6 Tips for Real Estate Photography

Professional-looking photography is essential for real estate transactions these days. Most people begin their home search online or real estate agents send their clients links to possible homes. If the client likes what they see in the photos, they may choose to actually go look at the house. A house with no photos or terrible photos has a significantly smaller chance of being seen by a potential buyer.

Real estate agents have discovered that they either need to hire a professional or they need to learn how to take quality photos themselves. Whether you are a real estate agent or a homeowner that may one day choose to sell, these tips will help you get noticed on the listings.

real estate photography example

Here are my tips for real estate photography:

Emphasize dimensions

Generally, buyers are looking for usable space. Yes, square footage is important. How that space is used is also important. As the photographer, you are trying to make the space look as roomy as possible without misleading people. Wide-angle lenses are standard equipment for this sort of thing. Position your camera as close to a wall or entry way as possible to show as much of each room as you can. I find that shooting from one corner of the room and showing as much of the longest side of the room as I can is ideal for showing size. Of course, the layout and furniture in the room can change the ideal angle.

Kitchen is a focus area

Focus on kitchen and living room

Where do you spend most of your waking time at home? For most people, this is either the living room or the kitchen. These are the spaces that buyers are most interested in. If you are going to spend more time and attention anywhere, spend it here. Make both of these spaces look warm and inviting and show them in such a way that people can imagine being in the room and entertaining friends.

Use your ISO capabilities

Most real estate photography will end up on the web, unless you are shooting for a magazine or doing a very high-end property. These images will be displayed at a relatively small size, so don’t be afraid to crank up your ISO. The graininess will not show up and you will not need to use additional lighting or slow shutter speeds to get bright images.

Shoot from half the height of the ceiling

The typical real estate agent or homeowner can’t justify the expense of a dedicated architectural lens, like a wide tilt-shift. Instead they will use a regular wide angle lens somewhere in the 16 – 24mm range. I’ve found that for a regular-sized home, shooting from about half the height of the ceiling helps to keep the perspective looking normal. If the ceiling is 9 feet high, set your tripod to about 4.5 feet tall and keep the lens parallel with the floor. Your vertical lines will remain vertical and you will show equal parts floor and ceiling.

Lens choices

Like I mentioned, if you can afford the tilt-shift lens, it’s awesome for real estate. Canon makes a 17mm that is so sharp! However, the cost is rarely justified. You can do a pretty good job with a wide-angle lens. On a full-frame sensor, 16mm is about as wide as you should go before the distortion makes your proportions look weird. This would be 10mm on a cropped sensor (APS-C). I think that 24 mm is also nice for real estate interiors, but it doesn’t give you as wide a field of view and can be difficult to use in tight spaces like bathrooms.

Shoot in RAW

For commercial architecture work and high-end real estate I would bracket my exposures to adjust for different lighting scenarios. For regular real estate, it’s rarely worth the effort and image quality is not as important for the small file sizes, so shooting in RAW can cover you. RAW files allow you to bring back some detail in your shadow areas (and sometimes your highlights) and to give you increased dynamic range.
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How important is photography to you in buying or selling a home? Enough to hire a pro?

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