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10 Simple Tips for Impressive Real Estate Photography

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Real estate photography is always in demand. Houses go on and off the market daily. And every agent is battling for the homebuyers’ attention with the best real estate photos.
Doing photography for real estate can seem a little tricky.
But with these few simple real estate photography tips, you’ll produce beautiful, consistent photos. These will have your local real estate industry agents calling you back!

Real estate photography tips for consistency: Example of living room with natural light and corrections applied
This photo takes advantage of natural light and uses no flash. Lines were straightened and distortion was corrected in Lightroom, as well as basic adjustments.

What to Do Before the Shoot

1. Have a Standard Shot List for Each Property

While no two homes are identical, there are typical shots that you’ll always want.

  • 2 wide angle shots of each bedroom, the kitchen, and the living room.
  • 1 photo of the bathroom, unless it’s particularly beautiful or spacious.
  • 1-3 photos of the backyard unless it has some unique features. And then 1-2 shots of the front of the home to show off the ‘curb appeal’.
  • 1 shot each of features such as laundry room, garage, and pantry.

This will help make sure that even if there are distractions, you have a point of reference to make sure that you hit all your must-have shots.
This is also information that you can pass along to the agent you’re working with. They’ll then know what they can expect from your photo shoot.
Knowing what to cover is a very important tip in knowing how to shoot real estate photography.

2. Prepare Your Gear the Night Before

There’s nothing worse than being at a shoot and finding that something isn’t working. A dead battery is a dead shoot.
You may be knowledgeable enough to keep going forward. But having a few items fail means that you need to work on your feet a little more.
Take your charger, and if you have a secondary camera, take that too.
Prepping your gear will include things like charging all batteries, formatting your memory card, packing up your bag.
Look up the address to make sure you’ve scheduled enough time for the drive.
If you have backup gear that you’re able to take with you, be sure to pack those items as well.

Real estate photography tips for consistency: Example of typical well-lit bathroom photo
Bathrooms typically need just one photo for a property listing unless there are unique features or it’s unusually spacious.

What to Do at the Property

3. Declutter

This is one of the most important real estate photography tips. You need to befriend the real estate agent that is in touch with the homeowners.
In our own homes, we get used to bits of clutter building up over time. But all those small items that we don’t notice will stand out in a photo.
Make sure that homeowners keep the surfaces as clear as possible. Countertops, coffee tables, desks, etc.
If you want some decorative items, leave 1-3 items.
In shooting interiors, closets aren’t photographed unless they’re especially spacious or customised.
At most times, a closet is a perfect spot to stash those small items until the photoshoot ends.
Sometimes you’ll arrive at the home and there’s still clutter that you know will not look appealing in the photos. There’s nothing wrong with suggesting that a few extra things be hidden.

4. Walk Through the Home Before You Start Shooting

Each home is different. Getting a feel for the space before picking up the camera will give you an idea of how you want to shoot it.
You’ll start to mentally note the best angles and what small items may need to be moved. This also gives you the opportunity to ask the homeowner to move items.
Additionally, it lets you know which spaces are ready for you. And which spaces may need a few more minutes of tidying up.
Knowing this will let you know in what order you’ll want to start taking real estate photos.

5. Decide: Lights On or Off?

There are valid points for having the lights on or off.
Turning lights on tends to make the space feel warmer and more welcoming instantly. But it introduces varying light temperatures. You will need to balance these when post-processing.
Leaving lights off gives you an even light temperature. But it also often gives off a cold feeling in interior photos.
I take it one property at a time and decide based on what each home would look best with.
Whatever decision you make, be consistent throughout the entire home!

Real estate photography tips for consistency: Bedroom photograph with light balanced using bounce flash
This photo was taken with one flash on the camera, turned to bounce light off of the wall behind me.

What to Keep in Mind During the Shoot

6. Use Flash and Bounce to Diffuse

Agents and homeowners are usually in a rush to put the listing online for potential buyers. And budgets don’t allow for many hours for one listing.
Using a flash unit attached to your camera is one way to help keep you moving from space to space.
When using a flash on your camera, though, be sure to bounce the light off walls so that it’s softened.
If we point the camera flash directly into a space, we get a dreaded bright area in the centre. And then a quick drop to shadow around it.
Turn the flash so that it bounces off a wall behind you, the ceiling right above you, or even one of the side walls. This way you’re allowing that light to diffuse into the space and give a more even look.
I also recommend using your flash on manual mode. This gives you full control of its strength.
I use 1/16th power as a starting point and adjust from there. If you’re shooting towards bright windows, you may want to go as high as full power.

Real estate photography tips for consistency: Side-by-side comparison of ambiently-lit room photographed with and without flash
With no editing at all on either photo, you can see the difference when flash is introduced. Here, the flash was aimed at the ceiling to allow for some diffusion of the light.

7. Shoot Straight for Less Distortion

When shooting different angles, be sure to keep the camera straight. This will help avoid distortion that you’d later need to straighten in Lightroom.
You’ll notice that if you point the camera ever-so-slightly up or down, the vertical lines start to slant. They’ll distort in one direction or the other.
The ideal height for property photography will be at about 5 feet (152.5 cm).
Each home is a bit different. But this is the general height that will look the most natural and feel balanced.
If you go too high up, you start to see too much ceiling and not enough of the liveable area. If you go too low, you start to see too much of the furniture and not enough of the actual room.
This is one of the most important tips on how to shoot real estate photography.

How to Edit Real Estate Photography in Lightroom

8. Correct Distortion Using Lens Correction and Transform

Make sure to apply a lens correction and correct your verticals first. These two settings will make the photo look more polished.
You can find the Lens Correction module within the Detail Module. Check the box that says ‘Enable Profile Corrections’.
Make sure that the lens you used is the one that appears in the pull-down menu under Lens Profile.
Next, jump down to the Transform Module. Check the box that says ‘Constrain Crop’. Then click on the word ‘Auto’.
When you click Auto, you’ll see that box darken, meaning that it’s applied.
Be sure to double-check that it corrected all the lines. If not, you can use the sliders in that module to make adjustments manually.

Annotated screenshots from Lightroom showing Lens Correction features
Here, a before and after with step-by-step indications on how to correct.
A bright and airy real estate photography shot of a living room
Here’s the final photo from the before/after above!

9. Move Up to the Basic Adjustments

The main adjustments I make are lowering highlights, brightening up shadows, deepening blacks, and raising the clarity.
It will take a bit of time to develop your own style and workflow. So go ahead and experiment. Over time, you might just have the right Lightroom preset for every shot.

10. Correct Varying Light Temperatures

If you left lights on inside the rooms, you’ll have some yellow tones. These will look quite different from the bluer sunlight.
It’s always best to balance out these light temperatures as much as possible in Lightroom or Photoshop. That way the photo has a more polished and professional look.
The Adjustment Brush is ideal for this scenario! For the warmer light, select a brush and adjust the light temperature towards blue.
Do this until it looks neutral and blends to the surrounding area.
If using the Adjustment Brush, be sure to increase the brush size, feathering, and brush strength. This will allow for even softer blending.

Conclusion

Property photography or becoming a real estate photographer can be an excellent option for those enjoy photographing interiors.
The best thing is there’s always a need for real estate listings and shooting houses for sale in any part of the world.
To make real estate photography a reliable income stream, or if you want to be a professional photographer in this field, maintain consistency in your process and look.
With the real estate photography tips discussed above, you’ll be on your way to creating a full, consistent portfolio!

Looking for more tips? Check out our new post about the best camera for real estate next!

10 comments
  1. Doing my first real estate shoot tomorrow, and I am a little nervous! This was a BIG help! Thank you so much!

  2. You’ve got some great real estate photography tips here. I love how you said that it’s good to have both the lights on and off. When we have our home shot, we’ll have to consider what’s best for our space.

  3. It’s great you mentioned that before taking pictures of a house that you’re looking to sell, you should declutter the place as best as you can–showing off the essentials at home while making sure to hide away most traces of what makes it your home. another thing to do is to leave a minimal amount of decorative items and make sure that everything is neat and tidy before you start snapping pictures. If I had the chance to take pictures of a house before it goes on sale then I would definitely make sure to have the place as clean and decluttered as possible.

  4. Thanks for every other informative site. The place else may just I am getting that kind of information written in such a perfect approach? I have a project that I am just now working on, and I have been at the glance out for such info

  5. I think R/E photography is a dying profession as more and more agents now shoot the houses with cell phones or cheap DSLR’s. I had an agent laugh at me for wanting $150 to shoot a house.

  6. If I were to sell my home, I would for sure want to get some pictures taken for the listing. Now I could go around and take them with my phone but I do think it would be better to have someone do it for me. As you said, I should walk through the home before they start shooting to ensure that every area is good to go.

  7. That was a great blog with amazing tips and insights for beginners. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful information.

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