5 Instant Tips to Ace Interior Real Estate Photography
Starting your own interior real estate photography business is nothing short of a great idea especially with all businesses thriving as they move digital. With property listings churning out into the market every day, real estate photography is not likely to run out of demand anytime soon and investing in your skills as a professional real estate photographer is a worthwhile endeavor.
While competition may be tight, many budding real estate photographers and enthusiasts have slowly made their name in the industry – all it takes is a little research and a whole lot of practice.
To kick-start your journey into the world of interior real estate photography, we have a handy guide of 5 tips you can apply to truly ace your shots and greatly improve your skill as you go along.
What equipment do you need for real estate photography?
Before diving into our five tried and tested tips in shooting real estate photography, let’s first get you started on the right foot by gearing you up for success. There are 5 pieces of photography equipment you will need to invest in if you want to truly get the hang of real estate photography, namely:
Stating the obvious, we know, but we want this guide to be as thorough as possible. If you can get your hands on a full frame camera, this can greatly take your shots up a notch because they have bigger and better pixels.
The bigger the pixels your camera has, the more color information and natural light can be captured. This allows for less noise in the dark areas of the photo, resulting in crisp, high quality results each time.
If it is out of budget, cameras not built for full frame (also known as cropped sensor cameras) work just as fine. You can compensate for the lack of pixels by investing in better lenses.
Wide angle lenses.
When capturing real estate scenery, you will want to invest in a wide-angle lens – but not uncomfortably wide that it ends up distorting the image.
Full frame cameras work best with a 14 – 24mm lens, while a cropped sensor variant will work great with a 10 – 20mm lens. When shooting with a wide angle, remember that it is important to capture the necessary details of the space, but do not exaggerate the area so much that potential buyers will feel disappointed once they see it with their own eyes.
A sturdy tripod.
You may not know it just yet but your tripod will be your best friend out on the field. It will keep your angles perfectly aligned, your photos immensely still, your camera height where you want it, and your lighting just right – because of this, we highly recommend prioritizing quality over price tag.
Especially when taking photos with low lighting, you will need your equipment as sturdy as possible to prevent capturing any sign of movement. When taking AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) photos, you will need to take multiple shots of the exact same angle, but at different exposure settings. A tripod ensures that not a single millimeter is off frame in times like this.
Furthermore, a tripod helps you maintain a balanced plane and allows you to achieve neat leading lines (both vertical and horizontal) through the right camera height, which we will explain the importance of as you read along.
A shutter release trigger.
This small piece of equipment has two main functions. First, it releases the camera’s shutter and secondly, it serves as a flash trigger. These are both in order for you to take photos remotely and prevent the risk of moving your camera especially when shooting with slow shutter speeds. Similarly, there are now apps on mobile phones that could work as a remote trigger if your camera is compatible with them.
Speaking of flash, you will want to invest in a good speed light. If you are just starting out and mainly working with smaller areas, one should suffice. They can be either handheld or mounted on top of a tripod. These are what make all areas of the space pop and allow you to highlight all the necessary details without having to deal with unbalanced shadows.
Tip: 1 Camera Settings
Now that we have established what you need to acquire, let’s talk about how to use them to your advantage! The first tip is getting to know your camera’s settings in order to fully understand what combination of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed works best for varying environments and spaces.
We also highly suggest you only shoot in RAW format. This allows more versatility in post-production because you have more wiggle room to fix exposure. Especially when you have multiple sources of light working for you within the same space, the white balance and colors could clash and throw each other off. With RAW files, you can make all the necessary adjustments in just a few clicks.
When getting the perfect blend of exposures, you want to take about three shots of the exact same angle and apply HDR photography techniques. High Dynamic Range in post processing is basically taking each shot at a different setting and combining them to get a perfectly lit final photo.
First setting: Get the correct exposure of the room.
Depending of course on the lighting present in the space, try settings similar to shutter speed set at around 1/8th, aperture set at around f/8, and your ISO set at around 320.
Adjust accordingly to how much light you are working with, but just ensure you are getting a balanced exposure for the entire space.
Second setting: Get one a little overexposed to make the shadows pop.
With the flash pointing straight up at the ceiling or at a reflector, this allows more light to bounce off the dark corners of the space. Add two stops to your shutter speed (+2), but leave the ISO and aperture the same. This setting blended with the first one helps lessen colorcast and glare as well.
Third setting: Get one a little underexposed to let the highlights shine through.
This works great if you have windows or other light sources that you want to enhance in the photo. It is also great for lighting up otherwise dark areas from the first two settings taken.
It may seem like a little more work but taking the time to shoot and blend these three settings together can get you a perfect shot each time!
Tip 2: Create Images With Depth
Visual representation of each space is important because it is essentially what draws potential buyers to the listing, urging them to reach out, and hopefully getting them to visit in order to land a sale. To ensure you give the property a good shot, you need to create images with a good amount of depth to them, drawing your viewer in with every angle you publish.
A great balance to this would be providing at least three distinctive layers on each photo. This could be done using decorative elements in the foreground, furniture in the midground, and a window in the background.
By providing this sense of flow, you help viewers envision themselves walking through the room and even lead their eyes where you want them to go through a smooth transition. Making use of the leading lines created by the cabinets and ceilings are also a great way to strategically control their perception. You can easily achieve this by ensuring that the vertical edges are straight.
Tip 3: Get More Flooring, Less Ceiling
Beautiful floors should never go unnoticed in an interior real estate photograph. While there have been a real estate photographer or two that have been tempted to capture too much ceiling, it takes focus away from the many architectural details that lie in the surface of the wood or tiles.
Unless the ceiling has its special advantages such as a hand painted mural or a unique form, we advise to get more of the floors instead. This method also helps the room appear larger, so be sure to keep those tripods and your camera height low!
Tip 4: Take Photos From The Right Angles
In capturing the essence of a room, establish what your main focal points should be and put emphasis on these. This makes for more impressive shots instead of capturing angles that highlight decors or furniture more.
Keep in mind that you are selling the room as a whole and guiding your viewers to experience the space as if it were their own. Getting the angles that allow this imagination to flow through is where you win.
You can find the best-suited angle by experimenting with different heights and positions. See how the space looks when taken from above head level, eye level, chest level, and hip level.
Tip 5: Don’t Use Artificial Lighting
Turning on the lights inside is great if you are taking exterior shots during twilight hour. However, it is a whole different story if you are shooting interior photos.
Making use of artificial lighting can end up inaccurately coloring the paint on your walls and hues of your furniture. Incandescent or soft white LED makes things more yellow than they actually are, while fluorescent and daylight LED makes things appear bluer. All the more when you have a mix of these scattered within a space, that is a lot to fix in post!
Because of this, we highly advise against switching on your overhead fixtures, table lamps, and other illuminating elements.
Natural light is the winning way to go, but just make sure that it is coming from behind the camera. Shooting photographs facing the source of natural light, like in the cases of windows, can lead to a dark foreground.
Other Real Estate Photography Tips
Edit out any wires or unsightly distractions from the frame.
Sometimes chaotically arranged wires and other distracting elements can make a photo look a little less impactful than it would have been if these details were ironed out.
Declutter the space ahead of time.
To save you from editing out an endless list of elements in post, make sure that the space is ready for your photo shoot before your scheduled time. This means decluttering areas, wiping off dirt from counters, cleaning the mirrors and other glass surfaces, asking your client to store away their personal belongings, and the like.
Plan your shoot.
Many things are not going to be under your control during shoot day, so it is best to be a girl/ boy scout regarding things you can actually take charge of. For instance, do your research on the location of the property and check what times of day are optimal for the best natural light. If the property has heavy foot traffic, study the times and days wherein there is least amount of distractions and movement. Also, always keep track of the weather conditions!
Have a handy shot list ready.
No two spaces are the same but keeping a list of what essential angles, focal points, and elements you want to highlight can save you a lot of time during the photo shoot itself. Note that it is important to be flexible when taking shots and also working in the moment, meaning if you see something on the spot that is worth capturing, even if it was not part of your original plan, go for it! As long as you ensure you have your hero shot and essentials all packed and ready to go.
It may seem like a lot to take in but going through each of the above tips in a pace you are comfortable with will ensure that you get the hang of interior photography in no time!
The only way to really improve your professional photographer skills is to keep shooting and to practice as much as you can. This way, you can find the settings that work best with your camera and you will also be more accustomed to adjusting them on the spot as time goes by and you land more real estate photography jobs. A lot of these will soon feel like second nature for you with real estate agents and interior designers hiring you for professional real estate photography. The only thing to focus on today is starting!