Tips for Real Estate Photography
( Here in this section you can find some tips straight out from my recent 5 years of active experience in real estate photography and videography. I hope it will help you improve your skills, whether you are a realtor or just a starter photography! Good luck on your journey! :)
We can divide those tips connected with real estate photography into 3 sections:
2. Photography & Camera
3. Environment related
Let's start with the 1st one.
Now, while all 3 aspects mentioned above are very important, this is the very 1st stage, and the rest two and the final results can really depend on the pre-planning, and if it goes wrong, then it can be very hard to improve anything later on. Here is why.
Doesn't matter how you calculate and formulate your pricing, always ask enough questions to your client to gather all the necessary information before you head to the shooting. I know, sometimes it can be a rush order, maybe their main photographer had an emergency issue or whatever and canceled last day.. whatever it is.
The type of information you need to gather are like those:
How big is the property? (the house, backyard/front yard), are there any additional structures that needed to be captured? (like barn, extra garage, guest house etc.), will videography be necessary as well? will drone(aerial) photo or video be necessary as well? Where exactly the property is located? etc.
All these questions help you to have an almost complete idea what are going to deal with. How much time approximately will it take from you. What gear will you need to use and prepare. How far you are going to drive. If drone is needed, then pre-check if there is any restrictions or maybe authorization needed for a certain airspace etc.
The other very important thing is which direction is the house facing and how is the conditions of close by surroundings? Now, why this is important.
One of my main principals is, whenever is possible, try to always get a nice sunlight on the "face" of the house (the main entrance, the main exterior image)! Again, whenever it's possible. There will be dozens of times when it's not physically possible. For example the house is facing towards North, and the main entrance never gets a proper and direct sunshine.. Or let's say they have a hill, or a forest or a building blocking the direct sunshine etc. Or simply it's a cloudy day, like the many ones we have here in Portland, Oregon :) That's why I mentioned, whenever it's possible.. Many times my clients don't even know, and I try to figure that out with the help of Google Earth or other programs/apps etc. For me, it's important because usually buyers get caught with the main (hero) image of the listings, which is that "face" of the house, and if that is lit buy a nice natural sunshine, that gives you and them an amazing and attractive feeling. I will bring some examples from my own work here so you see the differences. So if it's facing to the East, then shoot in the morning time (ask the owners when it's get the nice sunlight, usually I shoot around 10am), and if it faces to West, then start with interior, do all the things, and towards the evening (not too late, as it will be a twilight shot, that's different and you can charge extra for that!) shoot the main entrance of the building.
A quick tips: If only back side of the house is getting the sunlight, for example in the late afternoon or evening, then not a problem, use that and plan so, that for example you do the front exterior, interior and then, at the very end the back side. In that case you will still use that nice natural light on some part of the house.
Photography & Camera!
I know, you might have many questions about this sections, however, I will try to make it easier for you to get the main idea. For example, I won't suggest you to use specific brand camera or lens or tripod or drone, but will tell you the general requirments market needs and what I personally use as of for now ( January, 2023). So here is what you need to start doing high quality real estate photos:
1. High quality camera! - doesn't matter DSLR or Mirrorless (if you are just going to buy one, I personally would go for mirrorless). By saying high quality first of all I meant Full Frame! Also, it's very important and necessary, that your camera can shoot in Multi Exposure and at least 5 exposures or better 7. Well there are certain software which I used to use with my 5D Mark II camera (which did not have more than 3 multi exposure) but those software are not safe for your camera and can really destroy the firmware. Most new good cameras have it though.
The reason it is important, is because you are going to take all your images in multiple exposures and then merge it later on Photoshop or Lightroom, as the most of the times interiors have so many different light and shadows in it (especially the view out of the window and all the rest within the room), that single exposure can't handle it nicely as multi exposure does.
I personally use Canon 5D Mark IV (and Canon 5D Mark II as a backup)
2. Wide angle (again - High quality!) lens - now, lens is very-very important, not only in real estate but in photography in general! And for real estate, the wide angle is especially important, but you don't want to go crazy wide, like fish eye or even 12mm, as those very wide ones will curve your lines which you 100% want to avoid! Remember! You need STRAIT LINES in your real estate photography! Not curved, not tilted, but Strait!!!
The reason why wide angle is important, is because first of all we want to get as much information in one image as possible, at the same time not going crazy and unnaturally wide or panoramic, so let's say you do an angle or strait shot of the room and you want to catch part of the windows on the right side and the bathroom door on the left side, with non-wide lens it might not be possible, but wide angle will give you that privilege.
I personally use Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide lens, and I think 15 or 16mm is the maximum wide you want to go..
3. Tripod -