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How to Best Shoot Real Estate Photography: A Complete Guide

Last updated: April 18, 2024 - 19 min read
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Impressive real estate photography is hard to master, but it is achievable with a few key points in mind. The main goal in the real estate genre of photography is to make a building as appealing and idyllic as possible. The purpose is to sell or entice people to visit the building you photograph.

Today, we provide all the top tips surrounding real estate photography. We guide you through techniques and gear and even provide some legal information to remember. Each section links to an article that goes even more in-depth, so click these for more information.

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What Is Real Estate Photography?

Real estate photography involves taking professional photographs of properties for sale or rent. Clients then use these photos to market the properties. This gives potential buyers or renters the best visual representation of the spaces.

This section provides an informative look into real estate photography. We provide basic pointers for photographers. If you are a complete beginner, this is where you should start.

Anyone with a good eye can be a competent real estate photographer; it just takes time and skill. Unlike wildlife or street photography, your subject stays still, so it is about how you position yourself within the space.

The real difficulty comes from fine-tuning the position of every piece of furniture or other objects in the frame.


Our Guide to Take Real Estate Photos

Real estate photography is a lucrative niche for photographers. To take great property photos, start by learning the basics of interior photography. Crucial factors are using natural light when possible and paying close attention to composition.

As you improve your skills, aim to create magazine-worthy images. Work with the client to highlight the property’s best features. Wide-angle lenses are ideal for capturing entire rooms.

Editing is the final step in real estate photography. Adjust exposure, white balance, and angles to enhance your images. Avoid unrealistic effects that create false impressions.

Property photography is a rewarding field that combines technical skill and creativity. You can build a successful business and capture stunning real estate photos with practice. Use these links to jump to the section you need most:

  1. Composition and lighting
  2. Real estate photography niches
  3. Shooting techniques
  4. Recommended gear
  5. Starting a real estate photography business



Composition and Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important elements in real estate photography. You want the viewer to see clearly into the space to better understand it. So, your exposure should contain no dark shadows and little bright light.

Natural light is ideal in this genre. Shooting exteriors at twilight is a great way to make beautiful real estate images.

But natural light can often cause harsh shadows inside buildings, especially in rooms with small windows. Thus, it’s best to add light to these dark spaces, using added flash and reflectors.


Good lighting is essential for real estate photography. Natural light is the best source, so open the windows and curtains to let the sun in. Avoid shooting interiors at sunset when the light changes color quickly.

A bounced flash can reveal details in the shadows without producing harsh shadows elsewhere. Adjust camera settings for the correct exposure, then adjust flash power to only affect the shadows. These settings keep the main light from the window for a natural look.

Sometimes, light fixtures are a feature of the property. In these cases, merge multiple exposures into a single HDR image to maintain details in both highlights and shadows. Check out this in-depth guide to learn more about lighting for real estate photography.

lighting for real estate photography

Shoot at Twilight

Twilight real estate photography can make your listings stand out. To capture stunning twilight photos, turn on all the property’s lights before sunset.

Use a tripod to avoid any camera shake. And wait patiently for the perfect moment to balance the sky’s light with the artificial lighting.

Focus on capturing one great shot, then quickly take some secondary shots from different angles. Use a flash to brighten dark areas or HDR techniques to reveal more details in the highlights and shadows.

You can replace the sky in post-processing for a more dramatic look. Be sure to color-correct any mismatched lights and not overprocess the image.

Twilight real estate photography is an art that can help attract more clients, but it’s important to keep the final image realistic. We have a comprehensive guide available for those who want to learn more about twilight real estate photography.



Real Estate Photography Niches

Real estate photography is always in demand. Every agent is battling for homebuyers’ attention with the best property photos.

Shooting professional real estate photography can seem tricky at first. But with these simple tips, you’ll produce beautiful, consistent images that will have agents calling you back every time!

Use a wide-angle lens to capture tight spaces and make rooms look more spacious. A tripod stabilizes your camera and prevents motion blur. Strobes or flashes are essential tools, especially in poorly lit homes.

Declutter surfaces before shooting and use a flash to bounce light off walls for even illumination. Keep the camera straight to avoid distortion and shoot from about five feet for a natural, balanced look.

Correct distortion, adjust highlights and shadows, and make light temperatures consistent when editing. Real estate photography can be a reliable income stream if you maintain consistency in your process and practice.


There are a few pointers to consider when creating magazine-worthy interior photography. One is to turn off all the lights to keep the light temperature even and avoid distracting shadows.

Another is to use layers by bracketing three to four exposures. Then, blend them for a natural HDR look. Also, avoid going too wide—stick to 24mm or tighter to emphasize design elements.

It is helpful to let composition guide your shots using principles like the rule of thirds, leading lines, and depth. Create depth by styling objects from foreground to background.

Clear away clutter and add small styling touches to make the space look its best. Fine details are noticeable in real estate photography. Use natural light as much as possible, bouncing or diffusing artificial light to maintain a natural look.

You may want to tether your camera to a laptop so your client can participate in the shoot. Before the shoot, you can also visit the location to plan the best shots and gear to bring.

Capturing beautiful interior photography takes time and attention to detail. But following these tips will help you identify the key points to consider.

interior photography


Taking professional-looking Airbnb photos is important for getting more bookings. Start by tidying up the space and arranging items to make it look inviting. Open the curtains and shoot using natural light, preferably around sunrise or sunset.

Shoot from the corners of the room to show more details. Compose your shots using the rule of thirds or golden ratio. Make sure horizontal and vertical lines are straight.

Highlight any special amenities that make your listing unique, like a fireplace or included breakfast. Take photos of the building exterior and nearby attractions, but don’t include house numbers or street names. Use a tripod to keep your shots sharp and avoid heavy editing to keep things realistic.

Airbnb photography takes some practice, but with these tips, you’ll be on your way to stunning images to help your listing stand out.



Hotel photography is all about selling an experience. Use a wide-angle lens to capture stunning hotel photos and shoot from creative angles. Pay attention to composition and use the rule of thirds to create appealing images.

Lighting is key in hotel photography. Use natural light when possible and avoid flash, which can create false impressions. Try “motivated lighting” to imitate natural light if you need artificial lighting.

Remember to photograph the hotel exterior and special amenities, like spas or stunning views. Through subtle branding elements and atmosphere, highlight the hotel’s unique personality.

By capturing inviting spaces and maybe including some human presence, your photos will make guests eager to book a stay. Check out our in-depth guide for more tips on creating incredible hotel photography.

hotel photography



The main photographic technique you should familiarize yourself with is HDR. This technique uses different photos and exposures to ensure no highlight or shadow is too extreme. Pros stitch their images together in Photoshop, picking the right exposure for each image section.

Drones are being used much more in modern real estate photography. Aerial cameras are a great way to get beautiful scenic shots of the building and the surrounding areas. Drones are also helpful for taking videos, which is almost as important in high-end real estate photography.


HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a technique for capturing a wide range of light in a single image. It works by blending multiple exposures to create a final photo that looks more like what the human eye sees.

This technique is especially useful in real estate and interior photography. In these genres, bright windows and dark shadows are often in the same shot.

To shoot HDR, start with a base exposure you have properly exposed for the scene. Then, take one or two darker exposures to capture the bright areas and one or two brighter exposures for the shadows.

Some photo editing applications have automatic HDR stitching abilities. If not, you must layer these exposures together and mask the parts you want visible from each layer in Photoshop.

When editing, be careful not to overdo it. Leave some natural contrast between the interior and exterior for a realistic look. HDR is a powerful tool, but you should use it in moderation.

If you’d like to explore HDR real estate photography further, we have a detailed guide that covers everything you need to know.

hdr real estate photography


Drone photography takes real estate photos to new heights. Drones capture stunning aerial shots that give potential buyers a better view of the house and surrounding area. This unique view can make a property stand out and increase the chances of a sale.

To get started with real estate drone photography, you’ll need a high-quality camera drone. Look for a drone with at least 12 megapixels, 4K video, and good flight stability. Popular options include the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

When shooting real estate drone photos, aim to highlight the property’s best features. Include shots of nearby parks, cafes, or other appealing facilities.

Capture the neighborhood layout and environment to give buyers a sense of the area. And don’t forget basic photography principles like composition and exposure.

Combining drone tech with solid photo skills lets you create compelling real estate images that grab attention. Check out our comprehensive guide to dive deeper into real estate drone photography.



Real Estate Photography Gear

We recommend a good camera for real estate photography, but the most important piece of kit is the lens. You can take real estate photos with basic lenses, even your iPhone. But you will soon realize the limitations.

A wide-angle lens is the best lens for real estate photography. You can use the wide-angle lens on your smartphone, but these lenses tend to converge the edges, making straight lines look curved.

In this section, we discuss the best real estate cameras and lenses in more depth. We have split the lens sections into the top three camera brands. From here, you can find a great lens for your camera, no matter what size sensor it has.

Best Cameras

Let’s now discuss some important points to consider when choosing the best camera for real estate photography.

Full-frame mirrorless cameras are ideal. Their larger sensors capture more light, which is important when photographing interior spaces. Full-frame cameras also work with high-end lenses that further improve image quality.

Look for a camera with at least 20 MP (megapixels). A higher resolution is good but not critical for real estate photos.

Built-in Wi-Fi is useful for quickly transferring photos to a smartphone, laptop, or tablet. These devices are a great way to get a bigger view of your shot. You can then fine-tune the composition and position of objects in the frame.

Video features are a bonus for real estate photographers who must also capture property videos. The ability to record 4K video is nice but not a must. Basic HD video is enough for most real estate needs.

The best camera for real estate photography depends on your budget and needs. But any recent Canon, Nikon, Sony, or Fujifilm camera should work well.

Our Top 3 Choices for Full-Frame Mirrorless Real Estate Cameras
Panasonic Lumix DC-S5
Panasonic Lumix DC-S5
Panasonic Lumix DC-S5
Sony a7R IV
Sony a7R IV
Sony a7R IV
Canon EOS R3
Canon EOS R3
Canon EOS R3

Best Lenses

When choosing a lens for real estate photography, a wide-angle zoom is ideal. It lets you capture entire rooms, even in tight spaces. The Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM is a fantastic option for beginners with a Canon APS-C camera.

This affordable lens has a 10mm focal length, perfect for shooting interiors. Built-in image stabilization ensures sharp images in low light, and the autofocus motor is fast and reliable.

The Nikon AF-S DX 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED is another excellent choice for real estate photography. It’s compatible with Nikon F-mount DX cameras and delivers edge-to-edge clarity. For Fujifilm users, the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS provides a lovely 10mm wide angle and effective optical image stabilization.

Lenses for real estate photography are crucial tools for capturing stunning property images. Investing in a quality wide-angle zoom will greatly improve your real estate photography.

lens for real estate photography

Canon Lenses

The best Canon lenses for real estate photography offer sharpness at wide angles. They are versatile enough to showcase any property in its best light.

Our top pick is the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, praised for its sharpness at wide angles. The Canon RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM is great for mirrorless users. It has crisp optics, image stabilization, and a constant max aperture.

Seven more EF and RF options are available. The EF series offers sharpness and longevity, while the RF lineup has cutting-edge technology. There’s a lens to fit every real estate photography need.

Read our article for more options for the best Canon lenses for real estate photography.

Our Top 2 Canon Lenses for Real Estate Photography
Canon EF 17-40mm F/4L USM
Canon EF 17-40mm F/4L USM
Canon EF 17-40mm F/4L USM
Canon RF 14-35mm F/4L IS USM
Canon RF 14-35mm F/4L IS USM
Canon RF 14-35mm F/4L IS USM

Nikon Lenses

The best Nikon lenses for real estate photography offer a wide field of view and sharp image quality. Our top pick is the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S, which delivers exceptional clarity and versatility with its ultra-wide to wide zoom range. The constant f/2.8 aperture performs well in low light.

The Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is the best option for Nikon DSLR users. Photographers praise this popular lens for its flexibility and edge-to-edge sharpness. It has a durable build with weather sealing for outdoor use.

Other great Nikon lenses for real estate include the Z 20mm f/1.8 S prime, the compact Z 28mm f/2.8, and the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM zoom. To learn more about the top Nikon lenses for real estate photography, we have an in-depth guide covering 10 of the best options.

Our Top 2 Nikon Lenses for Real Estate Photography
Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-24mm F/2.8 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-24mm F/2.8 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-24mm F/2.8 S
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F/2.8G ED
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F/2.8G ED
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F/2.8G ED

Sony Lenses

The Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS is our top choice for real estate photography with Sony cameras. Its ultra-wide 10-18mm zoom range is perfect for capturing expansive interior spaces. The constant f/4 aperture ensures consistent exposure across the zoom range.

This lens delivers sharp images throughout its focal range, especially at the center. At just 225 grams, it’s also compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry between properties. The built-in Optical SteadyShot helps minimize camera shake in low-light situations.

Sony offers excellent camera lens options to capture stunning real estate images. Whether you need an ultra-wide perspective of 10-18mm or the versatility of 16-55mm, there’s a lens to suit your needs.

Our Top 3 Sony Lenses for Real Estate Photography
Sony E 10-18mm F/4 OSS SEL1018
Sony E 10-18mm F/4 OSS SEL1018
Sony E 10-18mm F/4 OSS SEL1018
Sony E 16-55mm F/2.8 G SEL1655G
Sony E 16-55mm F/2.8 G SEL1655G
Sony E 16-55mm F/2.8 G SEL1655G
Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM SEL1224GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM SEL1224GM
Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM SEL1224GM

Real Estate Photography Business

If you have practiced real estate photography and want to start making money from it, this section is for you! We cover tips for getting jobs and certain steps you can take to approach clients.

We also describe and explain some legal forms required when practicing real estate photography. Finally, we will cover a difficult subject: pricing. Photographers always struggle with this, but our guide will help.

How to Start a Business

Starting a real estate photography business requires careful planning. Create a business plan with your vision and goals. Decide on your niche, like high-end properties or Airbnb photography.

Do market research to understand your competitors and target audience. Then, choose a memorable business name that reflects your brand.

You should also estimate your costs and income and decide your rates and services. Next, complete the legal paperwork, such as forming a business entity and registering for taxes.

Creating a website showcasing your best portfolio images is also good. Reach out to potential clients through networking events and cold calling. Be active on social media to attract clients. And ask for reviews!

To start a real estate photography business, you must invest time, money, and attention.

start a real estate photography business

How to Make Money

Getting paid to take pictures of houses is a great way to turn your passion for photography into a career. To get started, research your area’s real estate photography market.

Find out what services are in demand and what rates are typical. Create a basic website showcasing your best work and outlining your services and prices.

Develop a smooth process for working with clients, from the initial contact to delivering the final photos. Use a simple contract that covers what you’ll deliver, your rates, and ownership of the photos. Offer quick turnaround times and an easy method for clients to view and download the images.

Attend real estate events to network with potential clients. Join local business groups and spread the word through friends and family. And share your work on social media to build your reputation as a real estate photographer.

With research, a professional workflow, and networking, you can build a successful business and get paid to take pictures of houses!

get paid to take pictures of houses

Property Release Form

A property release form is a written contract between a photographer and the owner. It gives the photographer permission to use images of the property. It can cover artistic, commercial, or editorial purposes.

The document protects both party’s rights. The form might include details like length of time, licensing regulations, and financial terms.

Also, a property release form needs both parties’ names, addresses, dates, and signatures to be legally binding. Landscape, street, and architectural photographers often need these forms for clients to use their images in magazines or ads.

While public spaces like shopping centers and city squares let people pass through, they are often privately owned. You generally need a permit to use these areas professionally, especially with a tripod.

Maybe you plan to sell your images through a stock photography website or use the area for a professional shoot with models. If so, a signed property release form is important to avoid legal issues.

A property release form is valuable for any photographer working in private spaces.

property release form

Marketing Techniques

We now provide some real estate photography marketing tips to get more customers. You may want to ask for referrals from friends, family, and clients. Also, ensure you have a great website with your portfolio ready. It’s best to have high-quality photos to impress potential clients.

Create targeted social media ad campaigns to attract your audience. Use spectacular photos like twilight shots for the cover image. Behind-the-scenes videos or before and after comparisons could also go viral.

Attend local business networking events to build valuable relationships. Bring business cards and flyers, and be prepared to present yourself well. Look for real estate agents or brokers interested in your services.

Real estate photography marketing requires a multi-faceted approach. By implementing these tips, you can attract more clients and grow your business.

real estate photography marketing

Contract Ideas

A real estate photography contract is an important document. It outlines the terms and expectations for both the photographer and the client. It should include basic information like both parties’ names and contact details, the property address, and the shoot date.

The contract must clearly define the scope of the agreement. Details might include the number of photos to be delivered and any extra services, such as drone or twilight shots.

Payment terms are also crucial. It’s important to specify the deposit amount, final payment, and any extra fees for things like travel expenses or extra editing.

Another important point is the requirement that the property be clean and styled. It’s also vital to include image delivery details and photo usage rights. To be legally valid, both parties should sign and date the contract.

We have a detailed guide if you want to learn more about real estate photography contracts.

real estate photography contract


Setting your real estate photography pricing can be challenging. Researching your local market and determining competitors’ rates is important. Consider the region you work in, as prices can vary between big cities and rural areas.

Talk to clients to explore their needs and decide if you want to focus on quality or quantity. You can streamline your process to do more standard listings or take more time with each shoot for high-end properties.

Set a limit for the number of photos your basic package includes. And charge more for extra images.

When setting prices, factor in all aspects of your business. Costs may include client communication, transport costs, gear, and post-processing. To differentiate yourself from competitors, offer a quick turnaround for an extra fee.

Read our complete guide to learn more about real estate photography pricing.

real estate photography pricing