Real Estate Photography: The Complete Guide

Real Estate Photography: The Complete Guide

Are you looking to take beautiful and eye-catching photos of real estate?

You have come to the right spot.

Although real estate photography can seem daunting and stressful, with some knowledge, you can create outstanding images immediately.

I have spent a lot of time studying the intricacies of house photography and real estate. Today, I want to share that knowledge with you. Let’s get started if you are ready to learn how professional house photographers do it.

Real estate photography: key camera equipment

You will need the following items to get started in real estate photography:

  • Camera
  • A wide-angle lens
  • A tripod

You should be able to attach a cable release, flash, other lenses and wireless triggers to your camera. A lens between 10-22mm and 12-24mm works well for cropped-sensor cameras. For full-frame sensor cameras, a lens of 16-35mm will work.

Tilt-shift lenses are designed to avoid vertical converging lines, such as door frames and wall edges. Although there are some tilt-shift lenses, these lenses have a fixed focal length. A 16-35mm zoom lens can be used as a companion or alternative to a tilt-shift lenses.

This image shows the diverging vertical lines created by a 16-35mm lens that was tilted down to increase foreground and reduce ceiling.

Real estate photography techniques can be quite complex. They include exposure blending, HDR, wireless flash, and light painting with multiple exposures. The camera should never be moved to ensure alignment of multiple exposures. A self-timer or cable release can also help prevent camera movement. Some apps can also trigger the camera to show you a preview of the image on your tablet or smartphone.

The best lighting for exterior photos

A potential buyer’s first impression of a property online is usually an exterior photo. Therefore, you must take beautiful shots outdoors. Lighting is a major part of this, so be careful about choosing the right time and quality of lighting.

What type of lighting is best to use for real estate photography?

Lighting early in the morning and late at night is a great way to capture exterior house photos. It is important to know the sun direction before you start your photo shoot. You can use an app like Photo Pills to find this information. As an overall rule, you should aim to capture light hitting the front of your home like this:

Some south-facing houses don’t get the sun at their front in winter. If you are in such a situation, it is important to keep the sun at your back. Even if that means taking photos from an angle.

You might want to shoot on an overcast day if you are unhappy with the results you get from morning or afternoon lighting. You can avoid problems caused by the sun’s position by shooting under cloudy skies. However, it is important to discuss this with your client before you shoot. White skies can reduce the impact of a great exterior image.

You also have another option if you are having trouble finding a good time to photograph during the day:

You can get photos like these using the dusk/dark method

You can simply go to your house at sunset, and pick the best angle to show it off. Turn on all lights and add lights to rooms. Wait until sunset so that the sky’s exposure is balanced with the room lights. This is when you can create stunning, professional-quality images!

Composition: How to get started in interior photography

Once you have taken some beautiful exterior photos, it’s time to start taking interior real estate photos. Although this can seem tedious, it is important to approach the task with care.

There are many different types of homes. It is important that the home looks its best before you take photos.

Once you have arrived, take photos of the main rooms, including the living, kitchen, dining, master bedroom and master bathroom. You might also find a large walk-in wardrobe, a large office, or a library. You can ask the client what they consider important.

After you have entered a room, find the best angle to capture a photograph. To create visual flow, I prefer indoor elements such as furniture, windows, and layout. I try to avoid placing large objects in the foreground of a room that blocks the eye’s flow through it.

This is my first shot of the room. The flow was blocked by the chair in the foreground.

Rotating the chair and lowering slightly the camera height will allow the eye to flow more freely through the space. (This image also has vertical lines corrected.

Tip for key composition: Get the verticals right

There is a lot of agreement between clients and photographers when it comes to interior house photography. Verticals need to be right! Many interiors have many verticals. These include the corners and edges of doors frames and walls as well as windows and doors frames. Wide-angle lenses with a tilted upward or downward towards the floor or ceiling will cause vertical edges to converge or diverge . They won’t appear straight.

Tilt-shift lenses solve the problem right away, but not all people like TS lenses. What can you do? What can you do to prevent your photos from being ruined by converging or diverging verticals?

A common method is to ensure that the camera is level. This means it should not be tilted up or down. Because a perfectly level camera will only record straight verticals. This is an easy solution but it can lead to poor compositions. A camera set at chest height may cut off foreground objects like furniture and create too much ceiling at top. This problem can be solved by lowering the camera’s height. But how low can you go to still get a good photo?

Simone Brogini is an online student of mine. This illustrates the point. His camera is high enough to reach the chest and is leveled so that verticals don’t diverge. The foreground furniture has been removed and the ceiling is lacking interest.

Simone also took this bedroom image in the same manner. Although it looks great, I suggested to Simone that the camera height may be a bit too high as the furniture and bed take only 1/3 of the frame, while the walls and windows take 2/3.

What is the ideal camera height? There are many opinions. Many people suggest chest height, while others recommend doorknob height or lower. I prefer chest height, or close to it. I also correct vertical lines with other methods like a tilt-shift lens, the Lens Correction tool in Photoshop (or Lightroom).

This image shows how powerful the Lens Correction tool is. The furniture and bed cover 1/3 of the frame, giving a more complete view of the room. Plus, the verticals are straight!

How to get perfect exposure in real estate photography

It can be difficult to expose interior elements because of the contrast between bright interiors and darker windows.

There are many ways to deal with this contrast. One is to photograph when the outdoor light levels are lower such as after sunset or on cloudy days. If the outside brightness is lower than the interior, turning on all lights inside will increase the interior brightness. A RAW file can capture the scene often in one frame. You can also shoot multiple bracketed images and then combine them in post-processing.

The room features a dark ceiling, dark floors, a window flare and hot spots that are too contrasty for one shot on a sunny day.

An overcast day can make the interior exposure and window exposure quite impressive.

To ensure great images even in low-contrast lighting conditions, I recommend taking a few more shots. The base exposure is the image with the most data centered in your histogram. Next, bracket in one-stop increments for varied exposures. These extra images may not be necessary, but they are great for reducing the dynamic range of the scene. ).

Real estate photography: interior lighting

Some real estate photographers prefer ambient lighting. However, interiors can still benefit from well-designed external lighting. Bracketing or blending can create contrast in scenes but not highlights and shadows in areas without directional lighting. If you have a dark cupboard against a dark wall for example, adding supplemental light may be able to bring out the detail.

Two light sources are common in interiors: the window light and the interior light. Continuous lights can be added or flashes/flashes used. Flashes and strobes are my preference for interior lighting.

Before I get into the details of interior lighting, let me emphasize its purpose. It is to highlight the highlights, bring out detail and balance the overall lighting effect. Think about what ambient lighting hides and what studio lighting will reveal.

Photographers who shoot for magazines or architects often have lots of time to capture a property using finely-crafted lighting techniques. But a real estate photographer is often limited in time, so flash is the ideal tool. It is possible to master the art of using flash on-camera to fill in a scene or bounce it on-camera for amazing results.

You can take a test shot with no flash and then look at the LCD to identify the areas that need fill light. This is what I did to the scene below.

The only light in this room came from the window to the left and the ceiling fixtures. This left dark areas in the front.

The bounce flash was added to fill in the darker areas. It is located just to the right side of the camera.

Multi-flash wireless setups are also very popular, allowing flashes to be placed in a variety of places for styled lighting. You might also consider light-painting, which involves lighting specific areas with multiple exposures. The exposures are then blended together in post-processing.

This image is created using light painting to achieve a balanced and detailed result.

You should also be aware of color temperature and balance when lighting is used indoors (studio or otherwise).

Mixing light such as daylight-colored windows and tungsten-colored ceiling light will create a variety of light colors. You can also add a fluorescent kitchen lighting to your space. The walls closest to the windows will be blue, while those closest to the tungsten ceiling light will be amber. The ceiling in the kitchen will be green.

Here is an image that uses mixed lighting.

A blue color is visible around the window, and on the floor to your left.

What can you do with mixed lighting? Two things.

  1. Mixing lighting is a problem. Make sure you match the colors of your studio lights with the lights in the scene.
  2. To neutralize unwanted color casts, you can use selective color adjustments in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Here is a corrected version:

The final image includes color corrections, corrected verticals, and the removal or flare from windows.

Provide the client with the final images

After you have taken the photos and processed the images, you need to send the files. Clients often request low-resolution images for the internet and high-resolution images for publication in print.

Make sure you save your files in the right file format and the correct size for the intended purpose. Many online listing sites specify the acceptable formats and acceptable sizes. I use JPEGs with low resolution and TIFF files. The final delivery is done via Dropbox or another online service.

Final words on real estate photography

You’re now ready to take some photos of real estate! Before you go to your first home, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • You’re not taking photos for yourself, you’re taking pictures for clients who expect professional-quality work.
  • Do not buy the most expensive gear. Only purchase what you need to do the job right.
  • Learn the creative side to photography like angles, perspectives and composition.
  • Learn the technical side to photographysuch color matching, exposure, HDR and exposure blending.
  • Don’t misrepresent your property when you process real estate images

Have fun, and above all, enjoy it!