Property Photography (Tutorial)

by Dima

To create visually appealing images that highlight the property’s strengths, photographers are advised to use professional equipment, including a camera, tripod, and wide-angle lens, as well as specific camera settings to provide clear and attractive images. A photographer must understand what features in the house may potentially attract buyers, such as a fireplace, panoramic windows, or spacious kitchen, and be able to highlight such selling points via photography. Consider this article as your guide to taking captivating photos of properties.

What Is Real Estate Photography?

Property photography is the practice of capturing high-quality images of real estate for marketing and promotional purposes. Through real estate photography, agencies can provide potential buyers with features, designs, and overall appeal of apartments, houses, villas, and other types of real estate. Quality pictures play a massive role in creating a first impression and attracting clients. 

What Equipment Is Required For Quality Real Estate Photos?

As a realtor photography, you want to use the right equipment. Do you need a professional camera? Ideally, yes. However, a smartphone camera can also work if you know how to use its features to deliver high-quality images. 

In this part of the tutorial, we will discuss the advantages of using DSLR, mirrorless or compact cameras, action cameras, and advanced smartphone cameras. Read and choose the best option for your real estate photography, considering all the pros and cons. 

DSLR, Mirrorless, or Compact Camera

Since house photography requires still images, you do not need to purchase the most expensive equipment. A beginner DSLR camera can actually be a good choice, offering all the necessary features for capturing high-quality images of properties. Each type—DSLR, mirrorless, and compact camera comes with its own set of pros for the purpose of real estate photography. Let’s look into them in detail. 

Advantages of using a DSLR camera:

  • Larger sensors for better image quality.
  • Interchangeable lenses for versatility.
  • Manual control over settings for precise adjustments.
  • Better low-light performance.

Advantages of using a mirrorless camera:

  • More portable and easier to handle compared with DSLR cameras.
  • Real-time preview of the exposure and depth of field.
  • Advanced autofocus systems.
  • In-body image stabilization that results in sharper photos.

Advantages of using a compact camera:

  • Lightweight and portable choice. 
  • Automatic mode excludes the need for extensive manual adjustments.
  • Versatile zoom ranges.
  • Built-in flash.

Action Camera (e.g., GoPro)

Even though action cameras like GoPro were originally developed for extreme sports and various activities and events, you can still use them to capture photos of apartments, houses, and other properties. Newer GoPro camera models provide improved features, including enhanced stabilization and better image quality, which will help you take proper real estate photos. 

Advantages of using an action camera:

  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Wide-angle lenses assist in capturing small spaces.
  • Versatile mounting options for creative shots.
  • Some camera models come with 4K video capabilities. 

The only consideration you may have with shooting real estate photos with an action camera is lower image quality compared with DSLR and mirrorless cameras. The pictures taken in low light do not come out great when using GoPro. However, it should not be an issue anyway since quality photography should be done in natural light. 

Smartphone camera

Advantages of using a smartphone camera for property photography: 

  • Always at your hands.
  • Advanced cameras with multiple lenses for versatility.
  • Built-in HDR and computational photography features.
  • Each access to photo editing apps.

However, only some smartphones will allow you to take top-notch photos. Recommended models for quality home images are Samsung s24 Ultra, iPhone 15 Pro, or OnePlus 12. These smartphone cameras have telephoto lenses, wide-angle lenses, and enhanced low-light features that take crisp and detailed images at night or in the dark.

Real Estate Drone Photography

Drone or aerial photography has become a popular type of art widely used for offering “live” visualization of properties. It is used for completed projects and ongoing ones to present different stages of construction.

The main advantage of drones is that they can take pictures from angles that traditional photography does not reach. Utilizing aerial photography, you can showcase the whole property, including parking space, pools, and playgrounds, emphasizing its size and architecture, like roof design, facades, and exterior details. With the help of a drone, you can show landscaping and neighborhood areas, which is especially important for people buying a home. 

And if you want to take your photography to the sky, you need special equipment. The top three drones for aerial photography that come at a fair price and offer all the necessary features are:

  1. DJI Mini 4 Pro – a great drone with camera switches for optical portrait mode, 4K 60fps shooting capability, all-round collision sensors, up to 20km (over 12 miles) of theoretical range, top-notch reception in sensible operational distances, and 34 minutes battery life. 
  2. HoverAir X1 – a lightweight drone with a convenient folding design that will automatically follow you and take raw photos, yet it can fly for only 11 minutes. 
  3. Potensic Atom – is one of the best drones for budget 2024 that features a stable 4K camera, excellent wind resistance, subject tracking, sharp video, and a battery life of 32 minutes. 

When buying a drone for a real estate photoshoot, consider camera quality, stabilization system, flight time, design in terms of size, and app compatibility to share your content easily. 

What Software Should You Install to Deliver the Best Real Estate Photo?

Let us navigate you through three solid software that will allow you to improve the quality and appeal of property images to boost buyers’ interest. This software will do most of the work for you, leaving you more time to take photos than edit them. 

1. Canva

Canva is a beginner-friendly photo app that will significantly suit the editing of real estate images. To get started, create an account and use simple drag-and-drop UI and pre-designed templates to create a professional-looking appeal. Some editing features that Canva offers are color adjusting, filters, cropping, and enhancing the quality of shots. Canva Pro account will enable even more features like graphics, logos, and textures to make your realty photography look professional. Note that Canva supports JPEG files only. 

2. Adobe Photoshop

The famous photo editing app will also work well on property photos. The software offers various design tools, such as advanced editing, retouching, and manipulation. Even though Adobe Photoshop does not increase the resolution of photos, it has techniques for upscaling images without losing the quality. The good thing is that the software accepts JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and RAW formats, giving photographers the flexibility to work on various files. The only thing to consider is the software is quite advanced and needs time and effort to understand its layout. 

3. PicMonkey

The software comes with many creative filters that will allow you to highlight the pros of a property and enhance the overall quality of images. Apart from powerful editing tools, the software allows you to add text and graphic overlays to real estate photos, making them more custom-oriented. The convenient transfer option enables uploading and moving photos from your PC, laptop, or tablet to PicMonkey for editing. To work with high image size, a pro version is required. 

To choose the best software, consider the accepted file formats, editing options, and variety of templates. These features make it easy for a photographer to hand over unique and attractive images of real estate.

How to Work With Lighting?

To deliver clear residential photography, you want to have all the right lighting equipment. Some real estate photographers use external flashes to enhance lighting conditions. The good option is Godox V1, which offers suitable features, including soft natural light, stable color temperature, and a range of color filters. Softboxes can also be handy for creating diffused lights and evenly illuminating rooms.

How to Take Real Estate Photos Using Interior/Exterior Light?

Before taking photos of a property, visit it and define its strong points. Plan the shooting schedule considering the position of the sun. For exterior pictures, the golden hours are the best time to take photos of a property, thanks to the warm and soft light. However, for interior images, choose daylight. 

When you choose to use natural light, you just need to work with your camera. Therefore, the shooting time is minimal. Still, you need to consider using post-processing with the help of the software we provided above. Flash photography gives you more control over lighting conditions and allows you to highlight the selling points of the property. 

Make use of ambient light by positioning yourself near windows and avoiding harsh contrasts. Consider closing blinds or curtains to manage excessive contrast between indoor and outdoor lighting.

Set your camera to manual mode to fully control the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. This will allow you to achieve the desired exposure and minimize noise. But do not neglect editing software to fine-tune your images to perfection. 

Composition In Real Estate Photography

Composition plays an important role in creating attractive real estate photography as it helps to show properties most aesthetically. Aim for balanced compositions to create harmony and visual stability. Ideally, elements should be evenly distributed on either side of the frame.

Use walls and floors to guide the viewer’s eye through the image and draw attention to key points of the property. Try the rule of thirds and position focal elements along the three lines. This tip will help you deliver a more visually appealing composition.

Add depth and perspective to your photography of houses by including foreground, middle ground, and background elements. Use furniture, plants, or architectural details to create an immersive experience.

A great composition is always reached by combining experimenting and rules. Shoot property from different points, angles, and heights until you achieve the most appealing images. 

How to Get Correct Exposure in Real Estate Photography? 

Achieving correct exposure in estate photography includes applying two main techniques:

  • HDR blending: capture multiple exposures of the same scene at different brightness levels and blend them using editing software. Professional photographers take 3 to 5 exposures per photo, covering a range of exposure values from underexposed to overexposed. A standard sequence includes exposures at -1.5, 0, and +1.5 EV (Exposure Value) for 3 images or -2, -1, 0, +1, and +2 EV for 5 images. Combining these exposures assists in creating a final image with optimal exposure. This technique will work excellently for achieving a natural look. 
  • Flash photography: use artificial lighting sources, like external flashes, to illuminate specific points of a property. Take multiple shots using flash, adjust the position and intensity of the lights to highlight the interior spaces. Directing the flash towards the windows will help to achieve a clean and professional appearance.

Experiment with both techniques and see what pictures get more attention. Note that flash photography requires equipment. Therefore, you will have to spend more money. 

10 Extra Tips For Real Estate Photography

We added a few more tips to help you plan your budget and work on the skills you are missing. 

  1. Create a list with your prices and images you are willing to take for a certain type of property. 
  2. Choose golden hours to take soft, warm photos.
  3. Keep the light off when shooting inside the property. Instead, use daylight for natural photos. 
  4. Use a tripod for stability and shooting in low light.
  5. Choose a perspective to present the property’s selling point. 
  6. Shoot with a 16-35mm zoom lens.
  7. Take pictures at chest height.
  8. Work together with a talented stager. 
  9. Make sure the property is clean.
  10. Polish your images using various post-processing software. 

Now you know how to photograph real estate. It is just a matter of time and practice to start delivering visually pleasant pictures. 

Tips on Real Estate Photography Pricing

After reading how much effort goes into creating this type of photo, you must wonder how a real estate photographer defines a rate. Well, to set your price, you need to:

  • Understand the home values in your area by researching the types of properties and the demand for professional photography services.
  • Consider your equipment costs, transportation, and marketing expenses. Do not forget to include the time you spend editing and refining images. 
  • Define what types of photography services you will offer clients. This may include interior and/or exterior shots, aerial photography, and virtual tours. Each service should have a different rate since it requires different equipment, skills, and time to deliver the result.  
  • Analyze competitors’ pricing based on their location, experience, and services. 

Following these tips, you will be able to start your own real estate photography business and offer reasonable prices that reflect your experience and skills. 

Where Can I Be Hired as a Real Estate Photographer?

To start your business and advertise yourself as a professional, consider popular freelance services like Fiverr, Upwork, The Creative Loft, and Flexjobs. These platforms offer beginners and professional photographers multiple job opportunities posted by clients daily. After registration, you will be able to bid on projects, submit proposals, showcase your portfolio, discuss job details, and collaborate with clients on real estate photography projects.

Create an account and search for job offers at Indeed, Glassdoor, and Linkedin. All three websites are free job boards that list vacancies with detailed descriptions and approximate salaries. Here, you will be able to search for full-time and part-time vacancies as well as freelance projects. Filters like desired salary, job title, company name, and location will help you find more specific vacancies and apply instantly. 

If you seek job opportunities in real estate photography, register on at least 2 or 3 platforms to increase your chances and compare which websites cater to your requirements more. Not only can you search for vacancies, but meet other professionals and expand your network.

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