How To Photograph Real Estate

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Real estate photography is a great way to venture in to making money as a professional photographer. The best photographer is someone who understands their gear and what the client wants. The objective of real estate photography is to capture the beauty of a home. This will attract buyers which makes clients happy and your portfolio even better. In order to achieve perfection, it’s important to know your gear, as well as how to use space and lighting. We will go through what real estate photography entails, what gear you should be using, how to photograph real estate, and go into how to edit your final photos.

What Is Real Estate Photography?

In essence, real estate photography is taking photos of buildings, both interior and exterior. With this definition, though, there can be some confusion when differentiating between architectural photography and real estate photography. The defining factor between the two is that in real estate photography the objective is to sell the property, whereas architectural photography is more aesthetic. Typically, real estate photography is taken place in a living space. This can be in the form of a house, condo, apartment, etc. but can also be office spaces and buildings. The best thing to do when starting with a new client is to have them take you through the property, highlight the most important areas that they want showcased.

Gear Required for Real Estate Photography

Tripod/Monopod

The first step towards achieving perfect real estate photographs is understanding what gear you’ll need and how to use it. One of the most important things in this type of photography is having a durable and flexible tripod or monopod available. By using a tripod you can make sure your photographs are straight, as well as make it possible to have a longer exposure in low light situations. You may not have full access to the property at all times so you will have to work with the client to figure out the best times for lighting. When shooting the exterior of a property it is best to get the entire property in frame and reduce the shadows present. Use a tripod to maximize the usability of your camera through long exposure. Amazon is a great place to find inexpensive tripods and monopods for beginners such as the GorillaPod.

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Flashes

Interior real estate photography can present new challenges when it comes to controlling white balance, natural lighting, and use of space. Carrying multiple external flashes with stands can eliminate the process of having to find large windows for natural light. An external flash can combat the white balance of most incandescent light bulbs, which give off a warm yellow temperature that can change colours of furniture and wall colour. Try using natural lighting as much as possible, open all the blinds and let in that beautiful natural light. Add a flash to fill in dark areas and expose your image properly. Try to create the most natural look without having to spend hours editing.

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Lenses

The next thing to plan for in real estate photography is the use of the space provided for you. Some properties can be quite small, especially in an apartment or condo. It is your job as the photographer to make this space look bigger and more inviting for potential buyers. One way to utilize your gear and create an illusion of a bigger space is using the right lens. Wide angle and ultra-wide angle lenses are the best choice in real estate photography. Having the diversity of a wide angle or ultra-wide angle allows you to squeeze into tight spaces and capture the entire room. Try bringing a few different lens lengths or even venturing into wide angle zoom lenses. It can also be beneficial to make sure these lenses have a low aperture, as this can allow you to let more light in without sacrificing shutter speed. A few lenses perfect for real estate are the 16-35mm F/4 from Nikon and the 16-35mm F/2.8 from Canon.

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How To Edit Real Estate Photographs

The most important purpose for real estate photography is to show the beauty of the property. You do not want to apply such drastic edits that the property loses its charm. To achieve a natural look, only alter the HSL sliders (Hue, Saturation, and Luminance), tone curve, exposure, and possibly the white balance. The HSL sliders give the extra boost in colour that is needed to make attributes pop over others. By understanding what the client wants to stand out you can adjust the HSL sliders to create a visual pop. In Lightroom you can easily select a colour and change how this colour looks throughout the photograph, boost luminance and saturation for things you’d like to stand out. Reduce the saturation on areas you wish the wash out into the background.

A major objective of real estate photography is to have great exposure in-camera, but if this is not possible, you can still adjust this in post to add brightness. The tone curve can allow you to concentrate in certain areas such as shadows, midtones, or highlights. You should also strive to achieve the perfect white balance in-camera, but if this is not possible Lightroom can help adapt this for you. Check out our blogs on tone curve and white balance for more information on how to successfully use these tools.

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Real estate photography is a great avenue into getting your name out there as a professional photographer. Start off by offering your service to friends and family. This creates a word-of-mouth chain allowing people to recommend your services to others. It may not be a passion of everyone but the best thing about photography is discovering new styles. Build a relationship with your clients, know your gear, don’t over edit photos, and have fun doing it.

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