All it takes is one high-quality shot of an open-concept living space bathed in natural light to get a potential buyer to call their real estate agent. Or does it? Real estate photography is in a class of its own. It requires multiple angles of every room, captured in the best light, at the right time of year, and impeccable design taste for staging.
If you have ever perused the top real estate apps for a home or apartment, you have probably noticed the difference between good and bad real estate photography. So, how can you make sure your real estate photography stands out in a sea of other homes? Read on to learn how to recognize, take, and edit professional grade real estate photos, even if you’re a photography beginner.
What are the Biggest Challenges of Real Estate Photography
As with any photography project, the goal of real estate photography is to compel the viewer with an image that inspires them to either think differently or take action. Real estate photos in particular are carefully composed and edited to sell a product with a heavy price tag: a person’s dream home.
But a photo subject as big as a home can present a photographer with various challenges. Here are a few of the most common considerations when thinking about how to take real estate photos.
Before walking into a house, it’s almost impossible to know all of the light sources for your interior shots. Natural light is the ideal light source for real estate photos, but it can’t be guaranteed. And you definitely can’t know in advance where the shadows will be cast on furniture and walls.
Real estate photography tip: if there are shadows, you can edit them out in post production.
Typically, the best light of the day is in the morning or afternoon. This is when you’ll have the most steady natural light (compared to shifting light sources at sunrise, sunset, or the fleeting golden hour). We recommend avoiding taking real estate images around sunset. It may get too dark too quickly, and you can’t predict how the sun will shift.
Sunlight is your best light source, so make sure all of the shades are pulled open and that interior lights are turned off. Interior lights cast more shadows and can alter the true colors of the room’s finishes like walls and flooring.
Angles and Space
Have you ever tried to take a photo of a 100 square-foot bedroom? Finding the best angles in a cramped space for interior photography can pose a challenge to even the most seasoned professional real estate photographer.
Real estate photography tip: Capture the charm of a potentially cramped space by propping your camera on a tripod in a doorway or in a flexible space that allows for optimal maneuvering. Alternatively, use a wide-angle lens to capture a small space in a wider field of view.
Nothing ruins a good real estate photo more quickly than clutter. That’s why staging a home is usually a good idea. It helps the potential buying imagine themself living in your listing. But nobody fantasizes about a crowded pantry or a disheveled playroom.
Real estate photography tip: Before arriving at a real estate photo shoot, be sure to visit the home ahead of time to identify the spaces that need decluttering or staging. Have a conversation with the homeowners and encourage them to spruce up their home if they don’t go the staging route. Even a bit of organizing here and there can make the space much more presentable and appealing.
In the example below, we show a kitchen table that has not been tidied up. It makes the space feel lived in, which is the opposite of move-in ready.
What Do You Need For Real Estate Photography?
The right (or wrong) equipment can make or break your real estate photography business. Like any other type of photography, having the right equipment and editing tools can help get your business booming. And in this case, having the right real estate photography equipment can get your listings noticed. Here are a few basics to get you started.
First and foremost, a professional photographer needs a camera. From the beginner’s level digital SLR to the more advanced cameras, the options can seem endless. You can find many DSLR cameras at varying prices that will help you capture high-quality images. DSLRs are best for photographers who want to manually adjust shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to customize the look and feel of their photos.
While blurry photos are trendy now, you need to keep your real estate photos in focus. Keep your shots steady, even with slower shutter speeds in low lighting, to capture the clearest and most accurate photos of the space.
Taking hand-held photos can be tricky because of the risk of movement. A tripod can also allow more light to enter the camera by keeping it steady as your camera captures a long exposure.
Many real estate photographers rely on tripods to steady their shots and get angles that a hand-held camera can’t quite capture. If you’re using a tripod, you might also use a remote trigger to remotely release your camera’s shutter and take a photo without you actually having to press the button on the camera.
Natural lighting in an indoor space can be unpredictable. Consider investing in an external flash unit to add bright, high-quality lighting to any room. This might not be the first thing you think of when thinking about real estate photography equipment, but it’s a great way to ensure you are in control of your lighting. External flash units can easily be moved from room to room to light specific areas and adjust the shadows in others.
Investing in a wide-angle lens is critical to your real estate photography business. Wide-angle lenses can capture an entire room with ease, which comes in handy when you’re working in a tight space that can’t quite fit in your viewfinder.
Photo Editing Software
Good real estate photos don’t just happen. No matter how great your camera is, most professional photos need some retouching. Investing in an all-in-one photo editing platform like Picsart allows you to easily enhance the quality of your images. Creating your own presets and using tools like the batch editor will easily do a lot of the photo editing work for you at scale.
Aerial photography can add a wow factor for potential buyers looking for something special. It enables online viewers to get a birds eye view of their potential home and neighborhood. Consider the rising popularity of drone photography in recent years.
Keep in mind that drone photography can be expensive depending on the camera and requires a license to operate in some areas.
One of the best ways to showcase your real estate photography business is with an online portfolio. With so many portfolio website templates available online, it’s easy to find one that suits your style and shows off your unique content. Take your promotion one step further by creating a social media account and connecting with realtors and other professional real estate photographers to expand your network.
7 Real Estate Photography Tips
- Be Prepared
Many common real estate photography challenges can be avoided by simply putting in the prep work. Plan for and schedule a walk-through of the home prior to the shoot date to familiarize yourself with its layout. Use this walk through to identify potential flaws that can be fixed before spending the day working around them or to get the right props. Get a sense of the areas and angles to highlight and ask to clean up any unsightly clutter, stains, or scuffs.
- Find Your Light
The moment you enter a room, you can immediately tell where the light source comes from. Of course, large windows and glass doors will be your best friends during any real estate photo shoot, so the goal is to find those sources of light and prepare to shoot in a way that highlights everything they light up.
While natural lighting is important for interior shots, consider the view looking out of the windows as well. For example, if the house gets a stellar view of the sunset or the city at night, consider that in the timing of your shoot.
- Learn Your Camera’s Manual and Automatic Settings
Whether you’re just starting out as a professional real estate photographer or you’re a seasoned pro, be sure to brush up on your camera’s settings. Lighting can change, rooms can seem smaller than you expect, or you might forget an essential piece of camera equipment. Having advanced knowledge of your camera’s settings can set you up for success.
- Stage the Home and Declutter
A critical part of preparing for any photo shoot includes scouting the location for potential shots. Another is staging. Visit the home prior to the photo shoot date to understand what types of furniture and props you have to work with. Make staging recommendations that will present the home and each of its spaces in the best way possible. Be sure to check with the homeowner if they are comfortable with you moving around their things.
You may also scout the home for decorative accents and move around furniture and props from one room to another to create a more intimate and inviting scene. As always, be sure shots are free of clutter.
- Protect Identities
Remove (or ask the real estate agent to remove) any items that would reveal the identity of the seller. Things like kid’s toys, family photos, and framed degrees don’t belong in your promotional shots.
- Open the Shades
Let the light in! Open all of the blinds, curtains, or shades that may be covering those gorgeous windows. A sheer shade can help filter some of the direct light that may come in during brighter times of the day. Be sure to let every ounce of natural light in to capture the true beauty of each space or item you photograph.
- Invest in Quality Gear
This tip can not be understated. While you may be able to find less expensive equipment, quality matters. A quick scan of luxurious real estate listings will show you what the most discriminating homebuyers expect. If you’re not comfortable investing top dollar in your gear, visit a specialized camera shop to learn what they recommend to photographers of all levels.
Seasoned photographers might be re-selling their gently used equipment as they upgrade to newer models. Be sure to check local online marketplace listings for any items that you could add to your photography tool belt.
How to Edit Real Estate Photography Like a Professional
High quality listing photos can help get a house get noticed faster. So, consider using Picsart’s in-app and online photo editing tools to help you quickly edit high-quality real estate photographs. Follow the steps below to edit your top shots.
On the Picsart App
Step 1) Open the Picsart app and tap on the plus sign at the bottom of your screen to start a new edit. Tap on All Photos at the top right of your screen to open your camera roll and upload your photo.
Step 2) Tap on fX to open the Filters tools and slide across to find the best one for your image. For real estate photography, we recommend something natural, light, and brightening.
Pro tip: You can also add other edits in the step. Tap on Tools at the bottom of your screen to explore the different tools available. The clone tool can help you easily clean up any unsightly textures or items that should not be in your shot.
For more specific edits to brightness, contrast, and saturation, tap on the Adjust icon in the Tools section. Remove shadows and highlights and adjust the temperature of the colors in the photo by playing around with their levels.
Step 3) Before we can add text, let’s add a grey box in the corner to help your text stand out. Tap in the Draw tool and tap on Shape. Select the shape and color fill of your choice. We went with a translucent dark grey here so it doesn’t block out the image behind it.
Step 4) Tap on the Text tool, type your text, select a professional font, and reposition the text over the grey box to make it easier to read.
Step 5) When finished making edits, tap on Next at the top right of your screen. Save your image to your camera roll or post it to your social accounts to promote your latest listing.
Step 1) Open the Picsart web editor to get started. Click on New Project and upload a photo from your device to begin editing.
Step 2) First, let’s resize your image. Here, we’re editing the real estate listing image so you can promote it on Facebook. Tap on the Fit tool, then select Facebook Ad to automatically resize your image into the perfect ad dimensions.
Step 3) Now, let’s prep our ad for text by adding a grey shape to it. Tap on the Shape tool and select the shape, color, and fill of your choosing.
Step 4) Tap on the Text tool to select the professional font of your choice. Add text, resize it, and reposition it over the shape you chose.
Pro tip: If you’d like to further edit your photo, click on the Adjust icon above your photo. Adjust the details of your photo by increasing or decreasing brightness, contrast, clarity, and saturation. Slide the Amount bar to set the value to your desired amount.
Step 4) Once you’re done editing, click on the Export button at the top right of your screen to save your image to your computer.
Picsart is a full ecosystem of free-to-use content, powerful tools, and creator inspiration. With a billion downloads and more than 150 million monthly active creators, Picsart is the world’s largest creative platform. Picsart has collaborated with major artists and brands like BLACKPINK, the Jonas Brothers, Lizzo, Sanrio: Hello Kitty, I am a Voter, Bebe Rexha, Maroon 5, One Direction, Warner Bros. Entertainment, iHeartMedia, Condé Nast, and more. Download the app or start editing on web today to enhance your photos and videos with thousands of quick and easy editing tools, trendy filters, fun stickers, and brilliant backgrounds. Unleash your creativity and upgrade to Gold for premium perks!