How to Edit Real Estate Photos in Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is by far one of the most liked photo editing programs by professional real estate photographers from around the world. Its interface has been designed with the creative mind as its market, and it meets almost all the needs of the real estate photography business – whether fundamental or advanced.

The features that Lightroom offers allow the photographer to focus more on the essential adjustments while automating the rest. Two of its most popular features are:

  • The ability to customize presets seamlessly, detailing each modification down to the cropping angle and brightness level of the image.
  • The ability to batch edit and copy and paste your preferred preset over the entire batch, and then tweaking from there.

The intuitive components that make Lightroom unique have definitely set it apart from other programs in the market. If you have yet to try editing your real estate photographs on Lightroom, we have prepared a handy guide to get you started.

How to edit in Lightroom Like a Professional?

Learning how to edit all your images in Lightroom as the pros do will take some practice. However, because of its user-friendliness and convenient tools, it won’t take you too long to get there!

First off, you must familiarize yourself with the control panel. Learn its configurations, presets, tools, and adjustment options. There is a wide array of sliders for modifying the exposure levels, colors, and sharpness of your images. Learning how to import photos, export final edits, and syncing your settings are also crucial to the overall process.

The possibilities are practically endless once you learn the ins and outs of the program, and the best way to do so is diving right in. Below are the basic functions that we recommend getting acquainted with first.

Edit images in Adobe Lightroom Classic using the Develop Module

When it comes to Lightroom, the Develop Module is where you will land first. It sets the foundation for your entire image as this is where you select relevant photos, implement the presents, and make further adjustments until you are satisfied with your photo.

Adjust White Balance Settings

First focus on the basic panel by adjusting the white balance to set the mood for your image and making it warmer or colder. There are two main sliders under it, namely:

Temp slider: Dragging this to the right creates a warmer image, and dragging to the left makes it cooler.

Tint slider: Once you have the temperature set, eliminate any color casts with the tint slider.

Afterwards, click on a neutral gray spot in your image so that Lightroom will automatically fix the white balance based on these settings. This is especially helpful for interior photos with color cast.

Adjust Tone Settings

Next, set the tone of your image. This plays a crucial role in determining the overall quality and look of the photograph as it refers to the lightest and darkest areas. Getting the contrast right will create a beautiful balance of all the image data present.

There are 6 sliders under Tone category that you can adjust, namely:

Exposure slider: This allows you to correct the level of light captured in the image.

Contrast slider: This allows you to adjust the brightness of the image and helps you find a good balance between the lights and darks. The more contrast you add, the less flat your image looks. However, adding too much contrast results in unrealistic lighting.

Highlight slider: Highlights are the brightest areas of the image, and adjusting this slider modifies only the brightest spots.

Shadows slider: Opposite to highlights, the shadows slider adjusts only the darkest spots within the image.

Whites slider: This slider allows you to increase or decrease the white balance of your photograph.

Blacks slider: This slider allows you to intensify the black areas of your image, which help build depth in your background.

Adjust Presence Settings

Afterwards, adjust the presence settings, which consist of the following sliders:

Texture slider: This helps you add to the “feel” of your overall image

Clarity slider: This helps in making your images more detailed and sharper.

Dehaze slider: This helps reduce blur, which is more useful for outdoor shots

Vibrance  / Saturation slider: This helps you make the colors pop more

Adjust Tone Curve Settings

Next up is the tone curve. This adjusts the overall contrast and brightness of the image, making your real estate photography brighter or darker with a slight nudge on the graph.

The Y-axis represents the tone’s lightness, while the X-axis represents the tone axis. By moving your curve upwards, you create much brighter tones, and pulling it down has the opposite effect.

Adjust HSL Color Settings

Hue: This refers to the color gradient on your photo.

Saturation: This refers to the intensity of each of the colors in your photos.

Luminance: This refers to a specific color’s reflective brightness.

Adjust Split Toning Settings

Split toning allows you to add one color on the highlights of your image, and another color to the shadows of your image This effect adds more character to the overall photograph by creating a dramatic contrast.

Add or remove elements

Simple photo manipulation is a great way to enhance your images for the better and ensure that your potential buyers focus on all the right areas without any distractions. You can achieve this by layering photos in Lightroom, and then utilizing the Adjustment Brush or Radial Filter to blend them all in. This allows you to remove glare and other unsightly elements from reflective objects.

Use Quick-Develop To Adjust Warmth And Brightness In The Library Module

If your photos are all edited but then you suddenly realize they look a little too dark or blue, or perhaps you already sent them to your client and they said the images might look brighter or warmer, don’t worry – you do not have to go back and edit everything one by one.

Under Library Module, select all the relevant photos, check Auto-Sync, and use the Quick Develop adjustment to modify each image immediately. What makes it even more convenient is that it applies the changes by the same amount, meaning your images are still customized to its own settings but with an added “bump”.

Keep The Culling Process Simple & Quick

 If you notice you spend too much time choosing which photos should make it to the good file, we have a few ways to organize the batch. When sorting through your multiple images, make sure they are first all un-flagged. When you find one you like, hit “P”, which stands for “Pick”, to flag it.

Similarly, if you have sets of photos to HDR, you can flag them with a red label by hitting “6”, and a yellow label by hitting “7” to signify other kinds of categories.

Once you have your photos flagged and color coded, use your filter to select all un-flagged images and hit “X” to mark them as rejected.

Use Lightroom Presets To Quickly Start Every Scene

As briefly mentioned, Lightroom has a great preset feature that allows you to jumpstart your editing. Because most real estate images will be taken in similar lighting, your edits will most likely be identical as well.

Once you get the hang of editing your photos in Lightroom, you will soon realize the kind of adjustments you commonly do to most of your images throughout multiple projects. What you can do is create a preset out of these, apply it whenever necessary, and just make minor tweaks along the way according to what the specific photograph needs,

This cuts your editing time by a chunk and helps you focus on more advanced modifications.

Use Auto Sync To Edit Entire Scenes At Once

Auto Sync, which is also known as batch editing, is extremely useful when you have to edit a bulk of images with similar lighting, contrast, and overall exposure.

By selecting the relevant shots and turning on Auto Sync, you will only need to edit the primary photo in the group, and Lightroom will automatically match the changes you made to the rest of them.

Use Plug-ins For Even More Streamlined Lightroom Automation

Whenever you can automate a step, we highly suggest taking the opportunity. When it comes to HDR merging, for example, processing each image one by one will take up too much time, which is why built-in capabilities or plug-ins can be very important.

Lightroom now has its own built-in HDR merging system, however, it does not provide options on how to blend the tones of each image, or apply de-ghosting. It does a decent job as is, but if you would like to have more control over the merging process, opt for a plug-in such as Photomatix.

Over-Editing Photos Can Look Unprofessional

When still getting used to editing real estate photos, it can be easy to get carried away and over-contrast, over-saturate, or overexpose. The key is to make sure the image looks as realistic as possible, but just a slightly brighter and somewhat warmer version of reality.