HDRsoft Photography Articles

3 Real Estate Photography Cameras to Consider for 2020

3 Real Estate Photography Cameras to Consider for 2020

photo byCentralITAlliance via iStock

Real estate photography is hard enough, which is why it pains me when I see photographers using the wrong real estate photography gear. 

Real estate photography cameras need weather-sealed bodies, for shooting in the cold winter months, great low-light capabilities for those closet and basement shots, and the ability to shoot quality video because almost every single client is asking for video nowadays. 

Real estate photography cameras also need to fit in your price range, because there’s no point in spending loads on your real estate photography gear if your business isn’t bringing that much in yet. 

So, I’ve compiled a list of the best cameras for real estate photography in a wide range of prices to fit every budget.  

Canon EOS Rebel T6

canon eos rebel t6 

First up on our real estate photography cameras list is the all-around Canon EOS Rebel T6. If you read my review on the Canon EOS Rebel T6 a few months ago, then you know this is one of my go-to cameras for people starting their own photography business.

The Canon EOS Rebel T6 is an entry-level DSLR (the only one on this list) and deserves its spot as one of the top cameras for real estate photography due to its lower price tag, its full HD 1080p video capabilities, it's good autofocus system, and the fact that it shoots good real estate photos as soon as you pull it out of the box.

canon eos rebel t6 2 

Canon EOS Rebel T6 Specs:

  • 18MP CMOS sensor with DIGIC 4+ image processor
  • Full HD 1080p video capabilities
  • 9 point AF system
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • 3” LCD screen with 920,000 dots
  • Great battery life
  • ISO range of 100-6400

canon eos rebel t6 3

Canon EOS Rebel T6 Pros:

  • Good battery life
  • Incredible array of compatible lenses
  • Compact 

Canon EOS Rebel T6 Cons:

  • ISO performance isn’t all that great
  • Poor live view mode that drains battery
  • Overexposes images in low light shooting 

Learn More:

Nikon Z6

nikon z6

Another important factor of real estate photography cameras is that they should be able to shoot high-quality video, which this Nikon Z6 more than handles. It offers 4K video and also comes with 6K time-lapse, although you’re less likely to use this in your real estate photography business. 

The Nikon Z6 is hands down the best mirrorless camera for a DSLR owner, and what I mean by this is the Nikon Z6 is compatible with hundreds of F-mount Nikkor lenses if you have the FTZ adapter, so there’s no reason to sell all of your Nikon gear to make the transition to mirrorless. 

The Nikon Z6 is also one of the best cameras for real estate photography because it comes with an electronic viewfinder, a 3” touchscreen, and easy to understand controls. 

nikon z6 2

Nikon Z6 Specs:

  • 24MP full-frame sensor
  • 4K video capabilities
  • 12fps burst mode
  • 6K timelapse
  • 273 point AF system
  • ISO range of 100-51,200
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 

nikon z6 3

Nikon Z6 Pros:

  • Incredible low-light shooting
  • 4K video 
  • In-body image stabilization 

Nikon Z6 Cons:

  • Poor battery life
  • Single memory card slot
  • Tilting screen, rather than fully articulating 

Nikon D750 

nikon d750

My Nikon D750 by George Rex licensed under CC by 2.0  

The Nikon D750 represents everything I love about real estate photography cameras. The Nikon D750 matches its price, which is to say it functions excellently. It has a 24MP full-frame sensor, can shoot 6.5fps, and comes with a tilting vari-angle 3.2” LCD screen. 

Plus, the Nikon D750’s video capabilities are good; it shoots full HD video and maintains its 1,230-shot battery life while doing so.  

Best of all, now that the Nikon D780 - the D750’s replacement - has been announced, you can expect a significant price drop on the now four-year-old D750.

It was already one of the most affordable full frame cameras on the market, but it should become even more affordable in the coming weeks!

nikon d750 2

Nikon D750 Specs:

  • 24.3MP full-frame sensor
  • 1,230-shot battery life
  • ISO range of 100-12,800
  • 51-point AF system
  • 3.2” tilting LCD screen with 1.2m dots
  • Built-in Wi-Fi

Nikon D750 Pros:

  • High ISO performance for low-light shooting
  • 51-point AF system that is fast
  • Tilting LCD screen  

Nikon D750 Cons:

  • Remote shooting needs improvement
  • Expensive add-ons
  • No 4K video capabilities 

Learn More:

Regardless of the Camera You Use…

best cameras for real estate photography

photo by vicnt via iStock 

Whether you use a mirrorless camera, a DSLR, a crop sensor or full frame, one thing remains true - you should be bracketing your exposures and merging them in post-processing.

Even the Nikon Z6, which has the most robust capabilities of the cameras listed above, can’t accommodate every lighting situation.

This is especially true when the dynamic range in the room is high. If you take a single exposure, the camera will try to expose for the highlights (i.e., a bright window), thus making it well-exposed and leaving the rest of the room dark. 

The converse can also happen - the camera might expose for the darker areas of the room, which leaves the view out of the windows overexposed.

As seen in the video above, bracketing and merging the exposures is a quick way to overcome this issue.

This tutorial is an excellent guideline for learning how to bracket exposures. As you’ll see, it’s a simple matter of adjusting a few camera settings!

Once you have the bracketed exposures, you can easily blend them together in post-processing to create a single image that’s well-exposed throughout.

In a business in which your images can make or break a sale, it’s important to put forth your absolute best work. Using this bracket and merge technique will certainly help you do that.

 



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4 Real Estate Photography Tips for Maximizing Curb Appeal

4 Real Estate Photography Tips for Maximizing Curb Appeal

Photo by Binyamin Mellish from Pexels

The goal of real estate photography is to help sell a house as quickly as possible, and in the coming months amidst coronavirus fears, this is going to become more and more difficult.

So, real estate photographers are going to be in high demand. If you haven’t gotten into the niche yet, it may just be time for you to do so. Diversify! 

Here are some of my best real estate photography tips for new real estate photographers. 

Take Photos in the Spring

real estate photography tips 1

 photo bycan72 via iStock

Unless a house is undergoing major changes, like a roof replacement, it is always best to take exterior real estate photos in the spring. 

Blooming flowers are much more appealing than bare lawns or huge piles of black snow on the street. 

real estate photography tips 2

 photo byBeyondImages via iStock

Exterior real estate photography also showcases exactly how long a home has been on the market, so if your home is still on the market in winter, it may be helpful to take new photos.

This way it doesn’t look like the house has been on the market for months without any takers.

 

Recommended Real Estate Photography Reading:

 

Choose the Correct Time to Take Exterior Photos

tips for curb appeal 3

Photo by vu anh on Unsplash 

Ideally, exterior photos should be taken in the early morning or late evening hours. This allows you to capitalize on soft, golden hour lighting that diminishes the harshness of shadows that you encounter when photographing homes in the middle of a bright, sunny day. 

Of course, your schedule can’t always accommodate photographing a property as the sun rises or sets (nor will the schedule of the homeowner…) so you have to have other tricks up your sleeve in order to get the best possible images.

 

A great tip when you’re shooting in challenging lighting conditions is to bracket your exposures. Learn how to do so in the video above. 

For example, when you’re photographing the exterior of a property in the early afternoon, you’ll encounter bright highlights and deep shadows that can look unbecoming. 

But if you bracket your exposures - which entails taking three or more images, each at a different exposure level - you can overcome the wide dynamic range in the scene. 

The result of bracketing is that you have one image that’s exposed for the shadows, another that’s exposed for the midtones, and another that’s exposed for the highlights.

Then, you merge these images together to create a composite shot that’s well-exposed throughout.

Not only is this trick easy to use, but it also results in much-improved photos. It’s a win-win!

Learn More:

Stage the House

tips for curb appeal 4

photo by Daisy-Daisy via iStock 

While it shouldn’t necessarily be your job as the photographer, houses need to be staged before you take photos of them. And one of my pro real estate photography tips is that whatever you don’t include in your contract, doesn’t get done.  

So, make sure your client knows they need to do any gardening, landscaping or trash removal before you do their exterior real estate photography. 

Additionally, they need to clean the inside of the house, which includes deep cleaning things like carpets and windows, but also includes getting rid of small things that make the house look lived in. 

real estate photography tutorial 5

photo by tomazl via iStock 

Remove the dish soap from the counter. Get rid of any dog beds or laundry baskets. If the house is still undergoing renovations, make sure these supplies aren’t lying around during your photoshoot.  

Use Your Composition 101 Tips

exterior real estate photography 6

Houses are just like people, they have good and bad angles. A ton of real estate photography tips lists forget to include information on showcasing the most unique aspects of a house.  

So don’t throw out everything you learned in your composition 101 class when you start real estate photography. 

Make sure there aren’t any obstructions in your exterior real estate photography. Try getting low and getting high to capture the beauty of the property. Cropping can occur after your photoshoot, but getting more information into your shot can’t, so widen your view. 

real estate photographer pro

Plus, if you still need tips for curb appeal, you should start taking a real estate photography class, like Real Estate Photography Pro.

Unlike an in-person class, Real Estate Photography Pro allows you immediate access to downloadable content like video tutorials, presets, and templates. But, just like an in-person class, you can still ask questions on their weekly live Q&A sessions. 

Never find yourself wanting for real estate photography tips again. Get the help you need sooner rather than later, that way your images - and your business - will be the better for it!

Learn More:

 



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5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Real Estate Photography Business During the Pandemic

5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Real Estate Photography Business During the Pandemic

photo byImage Supply via iStock

If you own a real estate photography business, you’re no doubt feeling the pressure of this pandemic. My business is pretty well established and we are still feeling the sting of a downward economy. 

But, there’s no need for you to panic because you can use this time to improve your real estate photography business so that when the market turns back up, you’ll have even more clients to impress.  

Let’s take a look at some real estate photography business tips that you can do from home.  

Table of Contents

Teach Potential Clients While You Network

real estate photography business

photo byfiladendron via iStock

If you built your real estate photography business in a large city, then you probably used an old tactic I’ve used a thousand times: trade lunch for some networking. 

You walk into a real estate agent’s office and ask the agents for a little of their time in return for lunch at their favorite restaurant. It works almost every time. 

But, I find that a lot of photographers forget about one of the most important real estate photography business tips while they use this networking move; they forget to teach their potential clients.

Many agents don’t know very much about real estate photography. They know what sorts of pictures their clients like, but they don’t know about the specific equipment necessary to get those shots. 

improve your real estate photography business

photo byRawpixel via iStock

Go to your meeting with a goal other than simply talking about your real estate photography business, teach your potential client something too. It helps to fill more time and they might enjoy learning about other people’s work.  

Now, you may be thinking, this is fine and great once I can actually take potential clients out for lunch. All of the restaurants in my town are closed. What am I supposed to do?

Set up a Zoom meeting. Ask your agent what their favorite meal is and have it delivered to their house. It’s classy. It allows you to get a few minutes with them to talk about your real estate photography business, and it allows you to continue networking from the comfort of your living room. 

 

Recommended Real Estate Photography Reading:

 

Network With Other Photographers 

tips for improving your real estate photography business

photo by LeoPatrizi via iStock 

One of my favorite real estate photography business tips is to network with other photographers in your area. I received a large portion of my clients from other photographers when I was first starting out and it was a great way for me to meet other people so I could fend off those “work from home” blues. 

Well, it’s time to kick it up a notch. I’ve been hosting weekly virtual happy hours with photographers in my area since this pandemic broke out. It’s been a good way for us to share tips on how we’re dealing with slowing business and a nice period for us to vent about how much this pandemic has changed our lives. 

I promise you that if you start virtually networking with others in your industry during one of the worst times, they’ll remember you during the good times and make it all worth it. 

Use This Time to Spruce Up Your Social Media Channels

real estate photography business tips

photo by bigtunaonline via iStock 

I’m definitely guilty of letting social media fall by the wayside when I get too busy, and my real estate photography business hurts because of it. 

Take all of this social distancing time and network with potential clients on Facebook and Instagram. Build the types of pages you see other photographers that you admire in your area building.

Having an active presence online will only help increase visibility to potential clients. It also helps you define your brand and your brand messaging, which also helps you increase visibility to clients.

Learn More:

Start Learning About the Newest Trends

photo by Kyryl Gorlov via iStock 

Chances are, new photography trends have popped up since you started your real estate photography business. Aerial photos and 3D walk-throughs are two of the latest trends I still see very few real estate photographers offering.

If you have a little bit saved in a rainy day fund that you can afford to spend on some new equipment, then you can take this time to learn a new trick. 

Real estate photography is all about making your properties stand out, and with new and exciting approaches to highlighting a property, you can make the homes you photograph stand out from the crowd. 

Add Services That Don’t Cost You Anything

real estate photography business tips 2

photo by AndreyPopov via iStock 

If you don’t have a rainy day fund that you’re willing to spend on a new drone, you can still work on adding services to your real estate photography business that don’t cost you anything.

For instance, many clients value a quick turnaround time. For example, If the average turnaround time in your area is 3 days, try offering a 24-hour service. As another example, you can waive cancellation fees for returning clients. 

These are simple suggestions that give potential clients all the more reason to hire you, and they don’t cost you a dime!

Learn How to Streamline Your Workflow

real estate photography business tips 3

photo by jacoblund via iStock 

As they say, time is money, so the more time you spend getting photos ready for your clients, the less money you can make. 

If you ask me, one of the best ways to streamline a real estate photography workflow is to ditch artificial lighting and use HDR methods for interior photography. 

Why spend tons of money on lighting gear and tons of time setting it up when you can use your camera’s AEB function to bracket exposures? Doing so gets you well-exposed images in far less time, so it only makes sense to incorporate this practice into your workflow. If you’re not sure how to use your camera’s AEB function to bracket exposures, check out the video below.

Once you have your bracketed exposures, you need to merge them. Doing so blends the bracketed exposures you took into a single composite image that is well exposed throughout the range of highlights, midtones and shadows. 

And if you go about it the right way, you can use this to streamline your workflow even further...

By using software with real estate-specific settings, you can merge your photos. Using Photomatix Pro 6, you can automate the process to save time. You can also use one of dozens of HDR presets to get the precise look you want in the photos.

This is all about working smarter, not harder. Making choices that streamline your workflow will aid you in doing just that!

Learn More:

 



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A How-To Guide for Photographing Bathrooms

A How To Guide for Photographing Bathrooms

 photo by tucarion via iStock

One of the most challenging rooms in a home to photograph is the bathroom. This is thanks to small room sizes and the presence of mirrors that can capture your reflection in the shot. 

On top of that, there are often other reflective surfaces like glass, metal, and polished stone that can pose problems both from a reflection standpoint and a glare standpoint as well. 

There are ways to get around these issues, though.

In this how-to guide for photographing bathrooms, learn a few insider secrets that will help you improve the quality of your bathroom photography.

How to Photograph Bathrooms: Ensure the Space is Spotless

How to Photograph Bathrooms Ensure the Space is Spotless

 Photo by Chastity Cortijo on Unsplash

Before you take a single photo of a bathroom, give the space a good once over to see if there is anything that needs to be cleaned.

Just like a kitchen, a bathroom must be completely spotless and in pristine condition if you’re going to get the best shots.

How to Photograph Bathrooms Ensure the Space is Spotless 2

 photo by irina88w via iStock

While cleaning is likely not within the realm of your job duties, you might have to roll up your sleeves and do some fine-tuning to the space if no one else is available to ensure it is looking its best.

Naturally, solid surfaces like the bathtub and surround, the toilet, mirrors, and the vanity counter and sink should be clean and dry. Don’t forget the floor, either. Look at hardware as well - faucets, in particular, can have water spots that will be unsightly in a high-resolution photograph.

Learn More:

Bathroom Photography Style Tips 

Bathroom Photography Style Tips

photo by contrastaddict via iStock 

Building off the previous point, a bathroom shouldn’t just be clean, it needs to be nicely staged as well.

Staging doesn’t have to be over the top, either. Just make sure that towels are nicely folded, the toilet seat is down, and the toilet paper roll doesn’t have a jagged end. 

A couple of well-placed bath mats can add a pop of color or texture to the shot without being overwhelming. A small vase of flowers or a small plant on the vanity can have the same effect.

That’s really all you need to do to a well-appointed bathroom. The fixtures, tile work, lighting, and other features can do most of the talking.

Photographing Bathrooms: How to Overcome Bright Windows

Photographing Bathrooms How to Overcome Bright Windows

 Photo by Jose Soriano on Unsplash

One of the biggest challenges of photographing a bathroom when a window is present is getting the exposure right for the interior space as well as the view through the window.

This is particularly difficult if the bathroom is dark and the windows are small - the result is often a photo that’s well-exposed for the dark bathroom or a photo that’s well-exposed for the bright window, but not both.

To get around this problem, you can bracket your exposures - take three to five photos of the space that are exactly the same, except for the exposure settings - and merge them together to create a final image that’s well-exposed throughout, like the one shown above.

It’s a simple process, especially if you use HDR software such as Photomatix Pro to merge the bracketed exposures together. Additionally, if you use this technique, you don’t have to invest in expensive lighting gear because you can rely on natural light and the bracket and merge process to get high-quality images.

Learn More:

Bathroom Photography Tip: Have a Strong Subject

Bathroom Photography Tip Have a Strong Subject

 Photo by Aaron Huber on Unsplash

Though finding room in a bathroom to set up your gear and get a shot can be tricky (more on that in a bit), it’s important to strive for a shot that has a strong subject.

Bathrooms usually have all sorts of eye-grabbing items, be that a beautiful bathtub surround, a unique vanity cabinet, or interesting details like high-end faucets and other fixtures.

When photographing a bathroom, you’ll want some wide shots that show the lay of the land, but to keep them from feeling bland and boring, find your strong subject and center it in the frame for a more compelling shot.

In the example above, the bathtub, the windows, and the view out the windows serve as an ideal focal point for the photo. Notice how the perspective and point of view of the shot invite you into the space. That’s just what you want!

Bathroom Photography Mistakes: Be Careful of Sharp Angles  

BATHROOM PHOTOGRAPHY MISTAKES

 Photo by Thomas Young on Unsplash

One mistake that some real estate agents and real estate photographers make is trying to photograph bathrooms at sharp angles to offer a creative or unique view of the bathroom.

This is a mistake because the result of that can be wonky lines that make the bathroom look as though it isn’t square or as though you were falling over as you took the photo (as shown above).

Granted, this perspective distortion can be mitigated in post-processing, but it’s much easier to fix the issue in-camera by taking the shot with the camera level to the floor.

Learn More:

Bathroom Photography Tricks How to Avoid Reflections 

BATHROOM PHOTOGRAPHY TRICKS HOW TO AVOID REFLECTIONS

 Photo by Logan Ripley on Unsplash

As noted earlier, one of the most challenging aspects of bathroom photography is finding ways to photograph the space without catching your reflection in the shot.

One of the easiest tricks to avoid this is to change the height from which you take the photo.

For example, in the image above, the photographer dropped the elevation of the camera to avoid the mirror above the sink. And while this perspective isn’t typical, it still works because there details that give the photo tons of interest - the door knob and the drawer pulls among them.

BATHROOM PHOTOGRAPHY TRICKS HOW TO AVOID REFLECTIONS

 photo by tucarion via iStock

Another trick you can employ is to choose your shooting angles very carefully.

Using the image above as an example, note how the photographer positioned themselves just right to avoid being in the reflection of the vanity mirror. Likewise, their positioning is such that their reflection is avoided in the glass-enclosed shower. 

In this case, just a step or two to the left or right could have ruined the shot. When composing your photos of bathrooms, take extra care to check for reflections so you can take action to avoid them.

Of course, there will be times when your reflection cannot be avoided. In those situations, you might need to rely on your post-processing skills to remove your reflection from the photo. 

If you’re not quite sure how to do that, consult the video above by Houston Brown.

With that, you have a few critical tips for how to photograph bathrooms to get the best possible results.



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Basic Business Tips for Real Estate Photographers

real estate photography tips

Photo by Brian Babb on Unsplash

Real estate photography tips flood the internet, but I’ve found that most focus on tips for taking better photos. While those are certainly important, tips for the business side of things are critical as well.

Over the years, I have explored this topic in-depth, given that I have a background in real estate and I live in Southern California where the real estate market is typically bonkers.

That being the case, I thought I would share four real estate photography business tips that most real estate photographers overlook during their first few years in business.

Build a Standard Contract, Then Adjust As Needed

real estate photography business tips

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

You need to create a contract that outlines:

  • Your flat rate per hour of shooting/editing/traveling to and from the site
  • Exactly what you should be expected to accomplish (i.e., don't stage a house if you aren't being paid to do so!)
  • What your client can expect regarding the finished product
  • When they can expect the finished product
  • Your method of accepted pay
  • The date by which your invoice must be paid 
  • How much additional pay you will bill if the payment is late

Then, after you've built your standard contract, you need to adjust it for each job.

For example, I save my standard contract with each section I frequently change highlighted. This way, when I need to adjust an invoicing date, I know exactly where to do so and can find it in mere seconds.

Alternatively, you can use Excel or a program like Quickbooks to automate some aspects of your invoicing to speed up your billing workflow that much more.

Quick Tip: You might also explore photography-specific invoicing programs, like Shootproof. You can create templates to use over and over again, set up autopay with clients, set up payment plans, and all sorts of other time-saving tasks that help you spend less time billing and more time actually taking photos.

Buy Insurance

starting a real estate photography business

Photo by rupixen on Unsplash

This is one of those things that is often forgotten about until it's too late. I understand you may not feel like you can afford to buy insurance so early on in your real estate photography career, but you definitely cannot afford to have a camera go down and need repairs or have all of your equipment stolen without having insurance.

Furthermore, you need to purchase liability insurance (particularly if you are shooting homes with a lot of expensive artwork, glassware, etc.).

Things can and will go wrong - it's just a fact of life. So be prepared by having yourself, your gear, and your business as a whole covered with the appropriate insurance policies.

Learn More:

Always Put Two Shooting Dates In Your Calendar

tips for real estate photographers

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I find this is the best way to prepare for eventualities like bad weather or simply needing to return to the property at different times of the day to get the best light for each shot.

Likewise, there will be occasions when you show up to photograph a property and find that it hasn't been staged yet - or even cleaned.

Flexibility is the key with real estate photography because you have a lot of partners in the process - Mother Nature, the real estate agent, the homeowner, stagers, and so forth. With so many people involved in the process, and you being the last one in line, there will be delays. It's best to plan for that upfront!

Be Speedy

real estate photography

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

This one goes without saying, but it's also one of the tips for real estate photographers.

The longer it takes you to get the photos processed and back in the hands of the real estate agent or the homeowner, the longer it will take them to complete the tasks they need to in order to get the home sold.

Likewise, if you take too long working on photos for one property, you'll have difficulty staying on schedule for the other properties on your list.

This isn't to say that you should speed through taking photos and processing them, but developing a workflow that streamlines the process will certainly help.

In my experience, there are two key areas in which you can save a lot of time (and money, for that matter).

First, don't bother with artificial lighting gear for interior photos.

Not only is lighting gear expensive, but it's also cumbersome to transport and set up, and will require a good deal of time to learn how to use it. Furthermore, you don't need it!

By bracketing your exposures (as shown in the video above) and merging them together, you can create well-exposed photos of interior spaces

This brings me to my next point...

real estate photography tipsPhoto by Deagreez via iStock

Using software specifically designed for merging bracketed exposures will speed up your post-processing workflow and allow you to get the final images to your clients much faster.

As you can see here, it's a process that requires just a few simple steps to complete. There's even a batch feature you can utilize to speed up the process that much more.

The old cliche "time is money" is true, folks! But with these tips, you'll be able to produce the images you need faster, but without sacrificing quality.

Learn More: 



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Basic Camera Settings for Real Estate Photography Exteriors

camera settings for real estate photography

Though it might be appealing to set your camera to full auto mode to photograph a property's exterior, you should be wary of going that route.

Why?

In short, full auto mode puts all the responsibility for exposure decisions on the camera, and that often leads to exposure mistakes.

This is especially true if there are challenging lighting conditions present.

Instead, taking control of your camera settings by shooting in a semi-automatic mode like aperture priority can make all the difference in the world.

In this tutorial, you'll learn some of the basics of taking more control over your camera so you get better real estate photos.

Essential Camera Settings for Real Estate Photography: Exposure Controls

shoulder display of a reflex camera with focus on the iso setting picture id948416360 

If you're unfamiliar with basic camera settings, you'll need to first familiarize yourself with the following:

  • Aperture - Aperture refers to the size of the opening created by the diaphragm in the lens. It controls the amount of light: the larger the opening, the more light that enters the lens; the smaller the opening, the less light. Aperture is measured in f-stops, where f/1.4 refers to a very large aperture opening, f/11 refers to a mid-range aperture, and f/22 refers to a very small aperture opening. Refer to this detailed tutorial for more information on aperture.
  • Shutter speed - Shutter speed refers to the length of time the camera's shutter is open. It controls the duration of light: the longer the shutter speed, the more light that enters the lens; the faster the shutter speed, the less light. Shutter speed is measured in seconds and fractions of seconds, like 1 sec, 5 sec, 1/100th sec, and so forth. Learn more about shutter speed in this guide.
  • ISO - ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera's sensor to light. ISO is indicated by numbers like 100, 200, 400, 800, and so on, with lower numbers indicating less sensitivity to light and higher numbers indicating greater sensitivity to light. For more details about ISO, be sure to read this guideline.

These three camera settings - aperture, shutter speed, and ISO - control the exposure of an image and are referred to as the "Exposure Triangle."

In looking at the graphic above, you can see how each of the three settings have individual impacts on how bright or dark an image looks, yet they all work together to determine the exposure as well.

Additionally, each setting has creative impacts on the images you take. For example, aperture determines the depth of field (how much of the shot is sharp), shutter speed determines how motion is captured (sharp or blurry), and ISO determines how much digital noise (or grain) appears in the image.

craig mclachlan 402808 unsplash 1Photo by Craig McLachlan on Unsplash

Typically, aperture is the most important of the three settings when photographing a property. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, you want to ensure everything in the shot is nice and sharp by maximizing the depth of field, as was done above. You do so by manipulating the aperture (and a few other things, as explained here).

Second, since the property you're photographing is a static object, you needn't worry as much about the shutter speed.

That means that prioritizing the aperture setting is often a good idea when taking these kinds of photos.

Learn More:

Best Exposure Mode for Exterior Photos: Aperture Priority Mode

Aperture priority mode (indicated as A or Av on your camera's dial) is a semi-automatic exposure mode that gives you the ability to dial in the desired aperture while the camera retains control over the shutter speed.

This mode also allows you to make changes to the ISO. This is important because you can set a low ISO (i.e., 100 or 200) and avoid the graininess that's associated with higher ISO values.

This is great for taking photos of properties because it gives you more control over the exposure without having to worry about shooting in full manual mode and having the responsibility of changing all three exposure settings.

Quick Tip: When photographing exterior elements that have movement (i.e., a waterfall feature in the backyard), use shutter priority mode. This enables you to set a slow shutter speed that will blur the movement of the water to create a beautiful, dramatic image. Learn how to use shutter priority mode.

Other Important Camera Settings

young hipster man with retro camera in coat outside enjoying the day picture id943367870

In addition to controlling the exposure settings and the shooting mode, you'll need to familiarize yourself with a number of other camera settings to get the highest-quality real estate photos.

Here's a quick list of settings with which to become more familiar:

  • Focus Mode - In most circumstances, single-shot autofocus (which is usually the default mode) will work just fine for photographing exteriors.
  • Metering Mode - Typically, using multi-zone metering (also known as matrix, evaluative, or pattern metering) is a good bet for exterior shots. This mode evaluates the areas of light and shadow throughout the scene to help the camera get the best exposure.
  • White Balance - Auto white balance (AWB) works well in most situations. Even if it's slightly off and you find that your images have a color cast, that's an easy fix to make in post-processing.
  • Image Quality - Shooting in RAW gives you a greater ability to process your images because unlike JPEGs, RAW files are uncompressed and retail all the detail captured by the imaging sensor. However, RAW images cannot be immediately shared - the must be processed and saved as a JPEG first. If you're taking photos to share on social media, for example, change the image quality to JPEG or simply shoot a few photos with your smartphone.

Learn More:

Putting Camera Settings Into Action

Exterior Photos Taken During the Day

pixasquare 622732 unsplash 2Photo by Pixasquare on Unsplash

With the abundance of light that's available on a typical sunny day, you can use a smaller aperture and lower ISO to help manage all that light while still having a good depth of field.

For an image like the one above, the following settings are a good place to start:

  • Exposure Mode - Aperture Priority
  • Aperture - f/11
  • ISO - 100
  • Shutter Speed - Determined by Camera
  • Focus Mode - Single-Shot Autofocus
  • Metering Mode - Matrix

If at these settings you find that the image is still too bright, step the aperture down to f/13 or f/14 to restrict the amount of light and darken the photo slightly.

Conversely, if the image is too dark, you can open the aperture to f/10 or f/9 to brighten the image (or you can increase the ISO to 200 or 400 to brighten it as well).

Exterior Photos Taken in the Evening

beautiful home exterior at night picture id514933188

Golden hour - the 30 minutes or so before sunset and after sunrise - offers gorgeously soft, warm light that is perfect for exterior real estate photos.

But because the intensity and amount of light in the evening is not what it is during the daytime, some adjustments are needed to get a proper exposure.

When shooting during golden hour, try these settings as your starting point:

  • Exposure Mode - Aperture Priority
  • Aperture - f/8
  • ISO - 200
  • Shutter Speed - Determined by Camera
  • Focus Mode - Single-Shot Autofocus
  • Metering Mode - Matrix

Notice in this case that the aperture has been opened up to allow more light in and the ISO has been increased to 200.

Again, since these are just starting points, you might find that you need to experiment a little with these settings.

The most likely of scenarios is that the image will be too dark, thus necessitating a larger aperture (say, f/7.1 or f/6.3), a higher ISO (400 or even 800), or a combination thereof.

real estate camera settings

Another issue you'll likely encounter when photographing properties in the evening is having a very bright sky due to the setting sun and a very dark foreground. This often occurs even when using matrix metering, which tries to account for large areas of brightness and darkness, but the difference in light values can often overwhelm the camera.

Instead, merging multiple exposures will get you a pleasing shot that's got a well-exposed throughout, from the foreground to the midground to the background.

Quick Tip: When photographing a property at night, try starting with an aperture of f/5.6 and an ISO of 800 and work from there. Keep a close eye on the shutter speed, though - if it's too slow, you could end up with unwanted blurred movement in the shot. Also pay close attention to the depth of field. Remember, as the aperture gets larger, the depth of field will shrink.

Mastering Real Estate Camera Settings

curb appeal picture id474893746

As with anything in photography (and real estate, for that matter!), the key to mastering camera settings is simply to practice, practice, practice.

Though it can be intimidating at first, you'll find that switching from full auto mode to aperture priority mode opens up many more avenues for you to capture the best photos.

If you find that you're struggling to get the exposure just right, don't panic! Refer back to this guide and our real estate photography section for a little help, try again, and keep working on your skills. The results will make your time and effort worth it!



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Basic Real Estate Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners

Basic Real Estate Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners

 photo by Eder Maioli via iStock 

Real estate photography is an interesting animal because on the one hand, you will generally be capturing similar types of shots from one property to the next.

There’s the typical shot of the front of the property, images that highlight living spaces and bedrooms, photos that reveal what the backyard looks like, and so forth.

Yet, just like people, each property you photograph is very different and requires you to approach photographing it with a keen eye.

Here are some beginner real estate photography tips to get you started if you’ve never photographed real estate before. 

Beginner Real Estate Photography Tips: Invest in The Right Equipment

beginner real estate photography tips 1

Photo by Nikolai Chernichenko on Unsplash 

This one goes without saying, but you’ll need to buy the right equipment if you’re going to do a good job. Primarily, you will need a good tripod, a wide-angle lens, and a solid image editing program. 

On the lens front, a good wide-angle zoom is advantageous because it gives you the option of adjusting the focal length with a simple twist of the lens barrel.

Lenses in the 15-50mm range are good choices as they offer wide-angle views for smaller rooms but also allow you to zoom in to compose more tightly framed shots when needed. 

Note that you don’t need to opt for a lens with a huge maximum aperture, like f/1.2, either.

beginner real estate photography tips 2

  photo by Pollyana Ventura via iStock

On the one hand, these lenses are quite expensive. On the other hand, they simply aren’t needed for real estate photography.

To maximize depth of field and sharpness, its recommended to shoot with an aperture of around f/8. That being the case, a lens with an aperture of f/4 or f/3.5-5.6 will work just fine.

In our detailed tutorial on lenses for real estate photography, we enumerate a variety of lenses that are well-suited for photographing properties.

beginner real estate photography tips 3

  photo by NoSystem images via iStock

As for your tripod, I’m generally of the belief that any cheap tripod will do for beginners.

A lot of other beginner real estate photography tips lists try to sell you on equipment you don’t need just to get started. You can always invest in a good quality tripod later on, after your business is making income.

As long as your tripod offers a solid base for your camera, it’ll do just fine.

beginner real estate photography tips 4

  photo by jacoblund via iStock

Lastly, you need the right editing program to bring your images to life.

Many photographers use Lightroom or Photoshop, and both are solid choices. I would add to that the need for HDR software as well. 

Creating HDR images of properties means you can avoid having to use (or buy) artificial lighting equipment. Besides, you get more natural-looking results anyway!

By bracketing your exposures and then merging them in HDR software, you ensure the images are perfectly aligned, sharp, straight, and have good color and contrast. What’s not to like about that?

Learn More:

Beginner Real Estate Photography Tips: Don’t Rely on Post-Processing to Fix Mistakes 

basic real estate photography tips

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

I’ll be the first to say that post-processing programs are invaluable to photographers for creating the most impactful images. 

But to think of Photoshop or similar programs as being a failsafe that will enable you to fix any and all errors is a big mistake.

Instead, strive to get your images right in-camera.  

Take your time to compose the shot. Ensure the camera is level so you don’t have to straighten every image in post-processing. Use the bracket and merge technique mentioned earlier so you have good shadows, midtones, and highlights with details throughout.

Yes, you’ll need to use post-processing to perfect colors, get the white balance just right, crop, and so forth, but try your best to get things right when you take the images, and you’ll spend much less time trying to correct mistakes after the fact.

Beginner Real Estate Photography Tips: Include the Real Estate Agent

how to take real estate photos 1

 photo by kate_sept2004 via iStock 

Please, communicate with the real estate agent! You’ll never learn how to take real estate photos if you get fired from your first job for not understanding the types and amounts of photos the agent wanted.  

The Realtor is also one of your best resources. They know the property well and can help you devise a shot list so you highlight all the special details of the property.

In many cases, Realtors are also charged with ensuring the house is clean, staged, and ready for photos.

Articles on real estate photography tips for beginners rarely touch on this point, so be sure you reach out to the real estate agent and make them an integral component of your workflow. Your images will be the better for it!

Beginner Real Estate Photography Tips: Know What Is Expected of You

real estate photography tips for beginners

 photo byBombaert via iStock

Know your deliverables. Do you need 25 RAW files? Or is your client expecting JPG files? How large should the photos be? Are they high-res because they are being sent directly to prospective home buyers, or do they need to be smaller for a website?

What about videos? Do they want walk-through videos of the home? 

Did you capture every feature of the home the client asked you to?

Before you head out on your first real estate photography job, make sure you have a list of exactly what you need, and then keep that list in front of you every time you’re working on that project.  

Just like you need to do a walkthrough of the property before you photograph it, you need to be sure you understand precisely what’s expected of you when the process is all said and done.

Learn More:

 



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Best Camera Settings for Real Estate Photography Interiors

camera settings for real estate photography interiorPhoto by jodiejohnson via iStock 

One of the most critical components of taking high-quality real estate photos is understanding basic camera settings.

That is, rather than taking photos in full auto mode, it's suggested that you exert control over what the camera does in terms of its exposure settings.

This does not mean that you must take all your photos in full manual mode. Far from it.

In fact, as I discuss in this real estate photography tutorial, there are other options you can use to have more control over the exposure without having to be in charge of all exposure controls.

Understanding Exposure Controls

If you're new to photography or are old-hat and just need a quick refresher, the video above by Tek Syndicate offers an excellent overview of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, and how these settings are used to manipulate the exposure of an image.

Additionally, you can consult this tutorial on real estate photography, which outlines exposure settings, the Exposure Triangle, aperture priority mode, and other essential camera settings for photographing real estate.

As that tutorial notes, aperture priority mode, which gives you control over the aperture and the ISO setting while the camera determines a shutter speed to match, enables you to have an added level of control over the exposure without having to be responsible for all three settings.

camera picture id182443407Photo by eROMAZe via iStock

This isn't to say that you shouldn't shoot interior photos in manual mode, but in many situations, aperture priority mode works perfectly fine.

An advantage of using aperture priority mode is that you can select the aperture at which your lens is sharpest (called the sweet spot) to ensure your property photos are maximally sharp.

While the sweet spot of a lens is different from one lens to the next, generally speaking, it's often in the f/8 range.

Quick Tip: It's strongly advised to utilize a tripod and a remote shutter release when photographing interiors. Depending on the lighting in the room, the shutter speed the camera selects could be quite slow. If the camera is not perfectly still, slow shutter speeds will result in blurry images. As a rule of thumb, if you're using shutter speeds slower than about 1/50 seconds, you need a tripod.

When to Change the Aperture

handle picture id186704670Photo by Pinkybird via iStock

Though leaving the aperture alone at around f/8 will work fine for many interior photos, there will be occasions when you need to widen or narrow the aperture.

Remember, widening the aperture means selecting a smaller f-number. So, an aperture of f/2 is much larger than f/8 while an aperture of f/16 is much smaller than f/8.

Likewise, recall that the aperture influences the depth of field, where small f-numbers like f/2 minimize the depth of field and large f-numbers like f/16 maximize the depth of field.

Say, for example, that you want to highlight a particular feature in a room, like the hardware on a cabinet drawer or the detail of a fireplace mantel.

To do so, using a small f-number like f/2 will help you blur the background of the shot, thus making the detail you wish to highlight more visible.

aperture for real estate interiorPhoto by hikesterson via iStock 

On the other hand, if the room you're photographing has a lot of detail from foreground to background, using a larger f-number like f/16 might be prudent as this deepens the depth of field.

This is especially important if there are elements in the shot very near the camera in the foreground.

For example, if you're photographing the dining room and the table extends well into the foreground (as shown above), shooting at f/16 might help you keep the nearest edge of the table as well as the more distant elements in the room all sharply in focus.

Learn More:

Overcoming Challenging Lighting in Real Estate Interiors

domestic kitchen interior picture id957053734Photo by Bulgac via iStock

When photographing interior spaces, you will encounter a wide variety of lighting conditions.

On the one hand, you might have some rooms that are flooded with natural light. These spaces are often the easiest to photograph because the room has plenty of light for the photo. Not only do you not need artificial lighting, but you also don't have to worry about having a dark interior space with bright windows.

luxury retro style home interior picture id918548566Photo by Bulgac via iStock

On the other hand, you will find that some rooms are quite dark due to a lack of windows, a lack of artificial lighting in the room, dark decor, or a combination thereof.

While dark rooms aren't as easy as light-filled rooms to photograph, getting a good exposure can sometimes be possible by turning on all available lights, dialing in a smaller f-number (i.e., moving from f/8 to f/3.5) or increasing the ISO (i.e., moving from ISO 200 to ISO 400) while shooting in aperture priority mode.

loft kitchen picture id926193804Photo by asbe via iStock

By far the biggest challenge you'll face when photographing real estate interiors is the wide dynamic range that results from photographing a dark room with very bright windows.

Even the most expensive cameras on the market today have their limits when it comes to how much dynamic range (the range of light and dark light values) they can handle.

What you'll find is that if you expose the image for the dark interior, the scenery in the windows becomes wildly overexposed. But if you expose for the brightness of the windows, the opposite occurs - the room becomes extremely underexposed.

The key to managing this wide dynamic range is to bracket your exposures.

interior1This image shows how a dark interior with bright windows presents a challenge for getting a well-exposed photo.

Bracketing exposures means taking several photos of the room, each at a different exposure level.

For example, if you were photographing the room shown above, you would focus the camera on an area that's not too dark or too bright (i.e., the tabletop area).

Then, look at the shutter speed that the camera has chosen (you should be in aperture priority mode at this point, that way the camera selects an appropriate shutter speed).

Next, note the shutter speed, and switch your camera from aperture priority to manual mode. Again, check that the shutter speed has remained the same. If not, switch it back to what you noted a moment ago.

interiorThis image shows how bracketing multiple exposures and blending them together can help you get interior shots that are well-exposed throughout.

At this point, set your camera to Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB). If you aren't sure how to do this, consult your camera's owner's manual for instructions.

While in the AEB setup menu, set the exposure increment to +/- 2 EV. If your camera doesn't support a value that high, choose the highest one available.

Then switch your camera to continuous shooting mode, frame the shot as you'd like, ensure that the image is focused properly, and depress the shutter button.

You'll hear multiple shutter clicks which indicates that the bracketed images have been taken.

Now instead of having one image that's either well-exposed for the darker areas or well-exposed for the brighter areas in the room, you have multiple images you can blend together to get one well-exposed image throughout.

For a tutorial on merging bracketed exposures, see the video above.

Quick Tip: Bracketing exposures and merging them together not only gets you the best results, but it's also much less time-consuming than setting up artificial lighting.

Choosing Camera Settings for Real Estate Interiors

interior living room picture id875707508Photo by Nikada via iStock

For Rooms That are Not Dark

As noted earlier, your best bet will often be to shoot interior photos in aperture priority mode.

When you begin shooting a room that is not dark (i.e., one that has very little dynamic range), the following camera settings are a good place to start:

  • Exposure Mode - Aperture Priority
  • Aperture - f/8
  • ISO - 400
  • Shutter Speed - Determined by Camera
  • Focus Mode - Single-Shot Autofocus
  • Metering Mode - Matrix

If you find that the image is too dark when you use these settings, adjust the aperture to make it wider (i.e., moving from f/8 to f/7.1) or boost the ISO (i.e., moving from ISO 400 to ISO 800).

If you find that the image is too bright using the settings above, close down the aperture (i.e., to f/11) or reduce the ISO (i.e., to ISO 200).

For Rooms That are Dark

When photographing rooms that are dark and have a wide dynamic range, a different approach is required.

As you can see below, the majority of the camera settings remain the same, except the metering mode, which should be set to Spot:

  • Exposure Mode - Aperture Priority
  • Aperture - f/8
  • ISO - 400
  • Shutter Speed - Determined by Camera
  • Focus Mode - Single-Shot Autofocus
  • Metering Mode - Spot

Additionally, you’ll want to bracket the exposures, as discussed earlier. 

In this specific situation, opt for the maximum number of bracketed exposures your camera allows with 2 EV increments (or the maximum allowed by the camera). Also set the camera to continuous shooting mode.

Following these procedures, the resulting images will show beautiful details throughout the room whether the room is light or dark.

Learn More:



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Best Lenses for Real Estate Photography

best lenses for real estateImage Credit: KenWiedemann via iStock

Like any other type of photography, real estate photography requires that you have the right lenses for the job.

The question, of course, is what lenses are best for shooting real estate? 

What follows is a guide to get you started. Though this isn’t a comprehensive overview of every lens you could use for photographing the interior and exterior of properties, there are some critical points to consider when purchasing a lens.

You may very well find a lens that works for your purposes that doesn’t fit into the categories we’ve listed below, and that’s okay! 

The key is to utilize this guide as a starting point for getting the best lenses for the job.

Zoom Lenses or Primes?

camera lenses picture id96830818Image Credit: nandoviciano via iStock

One of the first questions to consider when shopping for a new lens is whether you should purchase a zoom or a prime.

What many real estate photographers will tell you is that having the versatility of a zoom lens is advantageous because each property (and each room) you photograph is different with varying amounts of room to maneuver. 

That is, while a 18mm f/4 prime lens might offer excellent optics, superb sharpness, and be lightweight with a small form factor - all great qualities for real estate photography - at some properties, you might need a wider lens to capture the space in a small room. Likewise, other properties might necessitate a longer focal length like 35mm to get the best shot.

Naturally, with a prime lens, you’re locked into one focal length, and while you can “zoom with your feet” to alter the perspective of the shot, there’s only so much you can do to make a prime lens work for each and every room. 

For that reason, it’s typically recommended that real estate photographers utilize a zoom lens. More specifically, wide-angle zoom lenses are the most popular.

Wide-Angle Lenses are Ideal for Real Estate Interiors

modern interior picture id853258138Image Credit: asbe via iStock 

There are many, many wide-angle lenses on the market today that offer great performance for real estate photography.

But when choosing a wide-angle lens, there are two factors in particular that should be taken into account: focal length and aperture.

Getting a wide-angle lens that’s too wide - say, 10mm - will result in interior shots that have too much foreground and not enough background. As a result, many real estate photographers opt to shoot in the 22-24mm range (which is about 14-16mm on a crop sensor camera), though anything in the 12-35mm range on a full frame camera will work just fine. 

This focal range offers an ideal view of interior spaces and will allow you to “get out of the corners” and compose shots from vantage points other than the corner of the room (as shown above). This, in turn, allows you to create a collection of images that offers more varied and unique views of each room in the home.

When selecting a lens for real estate photography, it might be tempting to buy the fastest lens you can afford.

And while having a 24mm f/1.2 lens is great, for taking real estate interiors, that large of an aperture isn’t necessary.

Since you’ll want everything in the shot from front to back to be in sharp focus, you’ll likely never need to shoot wide-open anyway. Most of the time, you’ll want to shoot interior spaces in the lens’s sweet spot, which is usually in the f/8-f/11 range.

That’s great news because instead of spending a ton of money on a f/1.2 lens, you can opt for a much cheaper f/4 lens and still get fantastic results.

Recommended Wide-Angle Lenses for Real Estate Photography

real estate photography lense

Whether you’re a Canon, Nikon, or Sony shooter, there are plenty of wide-angle options from which to choose. Here’s just a few excellent options:

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

As an L-series lens, this Canon EF 17-40mm offers upgraded optics that provide improved sharpness, clarity, and reduced aberrations. The 17-40mm focal range is perfect for interior shots and exterior shots as well. On a crop sensor camera, this lens still offers good wide-angle views, with an effective focal length of about 27-64mm. 

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED

For Nikon shooters, this lens ticks all the boxes. It offers the versatility of a zoom lens that covers the ideal focal length for interior shots, has an f/4 aperture that’s plenty big for interior photos, and has vibration reduction to help you get tack-sharp photos. If you have a crop sensor camera, the effective focal length of 24-53mm still offers you a wide-angle view on the lower end of the zoom range. 

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4G

Built specifically for Sony E-mount full frame cameras, this 12-24mm f/4 lens offers an ultra-wide 12mm focal length that might come in handy for photographing large spaces in the commercial real estate realm. However, with a zoom range to 24mm, it offers the functionality you need for photographing all types of real estate interiors and exteriors. 

Each of these lenses offer excellent transmission, minimal vignetting and distortion, and good sharpness throughout their focal range. That kind of performance is a must-have for any real estate photography lens.

Specialty Lenses for Real Estate Photography

tilt and shift lens picture id916875222Image Credit: Frankhuang via iStock

One of the most important aspects of photographing real estate is ensuring that vertical lines are actually vertical - something that’s difficult to do when shooting at very short focal lengths. 

As a result, some photographers have turned to using tilt-shift lenses, which allow you to alter how the image is cast on the sensor in order to keep vertical lines straight while capturing the shot with the desired composition.

However, there are programs you can use in post-processing to correct wonky lines (among other common problems). These programs are far less expensive than a tilt-shift lens, and far more usable, too, given that tilt-shift lenses are so specialized. 

That being the case, I would not recommend investing in a tilt-shift lens and instead focusing your spending on getting a high-quality wide-angle zoom lens.

Final Thoughts

modern retro style penthouse living room picture id476157466Image Credit: Jovy86 via iStock

When it comes to photography gear, the lens you use is far more important for image quality than the camera you use. 

That being the case, it’s prudent to do your due diligence, consider the factors for lens selection outlined in this article, and purchase a lens that offers you the best performance for the dollar. 

As noted earlier, there are plenty of excellent lenses available for real estate photography. But if you focus on the wide-angle zoom market and choose from lenses that have excellent sharpness, reduced aberrations, and good light transmission, you’ll be well on your way to having the best lens for shooting real estate.



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Building a Real Estate Photography Business: Making a Business Plan and Selecting a Business Structure

Building a Real Estate Photography Business

photo byAnchiy via iStock

Starting a business is a process that takes time, a lot of planning, and a commitment to learning and growing as a businessperson.

In that regard, building a real estate photography business is about much more than being able to create beautiful photos. Instead, you have to develop a solid business acumen if you are going to find success in the long-term.

In this guide, we address two critical steps you need to take to get your real estate photography business off the ground and running - developing a business plan and selecting an appropriate business structure.

Getting Started With a Real Estate Photography Business: Develop a Business Plan

Real estate photography

photo byPeopleImages via iStock

The first crucial step you need to take when building a real estate photography business is to develop a business plan.

Think of a business plan as your road map to success - it should outline each aspect of starting the business and establishing it on sound footing.

Not only is a business plan important for getting you organized and focused on primary goals, but it can also help you get funding for your venture or bring partners into the fold. As such, you want to develop a business plan that is extremely detailed. A business plan might include:

  • An executive summary, in which you briefly outline what your business will be.
  • A company description, in which you determine specific details about the business - your target market, the services you will provide, suggested pricing for your services, and the company name, to name a few.
  • A market analysis that explores the outlook for real estate photography in your area. Note any competitors you will have, explain what products and services they offer, and list the ways in which your business will be able to improve upon those services to fill a void in the market.
  • An exploration of the organization of the company. This is where you explain how the company will be structured (more on that below) and who will be in charge of the company’s day-to-day affairs.
  • An outline of your proposed products and services.
  • An overview of your marketing strategy in which you explain how you will attract and retain clients.
  • A summary of financial projections that explores your ability to turn a profit over the next five years.

Creating a business plan might not be something you feel comfortable doing, and that’s okay. There are numerous resources upon which you can rely, including this handy guide from the Small Business Administration.

Likewise, the video above by Young Entrepreneurs Forum offers an excellent guide for organizing your thoughts and getting your business plan developed.

Learn More:

Determine the Business Structure 

starting a real estate photography business 1

photo byskynesher via iStock

As noted above, one of the aspects that should be included in your business plan is a discussion of the proposed business structure.

How you structure your business is important not only for organizational purposes, but it also influences things like taxes and income reporting, depending on the type of structure you determine is best for your needs.

Below is a summary of different structures you might consider for your real estate photography business:

Sole Proprietorship

starting a real estate photography business 2

photo by LuckyBusiness via iStock 

You, and you alone, are in charge of your business.

This business structure is the easiest to set up because it doesn’t produce a separate business entity. Instead, your business and personal assets and liabilities are not distinguished from one another.

While sole proprietorships are easiest to form, because there is no disconnect between your business and personal finances, you will be personally liable for any business debts. 

For example, if one of your light stands falls on a guest at a wedding and they sue you for medical expenses, your personal assets could be seized to pay the judgement against you.

Partnership

starting a real estate photography business 3

photo by jacoblund via iStock 

A partnership is formed when two or more people are involved in the business.

In a limited partnership (LP), one partner - called a general partner - does not have limited liability while the other partners do. Income is passed to each partner’s personal income taxes, while the general partner must also pay self-employment tax. 

In a limited liability partnership (LLP), each owner has limited liability and therefore each owner is protected from debts related to the business.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

starting a real estate photography business 4

photo by Piotrekswat via iStock 

An LLC protects you from personal liability for the most part. For example, your major assets like your home and savings accounts cannot be taken in the event of bankruptcy or a lawsuit.

Another feature of LLCs is that profits are not subject to corporate taxes. Instead, profits (and losses) are passed to your personal income. On the downside, self-employment taxes are required as each member of the LLC is considered to be self-employed.

C Corporation

starting a real estate photography business 5

 photo by kate_sept2004 via iStock

Another option for structuring your real estate photography business is a C corporation.

Corporations of all types are separate from the people that own them, therefore they offer the most protection to you from personal liability. Corporations can make profits and losses, pay taxes, and can also be held liable in legal matters, again, all separate from the owners. 

The downside of forming a corporation is that it can be both expensive and time-consuming, especially compared to the other options listed above. They require highly detailed record keeping and reporting as well. 

Another potential issue is that unlike the structures outlined above, corporations must pay income taxes on profits. In fact, in some instances, profits from a corporation might be taxed twice, first on the company’s profits and second when dividends are paid to company shareholders.

S Corporation

starting a real estate photography business 6

 photo by Jirapong Manustrong via iStock

An S corporation differs from a C corporation in one significant way: it avoids the double taxation described above.

Instead, S corporations are designed to pass profits (as well as some losses) directly to the personal income of the owners. This avoids corporate taxes.

There are limits on S corporations as well. For instance, they can’t have over 100 shareholders, which, for a real estate photography business, is likely not an issue. Furthermore, all S corporation shareholders must be U.S. citizens.

A potential complication is that if you live in the United States, S corporations are taxed differently depending on the state in which you live and work. This means you not only have to register your S corporation with the IRS and with your state, but if you move, you might need to do it all over again to meet your new state’s criteria.

If you don’t have formal business training, all of these different types of business structures can be a little confusing at first.

To help clarify things, the video above by FitSmallBusiness discusses the primary business structures outlined above and provides pros and cons of each type of business. 

Likewise, the Small Business Administration has an excellent guide that offers deeper insights into common business structures.

Learn More:

Final Thoughts - Starting a Real Estate Photography Business  

real estate photography business

photo by gorodenkoff via iStock 

As noted in the introduction, if you are to find success in the real estate photography business, you must take the time to develop a solid business plan so you have a detailed road map for getting to where you want to be.

Likewise, exploring the different options for business structures is a crucial step, that way you build your real estate photography business in a way that makes the most sense for your needs.

Remember that these are just two steps in the process of getting started in real estate photography. Be sure to consult our real estate photography section to get more pointers on building a successful real estate photography business.

 



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Building a Real Estate Photography Business: Permits, Finances, and Insurance

Building a Real Estate Photography Business

photo bygilaxia via iStock

In an earlier article in this series, I discussed some of the higher-level tasks that need to be accomplished when building a real estate photography business.

That discussion included an examination of what needs to be done to create a solid business plan as well as an exploration of different types of business structures for your photography business. 

This time, we zero in on some smaller, yet equally important tasks you must undertake when starting a real estate photography business: getting permits and licenses, establishing business finances, and getting insurance. 

First Things First: Get Required Permits for Real Estate Photography

How to start a real estate photography business

photo by greenleaf123 via iStock 

This is a bit of a tricky subject for real estate photographers because the requirements for permits and licenses vary from one city to the next (and from one county, state, province, etc.).

The purpose of having a business permit is twofold: first, to ensure that you’re collecting sales tax and passing those funds to the government, and second, as part of the process of forming an LLC or corporation. 

A business license, on the other hand, is often required by the city in which you work as a means of identifying your business (and keeping you accountable for the manner in which you operate). It’s important to note that if you work in multiple cities, you might be required to have a business permit in each city in which you work.

real estate photography business

photo by AleksandarNakic via iStock 

Fortunately, photographers in the United States are not required to have a federal professional license, as photography is not regulated by the federal government. And, in some states, having a professional photography license is not required, either.

Remember that a business license is different from a professional license. A professional license is required for some lines of work (i.e., psychologists) to ensure professional conduct and to demonstrate that workers have met the criteria established by the government to provide competent services.

If your business is in the United States, before you can proceed with obtaining a business permit or license, you’ll need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). 

An EIN is used by the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes. More specifically, an EIN identifies taxpayers that are required to pay certain types of business taxes. Whether you form a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation, you need an EIN.

The process of how to get an EIN is simple: just go to the IRS website, ensure you meet all the requirements, and apply. 

Likewise, if you intend to work as a sole proprietorship, you’ll need something called “Doing Business As,” or a DBA, which you can learn about in the video above by Annette.

A DBA allows you to operate your business under a name that is different from its legal name. For example, if your name is Tim Smith but you want to operate your business under the name Northern Lights Photography, you’ll need a DBA.

The process of getting a DBA varies from one state to the next. In some cases, you might only need to pay a small fee. In other cases, you might need to make legal notices informing the public that you are operating under the DBA. Check with your local government to determine what you need to do to get a DBA. 

Additional resources on starting your business can be found at the Small Business Administration website.

Learn More:

How to Start a Real Estate Photography Business: Separate Your Finances 

real estate photography business 2

photo by lovelyday12 via iStock 

Once you have all the necessary permits, licenses, and an EIN, it’s time to set up a business bank account.

This is a critically important step, even if you’re operating as a sole proprietor (which makes no legal distinction between you and your business). Keeping your personal finances separate from your business finances is just good practice.

Not only does keeping business and personal finances separate make bookkeeping a much easier task, but it also helps you keep your books in good shape should the IRS come looking. There are other benefits as well, as noted in the video above by 180 Law Co. LLC.

What’s more, if you form an LLC or a corporation, having a separate business bank account is required to get the protections of the limited liability that these types of business structures offer.

All you need to do to start a business bank account is have your DBA information (if you’re a sole proprietor) or your LLC or incorporation documents along with your EIN if you chose to structure your business as an LLC or corporation.

Learn about the specifics of opening a business bank account.

Protect Your Investment With Photography Insurance

building a real estate photography business 2

photo by Pattanaphong Khuankaew via iStock 

Running a real estate photography business without having insurance is asking for trouble.

Though we all hope that we never need our insurance policies to cover us, it’s better to have them and not need them than to go without and find yourself in a major bind.

When looking for photography insurance, bear in mind that you need different kinds of coverages, including, but not limited to:

  • General liability insurance, which covers damages caused by you to your client, their property, or a third party.
  • Professional liability insurance, which covers you in the event of errors or omissions. For example, if your memory card fails and you lose all the photos you took of a client’s property, professional liability insurance would protect you against claims for that error.
  • Equipment insurance, which, depending on the policy, will ensure you can quickly replace or repair gear in the event of a fire, flood, accidental damage, and so forth. 

More details about types of photography insurance and the benefits of these types of coverages is available from the Professional Photographers of America

how to get an EIN

photo by AnaDiana via iStock 

When you’re just starting out as a real estate photographer, it might seem like an unnecessary expense to pay for insurance, let alone various types of policies.

But, again, you never know when accidents will occur, and being protected with insurance means you can overcome those obstacles and get back to work more quickly. It’s just smart business to be insured!

Learn More:

 



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Commercial Real Estate Photography 101

Commercial Real Estate Photography 101

Photo by Valeriia Bugaiova on Unsplash

I worked in the real estate photography space for years before I got my first commercial real estate photography gig, and I was nervous. 

I wrongly imagined that commercial real estate photography would be similar to other real estate photography, just with a bigger paycheck. 

Unfortunately, I had to create a new contract, buy a new lens, and finally contact a lawyer friend to make sure I hadn’t messed anything up along the way. 

Here’s everything I wish I knew when I started my commercial real estate photography career. 

Table of Contents

Types of Commercial Properties

commercial real estate photography 1

Photo by Orlova Maria on Unsplash

First things first. You need to understand the different types of commercial real estate photography properties, like:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Spas or salons
  • Office spaces
  • Shops or malls 
  • Public spaces

commercial real estate photography 2

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

While there are a lot of physical differences between these types of properties, there isn’t very much you need to change in your routine to shoot them, so long as you keep these two things in mind: showcase the amenities and the entrance.

Potential buyers want to know what this space offers them, and their clients, that other spaces don’t, hence the amenities. They also want to get a feel for the space as quickly as possible, which is where the entrance shot comes in. 

 

Recommended Real Estate Photography Books:

 

Commercial Real Estate Photography Paperwork 

real estate photography tips 3

 photo by Cytonn Photography via Pexels 

This is the part of the process that nobody wants to talk about but is most important. 

You are going to need a new contract, a commercial model release, a license for use, and a formal quote.

Let’s start with the formal quote, which will be the first document you use in the commercial real estate photography process. 

You will have already negotiated your pricing before you get to the formal quote because the formal quote will be what your client will show to his or her boss when trying to decide if they want to go with your business. So, it needs to look professional and be worded professionally. 

If you aren’t great with programs like Adobe InDesign, you may want to hire someone to create this contract template for you.

real estate photography tips 4

 Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

You will also need a commercial model release form, which allows your client to share your images with different members of the press for public relations purposes and should be factored into your overall formal quote since your photos very well may end up being used in national publications. 

Finally, you will need a license for use, which outlines the ways your client may use your photos, and a contract, which should include information about all of these documents combined in one easy to read document.  

Learn More:

How to Market a Commercial Real Estate Photography Business

drones for real estate photography 5

Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash 

Just like with our real estate photography tips list we made, the number one best way to market yourself as a commercial real estate photographer is to make sure your portfolio is perfect.

However, creating the perfect portfolio should never be an endeavor you face alone because it’s important to get second and third opinions from friends and strangers alike.

Who is your target audience for your portfolio? Do you have enough photographs to break your portfolio down into a few separate portfolios, like a portfolio for hotels and a portfolio for office spaces?

Your portfolio should highlight the ways your photography is unique.

drones for real estate photography 6

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash 

Additionally, if you’re serious about commercial real estate photography you will want to start investing your time online.  

You will need a simple, intuitive website that showcases your portfolio and allows clients to contact you, hopefully from multiple pages on the website. You should also include a page where you explain your business and another page where you give some background about yourself.

Your blog should also be housed on your website so that you can draw more people to your website, but in order for this marketing tactic to work, you must be writing a new blog around three times every week to build a readership base. 

drones for real estate photography 7

 Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

Finally, you will want to start networking with professionals in your area, and if you don’t already happen to know anyone in the commercial real estate space then you can join one of the tens of thousands of real estate networking groups in the world.  

Bonus tip: If you’re serious about learning how to market your commercial real estate photography business, you need to do more than read a few articles about it. Real Estate Photographer Pro is an online group of professional photographers who have already learned all of these tips before and can walk you through it.  

There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, and nobody understands that like Real Estate Photographer Pro. They have easy to understand videos on all types of marketing, videos on editing, and a Facebook group where you can ask any question you have! 

You can also take part in weekly Q&A sessions and learn even more tips and tricks for honing your real estate photography skills. It’s simply a great way to connect, learn, and network !

Commercial Real Estate Photography With a Drone

types of commercial real estate photography 8

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash 

If you’re just entering the commercial real estate photography industry, and I’m assuming you are since you’re reading a 100-level article about the industry, get yourself a drone and learn how to use it.

No other subsection of photography has embraced drone photography like commercial real estate photography has. 

Let’s face it, most commercial buildings are just too small to capture from the ground.

types of commercial real estate photography 9

Photo by Caleb Semeri on Unsplash 

You’ll need to do a few things before you set out for your first drone shoot, though. First, you’ll need to ensure you can make it out to the property on a day and time where the weather will be clear because it would suck to get there and be unable to send up your drone. 

You’ll also want to plan the exact shots you want, since camera drones have very limited flight times. 

If you’re looking for a recommendation of a great drone that will last you the course of your career, DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro Drone is perfect for you.

This drone features a 20MP Hasselblad camera that shoots 4K video, can handle low light shooting, and can be up in the air for up to 31 minutes at a time, which will give you plenty of time to capture all the footage your clients need.  

It’s an investment at $1,729, but what would you expect of a camera drone that can transmit full HD video at distances of up to 5 miles? It’s an impressive price for an impressive camera that is sure to impress your clients. 

Learn More:

Processing Real Estate Images

types of commercial real estate photography 10

Photo by Zakaria Zayane on Unsplash 

Whether you take photos of commercial properties from the ground or the air, you’ll need to process those images for maximum impact.

One of my favorite real estate-specific processing programs is Photomatix.

It works as a standalone program or as a plugin for Lightroom (or Capture One, if that’s your program of choice).

It comes with 6 HDR styles, over 70 HDR settings, and 40 HDR presets, all of which enable you to create beautifully exposed images of commercial properties inside and out.

There’s even a batch processing feature to speed up the process and a variety of tools - like advanced ghost removal - that help you clean up your images and put the best foot forward for each commercial property you photograph.

Processing your images is not an option here - it’s a must if you want to impress potential buyers!

Learn More:

 



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Common Real Estate Photography Mistakes (Part 1)

Common Real Estate Photography Mistakes Part 1

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Like any other kind of photography, there are many mistakes that can trip you up in your endeavor to capture high-quality real estate photos. 

From color temperatures that shift from one room to the next to forgetting to give your clients a to-do list to prepare the home before you arrive, you need to be aware of common real estate photography mistakes, that way you maximize your time and minimize the need for reshoots.

In this quick guide, you’ll learn about five mistakes to avoid at all costs. Let’s get started!

Forgetting to Tell Your Client How to Prep for Your Shoot

real estate photography mistakes 1 

Photo by Jason Abdilla on Unsplash

Selling a home is a stressful event, to be sure. As such, many homeowners are distracted by the big picture element of selling the home and forget other details, like your photos, that can make the sale a reality.

Not every homeowner understands what needs to be done to create the best-looking shots, so assuming that they do is a big mistake on your part.

Just like a wedding photographer has a shot list they create with their clients, you need to create some kind of guideline for your sellers before you take a single photo of their property.

Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash 2

Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash 

Reminders for the little things are often the most important as they can be easily overlooked. That is, most homeowners remember to clean the kitchen counters and make the bathrooms sparkle, but they might not remember to clean the windows to remove streaks and dirt or to iron the bedsheets so they aren’t all crumpled up.

It’s better to go into a real estate photo shoot thinking that the homeowner needs detailed reminders for preparing the property rather than thinking they already know what they’re doing!

Quick Tip: Provide homeowners with reminders to tidy up both interior and exterior spaces. Their Realtor should also provide home staging tips, and together, these to-dos and reminders will be a good start in prepping the property for marketing. 

Including Crooked Lines

real estate photography mistakes 2

Photo by Kara Eads on Unsplash 

Take a quick look at the above photo. Notice anything odd? 

The vertical lines of the walls aren’t quite vertical, and it makes the room look off-balanced. 

If the photographer of the photo above had looked up “beginner real estate photography tips” beforehand, then they would have known that with a quick shifting of their feet and leveling the camera, these distracting lines could be mitigated. 

While you can fix this problem by changing your shooting position and the position of the camera, you can also easily correct crooked lines and perspective issues in post-processing. Either way, it’s a simple task, yet one that can have a profound, positive impact on your real estate photos.

Learn More:

Being Too Shy to Ask for a Property Release 

beginner real estate photography tips 1

Photo by Thomas Drouault on Unsplash 

I go into every single contract with this mentality: I’m going to shoot the best shot of my career at this house. 

And, if I’m going to shoot the best shot of my career, I’m going to want to show it off at some point.  

But, I won’t be able to unless I have a property release. So, I make it a habit of getting a property release for every house, unless the owners have a really good reason not to sign it (i.e., someone prominent lives there). 

I just send it along with the rest of my paperwork to make it seem like less of a hassle. If you’re my client you get my contract, my property release, and my invoice in the same email chain. 

Beginner real estate photography tips lists always forget to go over the property release, which is a shame because it’s such an important part of being able to grow your real estate photography business. 

Quick Tip: You don’t have to create a brand-new property release form on your own, as there are many excellent templates out there you can use for free.

Having Photos With Different Color Temperatures

real estate photography tips 1

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash 

It’s just a given that some rooms in a home are going to have warm light while others have cool light.

What’s important is that you strive to create a consistent color temperature across all the photos, that way the images feel like a cohesive set.

Adjusting the color temperature of images in post-processing is quick and simple, but there are things you can do when shooting the photos that will help too.

real estate photography tips 2

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash 

Primarily, you can rely on natural sunlight (more on that in a minute) rather than using artificial lights.

By turning off artificial lights when at all possible (as was done in the image above), you can avoid the color casts of light bulbs and instead get more consistent lighting coloration in each room.

Learn More:

Not Using Sunlight to Your Advantage 

what not to do in real estate photos 1

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash 

As noted above, using natural light rather than artificial light for interior photos will make the task of getting a consistent look throughout your photos a much easier task.

Besides, natural light flooding into a room gives it a brightness and lightness that’s difficult to pull off when using artificial light sources. 

The primary difficulty with using natural light is that windows and doors are much brighter than the rest of the room.

Fortunately, this issue can be easily overcome using the bracket and merge technique outlined in the video below. 

As the video demonstrates, bracketing exposures allows you to capture highlights, midtones, and shadows in great detail, and merging them together gets you a final composite image that’s well-exposed throughout.

The sample images in the video show just how valuable this technique is in creating the most impactful real estate photos. After all, there is only one chance for you to help make a property give a good impression, and with this technique, that good impression is much more likely to occur!

 

 



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Common Real Estate Photography Mistakes (Part 2)

Common Real Estate Photography Mistakes Part 2

Photo by Evelyn Paris on Unsplash

The list of what not to do in real estate photos is long. Real estate photography is more methodical than almost every other photography niche, and it shows when someone is new to the sport.

As a follow up to last week’s article on real estate photography mistakes, I bring you part two. 

Not Asking for Feedback From the Market

real estate photography mistakes 1

Photo by Kobu Agency on Unsplash 

Feedback from the market comes in two forms: direct feedback from your client and feedback from other professionals, including other real estate photographers and real estate agents.

I created a standard email that I copy and paste to each client after I finish working with them that asks for feedback.

I ask them to rate things like my communication and the finished product, and I leave some space for general comments. I want to know if one of my clients was expecting something I didn’t or couldn’t deliver. 

You should also be listening to feedback from the property listing agent. While they might not have the photography background that you do, they most certainly have a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t from a marketing standpoint.

Quick Tip: Engage with other real estate photographers to get feedback on your work as well. While you might be in competition with these people for local jobs, the photography community is a welcoming and supportive one. You’ll often find that if you ask for guidance from a more experienced photographer that you’ll get a constructive response in return.

Using Direct Flash

real estate photography mistakes 2

Photo by Awed Creative on Unsplash 

This is a real estate photography mistake that I see way too frequently...

While it might be tempting to set up flashes in a room like the one above, in which there is virtually no natural light at all, there is a better alternative.

 Since artificial light can be so harsh and distracting, a better option is to bracket your exposures and merge them together.

 This technique works great for all kinds of rooms, but particularly those in which there are bright windows. Since bracketing exposures gets you images that are exposed for the highlights, shadows, and midtones in a room, the final composite image is well-exposed throughout, revealing all the details of the space.

real estate photography mistakes 3

photo by alabn via iStock 

However, it can also work for dim rooms with little natural light. Just turn on overhead lights and lamps to illuminate the room, bracket the exposures as you normally would, and merge them together in post-processing.

As I noted in the first part of this two-part series, keeping an eye on the color temperature is absolutely critical. This is particularly important when you have to turn on artificial lights to illuminate a dark room because incandescent lighting has a much warmer color temperature than natural light.

Learn More:

Editing Photos Individually 

beginner real estate photography tips 4

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash 

Not only is individually editing your photos a huge waste of time, but it also isn’t what your clients want.

Think of real estate photography more like Instagram than any other type of photography. You want your personal brand to be the same across the board on Instagram the same way you want your house to look the same in each room.

This is where presets come in. 

The next time you edit real estate photos, make sure you save them as presets. Better yet, don’t edit each one of those photos the next time you’re editing, but edit the first one, select the rest of the shots and use the Sync button to copy those edits across the board.

 Quick Tip: Alternatively, you can use a Lightroom plugin like this one to batch edit HDR images quickly and easily.

Not Adhering to a Shot List

beginner real estate photography tips 5

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Beginner real estate photography tips will only get you so far in almost every case, but using a shot list is the one beginner real estate photography tip you need to remember.

If you’re going to make the most efficient use of your time, and you have to if you’re going into real estate photography, you need to keep a shot list with you in your car.

 Most homes are not so unique that you will need to change this shot list very much. Plus, you can always change it if you realize you forgot something or the homes in your part of the world are a little different than anywhere else. 

 A shot list allows you to get in, get out and get the exact right photos you need in the process. 

Learn More:

Shooting with Ultra-Wide Angle Lenses 

shooting with an ultra wide lens

Photo by Kenny Timmer on Unsplash 

There’s no reason to shoot real estate with a lens wider than 16mm. 

While architecture photographers frequently use ultra-wide angle lenses, or fisheye lenses, this does not apply to real estate.

It will distort sizing of objects in your photos and your clients will not use them to list their house.

Plus, we talked about straightening lines in last week’s common real estate photography mistakes list. While using lens profiles will “de-fish” ultra-wide-angle lenses, they can be difficult to work with unless you really know the lens.

Instead, rely on traditional wide-angle lenses (i.e., a 24mm prime) or even zoom lenses (i.e., 24-70mm) for the bulk of your work.

If you follow these quick tips, you’ll be able to minimize your mistakes and create images that help get properties sold!

 



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Composition Tips for Photographing Real Estate Exteriors

real estate photography tips

photo by chuckcollier via iStock

As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

In real estate, that first impression is often the photos that potential buyers see when they search property listings online.

Given the importance of exterior photos, it’s necessary for you to take steps to ensure your images are of the highest quality and make that all-important first impression a good one.

In this tutorial, we offer a variety of tips that will help you compose eye-catching and engaging exterior photos of real estate.

Be Mindful of the Time of Day

tips for real estate photography

photo by hikesterson via iStock

The time of day you’re shooting might very well determine how you frame the image as well as the shooting position you take when composing the shot.

For example, the image above might have been better suited for a shot in the afternoon or evening, when the sun would be entering the shot from the left side of the image. This would have eliminated all of the shadows that extend into the frame from the mature trees behind the photographer. The result might have been a cleaner shot with fewer shadows to distract the viewer.

As another example, if you’re taking exterior photos in the early morning or late evening, your shadow might stretch into the foreground of the shot.

To mitigate this issue, you might compose a tighter shot by zooming in and eliminating some of the foreground, or you might try switching positions to photograph the property from another angle entirely.

Bear in mind as well that you might need to make multiple trips to a property at different times of day to get the best shots. While the front of the property might look wonderful in the early morning, early afternoon light might be more appealing for photos of the back of the home.

Quick Tip: Photographing properties on cloudy days is sometimes advantageous. The clouds act as a giant diffuser, and the softer light means less harsh shadows cast by architectural elements like eaves and covered porches. Likewise, cloudy days also minimizes the sun’s glare off of the property’s windows.

Learn More:

Find Unique Angles That Enhance the Property’s Visual Appeal

charming newly renovated home exterior with mixed siding picture id924813110

 photo by alabn via iStock

 In many cases, the featured image of a property listing is one taken of its exterior from directly in front. However, this is not always the most ideal angle from which to shoot.

When you take an exterior photo from head-on, you often find that the driveway or sidewalk dominates the foreground. And while leading lines are certainly a good thing in many photographs, in this case, you probably want to avoid highlighting concrete or asphalt in your photos.

Instead, try composing images from the front corners of the property, as shown above. Doing so not only highlights the yard space but it also gives the home more depth. This is especially important for homes with a front porch as this angle highlights its depth much more effectively than a head-on shot.

Quick Tip: Vary the height from which you shoot as well. A perspective from below eye level or above eye level might generate a more pleasing photo.

photographing real estate

photo by YinYang via iStock

Though the images you take of a property’s exterior should reflect what the property actually looks like, that doesn’t mean that you can’t work to minimize distractions.

That is, work to compose your shots such that things like garbage cans, air conditioning units, gas mains, storage sheds, and other unsightly elements are hidden from view to the extent possible.

For example, if the neighboring property isn’t especially appealing, you can compose a shot in which you fill the frame with the desired property, as shown above.

As another example, if the owner of the home shown above placed their garbage cans on the left side of the home, shooting from the opposite corner would hide them from view. In that regard, minimizing distractions is essentially all about finding the right angles and perspective to keep undesirable elements out of frame.

Quick Tip: Work with the property owner or listing agent to ensure that the property is spotless before you take photos. Walkways and driveways should be clear of leaves, dirt, and other debris. The lawn should be freshly mowed. If there are children that live in the home, toys should be picked up from exterior spaces. Patio and lawn furniture should be clean and neatly arranged as well. 

Learn More:

Highlight Unique Features

an english cottage garden picture id898121938

 photo by ElenaMorgan via iStock

Not everything about the exterior of a home is featured most effectively in a wide view.

Instead, if the property you’re photographing has unique features - be that architectural elements, interesting materials like stone work, or amenities like a pool or a beautiful garden space - be sure to get in close so prospective buyers can get a better feel for those elements. 

tranquil sunset ocean picture id903313936

 photo by Django via iStock

In instances in which a property has a beautiful view, it’s advisable to present that view in context.

That is, as you can see in the image above, this property has a wonderful deck with beautiful landscaping that enhances the view of the ocean. Rather than stepping to the property’s edge and taking a shot of the ocean on its own, a photo from this vantage point offers some context to the view and makes it much more impactful.

Quick Tip: In instances in which there is a lot of dynamic range in the scene, consider bracketing your exposures and merging them in HDR software to retain detail in all elements in the shot.

How to Photograph a Home’s Exterior

front porch and entrance of craftsman style bungalow picture id931032258

photo by Solidago via iStock

Composing exterior photos of homes is all about telling potential buyers a story - while each image should be able to stand on its own, ultimately, you’re creating a collection of images that serve as a tour of the property for a potential buyer.

Of course, telling the best visual story of a property requires a lot of planning and forethought - like cleaning up the property beforehand. Additionally, considering the time of day and lighting will help you get the most pleasing photos of the property’s exterior.

By experimenting with angles, you will not only have more interesting compositions that grab people’s attention, but you can also minimize distractions and mask unsightly features as well. This is also important to remember when composing shots of a home’s unique and interesting features.

If you can do these things, you’ll be much better equipped to create eye-catching photos that make a good first impression.



We Recommend


Composition Tips for Photographing Real Estate Interiors

photographing interiors tips

photo by hikesterson via iStock

Photographing the interior spaces of a property can be a challenge for a variety of reasons.

In some cases, you might find very difficult lighting conditions in which the room itself is rather dark but the windows are very bright.

In other cases, space might be at a premium, which might force you to get creative with how you take the shot.

In addition to these potential hardships, you also have to think about things like the angle from which you shoot, the eye level, and perspective.

In this real estate photography guide, you'll learn how to address these issues in order to create beautiful interior photos.

Consistent Lighting is Key

Composition Tips for Photographing Real Estate Interiors

 photo by Jennifer_Sharp via iStock

 A primary challenge for indoor real estate photography is lighting.

It’s important that the lighting in each room is consistent. That is, if you photograph the kitchen with the lights on, you might find that the image has a yellowish color cast due to the color temperature of the light bulbs.

posters in cozy apartment interior picture id943910360

 photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz via iStock 

 If you then photograph the living room with no lights on at all and instead rely on natural light, the two images will look disjointed.

To get around this issue, you can either turn all the lights on or off as you photograph each space so you have a consistent color temperature.

Perhaps a better solution is to fix white balance issues in post-processing.

You can fix white balance in Photoshop, Lightroom, and other programs in a matter of moments, and it will give each room in the home that consistent color temperature that’s so important for creating a cohesive collection of images.If you aren’t sure how to correct white balance, consult the video above by Nathan Cool.

Learn More:

Bracket Your Exposures to Overcome Difficult Lighting

modern hotel lobby picture id901174104

 photo by MilianEXPO via iStock

As mentioned earlier, you will often encounter rooms in which there is a very wide dynamic range - the windows will be very bright and the room itself will be very dark.

In this situation, it’s best to bracket the exposures and blend them together to get one well-exposed image throughout.

Doing so is a simple matter of utilizing your camera’s Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) feature to take several images of the room, each at a different exposure level.

Quick Tip: If you’re unfamiliar with bracketing exposures, view our in-depth tutorial on camera settings for interior real estate photography. 

loft room picture id953800430

 photo by asbe via iStock

The advantage of using this technique is that it’s very fast - there’s no need to set up lighting equipment on location. Instead, it takes just a few moments to bracket the exposures, and a few moments again in post-processing to blend the exposures together.

Likewise, this technique is also much more budget-friendly because there’s no need to buy artificial lighting gear in the first place. Instead, you can rely on natural lighting, which often generates a more pleasing look anyway.

Quick Tip:It’s best to use a tripod and a remote shutter release for interior photography. Doing so will minimize camera shake and help you get sharp images.

Pay Attention to the Height of the Camera and the Shooting Angle

luxury home living room picture id182151678

 photo by JamesBrey via iStock

 In most situations, photographing the interior spaces of a property is best done at a normal eye level.

After all, the point of photographing these spaces is to give potential buyers an idea of what the property looks and feels like, and you can do that most effectively by shooting from an average eye level.

There are exceptions to the rule, however.

For example, if the property you’re photographing has an interesting view from the living room windows, you might need to raise the level of the camera in order to capitalize on the view.

contemporary island villa picture id154952872

 photo by ShutterWorx via iStock

 Another thing to bear in mind when taking interior photos is the angle from which you shoot.

Again, it’s best to compose your images with the camera as level as possible, as this will ensure that vertical and horizontal lines in the space appear straight.

If you tilt the camera up or down to a degree that’s too great, those straight lines will appear to be bowed and the room will look off balance.

Learn More:

Don’t Take Photos From Just One Spot in the Room

beautiful living room with amazing view on sunny day picture id531009981

photo by hikesterson via iStock

While it’s important to have consistent lighting, camera height, and angles, it’s also important to vary the positions from which you take photos of each room.

In smaller rooms, this might be a challenge - often the only spot with enough room for your tripod is in the doorway.

living room in luxury home with amazing mountain view picture id531009983

 photo by hikesterson via iStock

But to the extent possible, move around the room so you can provide potential buyers with multiple viewpoints.

It’s also important to vary the look in the shots. That is, don’t rely on only wide-angle views.

living room in luxury home with fireplace and tv picture id471104644

 photo by hikesterson via iStock

Instead, get some close-up shots of interesting architectural details and features like fireplaces.

Quick Tip: By combining more intimate images of a room’s details with the wider views of the room, you will give potential buyers a more detailed understanding of what the room looks like and feels like.

How to Take High-Quality Interior Photos

beautiful kitchen in new luxury home with island pendant lights and picture id692601434

When photographing the interior of a home, your job is to help potential buyers envision themselves living in the space. 

To do so, it’s best practice to have consistency between the photos you take in each room, both from a lighting standpoint and a composition standpoint. 

As noted earlier, it’s also important to give potential buyers both micro and macro views - the small details that show off the personality of the home as well as the larger views of entire rooms.

Doing so not only helps you highlight the uniqueness of the property, but it also proves invaluable for helping buyers see themselves in the space. The more they can do that, the more likely they will be to put in an offer.



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Critical Real Estate Photography Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Critical Real Estate Photography Mistakes You Cant Afford to Make

photo by ucpage via iStock 

I’ve made my fair share of real estate photography mistakes in my career. We all have.  

While some of these mistakes are mistakes we all need to make in order to learn, there are a good number of real estate photography mistakes I see rookies make all the time that are so cringe-worthy. 

Below, I offer a quick list of some common real estate photography mistakes that you need to avoid at all costs. 

Mistake #1: Catching Flash Shadows in Your Photos

real estate photography 1

photo by Studio Peck LLC via iStock 

Using a flash for interior real estate photography is a mistake, if you ask me. 

Why?

Well, aside from the expense of buying lighting gear and the time it requires to set it up for each shot, flashes can leave harsh shadows in your photos if you aren’t careful.

A better option is to use natural light, create bracketed exposures, and merge them together.

As you can see in the images above and below, this creates a seamless look without any ugly shadows from a flash.

real estate photography 2

photo by HRAUN via iStock 

What’s more, merging bracketed exposures gets you a well-exposed image throughout - note how the room itself is beautifully bright and that the detail is retained in the window. 

Without bracketing and merging, you’ll often find that the interior space is dark and the window is well-exposed or the window is completely blown-out and the room is well-exposed.

So, by using this technique, you avoid all kinds of problems, not just ugly flash shadows! 

Mistake #2: Not Learning the Necessary Business Skills

not learning the skills you need

Photo by zeljkosantrac via iStock

It's one thing to understand how to take quality real estate photos.

It's another thing to understand how to run a photography business - and a successful one, at that.

Ideally, before you dip your toes into the world of real estate photography, you'll take the time to learn the requisite photography and business skills. And a great way to do that is by learning online from the best in the business!

I recently came upon Real Estate Photographer Pro, and was impressed from moment one by the sheer volume of materials from which you can learn how to be a successful real estate photographer.

As mentioned above, you need to learn photography and business skills, and that's precisely what you do in this course.

With more than 80 video lessons on everything from marketing to camera settings to post-processing, this is truly a one-stop-shop for learning all-things real estate photography.

And it isn't some kind of one-and-done learning experience, either - there are dozens of downloadable assets and you get full lifetime access to the course, too.

That means that you can learn at your own pace, reference course materials when you need a quick refresh, and learn new skills as you go for the duration of your career.

With Real Estate Photographer Pro at your side, there's nowhere to go but up!

Mistake #3: Giving Away Extras for Free

real estate photography 3

Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash 

There are a lot of photographers that give away work for free, myself included. 

But there’s a difference between giving away an add-on - say, sky replacement in the primary exterior photo - and giving away all of your work for free.

There are many photography tutorials that tell you that working for free is a great way to generate a client list. I have to disagree. 

If you start out working for free, you’re not only making zero money, but you’re also conditioning clients to expect your work to be cheap.

Then, as you gain experience and begin to raise your rates, even low rates will seem high compared to the free services you used to offer.

Working for free undervalues you and your work. Don’t do it!

In the video above, True Homes Photography discusses different real estate photography pricing structures.

It helped me out a lot when I found it. Hopefully it will do the same for you!

Learn More:

Mistake #4: Using All of Your Income to Buy New Gear 

real estate photography mistakes 1

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash 

Photographers are passionate about their careers. You need to be passionate in order to run your own business, but you also need to be passionate when you work in an industry that traditionally undervalues your work.

So, it can be difficult to not direct this passion into the latest and greatest photography equipment. 

I was discussing this article with a friend who is a graphic designer. We were primarily talking about gear acquisition syndrome, which is when you basically take your entire paycheck and put it back into new equipment for your business. It’s a dangerous game to play!

real estate photography mistakes 2

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash 

She gave me a good metaphor for this problem. Up until 2015, the university she works for required all of their employees to upgrade their computers every 2 years since equipment was just that much better with every new edition. 

The university ended their policy in 2016. The new policy is to use the equipment you have until it absolutely falls apart (or your skills outgrow the equipment).

Photography gear is not improving at the rate it has been for the past century. I still use a Canon 5D Mark II for goodness sakes! 

Unless you truly need new equipment because the equipment you have can’t do something you need it to do (like, shooting 4K video), then you should stick with what you have.  

Use the extra money to invest in marketing or to put in retirement instead. 

Mistake #5: Getting Cocky

real estate photography mistakes 3

Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash 

I had been working as a real estate photographer for two years before I was asked to photograph my first million dollar home.

It was a huge deal for me. I couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks and I didn’t sleep the night before at all.  

But I have to say the shoot went off without a hitch despite my nervous energy about photographing a very expensive home.

After that, I got a little to big for my britches. I actually turned down a few jobs for “lesser” properties because I was convinced other million-dollar homes were right around the corner.

It’s one thing to be confident in your abilities. It’s another to be cocky about it.

When you find success, don’t let it get in the way of continuing to learn and grow. Be confident, but be humble too. No one like a photographer that’s a jerk, so if you want to score more real estate photography jobs, keep yourself in check, put your head down, and work hard!

Learn More:

 



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Critical Tips for Interior Real Estate Photography

Critical Tips for Interior Real Estate Photography

photo byYinYang via iStock

Though the exterior photos of a property will likely be the first ones that prospective buyers see, it’s often the interior shots that compel them to request a showing or put in an offer. 

The interior of a home is where the story of the property is told - where they can envision themselves having family dinners, playing with their kids in the family room, and enjoying a soak in the bathtub in the master bath. 

But getting high-quality interior photos of properties is much more than just pointing your camera and pressing the shutter button.

Instead, to get the best-quality images, follow these interior real estate photography tips.

Beware of Using Ultra-Wide-Angle Lenses 

interior real estate photography 1

photo by gerenme via iStock 

First and foremost, you want to avoid using wide-angle lenses that are too wide.

Lenses in the 10-12mm range often offer a fisheye look - with distorted and warped lines (the example image above is a panorama, not a single wide-angle shot, but it demonstrates how lines can appear warped). This is not what we want when photographing interior spaces!

Instead, use a wide-angle lens that allows you to capture most of the room in a single shot, but has less distortion - say, in the range of 24mm (or around 14-16mm on a crop sensor camera).

There are some caveats to this, however.

First, distortion is an issue with any wide-angle lens, so some measure of lens correction in post-processing will be needed for barrel distortion and chromatic aberration, even if you shoot at the narrow end of the wide-angle range, like 24mm.

Secondly, there are a variety of rectilinear lenses that go as wide as 10mm. These lenses are specifically designed to minimize or even eliminate the barrel and pincushion distortion that make straight lines appear warped. In that case, you can go much wider than you could with a traditional lens and still get stick-straight lines.

It’s important to have a lens that’s quite wide in your bag so you can get whole-room images in a single photo. That’s difficult to do with a 24mm lens, so shop around for a wider one - particularly a rectilinear lens - to add to your bag.

interior real estate photography 2

photo by DenGuy via iStock 

Where ultra-wide lenses create images that are distracting with all that distortion, regular wide-angle lenses allow you to highlight the space in the room, include foreground interest, and capture a view that gives the room a feeling of more space and dimension, as shown above.

Learn More:

Interior Photography Composition Tips 

real estate photography tips 1

photo by Bulgac via iStock 

When composing interior photos, it’s helpful to get back to the basics of photography to find tricks that can help you capture the most pleasing shots. 

Leading lines, for example, give the image improved depth while also helping guide the viewer’s eye through the shot and around the room.

In the image above, the lines of the wood floors help move your eyes toward the back of the room, which gives the impression of greater depth.

real estate photography tips 3

Also rely on the rule of thirds to create photos that are well-balanced and have good proportion.

As shown above, primary features in this photo - the light fixtures and bar among them - adhere closely to the rule of thirds grid.

The resulting image is quite balanced. Notice how the large countertop area doesn’t overwhelm the shot, even though it takes up quite a bit of the frame.

real estate photography tips 2

 photo by alabn via iStock

When composing photos, think about whether the shot warrants more foreground space or more background space.

For example, if a room has beautiful flooring, you want to highlight that by dedicating more of the composition to the foreground. If, on the other hand, a room has an intricate ceiling, shift the eye level upward to give more space to viewing that detail. 

As shown in the image above, this change in eye level needn’t be severe - just a slight increase in the height of the camera allowed the photographer to include more of the coffered ceiling and range hood. 

Though these are simple tips, they can have a profound impact on the quality of interior photos!

Quick Tip: When altering the eye level of the camera, strive to maintain the camera at level. Tilting it up or down can cause straight lines like walls to appear as though they’re tilting.

Creating Depth in Interior Photos

real estate photography 1

photo by hikesterson via iStock 

Homebuyers love space, and by creating depth in your images, you can give them the impression of space in your photos. 

As mentioned before, leading lines are an excellent tool to use to create depth and dimension in your interior photos.

But there are other tricks you can use as well.

real estate photography 2

photo by YinYang via iStock

For example, by incorporating a foreground element - like the couch in the image above - you create layers of interest for the viewer’s eye to inspect as they look around the image. 

In this case, the couch in the foreground, the ottoman behind it, the dining table in the midground, and the kitchen in the background give this shot incredible depth. The fact that the view out the doors and windows is on full display certainly helps as well.

It’s this kind of intention - with staging, furniture placement, and the perspective from which you shoot - that will result in the most pleasing photos of interior spaces. 

Learn More:

Maximize the Impact of Interior Spaces With a View Outside

how to photograph interior spaces 1

photo by asbe via iStock 

As explained earlier, creating images with depth will give buyers a better impression of the size of the rooms they’re looking at in your photos. 

One of the best ways to do that is to ensure that the viewer’s eyes can travel beyond the room.

One of the most common difficulties you’ll encounter when photographing interior spaces is that windows tend to be blown out, as shown above. Naturally, this overexposed box does nothing for creating depth in the shot or showcasing what the view from this room might be.

how to photograph interior spaces 2

photo by hikestersonvia iStock  

Fortunately, the fix for this issue is quite straightforward.

By bracketing the exposures and merging them together, you can create a photograph that’s well-exposed for the shadows, midtones, and highlights in a room.

The result, as you can see above, has far greater visual appeal than the previous image.

In this case, the view out of the window is crystal clear, and allows our eyes to travel further into the photograph.

With that said, this technique, paired with the other interior real estate photography tips outlined earlier, allows you to tell a better story about the property, one that highlights space, depth, and the view!

 



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DIY Real Estate Photography Tips for Realtors

DIY Real Estate Photography Tips for Realtors

 photo byAleksandarNakic via iStock

If you’ve been in the real estate business for very long, then you know the importance of incredible real estate photos. 

People want to see their new potential houses before ever contacting you, especially with the rise of websites like Zillow. So, if the photos of their new potential houses are of poor quality, then they’ll probably immediately move on to the next potential house. 

And, in a time like ours, you can’t be losing leads just because you didn’t use a great real estate photographer.  

So, this DIY real estate photography list is for you.  

Table of Contents

  • Let the Photos Speak For Themselves
  • The Benefits of Hiring a Professional
  • Understand the Basics

Let the Photos Speak For Themselves

diy real estate photography 1

 photo bySDI Productions via iStock

Visuals are 43% more persuasive than written words. Even before the advent of photography, marketers knew to create prettier type fonts if they were going to sell their products.

But, we have now come to expect a certain type of quality in our photography as consumers, thanks to rapidly increasing technology. 

This is especially true of the real estate industry. A full 86% of homebuyers state that the listing photography is why they decide to come view a home. So, why do so few realtors choose to work with professional real estate photographers? 

real estate photographer pro

If you feel like you could use some help learning the best strategies for creating clean real estate photos, try Real Estate Photographer Pro. 

Real Estate Photographer Pro was created by a real estate photographer who got fed up learning all of the tricks of the trade for himself, so he decided to create a course where he collected all of the tips he could. 

The course includes video tutorials, a members-only Facebook page with live Q&A sessions held on a weekly basis, and hundreds of downloads of presets and templates.

In other words, not only does this course provide you with all the learning opportunities you need to grow your business, but it also has loads of support tools to help you along the way.

 

Recommended Real Estate Photography Reading:

 

The Benefits of Hiring a Professional 

real estate photography tips 2

 photo by jacoblund via iStock 

DIY real estate photography can only get you so far, as can repeatedly Googling, “real estate photography tips.”  

There are a ton of benefits of hiring a professional real estate photographer. Here are a few:

Properties with professionally-taken photos sell 32% faster

Real estate photographers know how to work with a small, cluttered property

You won’t need to purchase specialized photography equipment

beginner real estate photography tips 3

 photo by PeopleImages via iStock 

Of course, hiring a professional real estate photographer also means that the property will take longer to list. You’ll need to find a professional in your area that you trust and schedule them. Depending upon the market in your home city, it may take a few weeks.  

Additionally, professional real estate photographers will run you anywhere from $100-$500, depending upon the specificity of your request and the background of the photographer you hire.  

So, we’ll list some beginner real estate photography tips below if you do decide to do a DIY real estate photography shoot. 

Learn More:

Understand the Basics

photography tips for realtors 4

 photo by SDI Productions via iStock 

If you’re going to do a DIY real estate photography photoshoot, then you’ll need to have a basic understanding of photography tips for realtors.  

Here’s a quick and dirty version for you. 

DIY Real Estate Photography Tips

diy real estate photography 5

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash 

Declutter. Make sure personal items are removed from your shots, and the home is clean. 

Use natural lighting. If possible, never use artificial lighting. Artificial lighting will throw off the color of the lighting in your shot and will require a ton of work in your editing software. A better option is to bracket your exposures and merge the images. This generates a composite image that is well-exposed throughout. 

Take all your photos from eye level. This is the easiest way to ensure that the house is accurately represented in your photos. 

How to Choose Your Shots

diy real estate photography 6

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash 

You’ll need to build your shot list before going to your property to photograph it.  

Typical real estate photography shot lists include:

  • 5-6 photos of the outside of the home from different angles
  • 3-4 photos of the backyard
  • 2-3 photos of each bathroom
  • 2 wide shots of each bedroom
  • 2 wide shots of the kitchen
  • 2 wide shots of the living room
  • 1 photo each of any special features 

Just make sure to showcase anything special about the home. Custom millwork, fireplaces, the view...all are well worth a photo!

Staging 101

diy real estate photography 9

Photo by The Honest Company on Unsplash 

You’ll want to get rid of all clutter, like we talked about earlier. You’ll also want to get rid of personal items (especially if they are political in nature). People want to see themselves in a home and they won’t if other people’s belongings are in the photos. That’s why staging is so important. 

Also, make sure that you clean anything that could be considered a pet peeve. Make the beds and make sure the sheets aren’t wrinkled. Clean the windows thoroughly. Put the toilet seats down. These are super simple tasks that can have a profound impact on how your photos look. 

How to Choose an Editing Software

real estate photography tips

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash 

I’d be joking if I said that choosing an editing software isn’t mostly about finding something in your price range. 

Photoshop and Lightroom are both the most popular real estate photography editing softwares. However, Photoshop is around $250 while Lightroom is $120 a year. Both editing softwares require monthly or yearly memberships. 

Instead, I’d recommend something tailored specifically to real estate like Photomatix Essentials RE. It’s $79, so you can save money over Photoshop and Lightroom, and it has special presets for real estate photography that can help speed up your workflow too. 

Learn More:

 



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Easy Real Estate Photography Tips for Better Interior Photos

Easy Real Estate Photography Tips for Better Interior Photos

Photo by Michael Glass on Unsplash

It’s hard to sort through real estate photography tips online because you’re never quite sure what competing information to listen to, and this is especially true when it comes to grabbing the “perfect shot,” because the “perfect shot” is different to everyone.

But, there are some real estate photography basics just about everyone agrees on. In an attempt to boil down all the information floating around online, I wrote this real estate photography tips list for people just starting out in the trade. 

But, don’t thank me, thank Mango Street for creating the awesome video on which I based this list. It’s filled with real estate photography tips for shooting interiors, but more importantly, it’s only a few minutes long, so even if you’re cramped for time, you can catch their tips. 

Check out the video above, and for more details, keep reading below! 

Table of Contents:

Shoot From the Hip

real estate photography tips 1

Photo by Chastity Cortijo on Unsplash 

This is one of those photography tips made popular in street photography. But you can use a version of it to take better real estate photos, too. 

With street photography, you’re literally shooting from the hip - just holding your camera low and snapping away. 

Shooting from the hip in real estate photography is a little different in that it refers to shooting from hip height with your camera on a tripod. 

Doing so allows the room to appear neutral with natural-looking lines. For instance, if you shoot from eye height, the image can have odd angles and look as though you’re looking down into the room rather than across it. 

In the image above, this issue is rectified by shooting at hip height. Notice how the vertical lines are parallel with the edges of the frame - just what you want!

Quick tip: Always use a tripod to ensure you get a perfectly sharp image. Even if you feel as though you have steady hands, they aren’t as steady as a tripod!

real estate photography tips

Photo by Random Sky on Unsplash

Shooting from hip height can also have the added benefit of making a room appear larger. 

When people are shopping for properties online, they typically want large spaces. This is especially important with high-dollar or corporate clients. 

In the image above, dropping the eye level to hip height allows more of the incredible view to be taken in by potential buyers. Since views often sell properties, this is a simple trick to both improve your photos and make a sale more likely.

 

Recommended Real Estate Photography Reading:

 

Bring Props 

real estate photography interior photos 3

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

One of the hardest real estate photography tips to listen to is this: view your furniture as people.  

Now, I understand that doesn’t make sense right off the bat, but in real estate photography, the furniture is an important subject. If you’re switching to real estate photography after having worked in another photography niche, then you’re going to need to get used to viewing your furniture as one of the stars of the show.

But, sometimes the star of the show needs makeup. For instance, a coffee table without a book can look pretty bland. Or, a shelf without any plants just sort of looks like a boring shelf. 

real estate photography tips 4

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash

I always recommend real estate photographers bring a few books, small plants, neutral-colored throw blankets and pillows to their shoots to liven up any particularly boring shots. 

Though many realtors ask their clients to stage their properties (or stage the property for them), this isn’t always the case. It never hurts to have a few eye-catching accessories in your trunk to bring a little more interest to your interior real estate photos. 

Quick tip: Composition works the other way around as well. Did the homeowner forgot some dish soap by the sink? Remove it. Is a dog bed in the corner of the room making your shot look messy? Put it in a room you’ve already shot. Adding accessories can benefit your shots, but so too can decluttering!

Use Natural Light

real estate photography 5

Photo by Random Sky on Unsplash

Real estate photography interior photos that use artificial light almost always look less welcoming. Artificial light can cast harsh shadows on walls and ceiling fixtures and mess with the color temperature of your shot. 

As such, it’s important to shoot during the most bright time of day (typically between 10am and 3pm), that way the property is as filled with light as possible. 

But using natural light doesn’t just offer the benefit of looking better. It’s also free! 

Why would you want to lug around expensive lighting equipment when you can just rely on natural light while also getting a better result? 

If you use HDR techniques and bracket your exposures, you can merge them together in post-processing to create a final image that is well-exposed throughout.

Doing so means you don’t have to worry about blown-out highlights or blocked up shadows. Instead, the images you create showcase the room’s features and help you put the property’s best foot forward. 

If you’re not sure how to merge bracketed images together, check out the tutorial video above for a quick primer. 

Learn More:

Use a Wide Lens

real estate photography interior photos 6

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash 

While it’s great to have a wide variety of lenses to choose from, you’ll probably find yourself reaching for two lenses the most often: either a 24mm or 35mm and your nifty fifty.  

The 24mm or 35mm is just wide enough to capture an entire room without being so wide that the room starts to look warped and distorted. This is a great option for exterior photography as well because it allows you to highlight the property in the context of its surroundings. 

You can use your nifty fifty to snap close-up images of details you love about the property - interesting architectural details, custom features, and the like. 

Granted, these focal length recommendations assume that you’re shooting with a full frame camera. If you use a crop sensor camera, you’ll need to take its crop factor into account.

Join a Real Estate Photographer Class

how to photograph interior spaces 7

photo by dusanpetkovic via iStock 

Real estate photography is a high stakes game because one client can make or break your career.  

With that being said, you should exert additional energy into learning everything there is to know about how to photograph interior spaces, but moreover into learning everything there is to know about real estate photography as a whole. 

Fortunately, others have learned the ins and outs of real estate photography through trial and error so you no longer have to.

real estate photographer pro

I joined Real Estate Photographer Pro based on the recommendation of a friend and I’ve never looked back.  

Real Estate Photographer Pro has a ton of features like video tutorials, a members-only Facebook group, downloadable pictures, templates and presets, and, most importantly, access to a live Q&A every week. This course is basically a networking seminar and a certificate all wrapped into one. 

Plus, if you purchase a membership and don’t love it as much as I do, there’s a 30-day money back guarantee. With no risk to you, why not give it a try?

You might just find that the tips you learn with Real Estate Photographer Pro help take your business to the next level. 

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


Getting Started in Drone Photography for Real Estate

Getting Started in Drone Photography for Real Estate

photo byBill Oxford via iStock

Now more than ever, Realtors and real estate photographers are using drones to create both still images and videos of properties.

Not only does the perspective from above offer an excellent view of the entire property, but it also allows you to highlight the location of the property, the proximity of neighbors, amenities, streets, and so forth.

You can even use a drone to take photos and videos inside a property, which helps create a dynamic marketing portfolio that can help get the property sold faster.

If you’re new to using drone photography for real estate, consult the article below for some tips on how to get started.

Benefits of Using a Drone for Real Estate Photography 

Benefits of Using a Drone for Real Estate Photography

photo byJamesBrey via iStock

Since the vast majority of home searches begin online, a drone is a perfect tool for a real estate photographer to capture the attention and imagination of potential buyers.

Using a drone, you can:

  • Show interesting architectural details
  • Give viewers an overview of the property
  • Highlight million-dollar views
  • Explore the surrounding area
  • Help potential buyers envision themselves living on the property 

And that’s just the start.

While still photos and videos taken from ground level can be very well done and engaging to potential buyers, drone footage can help you elevate the quality of the portfolio of images you create. Pairing the two together is an ideal approach. 

Step 1: Get a Drone for Real Estate

getting started in drone photography

photo by nullplus via iStock 

Today, there are dozens and dozens of drones that could be used for real estate photography. All that selection can be a bit overwhelming, though.

When shopping for a drone for real estate, considering which features are useful can help narrow the options. Features to look for include:

  • Camera quality - You want a drone with a high-resolution camera (i.e., 20-megapixels) that offers 4K video capabilities with a high frame rate (i.e., 8 fps).
  • Flight time - Most top-end drones are capable of 25-30 minute flight times, which should be sufficient for most properties.
  • Control range - Some drones only have a range of several hundred yards, which can inhibit your freedom to get high-angle or wide-angle photos and videos of a property. If possible, get a drone that has a range of at least one mile just to be safe.
  • Stability - A drone with a built-in gimbal or gyroscope will help keep it level for sharp photos and smooth videos. Some drones are so stable that you can get bracketed exposures as well.
  • Safety features- Many drones have anti-collision systems and fail-safes that return them to home when the battery is low. These features are particularly important if you’ll be using them in populated areas.

Below is more information about three drones that fit the criteria above. 

drone for real estate phantom 4 v2.0

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 gets high marks from real estate photographers for its 20-megapixel camera, its ability to shoot 4K video at 60 fps (which is great for slow-motion video), its 30-minute flight time, its multi-directional obstacle avoidance system, and its range of well over four miles. 

drone for real estate inspire 2

The DJI Inspire 2 is another solid option for real estate photography. It has a one-inch, 20-megapixel sensor that is capable of recording video at up to 6K. Its dual battery system enables flight times of up to 27 minutes while its self-heating technology allows you to fly in cold temperatures. With multiple intelligent flight modes, you can create sweeping, cinematic videos of properties with the touch of a button. 

drone for real estate mavic 2 pro

A final option is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Perhaps the best feature of this drone is the Hasselblad 20-megapixel sensor that has an adjustable aperture from f/2.9-f/11 and an ISO range up to 12,800. The camera supports 10-bit 4K video capture and has 10-bit Dlog-M color profile, which gives it enhances dynamic range. With a flight time of 31 minutes, a range of more than five miles, and an object avoidance system on all sides, this compact drone is ideal for real estate applications.

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Step 2: Learn the Regulations for Drone Flights & Practice Piloting Your Drone

benefits of using a drone 1

photo by Naypong via iStock

Before you take flight with your drone, it’s necessary to familiarize yourself with the regulations governing drone flights.

Bear in mind that these regulations vary from country to country, and even municipality to municipality. Therefore, don’t assume that the flight rules that apply in your area apply in a different town or city.

If you’re in the United States, you must obey Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules when flying your drone, such as deferring to other aircraft. Likewise, you must register your drone with the FAA before you undertake flights.

benefits of using a drone 2

photo by @jansmartino via iStock

Once you’ve become familiar with flight regulations, practice your drone flying skills in an open area away from homes, businesses, roads, and other areas where property and people are found. An open field with broad sight lines is ideal. 

To begin, simply learn how to fly and maneuver the drone. Learning the controls as well as the limitations of the drone will take a bit of time and practice.

Once you’re comfortable flying, then expand your practice into taking still photos from various angles and altitudes. Do the same with video as well.

Step 3: Master Drone Photography Composition

drone photography composition 1

photo byJamesBrey via iStock

The obvious advantage of having a drone for real estate photography is that you can highlight property features in a unique way.

But there’s more to it than simply hovering the drone over the backyard pool.

Instead, it’s necessary to work on the composition of your shots to best showcase the property’s features.

drone photography composition 2

photo byCreative-Family via iStock

For example, if a home has a fabulous backyard, a high, wide-angle shot might be just the trick for showing off the yard in its entirety.

Then, pair that still shot with one from the opposite side of the yard to give potential buyers a view from another angle.

Additionally, many drones have automatic flight path features that you can program via GPS. That means you can select a flight path for the drone and create a video tour of the features you wish to feature.

Learn More:

Step 4: Understand the Limitations of Your Drone’s Camera  

real estate photography tips

photo by PBFloyd via iStock 

Just like your smartphone, DSLR or mirrorless camera, your drone’s camera can’t do everything perfectly. You may well find that you need to fine-tune the photos you take from the air in post-processing to get the best results.

For example, if you’re shooting from a drone on a day in which there is very strong sunlight, you might find that the camera can accommodate the highlights or shadows, but not both.

This occurs because the dynamic range - the range of light intensities from dark to light - is too much for the camera to handle in a single image.

To get around this issue, you can bracket the exposures and take 3-5 identical shots, each of which is taken at a different shutter speed. That is, take one shot that’s exposed for the shadows, another identical shot that’s exposed for midtones, and a final shot that’s exposed for the highlights.

Then, you can merge the exposures in a program like Photomatix Pro to create a single image that has beautiful details throughout the shadowed and highlighted areas.

Wrapping It Up

real estate photography tutorial

photo byThomas De Wever via iStock

As noted earlier, mastering the art of drone photography for real estate requires that you have the right gear, that you practice and familiarize yourself with local drone regulations, that you concentrate on creating well-composed shots, and that you perfect your images in post-processing.

If you can commit to this process, you’ll be in good shape to create gorgeous photos and videos of real estate using a drone.



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Helpful Business Tips for Real Estate Photographers

Helpful Business Tips for Real Estate Photographers

 photo byEricVegavia iStock

If you ask me, there are not enough business tips for real estate photographers readily available online. I’ve found in my personal experience that real estate photographers are especially cutthroat due to the difficulty in entering the industry.

But, I’ve always believed that you get what you give and we should all welcome beginners to the real estate photography game, especially in a real estate boom like our country is currently dealing with. There’s plenty of jobs to go around. 

With much effort, I’ve decided on my five most important business tips for real estate photographers that you can read all about below.  

Table of Contents:

Build a Foundation of Photography Knowledge

business tips for real estate photographers 1

 photo by Poike via iStock 

Marketing yourself in any industry is difficult, but marketing yourself in an art-forward industry is impossible without art knowledge to begin with. 

There are conventions, networking groups and industry-leader discussions for almost every industry, yet the photography industry is lacking these basic tools for photographers looking to break into real estate photography.

It seems that business tips for real estate photographers are few and far between and most real estate photographers had to figure out how to do it themselves. 

Thankfully, I recently came across a site that truly helps you build the basics of real estate photography

Real Estate Photographer Pro is an excellent resource for photographers of all skill levels. It helps photographers in the real estate industry connect with other real estate photography professionals, learn how to edit their photos with the perfect templates (that you can directly download from the site), and learn all of the basics from traditional classroom-like videos.

In fact, this site even hosts weekly Q & A’s with a group of real estate photographers who make upwards of $1 million a year. This type of mentorship is something that is not easy to come by in such a dog-eat-dog industry, and it’s also something I still appreciate today, years into my career. 

It’s important to remember that you won’t get very far in the industry without direct connections - the type of direct connections built directly into this course offering. 

Set Yourself (and Your Clients) Up For Success

business tips for real estate photographers 2

 photo by kate_sept2004 via iStock 

We all know clients can be… particular. But, these clients are especially particular when they are high-powered realtors.  

And by “particular” I mean trying to get whatever they want out of you. Out of all of my real estate photography business tips, I think this is the most pertinent: you need to stand your ground and set clear goals and clear expectations. 

This way you won’t disappoint your clients, but you also won’t disappoint your family by constantly working overtime for someone who is too demanding. 

real estate photography tips 3

 photo by Kerkez via iStock 

Before you even form your business, you should be thinking about the exact terms you want to set in your contract. 

Contracts are the most important way for you to communicate the reality of your work to your clients, whether they’ve never worked with a real estate photographer before or whether they have hundreds of times. 

You should also think of the contract as more of a process than a piece of legalese that is “one and done.” While the legalese may save you from a court date in the future, you should also have all of the information in your contract broken down into easy-to-understand text that you can send in an email.

For example, important parts of the contract you may want to reiterate include: your net terms (when you need to be paid by), your fees for additional photos, editing work, and last minute requests, and exactly what types of photos and how many of them your client can expect by the end of their transaction. 

This will save you - and your client - a lot of frustration down the road. If there are any real estate photography tips you need to be worried about, it’s this one. 

Learn More:

Allocate Time for Marketing

Allocate Time for Marketing

Focal Point Photography LLC has an incredible video about viral marketing on Facebook, and while this information is useful it isn’t as useful as making sure you set aside time each week for marketing. 

I oftentimes find that real estate photographers forget to market because they’re so caught up in all of the different aspects of running a business. Once your real estate photography career is established enough to keep you busy full time, the tendency is to stop networking, to stop social media marketing and to stop tracking your marketing efforts at all. 

real estate photography tips 4

photo by Chainarong Prasertthai via iStock 

But, while you may have a full schedule, you could be shooting for bigger and better clients, but you’ll never get there without a concerted marketing effort. 

Concerted marketing means not only having a marketing tactic, but tracking this tactic through the weeks to determine what platforms have worked for you and which have not. 

Real estate photography marketing can be intimidating for newcomers, though, which is another specialization that Real Estate Photographer Pro can help you with. They’ve done it before, so you don’t have to. 

Don’t Give Too Many Freebies

real estate photography business tips 5

photo by Zerborvia iStock 

The next time I see someone include freebies in their list of business tips for real estate photographers, I may lose it.

Freebies devalue our work. They devalue the industry, and they devalue you as an individual. You spent time learning your art, just like a nurse or a professor, and need to be compensated fairly, no matter if the market is oversaturated or not. 

One frustrating thing that I see given away for free all the time is additional editing work.

This video by Pro EDU Photography Tutorials shows you how retouchers price their work, so that you can base your own editing work off of it.  

Clients will always ask you if you could just edit one last thing out of a photo, or if you could do something last minute before they hand the photos off tomorrow morning, and when you give an inch they might take a mile.  

Appreciate your work for what it is - work - and price it accordingly. 

Related to this issue of editing work is this - don’t make it so hard on yourself.

real estate photography business tips 6

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash 

You often hear in other genres of photography that you should strive to get the shot right in-camera, that way the editing process is more about enhancing the beauty that’s already there and less about trying to correct mistakes. The same holds true for real estate photography.

One of the most common challenges for real estate photographers is overcoming dynamic range problems - in other words, photographing rooms that are a little dark, but have super bright windows.

When you try to photograph a room like this in a single shot, you’ll find that the camera either exposes for the bright windows, thereby leaving the room underexposed, or exposes for the room, thereby leaving the window overexposed.

The solution to this problem is simple, though - bracket your exposures and merge them together!

The video above offers a nice demonstration of how bracketing works. It literally takes a few seconds to set up, but it will save you all kinds of time on the back end of things. 

Instead of having one frame, you’ll have multiple shots of the room, each at different exposure levels. Then, you merge those shots together for a final image that is well-exposed throughout.

Not only does this get you a better-looking image, but it also saves you tons of time - you don’t have to try to bring down the highlights or bring up the shadows to see the detail in the room. It’s there already!

real estate photography business tips 7

 Photo by Matthew Kwong on Unsplash

For some reason, I never see payment clearly discussed in lists about business tips for real estate photographers...and it is frustrating.

For one, I don’t understand why so many real estate photographers are stuck in the past. It is 2020. You should have at least 5 ways for your clients to pay you for your work. 

Use technology to your advantage so that your net 60 terms can come down to a net 30 or, hopefully, net 15. 

I personally use PayPal, Venmo, Square, Google Pay and Zelle’s QuickPay to receive payments. 

And if you are one of the many real estate photographers who have yet to join the technology revolution, there’s no need to fret because Sleeklens did a video covering the two most popular: PayPal and Square. 

It takes about 5 minutes to set up an account on both of these sites and your client will never be upset with more options. 

Alright, that’s all for our business tips for real estate photographers. Take this advice, build a better business, and enjoy seeing your business flourish!

Learn More:

 



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Home Staging Tips for Real Estate Photography

Home Staging Tips for Real Estate Photography

 photo by hikesterson via iStock

It’s human nature to make snap decisions in new situations. And though we’re told not to “judge a book by its cover,” when it comes to real estate, this happens all the time.

First impressions matter and they matter a lot. If a home looks great on the outside, but the inside is a messy disaster, potential buyers will simply turn around and walk right back out the front door.

Many people are visual learners, so they need to see the potential that a home offers. That’s where staging comes in. 

Whether you’re a real estate photographer, a realtor, or selling your home on your own, these home staging tips will get the property well-prepared for photos.

Home Staging Tips: Start With Decluttering

real estate photography tips

 Photo by Alvaro de la Rica on Unsplash

You can show off all the amenities a home has to offer if potential buyers can’t see anything through the clutter and mess. That’s why decluttering is an important first step.

Some people take decluttering to mean that they need to all but move out of the home while it’s for sale. This is simply not the case!

Instead, decluttering is all about paring things down. This includes removing personal items (like family photos) and replacing them with art. Doing so helps remove some of the owner’s personality from the home and helps potential buyers see themselves living there.

real estate photography tips

Photo by Timothy Buck on Unsplash

Removing unneeded furniture pieces is also an important step. This is particularly important if the home has smaller rooms because the more furniture there is, the smaller the rooms will appear in photographs.

Likewise, it’s a good idea to declutter closets and cabinets and remove any items that won’t be needed for a while (like winter clothes from a closet when it’s summer). Again, this helps give the impression that there is ample storage space in the home rather than overstuffed closets and cabinets.

Quick Tip: Also declutter kitchen counters, credenzas, and other horizontal surfaces. In the kitchen, find a place for small appliances inside cupboard, that way when photos are taken, there appears to be more counter space.

Learn More:

How to Prep a Home for Photography: Clean, Clean, Clean

How to Prep a Home for Photography

photo by rina88w via iStock

 Once the process of decluttering is complete, it’s time to clean the home.

Cleaning the home before photos are taken is absolutely critical, especially in the kitchens and bathrooms.

Real estate photos - good ones, anyway - will be clear, bright, and sharply in focus. That means that fingerprints on appliances, water spots on bathroom mirrors, and dirty clothes stashed in a corner of a kid’s room will be on full display.

How to Prep a Home for Photography

 photo by akurtz via iStock

Kitchens and baths shouldn’t be the only areas that get a deep clean, though.

If possible, have carpeting in the home professionally cleaned or do it yourself by renting carpet cleaning equipment. Other flooring like tile or hardwoods should be swept and mopped, or in the case of hardwoods, swept with a microfiber cloth to pick up dirt, dust, and other debris. 

All the windows and glass doors in the home should be cleaned (both inside and out). Dust the window sills and jambs, and dust blinds and vacuum drapes.

Quick Tip: Wipe down door knobs, appliances, light switches, and any other surfaces that are touched often and are likely to become dirty.

Staging a Home: Let There Be Light  

Staging Tips for Real Estate Photography

photo by Sisoje via iStock

That being the case, all window blinds and curtains should be open to flood the home with sunlight.

To supplement that natural light, turn on every light in the home - even during the daytime. This will help give the interior spaces of the home an open, bright and inviting feel. Besides, the more light, the larger the spaces will feel.

Quick Tip: Ensure you get well-exposed interior photographs by bracketing the exposures and merging them in post-processing. Doing so enables you to produce final images that show all the necessary details in a room from shadows to highlights.

Learn More:

Don’t Overstage the Property  

Home Staging Tips for Real Estate Photography 1

 Photo by Rhema Kallianpur on Unsplash

Staging a home for photos is not the same as redecorating the home. That is, in most cases, homes simply need to be freshened up to put their best foot forward, not completely redone.

With that in mind, adding a few key accessories to rooms throughout the home will do wonders for making it more appealing.

In the living room, new throw pillows with bright pops of color will liven up seating areas. A vase of flowers on a fireplace mantel will draw attention to the fireplace while making the room smell nice too.

Home Staging Tips for Real Estate Photography 2

photo by dit26978 via iStock

The dining room can be staged for a meal, with place settings and napkins positioned at each seat. A centerpiece to add height to the table is a nice touch that can showcase the size and space of the room.

In the bathroom, clean, crisp, white towels will give the space a spa-like feel. New bath mats can freshen up the floor as well.

Bedrooms will benefit from beds that have freshly cleaned linens and a perfectly made bed. Again, add pops of color with pillows or fresh flowers in a vase on the bedside table. 

Quick Tip: A little color goes a long way in real estate photography. Resist the urge to go overboard with color, and instead have just one or two pops of color in each room, preferably on or near a feature to which you’d like to draw the attention of potential buyers.

Final Thoughts: Staging for Real Estate Photography

real estate photography tips

 photo by JamesBrey via iStock

Staging a home for photos is a process that must begin well before you take photos. And while decluttering, cleaning, and staging the home for impact will take time, in the end, the payoff is huge.

Staged homes tend to get more traffic from potential buyers, and some studies even show that staged homes sell for more money.

That makes staging a critical aspect of real estate photography, and shouldn’t be considered optional.

With the bulk of homebuyers starting their searches online, it’s important that real estate photos are top-notch. By following these simple home staging tips, you will be able to help showcase properties in a way that makes them attractive to buyers.

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Homeowner Tips for Spring Real Estate Photography

Tips for Photographing Real Estate in the Spring

photo byKatarzynaBialasiewicz via iStock

Spring is one of the best times of the year for real estate photography. The snow is melting, so yards look prettier. Flowers add a pop of color to homes that are otherwise drab (I’m looking at you, HOA-enforced suburbs). Plus, people are more willing to move because the weather is nicer so there are a ton of people on the market for a new house.  

Homeowners need tips for photographing real estate too. Your real estate photographer can’t do much if you have piles of trash in your yard or windows that nobody can see through. If you are selling your home, here are some great spring cleaning tips that homeowners can do to help make their homes look as beautiful as possible in real estate photos. 

Make Sure Your Roof Is Clean

tips for photographing real estate 1

photo byghornephoto via iStock

This is one of the more difficult spring cleaning tips for real estate photography, so don’t be ashamed to ask for help if you need it. 

You’ll need to either power wash your roof or sweep it to get all of the leaves and debris off of it. If you have large, mature trees in your yard, this may be the last step you want to take to prevent more leaves from falling. 

And, after you sweep your roof, make sure to clean out the gutters as well. It’s fine details like this that are going to make your real estate photography more appealing than anyone else’s in your neighborhood.

 

Recommended Real Estate Photography Reading:

 

What to Do About the Driveway 

spring real estate photography tips 2

photo by welcomia via iStock 

Hose down the driveway and your walkways while you’re at it. As cute as your children’s chalk drawings are, they probably won’t add much value to your home. 

Roll up your garden hose and put it away.  

You’ll also need to hide your trash cans. This one is a little more difficult since they’re large and you can’t simply stuff them in your junk drawer. Either ask your neighbor to hold them for you for the day or move them as the photographer works. Either way, nasty trash bins aren’t going to do photos of your property any favors.

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Don’t Forget About Landscaping

exterior real estate photography tips 3

photo by ozgurcoskun via iStock 

A lot of tips for photographing real estate leave out what I think is the most important portion of your house’s exterior: the landscaping.

Firstly, rake any leaves lying around in your yard that are decomposing. They may be cute in the autumn, but by this point they’re all dead.

Secondly, think about bringing some new life to your house by planting flowers or other bright plants. 

Thirdly, re-mulch your flower beds (if you have them). Flower beds make for a beautiful photograph when they strongly contrast with the other colors in your yard, which means you need brand-new mulch.  

Some Miscellaneous Tasks

spring cleaning tips for real estate photography 4

photo by lissart via iStock 

Clean your windows. I can’t reiterate this point enough. People don’t typically include this item in their exterior real estate photography tips because it’s also so important for photographing the inside of your home, but dirty windows are a huge turn off. 

You’ll also want to powerwash the siding on your home, especially if your home is painted a bright color. 

Finally, get rid of cobwebs hiding in the corners. Nothing says welcome home like spider webs all over the front porch! 

Taking Photos Yourself? Make It Easier!

prep a home for photos 5

photo by baona via iStock 

If you’re taking photos of your home on your own, there are plenty of things you can do to make the final results much better.

Aside from having the right gear and a shot list for the interior and exterior spaces, you need to understand how to use natural light to get the best shots 

If you head outside and take photos of your home in the middle of the day, you’ll find that the sunlight is very intense. This results in bright highlights and deep shadows that distract from the charm and beauty of your home.

To get around this, you can bracket the exposures and merge them to create a composite image that’s well-exposed throughout.

In the video above, you can learn how to bracket exposures quickly and easily. The tutorial focuses on interior real estate photography, but the process is the same for photographing exteriors.

Merging these images together can be a quick and easy task as well.

In the video above, you can learn how to bracket exposures quickly and easily. The tutorial focuses on interior real estate photography, but the process is the same for photographing exteriors.

Merging these images together can be a quick and easy task as well.

In the video above, you can see how to merge images using Photomatix Pro. Again, the tutorial is for interior photography, but the process is the same for shooting photos of the exterior.

Using this approach, you will be empowered to take far better photos of your home, and the better the photos, the more interested buyers you will have!

Learn More:

 



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How to Get Started in Real Estate Photography

how to get started in real estate photography

On the surface, it might seem like photographing real estate would be a breeze.

After all, you just show up with your camera, take a few photos of the exterior, snap pictures of every room in the house, and go on your way, right?

Wrong...

Good real estate photography requires that you have the right tools, the right preparation, and the right workflow to get the best results.

Since the vast majority of prospective buyers see homes for the first time online, there's never been a more important time to step up your real estate photography skills than today.

That being the case, here are a few critical tips on how to get started in real estate photography.

Real Estate Photography Gear Tips

young woman using dslr camera picture id524397210

I have an iPhone X and I love it. It's been a great phone and an even better camera.

But despite that, there's no way I'd use it to take professional real estate photos.

There's just too many limitations with using your phone, so instead, you need to pick up a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

This doesn't mean that you need to spend $3,500 on a camera body, but getting a solid camera that has interchangeable lenses and manual controls is a must.

wide angle lens real estate

You'll also want to invest in lenses that are appropriate for real estate photography.

When considering what lenses to use for real estate photography, one of the most important features is focal length.

Shorter lenses like a 16mm wide-angle are traditionally better suited to interior photography because they can capture more of the room in a single shot. You can see how much of the room a 16mm lens can capture in the screenshot above.

Small rooms and compact city dwellings may benefit from even wider lenses, such as 12mm or even 10mm. Be sure to use a true wide-angle lens, rather than a fisheye lens, however.

Though these lenses often also have similar focal lengths, they generally won’t work well for real estate photos.

photomatix real estate photography software

A disadvantage of some wide-angle lenses is that they distort the image.

That is, some lines that should be straight are not, as you can see above.

Fortunately, this problem is easily corrected in post-processing.

Another issue you might run into is photographs that are blurry. This often occurs because of camera shake when the camera is held in your hands.

To circumvent this problem, a tripod is a must for real estate photographers.

Tripods give your camera the steady base it needs to take crisp, sharp photos. What's more, a tripod allows you to vary the height your photos are taken from, adjusting from low-angle to high-angle shots as needed with ease.

Additionally, using a tripod enables you to get your camera into corners of the room and other tight spots where you might not be able to go while holding your camera. Using the camera's timer function or a remote allows you to capture those types of photos quite easily.

six aperture picture id153774603

Another features that is often mentioned of lenses is their aperture.

Lenses with wider apertures, like f/1.2 or f/1.4, allow more light into the lens because the hole through which light passes is bigger. This means you can use shorter shutter speeds to take photos of dark areas like room interiors.

However, using wide apertures can also result in not all of the room being in focus. And you will need to use a tripod to take the photos anyway, so the shutter speed is less important.

Since lenses with wide apertures are usually more expensive, something with a mid-range aperture like f/3.5 is probably a pretty good point to aim for.

Watch this video to learn more about lenses, as well as helpful hints for getting sharp photographs like focusing correctly and keeping the camera steady.

Real Estate Photography Tip: Create a Shot List

real estate photography tips

Each house that you photograph will have a different layout, different features, and different amenities that you'll need to photograph.

That's why it's so important to develop a shot list that way you don't accidentally miss something important.

Naturally, your shot list will include the "hero shots" - the front and back of the property, the landscaping, outdoor entertaining areas, and so forth.

You'll also need to include photos of the kitchen, dining room, living room, and other public spaces, as well as each bedroom and bathroom.

modern kitchen picture id948043788

Also on your shot list should be special features that the home might have. This might include a detached garage or workshop, a pool, or even a garden shed or storage shed.

Capturing photos of the view - if there is one - is also important.

The goal with your shot list should be to hit the high points, but also document the smaller details that help set this property apart from the others.

If there's interesting woodwork, ceiling details, a fireplace, or other custom touches, don't be afraid to get in close so prospective buyers can see those details in your images.

fashionable vintage styled living room picture id667507168

Creating your shot list should occur when you first tour the home with your clients.

You'll get a good idea after walking through the home and around the grounds of what you'd like to feature in your photos.

But don't forget to solicit their input regarding what they think should be photographed - after all, they know the place inside and out and might be able to provide interesting perspectives on photo possibilities.

Real Estate Photography Requires Practice

me and my camera picture id679561106

Just like any type of photography, honing your skills as a real estate photographer will take time and practice.

But it's best not to practice on clients' homes. Instead, it's a better idea to work on composition, framing, lighting, and processing your photos using images of your home, your friends' homes, and so forth.

Putting in the time and effort prior to diving into real estate photography will only serve you well.

Not only can you become familiar with all your gear, but you can also ensure that you have the right gear, that you develop your eye for composing interior and exterior shots, and learn the best methods of processing your images as well.

Be Prepared for Challenges in Real Estate Photography

Hartsfield Manor Normal Exposure 0EVInterior image taken with auto exposure - the dynamic range is too high for a single exposure and the bright window biased the camera towards underexposure.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for real estate photographers is the difficult lighting situations that you'll find inside a home.

Not only will some rooms be very dark, but you'll encounter situations in which you have to photograph a room that includes a window (or multiple windows).

The bright view through the window combined with the darker interior space can cause your camera all sorts of problems because the dynamic range is so wide.

What you'll find is that you can get a well-exposed shot of the room, but the window is nothing but bright white. Alternatively, if you expose for the light in the window, the room itself will be too dark, as shown above.

Hartsfield Manor 7 exposures merged to hdr7 exposures merged to HDR in Photomatix Pro - the interior is well lit and the window properly exposed.

Some pro photographers get around the problem by using sophisticated lighting equipment, but many prefer the exposure merge technique which works with natural light.

That's because merging multiple exposures together is much, much easier and less time intensive than setting up lighting equipment and taking it down in every room you photograph.

As you can see in the image above, everything in the room is now well-exposed, from the once-bright windows to the once-dark ceiling, walls, and furniture in the room.

Real Estate Interior 4 ExposuresBracketed photos from 1/500 sec. to 1/4 sec. (f/8, ISO 400). Each exposure is exposed for a different part of the scene.

That's because four different images were taken, each exposed for a different part of the room. Then, by blending each of the images together into one, you get a final result that's well-exposed throughout.

Editor's Tip: If you're struggling to get the exposure of interior real estate photos just right, make it easy on yourself -- take bracketed exposures and let software do the rest.

The technique involves taking multiple exposures, which is greatly facilitated by the Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) feature that most DSLR and mirrorless cameras include.

You can see an example of AEB setup in this video showing how it is done on a Nikon D850:

The AEB capabilities differ depending on the model of camera that you have. For real estate photography, choose a camera with AEB settings that allow you to take 5 shots or more in 2 EV steps, or 9 shots or more in 1EV step.  

With that, you have a quick introduction on how to get started in real estate photography.

Again, the key is to practice your craft, and using these real estate photography tips, you can do just that.

For more details on taking great interior real estate photos, check this article on pro techniques to photograph interiors.



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How to Improve Real Estate Photography: Pay Attention to Details

How to Improve Real Estate Photography

  photo by via asbeiStock

As we explored in a previous tutorial, when preparing a home to be photographed, it’s important that the home is gone through with a fine-tooth comb. Every feature, every detail needs to be perfect in order to help the home put its best foot forward.

That same process of seeking perfection is also important in your approach to photographing properties.

Though no photo is perfect, it’s necessary to strive for perfection so that potential buyers see the home in its best light rather than being distracted by mistakes you’ve made when creating the photos.

Using the following examples, we’ll explore several composition tips that will help you create beautiful, compelling images.

Real Estate Photography Tip: Consider the View 

real estate photography tips

  photo by RoBeDeRovia iStock

When photographing interior spaces of a home, there are a couple of things to think about when considering the view. 

First, when photographing interior spaces during the daytime, the room might be much darker than the view out the window - particularly if the window is small.

If you expose your photo for the darker room, the view out the window will be nothing but a featureless white blob, as shown above. Conversely, if you expose for the view out the window, the room will be overly dark.

The best approach for resolving this issue and providing potential buyers with a view of the room and a view out the window is to bracket your exposures and merge them in post-processing.

modern attic bedroom picture id924736810

photo by Bulgac via iStock

For example, if photographing the bedroom above, you would take multiple exposures, each at a different exposure level to account for the brightness of the windows, the darkness of the floor space in the foreground, and points in between.

Then, using a program like Lightroom or specialized HDR software, you can blend those exposures together for a final image that’s well-exposed throughout. 

real estate photography tips 2

photo by jodiejohnson via iStock 

A second thing to think about when considering the view is whether the view is worth highlighting or not.

In the image above, for example, the natural green surroundings contribute to the feel of the interior space, and every effort should be made to create images that show the interior space in the context of that beautiful view.

real estate photography tips 3

  photo by KatarzynaBialasiewiczvia iStock

Alternatively, if the view out of a window is of the neighbor’s house, telephone wires, a busy street, or other not-so-desirable features, strive to mask the view to the extent possible. This can be done by partially closing blinds, sheers, or curtains, as was done above. You can also change your shooting position to minimize the view out the window.

It’s important to note that the point of this isn’t to try to deceive potential buyers by hiding an ugly view. Instead, the point is to minimize the view to help buyers focus on the interior spaces and the amenities they offer.

Learn More:

Highlight Appropriate Details by Selecting the Best Shooting Angles

real estate photography tutorial

   photo by akurtzvia iStock

When photographing properties, it’s necessary to keep your camera level so that straight lines don’t appear to converge. If you don’t, buyers can be distracted by the warped perspective rather than seeing the potential of the home as a suitable place to live.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t adjust the height from which you shoot to give viewers a different perspective on the details of a property.

For example, in the image above, dropping the eye level brings the beautiful hardwood floors in this dining room into prime view. Notice as well that this lower-than-normal shooting angle gives us a sneak peek at the intricate details of the ceiling in the dining room and the living room beyond.

real estate photography tutorial 1

   photo by ablokhin iStock

When adjusting your shooting angle, it’s necessary to have an eagle eye on your composition. That is, be sure to double-check that the shooting angle doesn’t bring unwanted details into view.

In the image above, note how the low shooting angle gives us a direct view of the underside of the cabinetry. This is not ideal, especially since the underside of the cabinets are not finished. Rather than highlighting the flooring as was done in the previous photo, this shot brings an unneeded detail into the frame that detracts from the otherwise pleasing features in this space.

Learn More:

Real Estate Photography Composition Tip: Watch the Crop

composition tips for real estate photography

photo byspyderskidoo via iStock

Another detail-oriented consideration to make when photographing real estate is to pay close attention to how you crop and frame the image.

When you photograph people, you don’t want to cut off the tops of their heads. Likewise, you want to avoid framing the shot such that their joints coincide with the edge of the frame.

Real estate photography is similar in that you want to be sure that you aren’t chopping off essential features.

For example, the image above is oddly framed because the top of the roof is cut off, as is the left side of the home. A better composition would have been to shift the view to the left and take the photo straight-on to show the entire side of the home.

composition tips for real estate photography 1

  photo by Peter_visual via iStock

The same approach should be used when photographing interior spaces as well.

In the image above, note how the chandelier in the foreground is partially cut off. Again, a better composition would have been to move back or zoom out to incorporate the entire chandelier in the shot.

When working in some interior spaces, there might not be room to move back far enough to avoid unfortunate crops. Regardless, work to avoid this situation to the extent possible, and you’ll have more pleasing and impactful photos with which to impress potential buyers.

Learn More:



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How to Increase Your Profits as a Real Estate Photographer

How to Increase Your Profits as a Real Estate Photographer

photo byJennifer_Sharp via iStock

Real estate photography profits can be hard to come by these days when the economy feels so uncertain.  

Thankfully, every lull in photography seasons and every lull in the economy provides us a brief respite through which we can learn new skills so that we can make money in real estate photography all year round.  

Here are some tips for increasing your real estate photography profits that you can learn during this pandemic.  

Table of Contents

Stop Charging by the Hour

real estate photography profits 1

photo byshippee via iStock

Event photographers can charge by the hour because the event takes a set amount of time. Real estate photographers should not charge by the hour because if you work a little more slowly to get the perfect results, your client may feel like you are just trying to get more money out of them.

Conversely, clients might try to speed you up to minimize your bill. Working under pressure like that will only lead to photos that aren’t up to snuff. 

So, on your next couple of jobs, track how much time it takes you to complete them and begin charging either by room or provide a flat rate that’s based on square footage. 

Just make sure that the rate you come up with is more than sufficient to cover your expenses and overhead while also allowing room for a nice profit. You don’t want to price gouge, but you also don’t want to charge a fee that’s so low you can’t live off of it!

 

Recommended Real Estate Photography Reading:

 

Sit Down and Do the Math

real estate photography profits 2

photo by erdikocak via iStock 

There’s something called the “cost method” of pricing, which sounds a lot scarier than it really is. 

All it means is that you need to track all of your hours you work on a project. Include driving time, time you spend corresponding with clients, shooting time, post-production time, and so forth.  

This way, you will know what to charge for real estate photography jobs that only took 2 hours of shooting time but really took a total of 10 or 11 hours.

real estate photography profits 3

photo byExtreme Media via iStock 

You should also do one more piece of math if you own a real estate photography business: figure out how many clients you could feasibly take on.

Would that amount of clients be enough to support you? Would you be able to support yourself if you were at 80% client capacity?  

If not, you may need to do some more research into real estate photography business tips, because your pricing structure isn’t working for you. Check the Learn More links throughout this article for more tips on real estate business topics.

Learn More:

Learn How to Work Efficiently

make money in real estate photography 4

Photo by Tranmautritam from Pexels 

Your real estate photography profits can take a huge hit if you’re less efficient in your day-to-day, and since you are your own boss, it can be difficult to track how efficiently you’re working.

You need to be able to handle a lot of clients regularly if you’re living on your real estate photography profits by themselves. This means you need quick turnaround time, quick communication with potential clients, and you need to fulfill your promises.  

So, try tracking your workflow. What parts of your day-to-day are taking you the most time? Can you cut down on that process to save some time?

make money in real estate photography 5

photo by onurdongel via iStock 

One aspect of real estate photography that can take up a lot of your time is setting up artificial lighting for interior photo shoots. 

I’m a huge advocate of ditching lighting setups and relying on natural light and the bracket and merge technique. 

Not only does this method result in less time spent on the job, but it also gives you more natural-looking photos and costs less because you don’t have to invest in tons of lighting gear.

As you can see in the video above, it’s a simple process, too. 

Using the auto exposure bracketing feature on your camera, take a series of images of the room, each at a different exposure level.

Then, once you have your bracketed exposures, you merge them in post-processing. This is another area where you can save time by using special software that was purpose-built for this HDR technique for real estate photography

real estate photographer pro

If you need additional help learning how to work efficiently, then you could probably benefit from taking a course with Real Estate Photography Pro. 

It’s a completely online course (pandemic-free!) that provides you access to a members-only Facebook group with a live Q&A every week, tons of downloadable presets and templates, and dozens of video tutorials.

The course was designed and built by professional real estate photographers with a proven track record of success. That means you get inside information on how to make your real estate photography business thrive from people that have been there, done that. 

What’s not to like about that?

Think About the Psychology of Pricing

Derek Halpern’s video on the psychology of pricing walks you through something that can increase your real estate photography profits in no time: creating three packages for your customers.

You should have your base package, which is the least amount of money you’d be willing to do a job for and takes the least amount of your time. Then, you should have a goal package, which is the package you’d ideally sell to every client, but in reality will only sell to clients with more money.

Finally, you should have a package somewhere in between these two. This package is likely going to be the one your clients choose time and time again. It should include everything your clients need and be a good paycheck for you. 

Add New Services

increase profits in real estate photography

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash 

Have you always wanted to learn drone photography, but never took the time to? 

Have you had a client ask for a real estate photography service that you didn’t offer?  

Have you taken the time to research services that high-end clients want, like on-sight proofing so they can immediately approve the images? 

Now is the time to add new services to your real estate portfolio. Diversifying your income is never a bad thing!

Learn More:

 



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How to Market Yourself as a Real Estate Photographer

How to Market Yourself as a Real Estate Photographer

Photo by Joshua Case on Unsplash

Real estate photography is a profession that is becoming increasingly popular, and that means more competition for jobs.

That being the case, you’ll need to work harder than ever to differentiate yourself from the crowd and draw customers to you.

The question is, how does one do that?

I’ve put together a short list of marketing tips for real estate photographers that will help you find your niche. 

Marketing Starts With a Quality Product

photography business tips

 photo by hikesterson via iStock 

Clearly, the first step in marketing yourself as a real estate photographer is to produce a quality product.

This means putting forth the time and effort to plan each photoshoot, ensuring that the property has been staged appropriately, and that you adhere to common-sense composition rules to create the best photos.

But as I explain in this article, one of the most common ways that real estate photos go awry is due to complicated lighting - a dynamic range that’s too great for the camera to accommodate in one photograph. This situation results from a dark interior and bright windows.

You can’t very well provide clients with photos in which the room is well-exposed and the view out of the windows is overexposed, nor can you give them images in which the windows are well-exposed and the room is underexposed.

The solution is to bracket your exposures and merge them together to get a final composite image that’s well-exposed throughout, without expensive lighting equipment.

If you’re not familiar with the process of bracketing exposures, consult the video above. It’s a simple process that will have a profound, positive impact on the photos you create.

Learn More:

Market Yourself Using Your Name 

marketing tips for photographers 1

photo by Rawpixel via iStock 

As noted in the introduction, you need to find ways to stand out from the crowd, and one of the best ways you can do that is to market yourself using your name instead of a business name.

For starters, doing so gives you immediate uniqueness. After all, there’s only one of you!

Secondly, using your real name in your marketing activities instantly makes you more authentic to potential clients. Would you be more drawn to Kevin Jones to be your real estate photographer or KJ Photography Enterprises?

In that regard, using your real name gives potential clients something concrete on which to latch - they can put a name to the face, so to speak. That’s simply not possible when you’ve marketed yourself with an abstract moniker.

marketing tips for photographers 2

photo by Panuwat Dangsungnoen via iStock 

A third factor that makes using your own name for marketing a good strategy is that it’s often easier for people to remember - and that’s a good thing!

Word of mouth is one of the very best types of marketing for photographers, so having an easy-to-remember name will help facilitate the spread of positive reviews from satisfied clients to potential customers.

Now, there are exceptions to the rule - if your last name is very long or difficult to spell, for example, you might shorten it to just your last initial. But by and large, your marketing will be much more successful if you use your own first and last name.

Take a Multi-Modal Approach

real estate photography tips 1

 photo by izusek via iStock

An effective marketing strategy is one that endeavors to find clients via a variety of methods.

That is, you can’t expect your business to grow to its potential if all you do is take out targeted Facebook ads.

Don’t get me wrong - targeted ads on Facebook are certainly a wise investment. But not every client that might need your services is on Facebook.

Your best bet is to spread your marketing out over various mediums: use social media, set face-to-face appointments with local real estate agents, and place an ad in a real estate magazine.

real estate photography tips 2

Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

Better still, it’s advantageous to use platforms where you can share your work and demonstrate your expertise in this field.

For example, Instagram is an excellent marketing tool because you can share the photos you’ve taken of properties. It doesn’t get much better than putting your work out there in a place where millions of people are hanging out…

Likewise, having a YouTube channel is virtually a must these days. 

Not only does it afford you the ability to share your expertise with behind-the-scenes videos, tutorials, and the like, but YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world second only to Google. If people are looking for a real estate photographer, you certainly want to be taking advantage of those searches by having a high-quality YouTube channel.

Learn More:

Use Your Prices as a Marketing Chip 

photography business tips 2

photo by porcorex via iStock 

Some photographers think that if they market themselves as a “bargain” that it will bring more customers their way.

But experience tells us that this is not always the case.

The problem with promoting yourself as an inexpensive option for real estate photography services is that people begin to associate your photos, products, and services as being cheap.

“Cheap” is not something you want people to think of when they see your work!

photography business tips 3

 photo by Jirapong Manustrong via iStock

If you offer high-quality services to your clients and have built trust with the buying public by marketing yourself in an authentic manner across a variety of mediums, then your prices need to reflect that.

This isn’t to say that you should crank up your prices to be exorbitantly high, but they should be indicative of the quality of the products you create, the attention to detail, and the dedication to customer service you bring to the table.

After all, just like any other type of photography, real estate photography is about evoking emotions and making people experience something when they see your photos. It’s also about real, tangible results - do properties sell faster when you’ve photographed them or not?

If you have a demonstrated ability to make properties shine and help get them sold faster, then by all means, your prices should represent that accordingly!

 

 



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How to Photograph Bedrooms to Enhance Their Appeal

How to Photograph Bedrooms

photo by asbevia iStock

While kitchens and bathrooms are what most people are drawn to when they’re looking for a new home, you can’t discount the importance of appealing bedroom spaces.

Whether it’s the master retreat where parents can get away from the hubbub of their kids, a mother-in-law suite that aging grandparents can call home, or the kids’ rooms where little ones can play and rest, home buyers want clean, bright, spacious bedrooms.

As a Realtor or a real estate photographer, it’s your job to highlight the positives in bedrooms and make them look warm, inviting, and relaxing. Use the following bedroom photography tips to do just that.

How to Photograph Bedrooms: Introduce the Space With a Wide Shot

bedroom photography tips

 photo by bulgacvia iStock

One of the simplest tricks you can use to give the impression of space in a bedroom is to position your camera and tripod in the doorway for a wide-angle shot of the room. Doing so gives you a couple of extra feet of space to maneuver so you can capture more details in the shot.

If possible, try to capture a photo that shows three walls, as shown above. This will make the room looks more spacious than it actually is. What’s more, this will provide potential buyers with a view of as much of the room as possible.

A wide-angle lens will distort straight lines, so ceilings and walls may appear to be bowed. You can easily fix this in post-processing, though, with programs like Lightroom or Photomatix Pro. 

Notice how in the photo above all the lines are perfectly straight - this is exactly what you want!

Learn More:

Bedroom Photography Tip: Make the Bed the Focal Point 

how to make bedrooms look their best

 photo by alabnvia iStock

Though not every bedroom you photograph will be staged with furniture, if the room is decorated, the bed should be the focal point of the shot. It’s a bedroom after all! 

The bed absolutely should be made, and made well. Hospital corners will keep sheets and other bedding beautifully tight and will give the look of a luxury hotel.

If possible, ask the homeowner to stage the bed with a neutral bed cover and accent with small, yet bold pops of color to make the bed look that much more inviting, as was done above.

photographing bedrooms

  photo by bulgac via iStock

What you certainly want to avoid is a bedroom that has been over-staged. The goal here is to make the room look inviting - not chaotic with competing colors and patterns everywhere.

For example, the photo above has way too much going on between the bright colors, the patterned rug, the multi-colored globes hanging from the ceiling, and so forth.

Though the room look well put together, with this type of staging, it might be difficult for potential buyers to envision how they would like this room put together.

How to Make Bedrooms Look Their Best: Let the Natural Light Shine In

bedroom photography tips

 photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz via iStock

Nothing makes a bedroom look less inviting than a dark photo. Likewise, if there’s not enough lighting in the shot, the bedroom will look smaller than it actually is.

In addition to turning on the lights in the room, open the blinds or curtains to allow natural light to fill the space. 

This will highlight the size of the room and offer a glimpse of what the view is like outside the windows.

bedroom photography tips

  photo by bulgac via iStock

Of course, the challenge with photographing any room with a window - particularly smaller windows that are common in some bedrooms - is the room being darker than the window.

Bracketing exposures helps get around this problem, and merging those exposures together in post-processing results in a beautifully exposed image with highlights and shadows that have kept all their detail. 

 

If the property you’re photographing has non-conforming bedrooms without any windows or if the view out the window isn’t exactly something you want to highlight, turn on all the lights in the room to give it adequate illumination.

The bracket-and-merge technique mentioned above is still in play for these types of bedrooms as well. See how this technique works in the video above.

Learn More:

Photographing Bedrooms: Decluttering is a Must  

how to make bedrooms look their best

 photo by phototropic via iStock

If there’s a room in a house that’s got a lot of clutter, it will likely be kids’ rooms and bedroom closets. 

As noted earlier, it’s imperative that if there’s furniture in the bedroom that the bed is perfectly made. Likewise, the entire room needs to be clean and free of clutter.

Kids rooms should look like the one above - neat, tidy, and without toys all over the place. Notice how spacious the room looks, even with a large bunk bed occupying much of the frame.

With toys out of sight and a lot of floor space showing, this photo gives the impression that the room is more than adequately sized to accommodate a child and their toys and other belongings.

How to Photograph Bedrooms

 photo by pisittar via iStock

Bedroom closets can be a challenge to declutter, but at the very least, items in the closet should be as organized as possible.

This isn’t as big of an issue for regular-sized closets as you likely won’t photograph them. But potential buyers will surely open closet doors to see how big they are, so homeowners should be sure their closets are all tidy nonetheless.

How to Photograph Bedrooms 3

 photo by JodiJacobson via iStock

Walk-in closets are a feature that many buyers want, so you should strive to photograph any such closets in the home.

As suggested earlier, set up your camera and tripod in the doorway of the closet and use a wide-angle lens to capture as much of the closet as you can.

Since most homes have pretty standard closets, the goal here is to simply show the space and the storage options, as was done in the image above. 

The Details Matter in Bedroom Photography

photographing bedrooms

 photo by imaginima via iStock

Like with any other space in a home, the details matter when photographing a bedroom. 

While wide shots and having the bed as the focal point are important, so too is highlighting any details that make the bedroom a unique space. 

The angled ceilings and beams in the photo above, for example, are a wonderful subject to highlight. Fireplaces, balconies, large windows, and the view out the windows are suggested subjects as well. 

Remember - the goal with your photos is to help potential buyers envision themselves living in the home. With the tips I’ve outlined above, you will be able to do just that!



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How to Photograph Real Estate in the Winter

How to Photograph Real Estate in the Winter

photo byewg3D via iStock

In climates in which winter means cold air and a blanket of snow, real estate photographers have to get creative to capture the best images. 

There are plenty of challenges, too: unattractive piles of snow, iced-over walkways, flat light, and exposure challenges that come with photographing a mostly white scene.

These obstacles can be overcome with the right approach, though.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn a few essential tips on how to photograph real estate in the winter.

Timing is Everything

how to photograph real estate 1

photo byKenWiedemann via iStock

If you’re faced with photographing a home in the midst of a wintery scene, the time of day you plan your photo shoot can make all the difference in the world. 

Photographing a home in the middle of the day is often not the most ideal situation regardless of the season. The harsh light can create areas of high contrast with bright highlights and deep shadows that can look unappealing.

Add in the exposure challenges of photographing a snow-covered scene (discussed next), and you have the makings of a potentially difficult photo shoot.

how to photograph real estate 2

photo byWillowpix via iStock

A better option might be to photograph the property during golden hour when the sun is lower in the sky. 

Not only is the light from the sun softer during golden hour, but it’s also warmer in color temperature. This can help offset all the cool tones of the wintery scene. 

Quick Tip: Keep an eye on the forecast for snow. If you can photograph the exterior of a property after freshly-fallen snow, the images will have a fresh, clean look that will make just about any property shine. 

Learn More:

Watch the Exposure

how to photograph real estate 3

photo byUSGirl via iStock

By far, one of the biggest challenges you will encounter with wintertime real estate photography is getting the right exposure.

Your camera is calibrated to base its exposure on 18 percent gray, but when most of the scene you’re shooting is covered in white, it can trick the camera’s meter into thinking the scene is brighter than it actually is.

The result of this is underexposed images that have snow that looks dull and gray rather than crisp white. Wedding photographers have the same problem when photographing a bride in her white gown.

how to photograph real estate 4

photo byRichLegg via iStock

The trick to overcome this issue is to use exposure compensation. The exact amount of compensation needed will depend on the specific situation, but one to two stops of compensation is probably a good bet.

When using exposure compensation, take care not to overdo it. If you dial in more than a couple of stops of positive compensation, you run the risk of blowing out the highlights in the photo. 

Quick Tip:Try using spot metering, metering off the snow, and dialing in +1 EV compensation. That should give you a good starting point for getting a well-exposed image.

Bracketing and Merging Exposures Gets Great Results

how to photograph real estate 5

photo bydiane39via iStock

An even better option for getting good exposures in the challenging lighting conditions of winter is to bracket your exposures and merge them together in post-processing. 

Bracketing exposures is a simple task. Using your camera’s Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) feature, dial in +/- 2 EV (or the highest your camera supports). Mount your camera to a tripod, set your camera to continuous shooting mode, and take the series of shots.

By bracketing the exposures, you can better manage challenging winter light - one image in the brackets is slightly underexposed, one is the “proper” exposure, and one is slightly overexposed. Merging these images together in post-processing gets you a final result that is well-exposed throughout. 

This method is particularly useful if you have to photograph properties during the daytime when the dynamic range of the scene is its greatest, but it can also be a useful procedure for golden hour photos. 

Quick Tip: Not sure how to merge bracketed images? Learn how in this detailed tutorial 

Learn More:

Carefully Compose Your Shots

how to photograph real estate 6

photo byTomFawls via iStock

Unless you photograph a property right after fresh snow has fallen, you’re going to have some unique obstacles to try to overcome.

While fresh snow is beautiful and clean, snow that’s been shoveled into piles is not. Additionally, sand and salt that’s used to melt snow can make sidewalks and driveways look particularly dirty.

wintertime real estate photography 1

photo byAarreRinne via iStock

To avoid these eyesores, you’ll want to walk around the property to find the most pleasing angles. Look for ways to minimize the impact of snow that’s piled up or has otherwise been disturbed.

Altering the eye level of the shot is a good bet for doing this - dropping the eye level will help mask dirty sidewalks. Photographing the property from the side opposite of the driveway will also do wonders for masking how much potential buyers can see the mounds of snow piled up.

Quick Tip: Do your best to avoid making fresh footprints in the snow. Landscape photographers will tell you that nothing ruins a wintery landscape photo like footprints in an otherwise pristine shot. The same is true for winter real estate photography!

 



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How to Photograph Real Estate With a Smartphone

How to Photograph Real Estate With a Smartphone

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash

Smartphone technology has come a very long way in recent years, making them a more-than-viable option for real estate professionals and real estate photographers to use for both interior and exterior shots.

And while smartphones might not have the flexibility and performance of an interchangeable lens camera like a DSLR or mirrorless system, modern smartphones have quality built-in lenses and sensors with enough resolution to create great-looking shots for online listings.

Consult this quick guide for some critical tips that will allow you to take the best possible photos with your smartphone.

How to Photograph Real Estate With a Smartphone: Hold Your Phone Properly

real estate photography tips

photo by Steve Debenport via iStock 

One of the most common mistakes people make when taking photos with their smartphone is not giving the phone the proper support it needs to get a tack-sharp image.

Naturally, holding your phone at arm’s length (as shown above) is the most natural inclination when using a smartphone for photographing a home’s exterior and interior spaces. However, this is the worst way to hold a smartphone if you want sharp images.

Instead, you’ll get sharper photos if you bring your elbows inward and plant them in your chest or kneel down and rest your elbows on your knees. Doing so helps stabilize your forearms and wrists, which gives your smartphone camera a more stable base for photo-taking.

Additionally, rather than using the screen-based shutter button to trigger the shutter, it’s often a better choice to hold your phone with both hands and utilize the volume button to trigger the shutter. This allows you to keep a firm grip on the phone with both hands and further the camera’s ability to get a sharp image. 

Quick Tip: Never, ever use a smartphone’s zoom to photograph real estate. The digital zoom on a smartphone really isn’t a zoom - it just crops the photo to make the subject bigger. The problem with this is that it also makes the photo very grainy and pixelated. Instead, to get better real estate photos, simply move closer to the subject without using your phone’s zoom.

Real Estate Photography With a Smartphone: Invest in a Tripod

real estate photography smartphone gear

 photo by Jeng_Niamwhan via iStock

An even better solution for getting the sharpest photographs is to utilize a tripod for your smartphone.

There are dozens of smartphone-sized tripods on the market that are small, lightweight, and easy to use, like the one shown above. These tabletop tripods will give your phone the added stability it needs for sharp images. Some models also provide the added benefit of having legs that can be manipulated around objects to get photos from a unique perspective.

You can invest in a smartphone adapter for a traditional tripod as well, that way you can make use of a much taller tripod for more traditional real estate photos. This is also advantageous if you shoot some images with your smartphone and other images with a DSLR or mirrorless camera because you can simply swap out which camera is attached to the tripod. 

When using your smartphone on a tripod, you can take advantage of your phone’s self-timer to trigger the shutter. This is another great way to get sharp images because you don’t have to worry about the camera moving as you press the shutter and causing unwanted motion blur.

Learn More:

Smartphone Tricks for Real Estate Photography: There’s an App for That

Smartphone Tricks for Real Estate Photography

Photo by Le Buzz on Unsplash 

One of the biggest advantages of using a smartphone for this type of photography is that you can process your images immediately on your phone.

Using an app like Snapseed (iOS and Android) or VSCO is ideal when images need to be processed quickly to post on social media. These apps give you the power to lighten or darken images, manipulate color and contrast, manage highlights and shadows, and other tools to help you enhance your images. That includes much more powerful camera apps than what many native smartphone cameras offer.

One of the most common challenges for real estate photographers is overcoming the wide dynamic range that’s found in interior spaces.

Since the room is darker than the light coming through the windows, it’s hard for your smartphone (or any camera, for that matter) to accommodate that wide dynamic range.

However, you can easily overcome this issue with specialized apps for real estate photography.

For more details on this process, consult the video above. 

Quick Tip: Keep an eye on the white balance of your photos as you move from one interior space to the next. In some rooms, the light might be quite cool while in others it might be quite warm. This back-and-forth can be jarring to the eyes as potential buyers look at property photos. By editing your images and giving them a consistent white balance, you’ll have a much more consistent and pleasing collection of images.

Composition Tips for Real Estate Photos: Shoot Horizontally

Composition Tips for Real Estate Photos

Photo by Douglas Sheppard on Unsplash 

Though the natural inclination when shooting photos with a smartphone might be to hold it upright, you’ll get much better photos if you hold the phone sideways for a landscape-oriented view.

This is true not just of exterior shots - where most properties are wider than they are tall - but it is also true of interior shots where it is preferable to show as much of the room and its details as possible in one frame.

There are some situations, of course, in which vertical photos are preferable - photographing a staircase, for example - but by and large, horizontally-oriented photos are a much better way to give potential buyers the clearest, most detailed view of a property.

Learn More:

Photography Techniques for Real Estate: Find the Corners

Photography Techniques for Real Estate

Photo by iAlicante Mediterranean Homes on Unsplash

One of the primary obstacles of using a smartphone for interior real estate photos is that the lens offers a rather narrow angle of view. This means that less of the room is captured in a single image.

One way to get around this problem is to position yourself (or your tripod-mounted phone) in the corner of the room. Doing so increases the distance from the camera to the furthest corner of the room and allows you to convey a greater sense of the space.

Of course, you can also use your smartphone’s panoramic photo setting to create a wide-format image of the room or purchase a wide-angle lens for your smartphone. There are many lenses on the market today that increase the field of view by as many as 2x.

Either method certainly allows for interior real estate images that include more of the room in a single shot, though it is important to be aware of the distortion that can result from using the panoramic setting or a wide-angle lens. Straight lines the corner of walls or where ceilings and walls meet can appear bowed without applying lens corrections in post-processing.

Following these quick and easy smartphone tips for real estate photography will put you in a much better position to get the high-quality photos you seek!

 



We Recommend


How to Set Your Real Estate Photography Pricing

How to Set Your Real Estate Photography Pricing

Photo by Jan Baborák on Unsplash

Real estate photography pricing is one of the most elusive figures to find on any photography tip website. 

For one, photography pricing varies widely by niche. For another, photography pricing varies widely between different countries and states. 

Plus, a lot of photography pricing is based on the individual. Nobody knows how much your life costs better than you. 

But, there are a series of things you need to account for when setting your real estate photography pricing. Here are some things you might fail to take into account.

Build Driving Time Into Your Invoice

real estate photography pricing 1

Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash

Every hour you’re on the road is an hour you’re not working for another client. And, trust me, they add up.  

Plus, all of that driving means you’re going to need to start replacing parts of your car sooner rather than later. 

So, when building your real estate photography pricing sheet, make sure you’re building driving time into it.

real estate photography pricing 2

Photo by why kei on Unsplash

I build my driving time into my contracts in two ways: mileage and time.

For mileage, I just go by the IRS guidelines every year. Currently, the IRS allows taxpayers to deduct 58 cents for every business mile driven. Instead of deducting this amount from my taxes, I charge it to my clients.

I also account for the amount of time I will be driving to and from the location. If the location is within 25 miles of my house, I don’t charge anything because I figure this is a reasonable distance I would otherwise be commuting to and from an office with. 

But, that’s a personal choice. You need to sit down and establish yours. 

 

Recommended Real Estate Photography Books:

 

Create Different Packages Based Around Editing Time 

real estate photography tips 3

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash 

You know how there are clients that want five rounds of revisions and then there are clients who are happy with whatever you hand them?

You need to charge the first client for that additional time. 

The way I do this is by simply building revisions into my contract. This way the client has my pricing sheet from day one and will pay a lot more for last-minute revisions.

real estate photography tips 4

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash 

Also, clients who have never worked with a photographer before don’t understand how difficult some editing is. Outline what you can and cannot do before the project starts. 

It also helps to have software that makes editing your real estate photos an easier process.

For example, so many interior shots require the use of HDR to get well-exposed images throughout.

Processing those images can be laborious in some programs. In others, like Photomatix, it’s a clean and simple workflow that enables you to process your images in short order.

You can align the images, reduce noise, apply HDR presets, and use sliders to adjust the effects. You can also crop, sharpen, and straighten your images, among many other edits. There’s even batch processing!

Time is money in photography, so the less time you have to spend editing your images, the more time you can be out taking more photos.

Learn More:

Expedited Turnaround Means Additional Fees

real estate photography business tips 5

Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash 

I have spent a fair share of my time finishing work up at 1 a.m. I also didn’t charge for last-minute requests for the first few years of my business.  

But, one of the most life-changing real estate photography tips I ever received was to not be afraid to say “no” to clients. 

After a few years of having your work responsibilities trump your personal responsibilities, you’ll think again about all of those short turnaround times. 

real estate photography business tips 6

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash 

Now, thanks again to a “pricing tips for real estate photography” article I read a few years back, if I’m working before or after work hours, I’m getting paid for it. 

You’ll need to figure out how much your personal time is worth to you before establishing this part of your contract. 

Do Some Market Research

real estate photography business tips 7

 photo by USGirl via iStock 

Photographers in Alaska get paid differently from photographers in Mexico.  

Beginner photographers get paid less than photographers who have been in business for over a decade. 

Wedding photographers get paid differently from real estate photographers.  

There’s a lot of conflicting information about pricing out there, so it is absolutely essential that you do individualized research on your market.

pricing tips for real estate photography 8

 photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz via iStock 

How much do other real estate photographers get paid near you? While internet research may be enough for you to figure out a good number, in other circumstances you may need to reach out to other professionals in your area.

Honestly, I’ve never had trouble finding someone to tell me how much they’re charging, because they’ve probably been in your shoes before and know it’s hard to establish a good goal. 

Pay Yourself First

pricing tips for real estate photography 9

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash 

This is the most important tip of all these real estate photography business tips.  

You need to sit down and budget your personal life before you can ever budget your professional life. Some of us simply need more money, whether it's because you have kids or you can’t give up your yearly vacation to Barbados. 

pricing tips for real estate photography 10

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash 

Take into account all of the things you will no longer receive from a regular 9-to-5 job, like health insurance, retirement savings, and life insurance. 

Once you have a list of all your personal expenses, then you can begin to work out a more refined pricing strategy that covers all those expenses, your business expenses, and allows you to put money toward retirement too.

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


How to Stage the Exterior of a Home for Real Estate Photography

How to Stage the Exterior of a Home for Real Estate Photography

 photo by zstockphotos via iStock

Though many people think of the interior of a home when they think of home staging, it’s equally as important to make the exterior of the home look its best.

After all, the first thing potential buyers see when they search for a home online is a photo of the front of the home. Since first impressions matter so much, it’s necessary to stage the home inside and out. 

The following tips on how to stage the exterior of a home will help you get the property in tip-top shape before you take any photos.

Exterior Staging Tips: Have Homeowners Put Their Green Thumbs to Work

exterior staging tips

 photo by Xacto via iStock

The yard space is prime real estate for impressing potential buyers. Unfortunately, if it isn’t up to snuff, buyers could be so unimpressed that they don’t even want to go inside the home.

Before you take any exterior photos, ensure that the homeowners have addressed the following issues:

  • Grass should be freshly mowed, edged, and watered.
  • Sidewalks and driveways should be swept, clear of debris, and hosed down. If photos will be taken during the winter, sidewalks and driveways should be shoveled.
  • Shrubs should be neatly trimmed and should be no higher than the bottom of windows so as not to obscure the view of the house from the street.
  • Trees should be pruned to a height that people can walk under them.
  • Flowerbeds should be clean and free of debris. If photos will be taken in the colder months when flowers aren’t in bloom, have the homeowner lay down fresh mulch to cover the flowerbeds.

exterior staging tips

 photo by ElenaMorgan via iStock

Additionally, unsightly elements in the yard should be hidden to the extent possible. For example, ask homeowners to move trash bins into the garage before you take photos. 

Likewise, if homeowners can disguise things like air conditioning units, it will make exterior photos look much more pleasing. A small trellis or shrubbery will go a long way in reducing the visual impact of utilitarian elements like this.

Quick Tip: If the homeowners have children, ask that any toys be gathered from the yard before you arrive to take photos. Play areas should likewise be neat and tidy.

How to Stage Outdoor Living Spaces 

real estate photography tips

photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz via iStock

Outdoor living spaces are a valuable commodity that should be showcased in your photos. But just like staging interior living spaces, outdoor areas need some love to put their best foot forward.

Patios and decks should be swept before photos are taken. Furniture should be neatly arranged and placed in such a way that highlights the use of the space. Adding outdoor rugs and throw pillows will enhance the visual appeal of the area and show buyers the true potential of outdoor living, as shown above.

real estate photography tips

 photo by TimAbramowitz via iStock

If possible, the staged outdoor living areas should be portrayed in the photos in a way that also highlights the surrounding landscaping. 

For example, the image above not only gives potential buyers a glimpse at the patio and fire pit area, but it also shows off the water feature, the hardscape, the plants, yard, and a bit of the home, too.

Learn More:

Real Estate Photography Tip: Welcome People Home With an Inviting Front Door

 how to stage the exterior of a home

 photo by Paul Vowles via iStock

While the front yard and outdoor living spaces offer potential buyers a broad view of the home’s appeal, photos of the front door area are an opportunity to excite buyers about what’s beyond the front door.

Before photos are taken, homeowners should clean up the front door area as thoroughly as they clean the interior of the home.

The hardware on the front door should be wiped down and free of dust, dirt, and fingerprints. If the door looks a little shabby, a fresh coat of paint will go a long way. 

how to stage the exterior of a home 1

photo by peterspiro via iStock

If the front entryway is large enough, homeowners should consider adding a small bench or chairs with brightly colored pillows to add some pop to the space. A new welcome mat is an inexpensive item that can have significant impact on your photos as well.

Other items to consider are adding updated house numbers and placing potted plants in the entryway. Exterior light bulbs should be checked and replaced if they are out, and exterior light fixtures should be cleaned.

Quick Tip: If photographing a property at midday when harsh shadows could obscure some areas of the home, bracket your exposures and merge them together to retain the details throughout the image. Learn how to bracket and merge exposures.

How to Stage the Exterior of a Home: Cleanup is a Must

exterior staging tips

 photo by alabn via iStock

Aside from general yard maintenance and picking up kids’ toys, the exterior of the home should be thoroughly cleaned before you take a single photo.

All windows and glass exterior doors should be washed and free of any dirt, smudges, bird droppings, and so forth, that way they shine in your images.

The siding material - be it vinyl, steel, brick, or something in between - should also be power washed to ensure there is no dirt to make it look dingy. Gutters should be cleaned, and the roof should be free of leaves, tree limbs, and other debris as well. 

exterior staging tips

 photo by Solidago via iStock

Lastly, homeowners should run a broom along all exterior corners to remove any cobwebs. This is especially important to do around the front door and other entrances to the home.

Though this is a rather long list of staging tips, each one is important for homeowners to accomplish before you arrive to take photos.

The goal is to make the home look as beautiful and inviting as possible, and if property owners follow this advice, the photos you take will be that much more impressive to potential buyers!

Learn More:



We Recommend


How to Take Gorgeous Interior Real Estate Photos

How to Take Gorgeous Interior Real Estate Photos

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

Interior real estate photography doesn’t need to be daunting. In fact, any photographer can do it with the right tools. 

But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t technical. You need different camera settings while learning how to photograph interiors vs. exteriors. You need the right equipment. But most of all, you need to sift through a lot of disinformation, and a lot of competing opinions.

After all, real estate photography is still an artform, and art is subjective. 

So, I’ve put together a list of real estate photography tips that just about everyone agrees on. 

Rely on Natural Light

interior real estate photography 1

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

A lot of real estate photographers take the time to bring in artificial lighting to take interior photos.

While this doesn’t always completely throw off a photograph, sometimes these artificial lights can throw bad shadows on walls, ceilings and the floor. These are bad shadows that you will later need to fix.

Instead of relying on the use of artificial light, instead focus on using as much natural light as humanly possible. Map out the layout of a house before a shoot to ensure you’ll be able to photograph each room right when the most sunlight is streaming through the windows.

interior real estate photography 2

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

Natural light lends an openness to interior spaces that cannot be replicated with artificial light and can make even the dreariest of rooms come to life.

If you try to photograph an interior room, exposing the image for the room will result in windows that are completely blown out. Conversely, if you expose for the windows, the room will be far too dark.

The question is, how do you capture images like the one above, in which both the room and the view out the windows are well exposed?

The solution to this is simple - bracket your exposures and merge them together.

As explained in the video above, bracketing exposures is a simple process of using your camera's auto exposure bracketing feature to capture multiple images, each of which is taken at a different exposure level. 

Then, simply merge the images together in a post-processing program like Photomatix to create a final image that is well exposed throughout. It’s as simple as that!

Create Images With Depth

real estate photography tips 1

Photo by Outsite Co on Unsplash 

Just because you’re shooting real estate photography now doesn’t mean all of your old rules of photography fly out the window. 

You need to draw the viewer into your photos through depth. You’ll want at least three distinct layers to each photo.

In the case of the photo above there are many more - the plant in the foreground, the couch and the fireplace in the midground, the TV area and window in the background, and so forth. 

Notice how everything in this shot is beautifully sharp - when creating images with depth, this is of the utmost importance.

real estate photography tips 2

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash 

Think of what items you can place in the foreground, middle and background of your photos to lead the viewer’s eye into the entire photograph. This can be a strategically placed plant, a chair you moved just so, or a rug.

Or in the case of the photo above, the lines created by the kitchen cabinets (and the grout lines on the floor) help drive your eyes from the foreground to the background of the image.

This is particularly important for this space because of the garden area in the background. All of these lines leading your eyes toward the doors and to the outside help connect these spaces.

Learn More:

Think Purposefully About Composition 

real estate photography composition tips 1

 Photo by Loewe Technologies on Unsplash

The photos you take of interior spaces will often be the first opportunity a potential buyer has to inspect the home. As a result, your images need to be composed in a way that makes the space look inviting. 

Relying on the old standard rules like leading lines and the rule of thirds will get you improved interior real estate photos.

real estate photography composition tips 2

Photo by Greg Rivers on Unsplash 

In this example, you can see both of these rules at work - the lines created by the arm of the couch, the desk, and the wood flooring help move our eyes from foreground to background. 

Likewise, notice how elements of interest are placed along the imaginary rule of thirds grid - the door, for example, is positioned at the right-most one-third like while the fireplace is placed at the leftmost one-third line.

real estate photography composition tips 3

Photo by Ostap Senyuk on Unsplash 

When composing your shots, try to find ways to photograph the room at an angle as well. 

Where a room can look flat when photographing it straight on, doing so at an angle - even a slight angle as shown above - can help improve the feeling of depth in the room.

Remember, you only get one chance to give a home a good first impression on buyers. The more you concentrate on composing eye-catching photos, the better the chances that your photos will capture the attention of a potential buyer.

Learn More:

Learn Skills to Aid You in Taking High-Quality Shots

learn skills

Photo by JamesBrey via iStock

Of course, there is no substitute for preparing yourself to take gorgeous real estate photos than actually learning the skills needed to do so.

They say practice makes perfect, but if you don't have the proper instruction in what to practice, how can perfection be achieved?

I don't know about you, but when I learn a new skill, I want to (a) learn it from an expert and (b) want to have the flexibility to learn at my own pace.

If you want to expand your real estate photography skills, Real Estate Photographer Pro has expert instruction that you can learn as quickly or as slowly as you need!

What has impressed me with Real Estate Photographer Pro is that it isn't just a course about camera settings and composition.

Instead, you get expert instruction in all sorts of topics, from editing your photos to making sales to tips on customer service and everything in between.

This isn't just some one-off course with a few tidbits of knowledge you can get in any YouTube video...

Instead, it is as comprehensive a real estate photography course that you'll find, and it will help set you up for success as a real estate photographer.

You get tons of downloadable materials and you get lifetime access to the course, so it truly is a resource that you can rely on for the entirety of your career.

Being a success in this business is about much more than taking great shots. If you want to rise to the top of your game, invest your time and energy in acquiring the total business skills you need. To do that, check out Real Estate Photographer Pro!



We Recommend


Introductory Real Estate Photography Tips

Introductory Real Estate Photography Tips

photo byhikesterson via iStock

Learning how to fulfill the requirements of good photography while showcasing your creativity is going to make you an incredible real estate photographer. 

But, in order to make a name for yourself in real estate, you first need to sift through a slew of introductory real estate photography tips (many of which say the same, nondescript things). 

In an effort to actually be informative for you, I’ve put together some instructions on top real estate photography tips ranging from very specific editing techniques to gear information (and lots of things in between). Let’s get started! 

Table of Contents

Create a Shot List That Works for You

real estate photography tips 1

 Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

There are hundreds of introductory real estate photography tips on the internet and they all won’t mean anything if you don’t first draft a shot list that works for you.

A real estate photography shot list should basically act as a step-by-step guide for what you’re going to do immediately upon entering a house for one of your clients.

A shot list that works for you is going to save you time and money by ensuring you don’t have to return to a house for a reshoot. 

real estate photography tips 2

 Photo by Ralph Kayden on Unsplash

While you should personalize your real estate photography shot list (and continue to personalize it as you become more familiar with your business), there are some basic shot list tips that will help you learn how to take better real estate photos.

For example, your bedroom shots should be clean and inviting with a made bed and no clutter or dirty clothes on the floor. Furthermore, taking photos from the corners of the room (as shown above) allows you to highlight the space more easily than if you were to stand in the middle of the room along the wall.

real estate photography tips 3

photo by hikesterson via iStock 

Your living room shots should also be inviting, since most of a prospective buyers’ time will likely be spent here. Living room shots should include any natural lighting sources, like windows or skylights, and they should also show you what other rooms the living room leads to.

When taking photos like the one above - in which there are windows with a view - it’s best to bracket your exposures. This enables you to get exposures for the bright windows, the darker areas inside the room, and the tones in between that you can then merge together to get a beautifully exposed photo.

If you tried to capture this scene in a single image, you’d likely find that the windows are well-exposed but the room is dark, or that the room is well-exposed but the window is bright. In either case, it’s not an ideal situation!

If you’re not sure how to merge bracketed exposures together, consult the video above to learn a quick, simple, and effective technique.

Your kitchen shots should include all of the appliances (if the home comes with them) like the oven, fridge, and stovetop. Your goal with kitchen shots should be to showcase the ease with which someone can function in that environment.

real estate photography tips 4

 photo by adamkaz via iStock 

As for your bathroom shots, many prospective buyers base their decision to buy a home, in part, on the bathrooms, so the point of bathroom shots is to showcase the different amenities in them. 

If you’re having trouble starting your own list, there are a variety of options online to get you started. 

Give Yourself Enough Time

how to photograph real estate 5

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash 

One of my favorite accessories when I go on a shoot is a wristwatch, which may sound old fashioned but it helps keep me on track.

Everyone feels the pressure of timed shoots, whether you’ve been in the business for a decade or three weeks, and that pressure can translate to bad photos if you’re not careful.

how to photograph real estate 6

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash 

In the end, there’s only so much planning you can do. You need to get out into the field and adjust your times as you become more proficient at real estate photography. 

And becoming more proficient is the goal - the less time you need to photograph a property, the more time you have to schedule other properties after it.

Do a Walk Through on the Property

As Dombowerphoto shows you in this video, a walk through on the property is an absolute necessity. 

Firstly, you want to make sure the property was accurately described to you. You’d hate to not know that there was a pool on the property and leave it off of your shot list.  

But, you also want to get a feel for the property.

While introductory real estate photography tips are great, they can only get you so far. You need your intuition for a lot of real estate photography.

how to photograph real estate 7

 photo by Bulgac via iStock 

While you’re going on your walk through, be thinking about what kind of shots you’d like to see of this house if you were thinking of buying it. 

What aspects of the house stand out to you while there? If you can capture these aspects on film, your client will love your work. 

Learn More:

Focus on Your Composition

There are hundreds of videos out there about real estate photography composition tips, but this video by JRDNPWRS gives you a short, digestible introduction to it. 

Learning how to photograph real estate is really learning how to take your Photography 101 techniques and applying them to photographing homes and other properties that vary widely from one to the next.  

Basic rules like the rule of thirds will come in handy to create balanced images of exterior and interior elements.

how to take better real estate photos 8

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash 

You’ll also want to only shoot from angles with the best, natural lighting.  

Natural lighting isn’t always possible in real estate photography, but there are windows in most rooms. Use them! Natural light combined with the bracket and merge technique mentioned earlier will get you much more pleasing results than if you rely on complex artificial lighting setups. Using natural light is faster and less expensive, too!

Get Multiple Shots Until You Understand Editing

how to take better real estate photos 9

Photo by jana müller on Unsplash 

Until you understand how to take better real estate photos, you’ll need to overshoot. The absolute worst thing you can do is need to go back to a house a second time because you didn’t get enough photos the first time around.

Of course, there are easy introductory real estate photography tips, like the ones discussed in this video by Stallone Media:

Use videos like this one to introduce yourself to editing and never stop practicing. Eventually, you will understand the exact shots you need, but until then, getting more shots is going to be essential for you. 

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


Kitchen Photography Tips

real estate photographer

photo by hikesterson via iStock

It’s no secret that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes...

In your role as a real estate photographer, it’s your job to highlight those spaces to make the sale of your client’s home more likely.

Of course, capturing the highest-quality photographs of a kitchen requires far more than standing there with your camera and pressing the shutter button.

Instead, there are multiple steps you need to take to ensure your kitchen photos are top notch.

In this quick guide, you’ll learn a few insider tips for getting high-impact photos of kitchens.

Plan and Prepare

 Kitchen Photography Tips

photo by YinYang via iStock

As I discussed in this in-depth real estate photography tutorial, the planning and preparation stage is one of the most critical of the entire process.

Without putting forth the time and effort to become familiar with your clients and the rooms in their home, you can’t possibly understand how to best approach photographing each room.

This doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours and hours investigating every nook and cranny of your client’s kitchen, but having a working understanding of its best features will only help you create the best images.

 kitchen photography

 Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

For example, ask your clients if there are any specific features in the kitchen that they’d like highlighted. This could be anything from a custom tile backsplash to a farmhouse sink to upgraded cabinetry.

Lighting, countertops, and appliances are other features that might be worthy of a close-up, but don’t neglect wider view images that allow prospective buyers to get the lay of the land and survey the space as a whole.

Quick Tip: In most real estate photography situations, you want the kitchen to be clean and tidy. If you arrive to take photos and the kitchen is a mess, it’s best to have the space cleaned rather than moving forward with photos. A messy kitchen will not sell the home!

Tasteful Staging Goes a Long Way

photography tips

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Though it might not seem like a kitchen needs to be staged, it often helps soften the utilitarian feeling of the space.

Staging can be a simple matter of adding a bowl of fruit to the island or a cutting board with sliced bread on the countertop. Fresh flowers also do wonders for giving the kitchen a little softness and color.

The point of staging is to enhance how the kitchen looks to potential buyers - not to overwhelm them with distractions.

Ultimately, less is more, so stage with restraint to avoid taking away from the features of the kitchen.

Learn More:

Let There Be Light

modern kitchen picture id1036309808

photo by contrastaddict via iStock

As with taking any kind of photo, photographing a kitchen requires there to be plentiful light.

If possible, shoot the space during the day, that way you can capitalize on natural light entering the room through the windows. If need be, supplement that natural light by turning on the lights in the kitchen. Just be aware that the kitchen lights might alter the white balance of the images, which is an easy fix in post-processing.

 paul hanaoka 369639 unsplash

 Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Another issue of which to be aware is that shooting during the daytime means that the kitchen windows will likely be much brighter than the rest of the room.

Even high-end professional cameras can’t overcome that difference in bright to dark, which means you’ll need to take measures to ensure your photos are well-exposed throughout.

The fix for this problem is simple and straightforward: bracket the exposures.

beautiful kitchen in new luxury home with island pendant lights and picture id950127388

 photo by hikesterson via iStock

Then, assuming you have the appropriate software, you can blend the bracketed exposures together to get an image that’s well-exposed throughout.

Not only is this a quick fix, but it’s also a budget-friendly one. That is, since you can bracket and blend exposures, there’s no need to purchase expensive lights, stands, softboxes, and other lighting gear.

Quick Tip: Bracketing and blending your exposures is also a time-saving approach to real estate photography. You can work faster without having to set up lighting gear, but you can also create a more natural-looking photo. It’s the best of both worlds!

Move Around the Kitchen to Vary Your Shots

camylla battani 794111 unsplash

 Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

Another critical tip for photographing kitchens is to move around the room to provide potential buyers various points of view. This is especially important for homes that have an open floor plan, so you can showcase the openness of the kitchen to the adjoining rooms.

But this should be more than simply standing in each corner of the kitchen.

Instead, take a low shooting position and use a wide-angle lens to bring out the details of the ceiling and the lighting in the shot.

elevated view looking down into a warm modern kitchen picture id155098316

 photo by jimkruger via iStock

Also take photos from a higher perspective, such as shooting directly down onto the kitchen island to show off its size, the countertop material, and showcase any staging that’s been added.

Remember that it’s far easier to take too many photos and cull the ones you don’t need than take too few photos and have to go back. Get the shots you need and then some, and you’ll have a much better collection of images of the kitchen to help your clients get the home sold.

Learn More:



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Post-Processing Tips for Real Estate Photography

Post Processing Tips for Real Estate Photography

photo by bogdankosanovic  via iStock

Preparing top-notch real estate photos doesn’t end when you press the shutter button. Instead, there is work to be done in post-processing to create images that have maximum appeal.

Processing images can be a little daunting if you don’t have much of a background in photography. But the value of learning a few basic post-processing tips is undeniable. 

In this tutorial, you’ll learn three crucial post-processing tips that will help you elevate the quality of your real estate photos.

Editing Real Estate Photos: Pay Close Attention to Color Temperature

editing real estate photos

Photo by Andrew Barrowman on Unsplash

As you edit your interior photos of properties, you might notice color temperature variations from one room to the next.

The color temperature of the images you take depends on the available lighting.

For instance, a living room with many windows that’s photographed at midday might have a cool color temperature because midday sunlight is quite cool.

editing real estate photos 1

photo by Bulgac via iStock

However, artificial lighting can be quite warm, so a room with few or no windows might photograph with a yellowish hue.

As a potential buyer surveys the images of the home, it can be a little jarring for the color temperature to change from image to image.

As a result, ensure that you keep an eye on the color temperature and make needed adjustments so it is consistent throughout the collection of images. 

If you utilize Photoshop, making these adjustments is easy by applying a filter. Simply copy the background layer (CMD/CTRL J) and then go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter.

color temperature before

 Without a color temperature adjustment.

color temperature after

With a color temperature adjustment.

In the ensuing menu, you can select from a variety of preset warming and cooling filters and adjust their density to get the desired color temperature in the photo.

In the “after” image shown above, the Cooling Filter #82 was applied in Photoshop with a density of 25 percent.

The goal here is to ensure that images are color neutral, with whites that appear to be white. Doing so will give your photos the consistency they need to have the best impression on buyers.

Quick Tip: You can also make color adjustments by accessing the Color Balance controls. Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance and adjust the sliders accordingly. Using this tool gives you more control over color for shadows, midtones, and highlights, but is also more time-intensive.

Learn More:

Post-Processing Tip: Merge Bracketed Exposures for the Best Results 

bracketed exposures

As we discussed in an earlier article on real estate photography gear, if you rely on the process of bracketing exposures (like above), you don’t need artificial lighting gear.

Not only is this approach advantageous from a budget perspective, but it’s also a time-saver. On the one hand, you don’t have to carry around and set up lighting equipment while on the other hand you can make faster work of processing your images.

As demonstrated in the video above, the process of merging bracketed exposures is quite simple.

In this case, specialized HDR software was used to create an image that is well-exposed throughout. Additionally, the software automatically aligns the source images, reduces noise, and allows you to crop, sharpen, and straighten the image (more on that in a bit).

Quick Tip: Some HDR programs offer the option of batch processing, too, which helps you make even quicker work of processing your images.

Learn More:

Processing Real Estate Images: Keep It Natural 

how to edit real estate photos

 Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

When photographing real estate, strive to keep the images looking as natural as possible.

Part of that endeavor is the processes outlined above for correcting color and getting well-exposed images using an HDR technique.

In addition to that, you’ll get more natural-looking images if you straighten lines.

Whether lines appear bent due to the angle from which you took the photo or they’re bent due to lens distortion, the end result is that bent lines will be a distraction to potential buyers.

This is the last thing you want, as your real estate photos are intended to intrigue buyers and highlight the home’s best features. Notice in the image below how the vertical and horizontal lines are perfectly straight, just as they should be.

real estate photography tips

Photo by Jose Soriano on Unsplash

There are many different ways to straighten lines - using lens correction tools in Photoshop, the free transform tool in Lightroom, or using the straightening feature in programs like Photomatix Pro.

No matter which approach you take, having straight vertical and horizontal lines will make the photos you take look natural, which will help prospective buyers see the potential in the home.

Quick Tip: Minimize distortion and bent lines from the start by ensuring that your camera is level to the ground. Use your camera’s virtual horizon or the bubble level on your tripod to ensure the camera is perfectly level.

Learn More:



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Professional Real Estate Photography Kit: What’s in the Camera Bag?

real estate photography gearImage Credit: CentralITAlliance via iStock

There are endless choices when it comes to camera gear for real estate photography. 

And while there are obvious components that you need to launch a career photographing properties - a camera and wide-angle lens come immediately to mind - there are numerous other components and accessories that enable you to take high-quality photos.

Let’s look at a few must-have items for taking interior and exterior property photos. Note that “must-have” does not necessarily mean “expensive,” either.

In fact, as you will discover, some of the most valuable components you can have in your kit don’t cost much at all.

Use a Remote Trigger to Avoid Blurry Images

maria fernanda gonzalez use a camera remotePhoto by Maria Fernanda Gonzalez on Unsplash

One of the most common problems for photographers - no matter their subject - is images that aren’t quite sharp.

There are various reasons why an image might not be sharp, but perhaps the most common of these is that the subtle movements that occur when shooting handheld cause the image to be ever so blurry. 

That means that you need to give your camera a stable base with a tripod (more on that next) and utilize a remote trigger so you can fire the shutter without actually touching the camera.

Some photographers will tell you that you don’t need a remote because you can use the camera’s self-timer to delay the shutter for a couple of seconds.

And while that’s certainly true, it’s much easier to have a remote in your hand that you can use to fire the shutter immediately.

There are all kinds of camera remotes, too. Three of the most popular types are outlined below.

Wired Camera Remotes

wired cable release 

As their name states, wired camera remotes are plugged into the camera via a short cable. 

These types of remotes come with varying capabilities, from a very basic one-function shutter release as you see above to more complex remotes that can do everything from fire the shutter to set intervals between shots to create time-lapse photos.

While these remotes have the obvious disadvantage of having to be directly connected to the camera, they are extremely reliable - there is no worry that the remote is out of range or otherwise can’t “talk” to the camera.

Wireless Infrared Remotes

wireless remote 

Wireless infrared remotes like the one shown above are extremely popular for two reasons.

First, they are budget-friendly (this one is just $8.50), and second, they offer the freedom of wireless operation. 

Where a wired remote limits you to the length of the cord, you can use an infrared remote from across the room.

The primary problem with these kinds of remotes when photographing real estate is that they work on a line-of-sight basis.

That means that you have to be in front of the camera for the remote to “talk” to the camera. Clearly, this is not ideal. 

If you use a wireless infrared remote, it’s best practice to use it in conjunction with a delay, that way you can position yourself in front of the camera to send the signal to trigger the shutter, but have a couple of seconds to move out of the way before the shot is taken.

App-Based Remotes

pulse

This third remote option is the newest - and priciest - of the bunch, but it offers by far the most functionality.

Remotes like the one shown above enable you to trigger the shutter from an app on your phone. Not only that, you can take still images, time-lapses, long exposures, and even start and stop video recording.

Clearly, an app-based remote enables you to do much more than take a simple photo, but the downside is the cost - where the previous two types of remotes are less than $10, this one is $119.00. 

The choice of which type of remote you use is up to you and will depend on your specific workflow. But the point is that to get the highest-quality photos, a remote is an absolute must.

Maximize Sharpness With a Good Tripod

real estate photography tripods

As noted earlier, giving your camera a solid base helps eliminate blurriness and maximize the sharpness of the images you take. 

Thus, a good tripod is necessary for real estate photographers.

Note that “good” does not necessarily mean expensive, either.

Ideally, what you want is a tripod that is easy to carry around the property and easy to transport from one property to the next. This likely means opting for a lightweight carbon fiber tripod that collapses down to a small size.

bubble level

Another feature that’s handy for this type of photography is an integrated bubble level (shown on the tripod above), which will help you keep your interior and exterior photos nice and level.

Tripods that have large, rubber feet are ideal because they don’t slip on surfaces like tile flooring, which, depending on the type of tile, can be rather slippery. It’s also helpful to have a tripod that can accommodate low-angle and high-angle photos, so finding one with a good range of shooting heights can be advantageous.

Here’s a few affordable tripod options to consider:

Neewer Carbon Fiber Tripod/Monopod

Not only does this tripod offer the flexibility of working as a monopod as well, but it also extends to a height of up to 66 inches (and collapses down to 20.9 inches). Additionally, it comes with a ball head for making quick and easy adjustments to the plane of the camera. It weighs under 5 pounds and comes with a carrying bag, so it’s easy to maneuver from one location to the next.

Vanguard VEO 2 265CB Carbon Fiber Tripod

Though the Vanguard VEO 2 265CB is pricier than the Neewer option, it offers superior build quality and a host of features that could prove helpful when photographing properties. It sets up very quickly - just a handful of seconds - and has three different leg locking positions for getting low, medium, and high-range shots.

Rangers Ultra-Compact Aluminum Tripod

Though this Rangers tripod is made of aluminum - which is heavier than carbon fiber - it still comes in at just 2.89 pounds. What’s more, it includes a 360-degree panoramic ball head which will aid in creating sweeping panoramic photos of the interior and exterior of properties. The height range is also excellent, with photos possible from a low of 14-inches to a high of 55-inches. There’s even an integrated monopod for extra flexibility.

Is Lighting Gear Necessary?

real estate lightingPhoto by Chastity Cortijo on Unsplash

This might seem like a silly question at first, but to get beautifully-exposed photos, you don’t actually need to lug around lens filters, light meters, flashes, light stands, diffusers, and so forth. 

Instead, modern photography technology enables real estate photographers to create the interior photos that their clients demand using nothing but natural light. 

This is done by using the exposure merge technique in which multiple exposures are taken of the same space, each at a different level of exposure.

For example, to achieve the shot shown above, the photographer could have taken three individual shots - one exposed for the shadowed areas, one for the midtones, and one for the highlights (specifically, the window) - and merged them together to create the final product. 

Naturally, this is far easier to do than to set up and tear down lighting gear in every single room. 

As a result, using this HDR technique is the preferred method for getting well-exposed interior photos. It’s also less expensive because you don’t have to buy all that lighting gear!

Wrapping It Up

real estate interiorPhoto by Rhema Kallianpur on Unsplash

As noted in the introduction, there is no lack of gear that you can buy for this type of photography.

But as demonstrated here, there’s really just a few basics that are needed to start taking great photos of real estate.

A remote and tripod as well as HDR software is really all the gear you need (other than a camera and lens, of course!) to start your career. 

You’ll no doubt find that as your business grows that you’ll have a need for additional gear - a drone, perhaps, or maybe multiple lenses. But for now, if you’re just trying to get your business off the ground, focus on acquiring a basic kit, and go from there.



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Real Estate Photography - A Beginner's Guide for Getting Started

real estate photography a beginners guide

Photo by hikesterson via iStock

Real estate photography jobs can be tough to come by. You have to go about it the right way to get the clients you need to build a successful business.

But, if you aren't careful, you can accidentally end up with fees from the government, equipment you don't need and can't use, and angry clients. 

So, while real estate photography jobs can be lucrative, they can also cost you. 

Thankfully, I've been writing about real estate photography for PhotographyTalk for a few years and have covered everything from real estate photography pricing to real estate photography camera settings and everything in between.

If you're just getting started in your career, this is the right place for you to be because in this article I'm going to cover all of it!

Starting a Professional real Estate Photography Business

starting a professional real estate photography business

Photo by andresr via iStock

So, you have a basic understanding of how to shoot real estate photography, you found your first client, and you've read all of the real estate photography tips you've come across.

Now what?

The first thing you need to do is ensure you're legally able to run a real estate photography business, which seems overwhelming at first but will only take you a few days to complete with my help. 

Unfortunately, business licenses and permits for photographers vary from state to state and from city to city.

Business permits allow you to collect sales tax, which is required under state and federal law and will allow you to form an LLC if you want to. 

Business licenses, on the other hand, allow you to complete your taxes easily at the end of the year because you're keeping your income and your business' income separate. 

In order to get either a business license or permit, though, you'll need to apply for an Employer Identification Number on the IRS website (it's simple; don't worry). 

 Additionally, you may be interested in getting a DBA, which you can learn about in the video below by 180 Law Co.

The Small Business Administration is another great resource that can walk you through how to obtain all of the permits and licenses you need. 

Now that you are legally able to operate, it's time for you to develop a real estate photography business plan. 

Your business plan will help you get small business loans, but it will also help you to organize your business.

Your business plan needs to include:

  • An executive summary, i.e., an outline of what your business is.
  • A company description, where you hammer out the details like target market and pricing.
  • A market analysis where you determine whether real estate photography jobs are going up or down in your area.
  • An organizational chart, which may just be you right now, but might include front office staff, social media people, image editors, and more as your business grows.
  • Proposed products and services you intend to offer, from prints and photo albums to the specific types of photography you plan to provide.
  • A marketing strategy that outlines how you intend to reach potential clients.
  • Financial projections for the short-term (i.e., the next year) and the long-term (i.e., the next five years).

This video by Gillian Perkins is really useful. 

For more details about starting your business, check out the learn more links below. 

Learn More:

Real Estate Photography Pricing

 This video by Aperture University is a good starting place for you because...

I'm not going to tell you what your real estate photography pricing should be for a few reasons, but namely that there are a ton of factors that affect real estate pricing. 

But, I can tell you that these factors should play a role in your pricing:

  • Driving distance to and from jobs
  • Additional equipment (I'm looking at you, real estate drone photography enthusiasts)
  • How much editing time the client is asking from you
  • How tight of a deadline the client is giving you
  • Region of the world
  • Any miscellaneous costs

Once you've established a baseline real estate photography pricing guideline for yourself, you'll also want to think about adding services to increase your real estate photography pricing. 

For me, there are three optimal services every real estate photographer should offer, but many don't:

  • Videos
  • Real estate drone photography
  • 3D virtual tours

I haven't come across a client in the past year who wasn't interested in real estate photography videos once I mentioned that I offer them. Why isn't everybody taking advantage of this?

Plus, videos are really easy to learn, as showcased in this real estate photography tips video by Parker Walbeck.

Real estate drone photography is another hot topic nowadays, especially if you're planning on branching out into commercial real estate photography at any time in the future. Clients will want to see you have experience with a flying camera.

real estate drone photography

Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

 Finally, you can offer 3D virtual tours of properties as another means of earning income.

Though it might sound like a complicated undertaking, as this excellent post by iGuide explains, it's really just a matter of planning and execution to get the best results.

Recommended Real Estate Photography Books:

Best Camera for Real Estate Photography

best camera for real estate photography

Photo by Mario Calvo on Unsplash

I know the title of this section is sort of misleading, but let me start off by saying that there is no single best camera for real estate photography.

When people are arguing over what the best camera for real estate photography is, they are really arguing their preference because it's 2020 and every professional-grade camera that is built for real estate has essentially the same features. 

But, you definitely will want to watch for some features when you're camera shopping. 

Firstly, you'll want a camera that you can use with a variety of lenses, offers Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB), and comes with a continuous shooting mode. 

For the record, almost every professional mirrorless and DSLR camera on the market today offers all three of those things.

Secondly, don't let a salesman sell you something you don't need. For example, you won't need a camera with a built-in flash because you're going to be relying on other methods for getting well-exposed photos (more on this later).

Personally, if I were in the market for real estate cameras today, I would also purchase a camera drone.

best camera drone for real estate photography

Photo by Jared Brashier on Unsplash

Again, when you're shopping for a camera drone, focus less on the brand and more on the drone's capabilities. 

If you're just starting your real estate photography career, you can probably get away with a less expensive drone that only has a short flight time of around 20 minutes. 

You can always upgrade later on!

Learn More:

Best Lens for Real Estate Photography

best lens for real estate photography

Photo by theverticalstory on Unsplash

The best lens for real estate photography, like the best camera, also doesn't exist.

I mean, think about it...you're definitely going to need at least two or three lenses to capture everything you will need while photographing homes.

For most real estate photographers, a wide-angle zoom lens is going to be a great first option.

Zoom lenses offer the versatility of a range of focal lengths, and wide-angle zooms give you that nice field of view that encompasses the entire room in a single shot.

Look for a wide-angle zoom lens like a 16-35mm f/4 if you shoot with a full frame camera or a 12-24mm f/4 if you shoot with a crop sensor camera.

Note that you do not need to spring for a fast lens, like an f/2.8, f/1.8, f/1.4, and so on.

Primarily, this is because you will most often be shooting at f/8 to f/11, so you don't need all that light-gathering power of a fast lens anyway.

Best Real Estate Photography Lighting

best lighting for real estate photography

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

Would you be surprised to find out I rarely bring external lighting with me to my real estate photography jobs?

Realistically, with modern photography technology, you no longer need to. 

Instead, I take three different shots, one exposed for the shadowed areas of a room, one for the midtones, and one for the highlights and merge them together in post-op. 

It's faster, cheaper and easier than bringing heavy lighting gear with me, that's for sure.

Using the bracket and merge technique is not only budget-friendly, but it's also much faster.

As discussed in the video above, you make a few changes to camera settings, put the camera on a tripod, and take several shots.

Then, you simply merge those shots together to create a composite image that's well-exposed throughout. It doesn't get much easier than that!

Learn More:

Real Estate Photography Camera Settings

best camera settings for real estate photography

Photo by Evan Dvorkin on Unsplash

First, let's discuss your camera settings for real estate photography exteriors.

There will typically be two types of exterior real estate photos, ones taken during the day (like the one above) and ones taken during the evening. 

Your camera settings will change for both of these types of photos, but the aspects you'll want to be paying attention to are the same. 

These are:

  • Exposure mode
  • Aperture
  • ISO
  • Shutter Speed
  • Focus Mode
  • Metering Mode

You'll want to become familiar with all of these settings, but you can use the following as a guide.

For daytime photos:

  • Exposure mode - aperture priority
  • Aperture - f/11
  • ISO - 100
  • Shutter speed - determined by camera
  • Focus mode - single-shot autofocus
  • Metering mode - matrix

If the images keep coming out too bright at these settings, then step the aperture down to f/13 or f/14. 

If the images are too dark on these settings, do the opposite and open the aperture by a stop or two.

For evening photos:

  • Exposure mode - aperture priority
  • Aperture - f/8
  • ISO - 200
  • Shutter speed - determined by camera
  • Focus mode - single-shot autofocus
  • Metering mode - matrix 

The aperture, in this case, was stepped down to allow more light in and the ISO was increased just a little, again to brighten the image.

best camera settings for real estate photography 2

Photo by fran hogan on Unsplash

Figuring out your camera settings for real estate photography interiors is a bit more complicated, namely because you can have weird amounts of light in different rooms of a house.

For rooms with plenty of natural light, set your camera settings here to start:

  • Exposure mode - aperture priority
  • Aperture - f/8
  • ISO - 400
  • Shutter speed - determined by camera
  • Focus mode - single-shot autofocus
  • Metering mode - matrix

For rooms that don't have any natural light, try this:

  • Exposure mode - aperture priority
  • Aperture - f/8
  • ISO - 400
  • Shutter speed - determined by camera
  • Focus mode - single-shot autofocus
  • Metering mode - spot

While I've given you enough information here to start exploring your camera's capabilities, please check out the learn more links below for a full in-depth review. 

Learn More:

Real Estate Photography Tips

real estate photography tips

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

When you're learning how to shoot real estate photography, you're essentially learning different composition tips.

And, as with all things in real estate photography, composition for the interior and exterior of houses is different. 

Let's start with interiors.

You'll want to make sure that your lighting is the same across the board, which is the number one thing you should be worrying about. 

I touched on that in the lighting portion of this list, but you can also read more about it in the learn more link below.

You'll also need to pay attention to the height of your camera. 

Mostly, you'll want to keep the camera at eye-level, but for things like a beautiful view out of a tall window, you can bend this rule.

Lastly, get shots from every angle. You want to give potential buyers multiple views of each room and of the exterior of the property.

how to photograph exteriors

Photo by Evan Dvorkin on Unsplash

For exteriors, you're basically just fighting the weather and the time of day.

But, don't be afraid to shoot in cloudy weather, or in the evening, because clouds can act as a diffuser for your photos and the evening light provides a softer look to your homes.

You will need to find unique angles for your homes.

There's nothing more boring than viewing the exact same photo of every single house taken from dead-on in the front of the property. If a house you are shooting is shaped differently, use it to your advantage.

Use your angle to highlight unique features.

While a wide-angle shot is important for potential home buyers, so are the features of the home. If there's a gorgeous pathway running through a garden, capture it with a tighter shot to show off its shape and detail. 

Finally, make sure to get different shots of the entryway. Go wide to show the entryway in the context of the front of the home. Take a medium shot to give potential buyers a closer look at the front porch or front door. Then get detail shots of any interesting elements, like stained glass in the door, unique door hardware, and so forth.

Again, providing potential buyers with a varied collection of images will help you tell them the story of the home.

Learn More:

Real Estate Photography Classes

There are thousands of real estate photography classes available to beginners and it can be hard to determine where to start.

But, I've been doing this for quite a few years now, and I find it's typically best to go with small businesses owned by real estate photographers...

Firstly, because these individuals know exactly what they needed to know when they were in your spot. Secondly, because they have the time to devote specific attention to you and your individual needs.

But, a lot of times finding a small business that runs classes means you're getting a less technologically-savvy class. This is not the case with Real Estate Photographer Pro.

It's a small business with tons of videos to teach you everything you need to know about real estate photography, from how to create presets to how to get people to pay you on time. 

Plus there's a Facebook group for members that hosts a live Q&A every week, so if there's information you can't find through their classes, you can ask it to the owners. 

They have a 30-day money-back guarantee and the lifetime membership pays for itself in the first few months. If you need additional guidance for getting your business off the ground, this is it!

Real Estate Photography Jobs

real estate photography jobs

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

The question I get asked the most often in my line of work is, "How do I get real estate photography jobs?"

So, here's a comprehensive list of how to get real estate photography jobs:

  1. Build a portfolio
  2. Create a beautiful website
  3. Put a blog on your website (and write on it consistently, say, once a week at a minimum)
  4. Develop your brand (create a logo, tell people about yourself, be consistent in your marketing)
  5. Create social media accounts and schedule posts on them, again, doing so frequently 
  6. Create offers for referrals, that way you get additional business from your existing clients
  7. Find clients on freelancing sites like Upwork
  8. Connect with as many realtor networking groups as possible

Is starting a real estate photography business easy? No...

But with the tips and tricks I've outlined here, you have a ton of resources to help you get on the path to success.

Now all that's left to do is to put your learning into action and get your business up and running!

 



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Real Estate Photography Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

real estate photography tipsImage Credit: Davel5957 via iStock

One of the keys to selling a home quickly is having high-quality images that entice buyers to take a closer look at the property.

And while taking a snapshot of a home is simple and straightforward, taking thoughtful, measured, high-quality photos of a property is a little more involved.

Unfortunately, there are many roadblocks that can derail an otherwise good real estate photo.

Here are some critical real estate photography mistakes that you need to avoid. 

Mistake #1 - Clutter

messy unclean kitchen picture id919972668Image Credit: saruservice via iStock

As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression, and a photo with toys scattered on the floor and dirty laundry everywhere is not going to give prospective buyers good feelings about a home, even if the home is otherwise spectacular.

Clutter lends to a feeling of chaos, and buyers aren't quite sure where to look.

That's bad news because you want to accentuate the beautiful features of a home - the woodwork, the chandelier, the amount of square footage, and so forth. 

What you don't want to do is make them think that the house lacks proper storage because there's so much stuff everywhere. Likewise, you want people to feel like this is a home that's clean and been taken care of. It's hard to do that with clutter everywhere they look.

Mistake #2 - Capturing Your Reflection

master bathroom in new luxury home picture id542685180Image Credit: hikesterson via iStock

It can be difficult to photograph certain rooms in the home (i.e., bathrooms) without getting an accidental mirror selfie at the same time.

Even if you don't appear in the mirror, often the flash from your camera will make an appearance. Either way, it's a distraction that you should strive to avoid.

The key to avoiding an accidental reflection is to work the angles as best you can. Sometimes that means positioning yourself a little lower or higher than normal. Other times you might have to stand at a right-angle to the mirror, that way you avoid those unwanted reflections. 

Bear in mind that glass, chrome, and other reflective surfaces can capture your reflection, too. Work to avoid those situations as well.

Mistake #3 - Bathroom Photos With the Toilet Seat Up

white toilet in home picture id531424804Image Credit: ben-bryant via iStock

Another problem that arises in real estate photography when photographing bathrooms is neglecting to put the toilet seat down.

Though it might seem trivial, the last thing you want potential buyers to see is the inside of the toilet. Like clutter or an accidental reflection, it simply serves as a distraction. 

A raised toilet lid is like a big, red bullseye that draws the attention of viewers and keeps them from noticing important things like the amount of storage or counter space. 

For the best bathroom photos, make sure the toilet seat is closed.

Mistake #4 - Poor Lighting


The contrast is too high for a single exposure in this interior shot - the room is too dark because the bright window biased the camera toward underexposure.

As with any kind of photography, the success of your real estate photos depends on lighting.

But lighting is the biggest challenge in real estate photography as well. By that, I mean that you're photographing interior spaces that tend to be dark that also have windows that tend to be bright. 

That range of light values from dark to light is just too high, even the best camera can’t capture all of it in one shot.

If you expose for the dark areas of the room, the windows become vastly overexposed and lose any detail. If you expose for the bright windows, the room becomes underexposed and plunged into darkness.

To get around this, you have a couple of options. 

First, you can bring tons of lighting equipment to brighten interior spaces. The problem with that is that it's time-intensive and requires experience and skills. Lighting gear is also expensive! 

An easier and cheaper option is to bracket the exposures, which is a process in which you use the camera's Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) feature to take multiple exposures. You can learn more about that process in this video:

Once you’ve taken the bracketed exposures, you will merge them in a program that supports HDR merging.

Photoshop and Lightroom include HDR merging, though with limited style options, they may be a disadvantage when you are after a realistic look. These programs can be overwhelming if you aren’t experienced with using them and time-intensive to learn.

This is why many photographers prefer to use Photomatix for their real estate photos. Professional photographers like it for its natural-looking presets optimized for interiors. Beginners like it as well because it's so straightforward to use.

Mistake #5 - Blurry Photos

Blurry photos can result from a number of things.

On the one hand, simply holding the camera in your hand can cause enough camera shake to render your photos blurry.

On the other hand, not having the focus just right can throw important elements in the room out-of-focus. 

If you shoot in a semi-automatic mode like aperture priority or shutter priority, you can run into problems as well. 

In the case of aperture priority, if you select an aperture that's too wide, you can minimize the depth of field, the result of which is blurry background elements. 

In the case of shutter priority, if you choose a shutter speed that's too slow, you'll find that your images are blurry as a result of the camera moving while the shutter is open.

To correct these mistakes, use a tripod for stability, select an aperture that gives you good depth of field such as f/8 or f/11, and avoid shutter speeds slower than about 1/200 seconds.

View the video above for more tips on getting sharp real estate photos.

Mistake #6 - The Camera is Not Level

photomatix

When the camera isn’t level, it makes the vertical lines appear not-vertical.

You can see this in the above image where the wall on the left appears as though it’s leaning inward. On the right, while less apparent, the window panes aren’t vertical either.

Shooting real estate often has to be done quickly, making this problem common.

Luckily this kind of straightening can be done when post-processing real estate images.

It’s a simple matter of making quick adjustments, as shown above in Photomatix Pro’s ‘Finishing Touch’ Panel.

Mistake #7 - Rushing the Photo Shoot

blogger taking a photo of bedroom picture id838217420Image Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz via iStock

Sometimes you'll photograph a house that's empty and have all the time in the world to do your job.

Other times you'll have the homeowner or realtor breathing down your neck, making you feel as though you have to rush through each shot.

If you rush your shots, you're more prone to make mistakes regarding the composition, lighting, and even the camera settings or angles from which you shoot. 

The best real estate photography tips revolve around taking your time, getting lots of practice, and using techniques and tools that help you create better photos like exposure bracketing and HDR merge. 

If you can do these things, you'll likely find that you can minimize your real estate photography mistakes and take top-notch photos that help get the home sold.



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