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photo by tab1962 via iStock
Though on the surface it might seem like real estate photography is a simple matter of pointing your camera at a home and pressing the shutter button, the reality is much different.
When you think about it, the photos you take of a property can make or break a sale.
When your photos make the property shine, a sale is more likely. When the challenges of real estate photography get in the way, though, your photos might hinder the seller’s ability to attract buyers.
So, there’s a lot of pressure, and there will be obstacles in your way. But like any good photographer, you have to find ways to overcome those obstacles.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most significant challenges real estate photographers face and explore some things you can do to meet those challenges head-on.
Real Estate Photography Challenge #1: Dynamic Range
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash
The biggest challenge for real estate photographers is overcoming the wide dynamic range that’s found in interior spaces.
That is, the room itself will be darker than the windows in the room. If you expose the image for the room, the window will become a bright, featureless square (as shown above). Conversely, if you expose for the window, the room will be too dark to see much detail. This becomes more of a challenge as the size of the window decreases.
Though you could set up artificial lights in the room to brighten up the space, that would be both a time-consuming and an expensive endeavor. It requires significant knowledge, skills, and a ton of practice as well.
Instead, the easiest and most effective solution is to take bracketed exposures - say, 3-5 images - that you merge together in post-processing. You can learn how to do so in the video above.
This technique allows you to accommodate the dynamic range in the scene by changing the exposure value of each image. Once blended together, you get a single image that’s well-exposed throughout.
Real Estate Photography Challenge #2: Cluttered Properties
photo by NoSystem images via iStock
Everyone has clutter in their homes, but clutter is the last thing you want to highlight in your property photos.
The challenge here is learning how to be frank with homeowners - letting them know that you cannot show their property in the best light with all their clutter - and doing so in a judicious manner that doesn’t offend the seller.
The seller’s Realtor should have already had a discussion with the seller about decluttering, organizing, and staging the home by the time you’re brought on to photograph the property. If not, it is strongly recommended that you talk with the seller and the Realtor about strategies for sprucing up the property so that you can take better photos.
Real Estate Photography Challenge #3: Tight Spaces
photo by YinYang via iStock
You’ll certainly encounter rooms that are very small, and the obvious challenge of the lack of space is figuring out how to photograph the room in a way that highlights as much of the space as possible.
Overcoming this challenge of real estate photography might be as simple as positioning your tripod in the doorway, that way you have a little more room to maneuver for the shot.
photo by Thapakorn Rujipak via iStock
Another option is to use a wide-angle lens, though you have to be wary of how wide-angle lenses distort lines and make them appear to bow, rather than extend in a straight line. Just be aware of this and be prepared to make corrections to distortion in post-processing.
Yet another possibility is to take numerous photos and stitch them together to create a panoramic shot of the room. Again, distorted lines can be an issue with panoramas, but that can be fixed easily in post-processing.
Real Estate Photography Challenge #4: Being Unprepared
photo by jnnault via iStock
As with any kind of photography, real estate photography necessitates that you’re prepared ahead of time to get the job done, and done right.
There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into taking high-quality real estate photos, not the least of which is exploring the property beforehand and developing a shot list. Note, however, that it isn't always possible to scout the property ahead of time, and in such cases, you'll have to rely on your experience to recognize what's needed for each property you photograph.
More to the point, explore the property with the Realtor and the homeowner, that way you develop a better sense of what features you need to highlight (and those that you should try to avoid, too).
As with the other challenges listed above, this isn’t a particularly difficult obstacle to overcome. The key is to do your due diligence, plan ahead, and be as prepared as possible, that way you can meet these challenges and take beautiful property photos.