10 Real Estate Photography Tips

by Paul Skidmore
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real estate photography

One of the most important aspects of real estate marketing is photography. When presenting a property for sale or rent, a beautiful portfolio of magnificent photos from a real estate photo shoot can make the difference between a potential purchase or let. Real estate companies utilize property photography so that potential buyers can view the accommodation before even contemplating arranging a visit.

Real estate photography is the first impression customers have of a property. It must, therefore, make an impact, and provide a positive reflection of what it has to offer. Furthermore, the images must make a potential customer want to discover more. This is why the real estate photography tips listed below are so beneficial. If you are branching into this type of photography, we can help! Read on to find out how to improve your real estate photography!

1. Strong natural lighting is key

Natural lighting is your friend when taking real estate photos. Always ensure rooms have a maximum amount of natural lighting. This makes properties look positive. Furthermore, it makes rooms look larger and more inviting. Open windows and blinds and ensure natural light can filter into the rooms.

2. Consider HDR composites for shots with windows

HDR composites are a combination of several photos with different exposures. This type of photo is great for compositions with high lighting contrast. Real estate photos can benefit hugely from HDR compositions. Let’s say, for example, you have a dining room with a large bay window opening out to a patio. In a standard composition, you would have to expose for either the interior or the outside patio. The result would be unbalanced.

Using HDR, you could create a balanced shot combining correctly exposed shots of both the patio and the interior. First, you would take a shot that shows the detail of the patio – the interior of the room would look dark and details would be minimal. The second should would be a mid-range exposure. The final shot would show the detail of the interior – the interior would look bright, whilst the patio and window would look under-exposed. Using post-processing software, these photos could be merged together to create a balanced end-result.


3. Look for perspectives that show size and scale

One of the main aims of real estate photography is to emphasize a property and its features. When taking photos, consider the perspectives and angles – look for angles that show the favorable size and scale of rooms. Don’t take shots that make the rooms look small and compact.

Furthermore, consider whether to shoot in portrait or landscape – this can greatly affect a viewer’s perception of rooms. Portrait shots, for example, may work better when shooting narrow spaces with high ceilings, or even stairways. Alternatively, landscape shots would work better to show the scale of rooms.


4. Use a tripod to take sharp low ISO photos

A tripod is one of the most important real estate photography accessories. Ideally, you want to shoot each photo at ISO 100 – this ensures that there is minimal background noise. As indoor areas have low natural light, to shoot at ISO 100, you must use a tripod as the shutter speeds are longer.

Using a tripod ensures you can take low ISO photos. Furthermore, it ensures your photos are sharp and in focus, with no motion blur. If you take photos handheld, at low ISO ratings you have to keep perfectly still – the slightest movement could cause motion blur, or the photo to be out of focus.

5. Remove unnecessary items from rooms

Clutter detracts attention from the qualities of a property. If you photograph a room packed full of homely items, the effect can be overwhelming – customers may concentrate more on these items, than the size and layout of the rooms themselves. With the owner’s permission, remove any unnecessary items from each room. This allows the viewers to concentrate on the room itself. It can also help make the rooms appear larger and lighter.

6. Created a standard shooting list

For each property type, you should have a standard shooting list. This is a list of essential photos that you must take. You could split this list by room – bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, etc. Furthermore, for each room, you should list specific shot types. For example, for bathrooms, you could list – portrait shot of the whole room, and close-up shots of the toilet and bath/shower. Creating a list such as this ensures that you are prepared. It also ensures you don’t miss any important photos.

7. During post-processing, use a consistent white balance

White balance relates to the temperature of an image. DSLR cameras automatically select the white balance in relation to lighting conditions within a scene. This can create photos that look discolored. Oftentimes, interior photos of properties can look yellow, for example. When editing photos, always adjust the temperature and white balance. Create a temperature that looks natural. Furthermore, ensure that all relating photos have the same temperature – each photo of the property must remain consistent.

8. Consider using a wide-angle lens

Choosing the correct lens is a top real estate photography tip. A wide-angle lens is preferable. This ensures that you can create photos that show as much of the rooms as possible. A 22mm lens, for example, would offer brilliant compositions and wide-angle shots. The general rule of thumb, is anything under 50mm (full-frame), or 35mm (crop-sensor) is classed as a wide angle lens.

Be careful not to go too far – you do not want to create a fish-eye effect. Using anything above 35mm reduces the visible area within your compositions – this can make rooms look small and compressed.

9. If using a flash, bring diffusers

One of the worst mistakes real estate photographers can make, is to use a flash incorrectly. If a flash is used in its basic setting without any additional equipment, the resulting light is harsh and glaring. Furthermore, the areas that the flash doesn’t reach will remain dark. The effect is less than favorable. When using a flash, it is therefore important to first adjust the settings, and secondly use a diffuser. A diffuser spreads the light from a flash to create an even and pleasant glow as opposed to a harsh light centralized around a single point.

10. Be sure to correct any lens distortion

Lens distortion can occur with any camera and lens. Regardless of the quality of a lens, there still may be distortion – this is due to the lens glass and camera sensor. Any type of lens distortion can easily be corrected and eliminated using post-processing software like Lightroom or Luminar 4.

Removing lens distortion is essential for real estate photography. It improves the alignment of properties and improves their realism. Post processing software usually has tools that automatically removes different types of imperfections such as lens distortion, and chromatic aberration. You can even set pre-set edits that you can then apply to batches of phots – this allows you to quickly remove distortion from whole catalogues of real estate images.

Once you have mastered the basics and the above real estate photography tips, you should be able to produce fantastic images that inspire potential customers to take action. To refine your techniques and skills, consider practicing in your own home – imagine your home was for sale and create a portfolio of shots using the tips we have provided. By doing so, you can test out the different processes, and start to improve your real estate photography!

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