Best Time Of Day For Real Estate Photos [Expert Guide]
Real estate photography entails a lot of preparation. Not only is it crucial that you have the right set of gear, but you also need to be able to adapt well with your environment and the subject at hand.
Lighting, for instance, is one variable that even the most professional real estate photographer has no complete control over. Before going into a photo shoot, you must first scout the area, review the angles you would like to take that get in the best light, ensure the place is ready to be photographed by having it decluttered, and get to know the space a little better so it’s easier to maneuver around.
However, no matter how much preparation you do, if the natural lighting is not in your favor on the day and time itself, you will have to think on your feet. To help minimize the risk of this happening, it is helpful to know the best times of the day to shoot, and what you can do should the odds not be in your favor.
What's the difference between professional and amateur photography?
Should you decide to capture your real estate listing photos yourself, the best way to ensure it stands out from the rest of the properties online is to make it look neat, crisp, and professional.
When still starting out with real estate photography, chances are you won’t be that great at it yet – and that is perfectly fine! In fact, that’s where most if not all the great photographers start. The good thing about that is you can clearly keep track of your progress and you go along.
To help you get from amateur level to professional level faster, you should know that there are 4 factors that can make your images look much better, as if you have year of experience under your belt. By practicing these 4 factors, you will notice a huge difference in your listing photos, which your potential buyers will surely notice as well. These small changes can help your property garner more leads, get more traction, and sell much faster.
The 4 factors that turn your amateur photos into professional looking ones are:
Factor #1: The Way You Angle Your Shot
All experienced real estate photographers are well aware that a wide angled lens is one of the best tools to capture your listing. If you are not using one, it will show, and it will make a difference.
With a wide-angle lens, you are able to photography the entirety of the space and make the area pop out beautifully. This means that there will be no awkward cropping because you have your back against the wall already.
Moreover, your vertical lines will be straighter and neater compared to if you were using a standard or kit lens instead. This makes for a more pleasing looking image.
Factor #2: The Lighting Of Your Shot
Lighting is huge in photography, and when it comes to real estate, it is absolutely crucial. You need your listings to look as realistic and vibrant as possible. In order to achieve this, you must utilize natural light whenever you can, as much as you can.
Artificial lighting will work in some instances, but mostly only when they are used as accents. Natural light will ensure that your image is warmer, more vibrant, and more relatable. It helps prevent colorcast and setting the wrong mood.
Factor #3: The Details You Include (And Exclude)
There are bound to be reflective surfaces and windows in the room or area you are shooting in. Professional real estate photographers know that these need to be maximized and used efficiently.
For instance, getting the right angle and light to capture the view outside the window is important. If the angling is difficult and the mirror is fronting it, then have it reflect instead.
Similarly, you want all reflections to be useful and with purpose. Keep the details in mind in order to make the photo look cleaner and more harmonious.
Factor #4: The Balance In Your Image
One another gear to prioritize in your kit is a sturdy tripod. These allow you to angle your photos in such a way that all the lines and element are perfectly balanced within the image. It also helps in having your sensor take in enough light without blurring or shaking the image.
If you decide to go freehand, we highly suggest fixing the perspective of your images in postproduction to ensure that it is not leaning towards one side more than the other.
A real-life comparison: Great listing photos vs. bad listing photos
If an amateur and a professional photographer where both given the exact same floor plan to shoot, there will surely be differences.
Given the four factors above, some of the listings taken by someone who is still learning the ropes may end up with the following common issues:
Possible Issue #1: Colorcast or discoloration
One that is not well accustomed to handling lighting and setting the white balance on their camera yet is bound to get discolored images. Perhaps these will be subtle but can show in how the hardwood floors turn out a little orange or the walls look a little too yellow.
This issue can be fixed in the editing stage – which is another great skill to master!
Possible Issue #2: Overexposed or underexposed images
In relation to not knowing the ins and outs of lighting yet, the risk of overexposed or underexposed images can be very high. In fact, within one given space, there is the possibility of having a combination of both depending on how the light shines through the area.
Should the lighting situation be a little more complex than expected, bracketing your images and creating an HDR (high dynamic range) photo is your best option.
Possible Issue #3: Tilting or unbalanced perspective
The more you practice photography, the more accustomed your eyes will be to the details you actually need to pay attention to. This includes the vertical and horizontal lines within your image.
If these seem off balance or not aligned with one another, your image will end up looking rushed and lazy, which is not a making of a good listing.
To give you a visual representation of what we are going for, here are side-by-side comparisons of great vs bad listings:
(Inset Time Off Editing Samples)
What is the best time of day to shoot real estate photos?
Like we mentioned earlier, learning the best times to shoot a real estate photo can greatly help in preventing any issues with not so good lighting and discoloration. Because you will be utilizing natural light for the most part, the images should come out more balanced and perfectly warm.
While you can definitely adjust to almost any time of the day if need be, there are three points within the 24 hour period that are considered most optimal to capture beautiful images of your listing, which are:
Many real estate photographers will tell you to try getting some shots during the twilight hours, which is about 30 minutes before sunrise or 30 minutes after sunset.
Either one of these time frames give the same results, which are expected to be calm, serene, beautifully colored, and properly lit. It is during these times wherein you do not get any direct sun light coming through the scene, which helps avoid any harsh shadows or highlights.
Moreover, the ambient light shining through gives gradient of colors that range from warm orange to a cool dark blue.
Within this period, the structure or listing you are photographing will be majestically illuminated in the foreground, making both the exteriors and the interiors seen through the windows very inviting.
The golden hour is the last hour right before sunset, or the first hour right after sunrise. This also gives a similar warm and calm feeling as twilight shots, except that images taken during the golden hour have a more vibrant and fresh feel to them mainly because they are bursting with hues of orange and yellow.
More often than not if the angle is just right, one part of the structure will be well illuminated while the other sits in a detailed shade, which gives golden hour photos so much character and depth.
Sunny or Partly Sunny
We cannot stress enough just how important shooting with natural light is. Because you want your real estate photos to be clear, lively, and full of details, you definitely should not skip out on capturing images during sunny or partly sunny days.
Whether you are shooting exteriors or interiors, getting a lot of sun time can work in your favor because your images will not be as dull and flat compared to shooting during rainy days.
What time of day is best to take exterior pictures?
With exterior photos, the sun plays an extremely important role. How you position your camera at certain times of the day will make a load of difference in the resulting image.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that the sun should always be behind your camera. This is because you want as much natural light on the property itself as possible, with little to no shadows in the way. Not only will this brighten up the photo, but it can also greatly help in bringing the colors to life and showcasing all the fine details.
To achieve this, we recommend scoping the area and taking note of when the different sides of the property get the most sunlight.
Similarly, you can schedule another shoot or extend your shoot later in the day to be able to capture images during twilight hours. This way, you have two sets of beautiful shots taken at differing times of day.
What time of day is best to take interior pictures?
When it comes to interior real estate photography, we recommend shooting when there is a lot of natural light shining through the windows, this way your rooms will be properly lit up.
Because one house has multiple windows in varying directions, there is not one time of day that could work best for the entire property. Some spaces may photograph better in the morning while some look better in the afternoon.
Similar to when taking exterior shots, it is always a good idea to schedule a second shoot to ensure you get the best lighting.
Furthermore, windows should not only be used to let a lot of good light in, but they should also be maximized to showcase the stunning views. In order to achieve this, you will need to avoid direct sunlight aiming right at the lens. A good way to get a bright interior with a sneak peak of the outside is utilizing HDR photography.
Is morning or evening better for real estate photos?
Now that you have a better idea of the multiple options you have throughout a 24-hour period, you may want to narrow it down further between mornings or evenings.
The real answer is, it all depends on the kind of photos you, the real estate agents, and the home seller want to produce. We highly recommend getting images both during sunny hours and in more dramatic settings such as twilight, golden hour, or in the evenings. This way, you are able to capture the many moods of the listing and help potential buyers better envision themselves living there.
Should lights be on in real estate photos?
When taking images during the day or when there is sufficient natural light, your interior lighting should stay off. This is to ensure that there is no discoloration or colorcast issues happening within the shot, and that you get an even light temperature for all your images.
More often than not, there will be varying types of light present within a given space, which can throw off the hues and inaccurately depict the colors of your walls, floors, ceilings, and other elements. Incandescent or soft white LED lights are known to make space more yellow, while fluorescent and daylight LED lights make things seem bluer than they really are.
Avoid having to fix too much in the editing stage by switching off your overhead fixtures, lamps, and other types of light.
However, for exterior photos taken during the evening, your interior artificial lights may help add character and life to your images. By illuminating the interiors and having them come through the windows and doorframes, your evening images will look richer and much more vivid. You can also opt to close the curtains to subtly subdue them when necessary, so long as there is a warm glow to it.
Whether you decide to take real estate images during the daytime or in one of the more dramatic hours, learning how to adapt to different scene is still the most important thing at the end of the day. Practicing with varying lighting conditions and photography techniques will surely go a long way and add wonderful shots to your portfolio!