m at a videography conference in October to expand my skills. With social media these days, video is a huge market. People are now hiring content creators for weddings to walk around with their phones. Customers want to look at video and photo walkthroughs so this will be relevant in property as well. I’m doing a few other courses currently alongside; I watch YouTube a lot on a second screen when I’m editing so I can brush up on my skills and deepen my knowledge. As well as this, I shoot a lot of wedding proposals which have become huge since the pandemic. I’ve captured 62 so far and I really enjoy doing this, the element of surprise and capturing each emotion frame by frame – it’s magic. Proposals, weddings, properties… it keeps things diverse! 



What do you do when you’re not photographing?


I don’t get a lot of time surprisingly. I’m either photographing or being a full-time dad to my children. I do enjoy local football, I used to play for Falmouth Town many years ago and my dad helps support the club so I still show up to as many games as I can when I’m not photographing a wedding, and my 5 and 7-year-olds come along who love banging the drum, singing and clapping – they are Falmouth supporters too! I also love paddleboarding – this is one of the main reasons I bought my drone. Skiing and snowboarding as well – I still need to get my snow fix. I photograph weddings in Switzerland and love a ski destination wedding. I have the ability to ski backwards and get images of the bride and groom. I look like a gun slinger with cameras and lenses on my hips but it’s an incredible experience – who knew skiing and photography would position me for such a unique career?!


I’m also in a close-knit group of 5 other wedding photographers in Cornwall and we chat every day – it’s a lovely network of support and although we only meet rarely, it’s lovely when we do. Between us, we refer work and criticise each other’s work to whittle down our portfolios! I met with one of my friends the other day coincidentally and he has just bought a property, from Heather & Lay, of course! 



What is your favourite type of property to photograph?


Personally, I like modern homes. Big windows, nice views - like The Liner, that’s one I would like to live in. Big open windows and lots of light – what more could you want?



Thank you so much to Paul for this fun interview. We are so pleased to have you as our property photographer and appreciate your eye and your ideas. At Heather & Lay we are continuously investing in our marketing and how we position and promote our properties so that our vendors receive the best offer from the best prospective purchaser. You can see some of Paul’s recent photography for one of our properties here or find about more about him on his website here.






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