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Guide to Real Estate Photography: 18 PRO Tips for 2024

CEO Tinh Phung
If you've ever searched for a property to buy or rent, you know how crucial professional photography is in the real estate industry. Whether you're looking to break into the real estate photography business or...

If you've ever searched for a property to buy or rent, you know how crucial professional photography is in the real estate industry. Whether you're looking to break into the real estate photography business or sell your own home, this article is for you. Join us as we dive into what you need for property photography, must-read tips, and more.

What Is Real Estate Photography?

Real estate photography involves capturing photos of property interiors and exteriors to showcase them on the market. Additionally, real estate photographers are often hired to shoot for designers or magazines that require property visuals for various purposes.

Equipment Needed for Real Estate Photography

The great thing about real estate photography is that you can start small and grow your business gradually. To begin shooting real estate photography, all you need is a camera, a wide-angle lens (or the shortest focal length you have), and a sturdy tripod. The rest of the equipment listed below can be acquired later on as you progress in your career:

Example of real estate interior photo with styling. Fig. 1: Example of real estate interior photo with styling.

  • Camera: There isn't a specific camera model or brand required for real estate photography. However, consider cameras that perform well in high contrast situations and allow you to shoot in manual mode. Shooting in RAW format is also advantageous for better post-processing adjustments. While an iPhone can be used, it's recommended to invest in a dedicated camera for optimal results.

  • Lenses: A wide-angle lens is essential for real estate photography as it allows you to capture more of the property in the frame. A focal length range between 16mm and 35mm should cover most scenarios. Avoid fish-eye lenses as they can distort the image. As you progress in your career, a tilt-shift lens can be a valuable addition to your equipment.

  • Tripod: A sturdy tripod is crucial to prevent camera shake during long exposure shots and to ensure consistent framing when creating HDR images.

  • Flashes: While natural lighting is ideal, having a flash unit can help overcome challenging lighting situations. Bouncing the flash off the ceiling or using light modifiers like umbrellas can provide softer and more even lighting.

  • Triggers: Remote shutter triggers are useful for reducing camera shake and maintaining consistent framing. Flash triggers allow you to fire off-camera flashes for more creative lighting setups.

  • Gray Card / Color Checker: To achieve accurate white balance, use a gray card. You can either include the card in the scene and adjust the white balance during post-processing or use it as a reference for custom white balance settings.

  • Drone: Offering drone photography or video can set you apart from the competition. However, ensure you have the necessary certifications and permits to operate a drone in your area, and consider the demand for this service in your target market.

  • 360 Camera: Investing in a 360 camera enables you to offer virtual tours, which are increasingly valuable in the real estate industry.

  • Software: At a minimum, you'll need editing tools to enhance and correct your photos. Look for software that offers HDR merging, panorama creation, and sky replacement features.

  • Online Courses: Taking a real estate photography course can accelerate your learning process. Consider enrolling in a comprehensive course like "Picture Perfect Properties" to gain practical insights and techniques.

How to Shoot Real Estate Photography

Now that you have the necessary equipment, here are some real estate photography tips to elevate your images:

  • Make a shot list: Collaborate with your client to create a shot list that includes standard shots and any additional custom requests. This helps you prepare your gear and plan the shoot efficiently.

  • Take your time to prepare: Avoid rushing the job by preparing in advance. Double-check your gear, ensure it's fully functional, and confirm with your client that the property is ready for photography. Being well-prepared saves time and eliminates potential setbacks.

  • Pick the best time: Consider the optimal lighting conditions for both interior and exterior shots. Avoid shooting exteriors against direct sunlight and plan your interior shots based on whether you want natural or artificial lighting.

  • Find the best angle: Experiment with different angles to find the most compelling and visually pleasing composition. Maintain a chest-level camera height to avoid perspective distortion in interior shots.

  • Be careful with reflections: Check for any unwanted reflections, especially when using artificial lights. Ensure no light stands or equipment are visible in mirrors or windows.

  • Be meticulous: Pay attention to details that can enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the property. Remove unnecessary clutter, position objects strategically to create texture and depth, and ensure everything is aligned and visually pleasing.

realestate-lightroom Fig. 2: Example of real estate photo edited in Lightroom.

How to Edit Real Estate Photography

Consistency is crucial in real estate photography. Use editing software like Lightroom to synchronize edits across your images. Here are some key editing steps:

  • Correct white balance: Set the white balance using presets or utilize the eyedropper tool to select a neutral tone or reference a gray card. Sync the white balance settings across images taken under the same lighting conditions.

  • Correct lens distortions: Enable lens corrections in Lightroom to automatically address optical issues. Fine-tune manually if needed, and sync the changes to images captured with the same lens.

  • Correct perspective: Use the Transform module in Lightroom to correct vertical and horizontal distortions caused by your camera's angle of view. Use the manual sliders or the Guided Tool to refine the corrections.

  • Replace the sky: When weather conditions result in a lackluster sky, use tools like Luminar 4's Sky Replacement Tool to remove and replace the sky. Ensure the replacement looks natural and believable.

How to Become a Real Estate Photographer

To become a professional real estate photographer, follow these steps:

  1. Practice as much as possible by capturing photos of your own home and properties of family and friends. This helps you build a portfolio while refining your skills.

  2. Create a dedicated website and social media profiles for your photography business to showcase your work.

  3. Approach local real estate agencies and distribute flyers in your neighborhood to attract potential clients. Consider reaching out to contractors, interior designers, hotels , and magazines that require real estate photography.

  4. Consider assisting a professional photographer to gain further experience and knowledge about the industry.

How Much Does a Real Estate Photographer Make?

The income of a real estate photographer is influenced by various factors, including property size, the number of delivered images, turnaround time, the end goal of the client, and special requests. While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, here are some insights:

  • According to Thumbtack, real estate photographers typically charge between $170 and $230 per assignment, depending on different variables.

  • Income can vary based on location, market demand, and the photographer's reputation and experience.

  • It's essential to factor in expenses when calculating income. Consider costs related to equipment, editing software, marketing, and ongoing education.

  • Building a diverse income stream through additional photography services, stock photography, or architectural photography can contribute to overall earnings.

It's crucial to remain patient and persistent as it takes time to establish a profitable career in real estate photography. Researching local photographers in your area can provide a better understanding of potential earnings.

Final Words

Now armed with these real estate photography tips, it's time to venture out and practice your skills. Share your experiences in the comments section below. We'd love to hear how these tips have helped you in your journey to becoming a successful real estate photographer.