Real estate photography is the domain of telling stories through high-quality images. You can describe a house with all its details and countless words, but a photograph does that in one frame and better. Being a real estate photographer is all about that story you tell through the shots you take from a property. So, if you choose this line of work, you’ll be the writer behind the camera.
You may wonder: Should I choose real estate photography as my career? What are the pros and cons of this line of work? How should I begin? What do I need to succeed? And other important question.
You hear the answers to these questions from the realtors’ or photographers’ sides. And we all know every side of a story is inevitably one-sided. How about we give you an overview that gathers all you need to know about real estate photography? Sounds good? Let’s begin!
We know that it is a tough decision to choose one specific market for photography, here being real estate. First, you have the real estate market, a business you may not know much about. It can be an unknown domain giving you pause whether to enter into real estate photography or not.
Thirdly, you might have to change your photography style. In real estate photography, your constant subject will be an inanimate structure. It is easier to capture the feeling through portraits and landscapes than through a nonliving object. Here, you must seize someone’s future home while photographing a property.
And finally, since there are many out-of-control factors on the shooting day, you may face a lot of editing and professional use of software.
Scared? Don’t be; Stay with us while we address all the above concerns! Let’s begin by stating what we mean by real estate photography.
Table of Contents
What is Real Estate Photography?
Real estate photography is the process of photographing a house or other property with the express purpose of putting it on the market.
Professional real estate photographers understand how to make properties’ unique features shine out in ways other photographers cannot by utilizing natural light to enhance the room, rearranging furniture within the property for optimal staging, or capturing the proper aspect of the estate’s exterior.
These are many services that a skillful real estate photographer may provide. Since there are often unpredictable circumstances during the shoot, real estate photography entails some levels of professional editing.
Real Estate Market; Lucrative or Not?
We all know that the real estate market has ups and downs. Economic growth and low mortgage rates increase residential and commercial real estate demand. And during inflations, there is less demand for such purchases.
The real estate market may be unstable, but real estate photography does not necessarily shake with all the changes. How so? The rocky part of the real estate market is the sales of properties, but people always have to live under a roof, even if that roof belongs to someone else and whatever the economy. And that is what makes real estate photography a relatively stable market.
People might be less eager to buy or sell in a recession, but renting is always an option. Also, when you become an expert in real estate photography, your chief expertise will be capturing the essence of construction, from a rental vacation residency to shared office spaces and wedding venues.
Now that your mind is at ease with a backup plan, let’s focus on the real estate market itself. Real estate is a fiercely competitive industry. To differentiate themselves from the competition, agents must employ efficient marketing methods and use technology effectively. Real estate photography is a vital component of successful real estate transactions.
Often, it is the photograph that piques a buyer’s interest and inspires them to contact their real estate agent. As you are probably aware, most people today browse the internet in search of properties listed for sale online. Thus, nothing attracts homebuyers more than high-quality photographs that explode off the page.
Pictures’ crucial role in the real estate market gives you an edge. No matter the status of the market, high-quality photos are inseparable from property listings. So, you don’t need to analyze the real estate market to succeed in real estate photography. You only need to be the best at what you are doing: to show homebuyers how it would feel to live in that house through your shots.
The Advantages of Real Estate Photography
Nowadays, selling real estate online is more common than ever. Indeed, the digitalization of real estate is unavoidable. Given the industry’s evolution, maximizing one’s capacity to sell real estate online is critical. Numerous variables can influence this, but the primary one is concentrating on real estate photography.
Realtors know the value of real estate photography in real estate marketing. It is evident that the photos fascinate purchasers to the point that they desire a house more than anything else. According to the National Association of Realtors report, photos are the most valuable listings feature from buyers’ perspective.
If you’re curious about the benefits of real estate photography that give you a cutting edge as a real estate photographer, here are some of its essential advantages:
It saves agents time and money
Realtors prefer to employ a professional photographer to save time and money. The time they save by working with a professional photographer will be put to better use elsewhere in their business. They’ll also save money because they won’t have to buy all the needed equipment to photograph a property.
Photos can speed up the real estate sales
It seems clear that more potential buyers will be attracted to listings if we use better photographs. Additionally, utilizing professional photography equipment can ease the sales process. For example, drones give buyers a better perspective of the property, encouraging them to invest.
Photographs enhance the professional appearance
Professional real estate photographers use various equipment to optimize the lighting, focus, and other aspects of the shot so that better photographs make an agent appear more professional.
A high-resolution camera, a tripod, artificial lighting sources, and editing software are just the equipment required to produce high-quality real estate photographs. A professional real estate photographer has trained eyes for capturing all the features in the best possible way, which is only achieved through expertise.
Well-lit photos can draw buyers
Whereas a dark and dreary area is certain to put off potential buyers, a bright and energetic one is certain to entice them. So, it is critical to get the lighting perfect while photographing real estate.
To achieve proper lighting, photographers must use the appropriate lighting equipment. Additionally, they have to place this equipment properly to ensure that the correct components within the photo are lit.
A good real estate photographer enhances the property listing with lifelike pictures and videos, allowing them to stand out in the eyes of customers looking for that right house.
You can benefit from effective staging
Real estate photography is significantly more than getting the angles and lighting. It’s also about arranging elements, so the photo is instructive and pleasant to the eye.
Real estate photographers understand how to create the appropriate “feel” for the shot and are knowledgeable about the intricacies of staging. They know where to arrange things, how to slant them, how to space them, and much more.
Professionally edited photographs can have a huge impact
Regarding professional photography, capturing the shot and editing are inextricably linked. Real estate photographers are well-versed in both photographing and editing real estate images. They know precisely how to edit a real-world photograph to perfection. And they also know when to outsource it.
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How to Become a Professional Real Estate Photographer?
Landscape and architectural photography can be artistic, pleasant, and economical. Real estate photography is a type of photography that, while particular and commercial, can still be innovative and monetarily rewarding.
Real estate photographers are responsible for both pre-and post-production of their images. Their role is to create attractive property photographs, which may include pre-and post-photography decoration and editing.
Their job responsibilities include the following:
- Staging homes, workplaces, and other properties for photographing
- Constructing a shot list
- Taking photos of interiors and exteriors of properties
- Choosing the perfect lighting
- Preparing equipment, such as batteries, SD cards, lenses, and tripod
- Editing photos
- Creating portfolio
- Interacting with realtors and buyers
As a real estate photographer, you generally have four stages of work: preparation, shooting, editing, and delivering. Let’s take a close look at each phase.
To start your profession as a Real estate photographer, you need some primary gear:
- Cameras: Your camera should have two features: multiple exposure bracketing and the capability to trigger a distant flash. A basic digital single-lens reflex camera with interchangeable lenses can give these characteristics and help photograph different-sized buildings and interiors. You can check our list of top 5 cameras for real estate photos and videos and pick the one that fits.
- Lens: Choosing the ideal lens for real estate photography is vital. It should enable you to capture different spaces of a property. Depending on your camera, the best focal length for real estate photography can differ. Generally, you’ll need a wide-angle lens to shoot even the smallest spaces.
- Tripods: A strong tripod that supports the weight of your camera and lens provides stability while shooting and helps prevent blurry images.
- Lighting: Lighting is critical for drawing people’s attention. When possible, take advantage of the natural light, but when shooting indoors, use lighting aids such as a softbox and flash.
Apart from these fundamental tools, you can also benefit from other equipment. With the expansion of online house hunts, options like having an aerial image are in high demand, making drone photography in real estate a significant opportunity. Virtual tours are also a favorable feature, but you might need a 360 camera.
Do not worry if you have a limited budget for beginning your career. You don’t need all the gadgets on the market. You can start with the basics and upgrade and expand later.
To get ready for the shoot, you can benefit from a real estate photography pre-shoot checklist to pack all necessary gear. One missing piece can result in a canceled shoot. So, be prepared.
You can also have some instructions for the agent to prepare the property for the shoot. It is practical to have a draft checklist for the realtor and alter it for each project if needs be.
There are some general considerations on the shooting day. Also, you need to take into account the necessities for indoor and outdoor spaces. Let’s check them one by one.
There are some tips for you to consider in real estate photography. Think of them as structural guidelines.
Analyze the estate
First of all, take a walk through the property. Check the flow and the preferable angles. You can take some shots to check the light and composition. At this stage, take it all in, walk-in potential buyers’ shoes, and think about how to take listing photos that sell. You won’t be answering as yourself but as some who might want to buy this property.
By now, you have analyzed the property and checked if the resident, owner, or agent has done what you have asked regarding the estate: cleaning, tidying up, losing clutter, etc. Even with perfect preparation, some work is almost always left for you, which falls under the staging process. You can arrange the existing items to get the best shots.
Choose the time for the best shoots
You must also decide the best time to shoot real estate photos. That can differ whether you are shooting the inside or out. Also, each property gets different lighting during the day, so you need to consider that as well.
Shoot in RAW
Although it has a large size, RAW files gather all the necessary details from the scene and store them. It would be easier in post-production to work with RAW images since they won’t lose quality in editing.
HDR or not
You can take high dynamic range (HDR) photos to overcome the difference in exposure range. But there are pros and cons of HDR real estate photography. Be aware of its benefits and intricacies, and then decide where to use HDR photography in your real estate shootings.
Check your camera setting
The setting changes according to ambient light to get the best-lit picture. So, let’s avoid the auto-mode and be in charge of how to dance with the light.
The following are our suggested settings for your exposure triangle for the interior and exterior shots:
|Exterior Day Shot
|Exterior Dusk Shot
|f/8 – f/11
|Determined by the Camera
|Determined by the Camera
|Determined by the Camera
You can benefit from a detailed review of the best camera setting for real estate photography.
For interior shots, you often capture the main spaces of a house in real estate photography: the living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. But, it is better to check with the realtor about the chosen spaces for the shoot since each may require different settings.
Generally, there are a couple of factors affecting your indoor shots: lighting, vertical lines, camera height, and of course, composition. How do real estate photographers shoot interiors in the best possible way? They have an understanding of a perfect image from buyers’ perspectives.
With indoors, you need to show the space, flow, and feeling in your shots; this is the message your pictures carry. For that, you need perfect lighting. You could have natural light, lights in the room, and flashes that you use. These need to complement each other so that you capture all the details while avoiding white spots and uneven light temperature.
Vertical lines also play a vital role in delivering your message, and you have many of them in real estate photography: doors, windows, edges of the walls, and corners. We call these vertical lines, so they must be vertical in your shots. You must adjust your lines during the shoot or post-production to avoid distortion.
Height of the camera
Professional real estate photographers debate about the camera’s perfect height, and there is a reason for that. No two houses are entirely alike. What is certain is that you don’t want to get too much ceiling or furniture. It would be best if you had a balance to show the place as spacious as possible.
The outside photo is the first thing a potential buyer sees, and it’s the chosen photo to hook the listing viewer online. So, it would help if you make it irresistible. You have less control over circumstances for outdoor photographs due to weather conditions and undesirable yet immovable items. The time of day for shooting, the right angle, and property features are the deciding factors in capturing the perfect exterior picture. Let’s check them out.
Time of the day
Daylight has a constant companion: shadow. On the outside, you have many objects laying shadows on your shot. Because of that, the best time for exterior real estate photography is early morning and dusk. You get a gentle golden touch at the beginning of the day, and late in the evening gives you an impeccable twilight image.
You are the one deciding which fits better with the features of the property. You can also consider shooting on a cloudy day to avoid the game of shadows.
It may seem easy to choose an angle for the outdoor shot. You have a property facing you directly and can capture that face effortlessly. The problem with this easy angle is that you get too much some features like a driveway, sidewalk, cables, and lawn.
So, get creative! Walk around and find an angle that eliminates the clutter while showcasing all the aspects. Your camera height also changes based on the perspective you choose and the scale of the structure and its surroundings.
Property outdoors may have particular facilities that can make a difference in sales, like a fireplace, patio, pool, garden, and delightful lighting. You can showcase these features in singular frames to emphasize their uniqueness.
Remember we said at the beginning that there are many out-of-control factors in real estate? Editing is the part you deal with them.
These are some of the things impacting your shoot:
- Weather (sunny, cloudy, windy, etc.)
- Installed items inside and out of the property
- Personal items of the current resident
- Light bulbs and their different temperatures
- A parked car out front or a runner on the back
- Shadows made by objects and even yourself
And basically, anything that wasn’t supposed to be in the frame but is captured anyway.
In such conditions, it is not feasible to go back and shoot again. Luckily you have an alternative: image editing. Photographs may require retouching and improvement. You can do the cropping, adding light or exposure, and sharpening your pictures using software like Photoshop and Lightroom. Depending on the project, real estate photo editing could entail many other services, among them are:
- Image enhancement
- Item removal
- Day to dusk
- Virtual staging
- Turning the lights on
- Adding fire to the fireplace
You have two options:
- Do all the necessary editing yourself
- Outsource the editing using online services
Your decision depends on the amount and value of your time. Which one assists you in profiting more from real estate photography? Would you prefer to spend your time doing more projects or editing one?
By answering these questions, you can decide how to proceed with the editing phase. Remember that this stage is inevitable; no matter how good you are as a real estate photographer, retouching your photos is a must.
There are a couple of considerations before handing over the final listing images:
- File format: Since you are shooting in RAW, your file size would be significant. Remember to convert the final work to JPEG or TIFF files, so your client can use them efficiently.
- Aspect ratio: Most Multiple Listings (MLS) websites use the 4.3 ratios for property ads. That is why it is best to provide your clients with pictures in this size.
- Testimonial: Ask your clients to share their experience of working with you. That will boost your reputation and enrich your online profile.
Starting Your Business as a Real Estate Photographer
Now that we have gone through all the basics of real estate photography, let’s check some pointers about what makes a good real estate photographer. You are entering a new and somewhat competitive market. Deciding about the start point and the road to take can be challenging. Let’s remove some obstacles together.
Prepare a portfolio
A portfolio is a collection of your most significant work and demonstrates your abilities to prospective clients. When photographing a property, ensure that you retain the rights to the photographs so that they can be included in your portfolio.
At the beginning of your career, try asking around from your friends, family, and neighbors if they want to rent or sell their house. Offer to shoot the property for free to practice your skills. This way, you can start building up your portfolio.
Set your pricing
Ask around and search online for real estate photography rates. Check the prices of the region you want to start with. See what fits best: charging by the hour or square footage. After these considerations, calculate your pricing list accordingly.
You can charge a bit lower than the typical price range, but do not reduce it in a way that damages the market for all real estate photographers; That results in everyone losing in the long run, including yourself.
Make separate checklists for yourself and the realtor agent. This way, you minimize the risk of forgetting something and make the best of your shooting process.
Start with basic essential equipment but keep your eyes on the horizon. Set part of your profit aside for upgrading your gadgets and purchasing additional ones. This way, you are always ahead of the market and can offer your clients extra features for their listing.
It is okay and even vital to check and follow the known real estate photographers and their trends. But, at some point, you must develop your own unique eyes.
Real estate photography is about delivering that sense of home through images to enable homebuyers to envision themselves living there. So, always look for ways to catch that sensation.
Through this blog post, we have established that real estate photography provides more than just photographs; it involves design, layout, lighting, style, color, and composition elements. Because of what you are offering as a real estate photographer, you should always keep the artist in you alive.
In real estate photography, you ask future buyers to come along with you and check out a house that can become their home. It is all about that feeling you inspire in them that makes them set a showing or even make an offer. Conveying this message requires a delicate touch and attention to detail; that is why you need the artist in you.
Just because you want to make a living out of real estate photography does not mean saying goodbye to the artistic side of your profession. Image is everything in real estate sales, and you are the one who makes it as elegant and desirable as aesthetically possible.