Real estate photography is a subgenre of commercial photography where the artist takes photos of a home or property for sale. They usually work with homeowners, agents, and other clients whose primary goal is to take stunning images that showcase their property and, ultimately, get it to sell.
The photos that a real estate photographer takes appear in online real estate listings or property catalogs. As such, it’s their job to take appealing photos of the property and showcase them in the best light to attract potential home buyers.
If you’re a beginner looking to try your hand at real estate photography, you should know that there are unique styles and technicalities involved in shooting real estate properties. But you can pull it off as long as you’re armed with the essential tips we’re going to discuss in this article.
Before we dive deep into helping you learn the skills you need to take stunning real estate photographs and tips to get the best results, let’s first get you equipped with what you need.
Of course, your camera is your lifeblood. Whether high-dynamic range (HDR) cameras or digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras, your camera should come with customizable settings and neat features that will help you take high-quality images.
In addition to your camera, we recommend that you take a couple more things with you.
When shooting real estate, you’re going to need a lens that is versatile and can help you get the best shot in multiple situations. A prime lens is the most ideal for this application, as it allows you to take shots in tight spaces. As to the lens size you need, something small, like 27mm or 35mm, will work best.
A wide-angle lens is also a useful feature to have, especially when shooting the home’s interior. It can make small spaces appear larger and more spacious and interest the potential buyer.
A reliable tripod will come in very handy in real estate photography, especially if you are shooting indoor spaces. It will help you stabilize your shots and avoid blurry pictures, especially at night when light is limited, and you need to reduce your shutter speed.
While your camera will have a built-in flash, this won’t necessarily yield the best quality photos, especially if the lighting in the environment is poor. Consider bringing your own lighting equipment to the shoot so that you can play around with the mood and show the property in the best light.
You can’t shoot everything that you need in a couple of minutes. Especially in real estate photography, your shoot will likely take longer than you anticipated. You’ll most definitely need to take multiple shots at different angles before you find the perfect shot.
You need to prepare for these situations by being armed with extra batteries and SD cards. After all, the last thing you want is for your camera to lose battery juice or storage memory right when you’ve found the perfect angle or lighting!
Always have spares in your bag for emergencies so you don’t delay your shoot or, worse, have to return the next day. As for the extra SD card, we recommend you bring two to three extras, each ideally with at least 64 GB of memory.
Now that you know what equipment you need, let’s move on to the skills that you need to develop to become a successful real estate photographer and be able to compete in a highly competitive niche.
Clients look for photographers who are easy to communicate with, able to follow the brief to turn their vision into reality, and who have experience with photography styles that show their properties in the best light.
Whether we like to hear it or not, real estate photography is 80% about delivering what the client wants and 20% about personal style and creativity. Photographers in this niche need to be very willing and able to follow their client’s instructions, whether that be about how they want their shots to look or how to stage their property’s rooms.
As such, real estate photographers will often need to do a lot of reading. They need to fully understand the brief and clarify if they have any questions. An excellent real estate photography job is one that fits the client’s vision to a T.
Real estate photographers will be working with a lot of people in their line of work – from their clients to agents and other staff members. And coordination with these people is crucial to ensure the project runs as smoothly as possible.
As such, the ability to communicate effectively is a vital skill that real estate photographers need to possess. They must be able to maintain clear communication with their clients so that there is no misunderstanding about deadlines, instructions, meeting times, etc.
One of the photography principles or concepts that are especially important in real estate photography is the exposure triangle. Beginners and seasoned real estate photographers alike must be very familiar with it to get the best shots of a property.
The exposure triangle refers to how three important camera features work together: the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. According to the principle, all three of these need to be balanced to yield the best outcomes. One area that’s overcompensated will drastically affect how a photo looks.
Real estate photographers are all very unique from each other. Regardless, there are quality standards that they can all abide by to yield the best property shots. Here are some tips to keep in mind to impress your clients and succeed as a real estate photographer.
A wide-angle lens can help you capture more of the space and make rooms look larger. This feature is especially important when shooting interiors that may appear small when photographed. A wide-angle lens will allow you to make the rooms look bigger and attract potential buyers.
The time of day that you shoot will make a significant impact on how your photos are going to come out. It might be a pain, but part of being a photographer is being willing to wake up in the wee hours of the day to get great lighting for your shoot.
As much as possible, you want plenty of natural light, as this will show the property in an appealing and aesthetic way. Natural light can make a space feel bright and airy, so try to schedule your shoot during daylight hours.
If you’re shooting at a time of year when sunlight is limited, you have to account for that and consider bringing with you additional lighting fixtures and equipment that can help you imitate natural light.
You’ll also want to take your shots with all the lights on, as they can help bring warmth into your photos and make the space look more inviting.
Before you start shooting, remove any unnecessary clutter and personal items from the space to make it feel more inviting. Having too many items in the area will make the photo look too cluttered. Having too many things going on will confuse the viewer and potential buyer. Not only that, but clutter will also make the room look smaller than it is.
Aim for a minimalistic look. Get rid of distracting elements that add noise to your photos, such as phone cables or trash bins. Organize items, move furniture around, and take photos of a clean room that makes it easy for the viewer to look at and appreciate.
A tripod can help you keep your shots steady and level, which is especially important when shooting in low light, where you need a slower shutter speed. In addition to a tripod, you can also consider a remote to take your photos so that you don’t have to touch the camera and risk taking a blurry picture.
When shooting interiors, level your tripod to around 5.5 feet in height. Shooting from eye level will help make the room look proportional. Orienting the bottom of your camera correctly on your tripod will also help you maintain straight vertical lines that will yield clean and precise photos.
Try shooting from different angles to capture the best features of the space and show off its unique characteristics. Don’t be afraid to take as many photos as possible so that you have a lot to choose from—having too many photos is way better than not having enough.
In addition to shooting from different angles in the property, try playing with your camera settings and exposures. This helps you find the perfect settings to get the photos just right.
To give you an idea of how many photos you need to take and how the best shot should look like, you typically need to present your client with final, edited shots of the following:
If you have a drone on hand, feel free to use it! This equipment will help you create exciting shots that other photographers can’t offer, setting you apart as a real estate photographer. Your client will love a bird’s eye view of the property, which can help them attract more buyers!
The photos that you take in the shoot are raw shots that often need post-processing before they’re ready to be sent to your client. Choose your best photos and enhance them with an editing tool or software.
Editing your photos can help enhance the colors and details in the image, but be careful not to overdo it. You don’t want your shots to look inauthentic. You just want to adjust the lighting, colors, and sharpness to show the subject in the best way possible.
In general, the adjustments that you need to make will involve the following:
If you feel like your photos need more help than that, then make other adjustments as necessary.
Real estate property doesn’t just cover the house and its rooms. You can also take your camera and capture shots of the surrounding area. Home buyers will want to know what it looks like around the house, the amenities they can find, etc.
Include photos of the surrounding neighborhood to give viewers a better sense of the area and the property’s location. It will also give the property an additional edge, especially if it’s located in an ideal neighborhood.
Every property will have its unique features. Whether it’s a stunning view, a unique architectural detail, or a spacious outdoor area, make sure to capture and highlight the key features of the property.
If it seems like there is none, it’s a sign that you need to think outside the box. Ask yourself what you see that isn’t common in a standard home. It can be a newly installed bathroom or proximity to a World Heritage Site, a modern fireplace, a pool, etc. — trust us, there’s always something unique to highlight.
Furniture can do a lot to make your photographs more attractive. But you won’t always be taking photos of homes that are furnished. Some clients will ask you to make blank spaces and empty rooms look good—and that’s where virtual staging comes in.
If the space is empty or sparsely furnished, virtual staging can help buyers visualize the potential of the space and make it feel more welcoming. For this, you need to use a graphic design tool to overlay furniture and other elements to create a realistic and appealing shot.
The more you practice real estate photography, the better you’ll become. Experiment with different techniques, angles, and lighting to find what works best for each space.
Remember that no one becomes a great photographer overnight. It requires time, practice, and experience to build your skills, learn new concepts, and apply your own touch of creativity to your work.
Real estate photography is a very profitable and fulfilling niche that a lot of beginners are now getting into. Armed with our tips, you should be able to create stunning photos of properties that will impress your clients and help you build your portfolio.
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