Does Real Estate photography seem overwhelming? Don’t worry, we have you covered!

Find a home in real estate photography with these tips!

As more people shop for homes online, a talented real estate photographer can be a realtor’s best secret weapon.  Get the spec sheet real estate photography, the growing market that you might enjoy calling home.

What is Real Estate Photography?

Real estate photography is taking flattering images of a property’s interior or exterior, usually done with the intent of making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Good descriptions are one thing, but high-quality real estate images will really help a buyer form a great first impression of the place. Many realtors have found hiring a professional to handle the real estate photography works helps the place stand out from the pack.  Images shot for a real estate agent may be used online, in advertisements, flyers or in real estate marketing material.

The Pros and Cons of Real Estate Photography!

Pros

  • A growing market. More realtors are realizing the benefits of hiring professional photographers. A smartphone photo is okay, but high-end work can help move homes.
  • Less saturated market. Your market might have hundreds of photographers in it clambering for wedding and portrait work, but very few people trying to break into real estate photography.
  • Work year round. Real estate houses are listed and sold every month of the year, making real estate photography a steady income stream for a photography business.
  • Flexible schedule. Because you aren’t actually shooting clients and are working indoors for much of the time, your shooting schedule has more flexibility.
  • Low-stress sessions. Houses sit still and never give you attitude, so they make great models. Many self-proclaimed introvert photographers find they enjoy real estate photography more than any other type of photography because it is more autonomous and moves at a slower pace.

Cons

  • Fast turnarounds. Realtors want houses listed and sold quickly because time really is money. Edited images may be needed more quickly than you are used to delivering, often just a few days after your shoot.
  • Lack of creative expression. Real estate photography isn’t about being clever with creative angles or wowing with shallow depths of field and amazing bokeh. Your client will usually have very clear and precise expectations about the type, number, and angle of photos she needs.
  • Lack of emotional connection. If you’re a portrait photographer who really vibes on the emotion of your sessions or a wildlife or landscape photographer who enjoys the natural aesthetic of your genre, you might find real estate photography a bit too impersonal or boring.
  • Lack of upselling opportunity. Prices for real estate photography services are fixed.  Your clients want digital files, only a certain number of images and isn’t interested in albums, magnets or a huge canvas.
  • An introvert’s dream job might not be for you if you thrive on the interaction of high energy shoots or enjoy seeing your images cherished by families.
  • Flash may be required. Anyone can shoot a big, open concept house with huge windows and tons of natural light and make it look beautiful.  But you may need some creativity and off camera lighting skills to shoot small, dark…er, cozy bungalows or basement apartments.  Knowing how to use flash to brighten a space without casting glares is a valuable skill in real estate photography.

real estate photography

Real Estate Photography Tips on Pricing

Generally, real estate photography jobs are paid on a per real estate property basis.  You could charge a flat fee per property, a rate based on square footage, an hourly rate or some combination of the three methods. Below are a few examples for these tips.

Please note these are not actual real estate  prices but are numbers I’ve used to demonstrate the method.  There is no industry-wide standard or set price – you’ll need to set your prices based on your business model and market.

PhotographerCharges…
ACharges $150 for properties under 2,000 square feet and $300 for real estate properties 2,001 square feet and above.
B$100 per real estate property.
C$.10 per square foot with a $150 minimum.
D$75 per half hour shooting time.
E$.06 per square foot, plus an additional $75 per half hour for farms, ranches or industrial properties with extensive exterior work.

Again, the dollar amounts used above are just placeholders.  You’ll need to determine a price that reflects your skill, costs, and market.  When pricing real estate photography services or specific jobs, be sure to consider the driving distance, size, and scope of the job, number of images requested, turnaround, season and the amount of post-processing that might be required.

Premium services like video or aerial images using a drone can command higher prices.

Thinking about buying a drone?  Read our getting started tutorial!

Real Estate Photography Tips on Taking Better Photos

Like any other type of photography, quality real estate images take practice and repetition to get right.  You probably won’t knock it out of the park the first few sessions you do, so consider practicing on your own home or friends’ homes until you find a workflow and post-processing style you really like.  But here are some ideas and tips to get you started.

Prepare a Shot List

While no two homes are identical, there are some standard shots that every client would want. With the help of shot lists, you won’t miss any must-have best real estate photos. When taking top real estate shots, make sure you get:

  • At least two wide-angle pictures of the living room space, kitchen, and each bedroom 
  • An image of the bathroom
  • One to three shots of the backyard
  • At least one for other parts of the place like pantry, laundry room, and garage 
  • One to two pictures of the front of the house

Examine the House

One of the overlooked real estate photography tips is learning how not to rush. First, you need to inspect every part of the house. Like when you’re doing an ocular visit at a venue, you must walk around the home and check the little details.

Choose a Full-Frame Camera 

Selecting the right camera is one of the ways to capture great real estate images. While there are different kinds of cameras you can try, it’s better if you can bring a full-frame camera every time you photograph homes because those can easily cope with light. 

Aside from that, full-frame cameras can accommodate a wide range of higher-end lenses that can have an impact on your photos. If the home doesn’t have much natural light, a full-frame camera also helps you with image stabilization.

Use a Tripod  

Using a tripod ensures maximum sharpness and allows you to take advantage of slow shutter speeds to attain proper exposure.  Make sure your VR or IS or whatever your lens manufacture calls its image stabilizing software OFF.

Bring a Flash 

When using a flash on a camera, be sure to bounce the light off walls to diffuse it. If you point the camera flash directly into the place, you’ll get an unsightly bright area in the shot. Hence, turn the flash so that it bounces on the ceiling above you or off a wall behind you.  

To get professional real estate photos, it would be best to use flash in manual mode. Start with 1/16th of its power and adjust from there. One flash should be enough for small rooms, while you’ll likely need two or more additional lights for larger spaces.

Move Furniture and Eliminate Clutter to Create Space  

Don’t be afraid to move objects to create more negative space or clean up an image.  This includes furniture and clutter around a real estate property’s exterior as well!  Just be sure to clear it with the realtor and put it all back the way you found it.

Use Props to Sell the Property and Lifestyle

While decluttering works well to show how spacious a house is, using different kinds of props can add a personal touch to the place. As a professional real estate photographer, it’s also your job to help potential buyers envision themselves in the space your client is trying to sell. 

Stage the rooms in a way that invites the viewers into the house. For example, set the table with fresh flowers and a bowl of fruit to make the area “homey”. If you’re photographing a luxurious place, focus on how lavish the mirrors, columns, or chandelier look. 

Fix Color Temperature

While the results depend on your equipment and skills, there are still different factors that can impact the colors. This may be lighting, shadows, cutter, and even weather conditions. If you know how to correct light temperature, you can fix this problem quickly. 

For instance, artificial lighting in the kitchen or bathroom can result in an unpleasant yellow tint. You can use Lightroom to remove this effect, simply moving the yellow or orange slider until the yellow shade turns into a plain white light.

Edit Toward Light and Airy  

You might love a dark and moody portrait, but that might not be flattering for a residential or commercial real estate property.  Keep your edits clean and simple with true to life colors.

What’s an Expodisc and how do they work?  Learn more here!

Real Estate Photography Tips on Lighting

Light makes spaces look more prominent, especially in photography. Likewise, turning lights on can make a real estate property feel warmer and more welcoming. To help you become consistent with lighting, you must understand how it works for interior and exterior real estate photography. 

Lighting for Interiors

In real estate, there are two constant light sources: window light and interior lights. Natural light will make your shots as realistic as possible, letting clients see how the house actually looks. In the same way, you can emphasize crucial details, such as textile, wooden, or metal elements of furniture. 

Since most realtors want an airy, upbeat feel to their homes, you can try opening up doors, pulling back curtains, and raising the shades to let the light come down. 

Try turning on overhead light as well and see how that changes the feel of the room. Avoid shooting at night or on really dark, gloomy days. 

Lighting for Exteriors

When it comes to a house’s exterior, you can experiment with mixed lighting. To get an idea of how to light the subject, check which direction the house faces. This prevents you from photographing straight into bright windows.

Choosing the right time is one of the crucial aspects of real estate photography. In general, shooting early or around late in the afternoon is better for real estate photography. Although you may shoot any time of the day, white skies may lessen the impact of an otherwise great exterior shot.

Instead, shoot exteriors at golden hour. Sometimes using soft  beautiful light is as flattering on properties as it is for portraits.

Real Estate Photography Tips on Angles and Perspectives

Shoot From a Corner or Doorway  

Shooting from a corner or doorway allows you to capture more of the room and helps the room appear bigger.  Don’t be afraid to shoot through a doorway, too, and see the shot you prefer.

Shoot From Roughly Eye Level

The point of real estate photography is to give customers a preview of what the space looks like. Take pictures that represent how a client will view a space.

Some locations can include people.  If you’re taking photos for a commercial or educational space, for example, it might be helpful to show the space functioning as such.  Having people in the images also helps provide a sense of scale.

Prevent Distortion by Shooting Straight

Even if you want to shoot different angles, make sure to keep the camera straight. This helps avoid distortion and saves you time from straightening every image in Lightroom. 

While each home is different, five feet is the general height that will make your photos look the most natural and feel balanced. If you go lower, you’ll capture too much of the furniture and not enough of the space. Meanwhile, going up high focuses on the ceiling instead of the liveable area.

Use a Drone to Highlight the Surroundings

According to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) statistics, properties with accompanying aerial imagery are 68% more likely to sell than those without aerial photos. Professional real estate photographers shoot not only the interior photography but also the outside world to show what it’s like to live in the listed real estate property and the neighborhood. 

Thus, one of the things you can do to get good pictures is to make use of a drone to promote neighborhood amenities. This gives the buyer an idea of the view when they look through the home’s windows or when they take a walk.

One of the top reasons why realtors hire real estate photographers is that they also need someone to get photos that encompass aerial views of the entire real estate property and land. Aerial photos provide great visual aids for buyers to see the condition of the roof and other real estate property features that can be difficult to assess.

the best settings for real estate photography

What Camera Settings Should I Use for Real Estate Photos?

Aperture

Start with apertures of f/7.1 to f/11 to create a moderate depth of field.  This will let you get most of the room in focus from front to back without losing sharpness at the corners of your image.  Stop and check your image in the back of your camera and make sure you’ve gotten the focus you want.  Double check that furniture in front of and behind your focal point isn’t too soft or ghostly.

ISO

Next, set your ISO.  Start with an ISO of 100, but be raising it to 400 or even 800 is acceptable.  A lower ISO is always preferable to eliminate grain, but most cameras handle 400-800 ISO well and post-processing can help alleviate that as well.

Shutter speed

I set my shutter speed last when determining settings for real estate photography.  We want our room to feel bright and inviting, so often I need a shutter speed of 1/60 or even ¼ of a second.  This is where a tripod is a critical piece of equipment.  I typically spot meter off a gray card placed in my scene and then check the histogram on the back of your camera to ensure I have a correct exposure.

White balance

Use your preferred white balance method. A white balance tool, like a white balance card or Expo Disc in your shot helps you ensure your edits represent colors more true-to-life, but use any photography method you feel comfortable with.

Bracket your exposures. 

The camera can’t quite take real estate images in the full dynamic range of an image like our eyes.  To help with this you can use a photography technique called bracketing.

This photography technique allows you to shoot a range of exposures, from underexposed to overexposed and then combine those exposures in post-production to create an image more indicative of how a house hunter might see it.

real estate photography for beginners

What Lenses Are Good for Real Estate Photography?

Forget bokeh and compression – for real estate shots, you’ll want a wide angle lens that is sharp and reliable.

For crop-sensor bodies, lens choices would include:

  • Canon 11-24mm f/4 or 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6
  • Nikon 10-24mm
  • Tokina 12-28 mm f/4
  • Tamron 12-24 mm f/3.5-4.5

For full-frame bodies, look at:

  • Tamron 15-30 mm f/2.8
  • Nikon 16-35mm f/4
  • Canon 16-35 mm f/4
  • Tokina 17-35 mm f/4
  • Sigma 18-35 mm ART f/1.8

Finally, stay away from fish-eye lenses.  Yes, it can make a small room look incredibly spacious, but a fish-eye lens also causes unrealistic proportions and expectations.

Tilt-shift lenses

If you find that real estate photography is becoming a large portion of your business and it’s something you really enjoy, then it’s probably time to invest in specialized equipment like a tilt-shift lens.

Tilt-shift lenses help you alter the perspective of your lens, obtain straight vertical lines and solve the problem of convergence in a wide angle lens with vertical lines. A tilt-shift lens essentially lets you control the angle of the lens so you can fit an entire room into your image, without any distortion.

But these specialized lenses come with a pretty hefty price tag, so you’ll want to make sure real estate photography is something you are going to stick with before making the investment.

Unsure about what camera lenses are good for what photography specialty? Read more here!

Real estate photography can be a thriving business in some markets or a means of supplementing your income in slow portrait photography months.  It can also an excellent way to make new contacts in your market.  After practice and experimentation, consider adding real estate as a service to your photography business. You might just unlock the door to your future passion!