Updated: Aug 12
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 photographer! Good luck on your journey! :)
We can divide those tips connected with real estate photography into 2 sections:
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 on special apps, 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/Maps or other programs/apps etc. For me, it's important because usually buyers get "caught"/attracted 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 them a nice, warm and attractive feeling.
A quick tip: If only back side of the house is getting the sunlight, for example in the late afternoon or evening, then use that fact and plan so, that you do the front exterior, interior and then, at the very end the back exterior side. In that case you will still use that nice natural light on at least one part of the house.
I know, you might have many questions about this sections, however, I will try to make it simple and easier for you to get the main idea.
I don't want to suggest you to use specific brand camera or lens or tripod or drone, as there is a huge diversity in the market now, and there are lots of great products for each taste and personal preferences, but I will share with you the general requirements of the market's needs and what I personally use as of for now (2023). So here is the equipment you may need, to start doing high quality real estate photography and videography:
1. High quality camera! - doesn't matter DSLR or Mirrorless (if you are just going to buy one, I personally would go for mirrorless, as the whole market is shifting mostly towards mirrorless now).
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 is a 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 as nicely as multi exposure does.
I personally use Canon 5D Mark IV (and Canon 5D Mark II as a backup) (click on the name in yellow to get yours from Amazon!)
2. Wide angle (again - High quality!) lens
Now, lens is very-very important, not only in the 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 not really recommended, as those very wide ones will curve your lines which you 100% want to avoid! Around 15-16mm should be great! (we are talking about full frame! don't forget). Remember! You need STRAIGHT LINES in your real estate photography! Not curved, not tilted, but Straight!!!
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 straight 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 might get the III version of it, as I like it a lot.
3. Tripod - There are tons of great tripods and also, which is very important, tripod heads for different purposes in photography. You need such tripods & heads, which have the functions to show you the straight lines (the Fluid Movements). This is the one I use for 5 years now and love it: Manfrotto Photo-Movie Tripod Head
3. Gimbale (Stabilizer) for videography - I personally use DJI RS2
It's much more affordable now, compared when I bought it in 2021, and does a great job! You definitely need a stabilizer for a smooth walk-in video shoots. I used to have an old manual stabilizer, which was heavier and way less comfortable and with much less functions than this Ronin, and definitely won't recommend anyone now to get it! Believe me, after that manual one, this RS2 feels like a Ferrari after some old cheap used trash car lol :)
3. Drone- I personally use DJI Mavic 2 Pro - I use it with my phone, but I guess it's much better to use it with Smart Controller (and have phone as a backup just in case, + use it as a phone when necessary without interacting with your flight at that moment). It's a cool drone, and gets the job done as needed!
For more in-depth advices connected right with process of actual photoshoot, join to our Classes and you will all the necessary practical part to start doing Professional Real Estate Photography and Videography!
My full list of all the photo and video equipment (including lighting) will be ready soon and I will update it here as well.