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A Comprehensive Guide to Real Estate Photography

How is real estate photography different from any other type of photography?

The real estate markets are jumping again, and that’s great news for budding photographers. Why? Because in the current marketing environment, photos are a determining element in the sale of a home. According to The National Association of Realtors, home-buyers spend 60% of their time looking at images of home listings and only 20% of their time reading the listings, which means that property images need to be professional, interesting and attractive.

This gives photographers more business opportunities. However, like any other business, the world of photography is competitive so you need to be well prepared, passionate and practice to get good at what you do.

So how do you make a real estate photo shoot go well? if you are new to the real estate industry, read on to get some general guidelines on how to do real estate photography in a way that makes your photographic skills stand out.

What You’ll Need

The first thing to be concerned with is your camera equipment. While you can start small, it’s always best to think of additional items that can help you take better shots. To begin with, all you will need is a good camera, a lens, and a tripod. If your budget allows, you might also want to think of getting an external flash for interior shots.

Your Equipment LIst:

  • Wireless triggers
  • A full frame DSLR or Mirrorless camera
  • A wide angle lens
  • External Flash or photographic lighting system

Specifications On The Wide Angle Lens

The wide angle range should be somewhere between 14mm to 18mm with 17mm being the ideal range. This lens is critical in real estate photography as you need to be able to include an entire room in the shot.

Why The Tripod?

In real estate, you often have less than ideal lighting. So unless you live in an area with permanent daylight and perfectly illuminated properties, you need a tripod. Not only will the tripod help you take crisp photos. It also helps you take photos in low light situations. Using a tripod allows you to increase the length of your shutter speed thereby allowing more light into your camera. Increasing the shutter speed of your camera with the use of a tripod can result in blurry images.

What Type of Light is Ideal for Real Estate Photography?

As in all photographic endeavors, you want to make the most of natural light. However, in real estate photography, the timing comes down to the way the property is laid out, and of course, any special needs that the real estate agent or client has. And when you photograph real estate the location of the property is going to affect the light.

In an ideal situation, the sun should be behind the camera. You don’t want the sun behind the property as it will cause an unnatural glare to show up on the photograph otherwise known as lens flare. So the best place to have the sun is behind you. However, because of this position, take shadows into consideration. Keep your shadow and any shadow cast by your equipment from getting into the image.

The House Layout

As mentioned before, the geographic layout of the property also determines the time of day you photograph.

When the property location is:

  • East. The best time to shoot is in the early morning light as the sun is rising and when the light first starts to hit the house.
  • West. In this case, the best time to shoot is late afternoon or early evening, when the sun hits the front of the home
  • North. In the late morning or early afternoon, you can get some good shots of the home.
  • South. Start early here. When the sun rises or just before sunset is the ideal time.  

 

Home Preparation Is Critical to Good Photography

Homeowners need to know that they must get the home prepared for a photos shoot. To ensure that they do everything to prepare the home for a photo shoot, you can create a home preparation list. This is a basic list to follow:

  • Remove vehicles from the curb and driveway
  • Declutter
  • Remove personal Items from rooms to be photographed
  • Ensure that furniture is correctly placed
  • If there are pets in the household make sure they do not enter the frame when shooting

Emphasize to the real estate agent and the homeowner the importance of a clean, organized home, one without any personal items in view. They must remove as much clutter as possible. This makes the property ready to be photographed.

Preparing for the Real Estate Shoot

Avoid frustrations and having to deal with angry clients by preparing for the shoot beforehand. Coordinate the shoot with the real estate agent or homeowner and call the day before to confirm the shoot. By getting in touch a day before, you might avoid last-minute cancellations or a forgotten appointment. You also want to make sure the agent has prepared the home as needed. While speaking with the homeowner or agent, be sure to get information about any specific photographs he/she might need.  These photographs might be of a special home feature such as a fireplace, a backyard, a special kitchen shot or any other special area of the home.

Day of The Photo Shoot

Even though you prepared for the shoot and you called the day before, be sure to reach out to the client again the just before the appointment. Understand that sometimes it is difficult to get homeowners and real estate agents ready for a photo shoot, and you want to avoid last-minute cancellations as much as possible.

The Photo Shoot Appointment

Once you arrive, approach the homeowner (and, or agent) in a friendly manner. Make them feel comfortable. It is always helpful to do a tour of the home before you begin. This way, you get a chance to find out what key features they believe are important. It also lets you see the home layout. At this time you can also mention last-minute moves or changes to furniture and lighting that will make the photographs stand out.  

Walk Through And Turn On Lights

Be sure to turn on all the lights when you shoot interiors. This makes the atmosphere seem more inviting in the images. In areas where there is not enough light move a lamp to the room from another area of the home.

How to Get Good Photos

Don’t skimp on photographs.. Take enough photos so that you have extras and can choose the best shots. Besides, you may find that the homeowner and the real estate agent will want extra photographs.

Photo Shoot Tricks to Think About

  • Take a lot of shots of the exteriors and use different distances and choose different angles. Be sure to avoid your reflection in windows and on the lawn.
  • Avoid placing the For Sale sign in any of the photos.  
  • Take the weather into account, but consider that some cloudy days can make for great photos. However, you should take exterior photos with an HDR camera.
  • Use the alignment grid in the viewfinder to make sure that all lines are level.

 

Taking Exterior Photographs

Do not take photos of the front of the house from straight on as this is probably not the most flattering take. The driveway usually comes out foreshortened and a front shoot usually makes it hard for the viewer to tell how large the home is. A better angle is to take photographs from the corners of the property.

Shooting the house from different points gives you a better perspective of the home and shows off more of the landscaping. Be sure to get shots of home features that potential buyers may like. Frame the walkways and decks within the shots.

In the end, it is practice. Do your own research by flipping through different real estate photographs to see which angles look best. Try different takes and use photo editing software to enhance your images to a degree.

Jason Danzi
jasond58@gmail.com
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