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Real estate agents know that well-shot photos will dramatically increase the ability to both connect with a buyer faster and attract a higher price for their listing. With the market on the up rise, you’ll want to be a part of this very profitable photography niche. With the right, equipment, techniques and a bit of practice, you’ll be shooting properties with ease.

Get Inspired

Do some research and see what other shooters are doing. Check out sites such as Houzz to get a feel for the level of quality, lighting and style of images that realtors are seeking.

real estate photography

Equipment You’ll Need

Real estate photography doesn’t require loads of equipment. After all you’ll want to be able to schedule several properties in a day to be profitable, so travel light for quick set up time. If you’re just starting out, consider searching for used equipment online. The essential equipment you’ll need:

  • Full-frame DSLR camera 
  • Wide Angle Lens

For full frame DSLR’s, a 16-24 mm lens is good. If you can’t upgrade to the full frame DSLR, go with a 10-12 mm lens.

  • Flash

Getting the lighting right is the most key issue in real estate photography. If you are skilled with flash photography, using multiple, carefully placed flashes throughout each room is the way to go. Some flashes have a built-in slave mode that will fire when another flash fires. If there’s not a clear line of site between flashes, it will not work. There are higher-end, radio controlled slaves that operate on different channels that will alleviate this problem.

Recommended Settings:

Try setting your ISO on 100 or 200 as default instead of Auto. This will eliminate noise or grain in your images.

Start with F/8 since this is usually where your lens is at its sharpest. It will also offer a wide enough depth-of-field for all of the room to be in focus. Adjust the shutter speed and flash power accordingly.

  • Tripods

Get an inexpensive tripod to use for a flash stand so you can get your flash off your camera and move it around independently of the camera.

  • Bracketing and HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photography

Typically, the light inside a room may be two or three stops darker than outside – that’s up to 8x less light in the room. If you expose for the room, this will leave the windows over-exposed. Using exposure bracketing or HDR helps cover the different levels of light in the room.

Start with a correct exposure and then bracket up and down by as much as five stops in each direction. There is an HDR feature in Photoshop to quickly mesh together the multiple images, however as with an auto function in software, it will often give you an unnatural end result. Instead try manually blending the images together from separate layers to get the optimum final shot.

real estate photography

Techniques for Improving Your Real Estate Photography

The best way to increase the quality of your real estate images is practice and gaining experience through each job you book. If you don’t have a friend or family member with a show worthy home to practice, advertise on Craigslist and offer the homeowner a free photography session.

Preparing The Room

  • Remove any clutter such as newspapers, clothes and toys, etc. 
  • Turn on all lights in the property. This will make the rooms more inviting and warmer.
  • Fluff couch cushions and steam bed covers and curtains. The rooms must look spotless.

You may want to even invest in a cache of color themed props to add to the rooms. Fresh fruit and flowers purchased the day of the shoot also add a nice touch.

Creating a Dynamic Composition

Chest height or waist high? There are two differing onions when it comes to the ideal height to shoot from. The best practice is to shoot from a height which suits the contents in the room. (For example, kitchens can have cabinets that run up to the ceiling. In this case, use chest height. Bathrooms and living rooms will have tables, toilets, etc. at lower heights. For these rooms shoot from the hip.)

Cheryl Woods

Cheryl Woods is an accomplished photographer, designer and branding consultant with a career spanning 20+ years. Her photographic work includes editorial, fashion, portraiture and product photography for major companies in the consumer products field including QVC and Hanover Direct. She received a B.F.A. in Photography from the University of the Arts and an M.F.A. in Media Design from Full Sail University. Cheryl's work has been exhibited at the Lowes Museum of Art in Coral Gables, FL, The New York Independent Film Festival and the Rosenwald Wolf Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. Check out her website here!


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