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

Find a home in real estate photography and start becoming a real estate photographer 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 real estate photographer 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 a professional real estate photographer. 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 real estate photography business.
  • Flexible schedule. Because you aren’t actually shooting clients and are working indoors for much of the time, once you start becoming a real estate photographer your shooting schedule has more flexibility.
  • Low-stress sessions. Property and houses sit still and never give you attitude, so they make great models. Many self-proclaimed introvert real estate 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 and real estate agents want houses and property 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 clients 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 photo shoot 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. There’s a demand for real estate photos, digital files, and only a certain number of images. Clients aren’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 photos cherished by families.
  • Flash may be required. Anyone can shoot a big, open concept home or property with huge windows and tons of natural light and make it look beautiful.  But a professional real estate photographer 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

How to Get Into Real Estate Photography

After seeing the pros and cons of photographing real estate properties, interior spaces, and exteriors, let’s look into ways on how you can enter the world of real estate photography and becoming a real estate photographer. 

Create a Real Estate Photo Website

Setting up a website is one of the best ways to promote your services because it enables people to see crucial information and high-quality photos in one place. A real estate photography website should balance design and functionality. 

Aside from pictures, you can add videos and blog articles to show your experience as a professional real estate photographer. Likewise, your website can serve as an online platform for potential clients to contact and hire you.

Build A Portfolio

You can start building a real estate photography portfolio by taking interior and exterior photos of your home. You can also ask friends or local entrepreneurs if you can photograph their property, houses and shops. Be creative with compositions using available items such as flower pots, carpets, or magazines.  

Another option is to go on photo walks. You would see lots of structures whether you’re in the countryside or urban area. Try taking quality photos of the same building at different times of the day to show that you can make any structure appealing in various lighting conditions. 

Invest in Education and Classes

Shooting images of real estate properties is very different from portraits, so it’s essential that you gain the proper knowledge of how this niche works before securing paid gigs. 

Several online videos, courses, and workshops can teach you anything about real estate photography. Dedicate time to attend in-person lectures or workshops since some of them may include activities to apply what you learned right away. 

Market Your Services

There are different methods to market yourself as a professional real estate photographer, and getting into social media platforms is one of the best ways to engage with a client. 

Facebook

Facebook posts with photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click-throughs. With the platform’s targeted advertising, you can advertise to people by age, location, behavior, and interests. 

Twitter

Your tweets help you form personal relationships with followers and potential customers, boosting conversions, and increasing engagement at the same time. 

Instagram

This is a global platform that lets you tell a story through photos, giving your posts a more humanized feeling by adding hashtags like #properties, #dreamhouse, #homegoals, and #rentalproperty.

Pinterest

This remains one of the go-to sites of people who find ideas and inspiration for their projects or hobbies. You can create pins using your real estate photos and link those back to your website. 

Attend Networking Events

You can attend conventions and collaborate with real estate agents who may be open to having you shoot for them either for a full or discounted rate. 

Another way is to go to photography fairs and meet full time, established real estate photographers. There are times when professionals need to hire assistants or interns, letting you learn from the experts who have years of experience. 

Look on Websites that Post About Real Estate Photography Jobs

Aside from networking through events and social media engagement, full time real estate photographers can get clients through freelance job websites.

Upwork

This site lets you match your ideal jobs for your skills. Also, it caters to most good-paying clients. 

Craigslist

A platform with sections for a wide range of jobs. It also divides job posts into subcategories to help people find the right work based on location, rate, and job requirements.

LinkedIn

This a professional platform that lets employers and companies post job openings and communicate with prospective employees. Your profile also lets employers see if you’re available for real estate photography work. 

Freelancer

This is a great place for people to present portfolios, post projects, and look for creative projects.

Should You Shoot For Free?

It may be okay to accept one or two jobs for free if you need to practice, and you know that you can’t produce professional outputs yet. However, it’s important that this is clear to your client. 

Once you really know what you’re doing, then you should be charging for your services. When you continue to photograph for free despite your growth, you’re allowing the client to exploit your services and believe they can hire you again for free. 

In any kind of photography, make sure that the client doesn’t take advantage of your best time and skills. Remember, you’re still spending resources on equipment, software, travel, and even electricity. 

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 of these tips.

Please note these are not actually 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 real estate photography business model and photography market.

Real Estate Photographer Charges…
A Charges $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 photography skill, costs, and market in the long term.  When pricing real estate photography services or specific jobs, be sure to consider the driving distance, size, and scope of the job, number of photos requested, turnaround, season and the amount of post-processing that might be required.

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

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

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 photo 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 length and focal point aren’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 property or house hunter might see it.

real estate photography for beginners

Tools You Need for Real Estate Photography

One of the best things about real estate photography is that you’re dealing with stationary subjects. Still, getting into the real estate photography business means you would need the right equipment to get the job done properly.  

Camera Body

Real estate photography is less demanding in terms of the camera body. You don’t need the latest or most high-end camera to take solid shots. A standard DSLR camera can do the trick as long as you know photography basics and understand how to use camera controls. 

These are some of the camera bodies you can use to get started: 

  • Nikon Coolpix B700: This is among the most budget-friendly cameras that boast superb zoom lens and manual properties. It lets you capture wide-angle shots with incredible details.  
  • Canon EOS 6D Mark II: This professional camera features a large resolution matrix that allows you to get more details. It also includes cross-type AF points that help you take images in low light conditions. 
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80: Its full-frame and optical zoom features make it ideal for photographing interiors and exteriors. It also has excellent image stabilization for keeping photos sharp.
  • Nikon D750: This one has highlight-weighted metering that provides better control over excessively bright areas in interior spaces, such as windows. It also includes a 24-megapixel resolution that produces high-quality images.

Editing Software

You don’t need fancy photo editing for real estate photos unless you also want to offer visual staging services. Real estate photography generally requires the most accurate representation of a property or space in the best light, and that’s where editing comes in. 

Photo editing software should allow you to correct distortions, turn down highlights, fix brightness and contrast, and do cropping. You can practice photo editing using these programs:  

  • Aurora HDR
  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Photomatix 
  • PicMonkey
  • Picturespeed 
  • Luminar 4
  • Snapseed 

Tripod

There are times when you need to shoot in low-lit environments and low ISO to prevent background photo noise. Sometimes, you need a smaller aperture to increase the depth of field and improve sharpness.

In such situations, you’d end up with a slow shutter speed, and these tripods can save you from getting blurred shots:

  • Manfrotto 410: Lightweight yet durable tripod that provides a smooth and precise head adjustment. 
  • Sirui T-025X 52: A compact and ultralight tripod for mirrorless cameras.
  • Zomei Z888C: Carbon fiber tripod with cushioning, double fixations, and corrosion-resistance properties. 

Lighting Gear

Natural light remains to be the best lighting for photography. However, you may need to blend several exposures to form the perfect shot. If the composition allows, make sure to open the windows and doors to let in as much sunlight as possible. 

Meanwhile, you would most likely need to add artificial lighting in dark spaces. 

  • Reflectors: Magnify natural light and help highlight smaller details and texture of floors, furniture, and other materials of the structure.
  • Speedlight: Produces fill light to illuminate spaces with ambient light. Most Speedlights have built-in diffusion panels to spread the light even wider. 
  • Strobe Flash: Has the ability to overpower sunlight, making it suitable for exterior shots.

What Lenses Are Good for Real Estate Photography?

Wide-Angle Lens

One of the goals of real estate photography is to make even the tiniest of spaces look spacious. If you want to make rooms appear bigger than they actually are, a wide-angle lens or even an ultra wide angle lens would become your new shooting buddy. 

Wide-angle lenses can shoot a broader view of a scene while also getting the entire space into a single shot. Forget bokeh and compression – for real estate shots, you’ll want a wide angle lens that is sharp and reliable.

For crop-sensor bodies, wide angle 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 real estate photography business and it’s something you really enjoy, then it’s probably time to invest in specialized equipment like a tilt-shift lens.

  • Nikon PC 19mm f/4E
  • Canon 17mm f/4 L TS-E
  • Samyang 24mm f/3.5 ED
  • Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-E

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!