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Commercial real estate photography is a demanding niche but a very rewarding one as well. It can be demanding in the sheer volume of images needed, the types of extras requested, and the time involved.
Commercial real estate photography can be rewarding in that you have increased revenue, develop a good reputation in the industry, and in the enjoyment of producing outstanding images. Here are a few commercial real estate photography tips that we have learned through trial and error and frm following the good advice of other photographers.
It’s Not Fine Art
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I’m a landscape photographer. That’s my main love in this art and I like to make fine art images of landscapes, cityscapes, interesting architecture, and other other styles of photography. Real estate images, including commercial real estate photography, are not fine art subjects.
What do I mean by that? Real estate images are meant to show a realistic picture of a scene, not an artful interpretation. This doesn’t mean we can skimp on quality. In fact, our quality needs to be close to perfect.
Instead of transforming the images by means of exposure and composition methods, we create the most truthful rendition of the scene as a photograph. It’s like commercial product photography. While not changing the reality of the image, we simply make it the best version of reality.
But It’s Still Artful
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We can never get fully past the idea that this craft is an artform. This holds true in commercial real estate photography, too. We take a scene and use our crafting ability of this art, we create an image that shows an accurate and appealing view of reality.
Using composition tips for real estate photography will let us show a property at its best. A composition such as showing three walls in a room and leveling out the camera with the ultra wide angle lenses we use will show an entire view of a room in as little as two images without straight lines being distorted.
Lighting tips for real estate photography will let us show a huge dynamic range in our images. The art of adapting exposure to encompass the darkest areas and the brightest areas in one image will enable commercial real estate images to be a beautiful work of art as well as being a true representation of the reality within a scene.
Bracket and Merge HDR for Exposures
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An important method of making the commercial real estate images both artful and realistic is the bracket and merge HDR technique already used by many real estate photographers for residential MLS listing and virtual tours.
In addition to being able to accurately portray a scene by capturing detail in the deep shadows as well as the bright highlights in an interior room, the bracket and merge HDR method can also be used to create excellent hero or beauty shots such as a twilight image.
Bracket and merge HDR photography is a technique where multiple image files are captured at different exposure levels. Some are optimized for shadow detail, some for highlight detail, and several in between. Then these different exposure levels are blended together into one image file that shows everything clearly.
Here is a YouTube video that explains the process from both sides, the picture taking side and the image file processing side.
HDR photography is a method that has some serious artistic implications, too. Which can really help us out with those hero shots that end up being the front page of a printed flyer or the opening image of a business website.
Commercial real estate firms are always looking for an edge up on the competition, by supplying them with amazingly detailed photos of the commercial property in general and with gorgeous images for special use, you will give yourself an edge up for being used by these firms over and over again.
Pay Attention to Details
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Since commercial real estate photography can involve many more images than the standard residential listing, having a reliable system of keeping track of all of the different rooms, spaces, and specialty areas is vital for successfully completing the job.
Other details to be concerned about are the number of rooms, the order they’re shot in, which ones are vital to the property management and which ones might be part of a delivery package.
You’ll also want to pay attention to how you can access certain specialty areas, such as high security areas (only if that’s part of the contract) or mechanical systems.
A shot list combined with a sign off sheet is old school, but it really does work. Taking blank or black frames between areas and making notation of each area show and in what order with a dry erase board to label rooms and areas as the front image of each grouping.
Present Yourself as a Professional
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As a bonus number 5 in our commercial real estate photography tips list, it’s important to treat your photography business as a business. This is sometimes wearisome to some photographers who are primarily concerned with the art and craft of imaging over the concerns of properly running a business.
While the photographic images are the heart of the business of commercial real estate photography, losing track of standard business practices could mean you lose out on getting to make these images in the first place.
The standard business concerns include but aren’t limited to having enough of the right type of liability insurance, being up to date on all licenses required by the local municipalities, and gathering together the proper releases for being on the properties and being able to use the images commercially.
Being dressed appropriate to the business involved is also important. For some clients this may mean business casual attire, for others something more formal may be expected. Proper safety equipment and procedures are another essential element of this tip. If steel toe shoes or hard hats are required, you should be prepared for that, too.
Following these commercial real estate photography tips won’t guarantee success, but they’ll certainly put your business on the right track.