Real Estate Photo Editing Techniques to Improve Property Images

What techniques are used in photos?

There are different kinds of techniques that many professional real estate photographers apply to their images in order to achieve a certain look. These include:

  • Default filters found in the photo editing software or downloaded from other sources.
  • Presets found within the editing program or that have been downloaded from other sources.
  • Basic photo editing techniques wherein you can adjust each element of the image manually.

Basic Photo Editing Techniques

White Balance

The white balance adjusts the temperature and tint of your image in order to have the colors come out realistic. This can either be done through auto white balance or manually adjusting both the temperature and tint sliders.


This adjusts the overall brightness and darkness of an image. Under exposure, you may find Highlights to adjust the brighter areas, Shadows to adjust the darker areas, Whites to adjust the brightest point of the image, and Blacks to adjust the darkest point of the image.


This pertains to the intensity of the lights and darks within your image. Adding contrast makes your darks even darker and your lights even lighter.


By increasing the level of clarity within your photo, you enhance the texture in your image and bring some grit to your photo. Decreasing the level of clarity results in a foggy and dreamy style.


This pertains to just how much color information is in the photography. It plays a similar role to Vibrance, which is meant to heighten muted colors without disrupting colors that are already saturated.


This tool increases the contrast in all areas wherein light meets dark, resulting in a crisp and sharp image.

Noise Reduction

If your photograph is noticeably underexposed or if the image was shot with a very high ISO level, it creates a lot of noise. This reduction tool helps smoothen that out.

Len Correction

This tool helps in fixing distortions made by the lens. Since each type of lens may have its own effect when paired with certain cameras, lens correction is often needed to minimize visible distortion issues.

Perspective Correction

When capturing exteriors, there is the tendency to need to tilt the camera in order to get the whole subject in frame. This creates perspective issues that make it appear as if the building’s walls are closing in towards the center instead of being upright. This can be remedied through the correction tool.


Grain is different from noise, and adds a nice creative effect to your image.


This tool enables you to darken or brighten up the edges of your images.

Radial Filter

This allows you to apply the filter inside (or outside) of a circular or oval shape.

Graduated Filter

Similar to the radial filter, the graduated version allows you to apply within a straight line instead of a circle.

Brush Tool

This tool has many shape options to choose from, which allows you to paint changes on the image.


The HSL tool allows you to have more control over the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance of a specific color in your image.

How Are Photo Editing Styles Created?

Most professional photographers who have been in the industry long enough will most likely have their own unique style. This is carefully crafted upon years of experience and a better understanding of how they want their work to be presented.

Finding your own unique style or simply trying to enhance an image for listing consists of basic photo editing adjustments. You can find these on most classic editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop – two of the most popular and preferred software in the photography business.

Some of the most important basic tools we recommend growing accustomed to in order to develop your own photography editing style are those listed above. You may also reference other photographers whose styles you admire in order to shape your own based on it.

10 Well Known Photo Editing Techniques

There are 10 photo editing techniques that have served as the go-to style of many real estate photographers. Below, we give you a quick description of each and how you can apply a similar style on your images.

The Natural Style​​

The natural style is best known for its smooth features and is actually the most popular of the bunch because it involves very little adjustments. This style relies heavily on the features of your original photo and merely enhances what you already have.

It is a technique wherein the harsh edges created by the light source are softened, which results in a vivid warm or dramatic warm vibe. This style gives images a cozy effect, and can easily be achieved by:

  • Boosting your image’s contrast just enough to make it “pop”
  • Increase the saturation and vibrance until the colors are vivid yet still realistic.

The Matte Style

The matte editing technique gives a faded look, particularly within the shadows of your image. It sets a deep and dramatic tone, which can really bring your subject to life if the lighting is just right.

You can achieve the matte style by opening the Tone Curve Tool, and drag the leftmost point upwards. This adds a smooth and gradual fade in the image. You can either weaken or strengthen the matte effect by how far you drag the point upwards.

The Vintage Style​

Applying a vintage looking vibe on images is extremely popular as it adds character and depth to your photos. Especially when VSCO filters became rampant, the vintage editing scene just took off from there.

This look combines both fading out elements with light leaks and unique color grades. You can achieve this look by reducing the saturation of your image a little, and then boosting the black point of your tone curve.

Once those are set, you may add a yellow, red, blue, or purple hue using the white balance tools, split toning tools, or with your preferred filter.

If you want the full experience, add in some large grain and low-contrast light leak.

The Split Tone Style​

The split tone style is very similar to a cinematic effect (which we will touch more on below), however, it is heavier and has more depth. It is most distinguished by the yellow highlights and blue shadows that are present in the bright and dark areas, respectively.

You may find the Split Tone section under Lightroom’s Develop module, and add some blue into your shadows while dialing up the yellow into the highlights.

Similarly, you can try out orange highlights and greener shadows, depending entirely on the composition and colors within your original image.

The HDR Style ​

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is quite possibly the most used method of photography. This technique is made of bright colors, vivid tones, great depths, and impressive sharpness. HDR refers to images that hold a lot of details, both the bright and dark areas, allowing your photo to reach its full potential.

There are two ways you can achieve the HDR look, namely:

Technique 1: The Classic Way By Bracketing Your Images

The classic way to achieve HDR images is by capturing multiple shots of the exact same scene at different exposure levels. More often than not, 3 exposures are enough to achieve the look, but some photographers opt to get even more to be thorough.

The 3 images should capture a leveled exposure, another that is of lower exposure, and another of higher exposure. The darkest layer is meant to bring out the details within the highlights in your image, while the lightest photo is meant to bring out the details within the shadows.

Merge the three (or more) exposure levels together to create a perfectly exposed image using your preferred editing software. Some programs even have features that can automatically analyze the images and blend them together for you.

Once you have the blended HDR image, you may further boost adjust the shadows, highlights, saturation, and clarity settings until you achieve your desired image quality.

Technique 2: The Shortcut Way By Means Of Clever Editing

If you already have the photo on hand and cannot possibly bracket images anymore, you can also try out the shortcut to HDR images.

All you have to do is boost the shadows significantly and drop your highlights. Next, you want to intensify your clarity and the color saturation of your image.

The Grunge Style

The grunge editing style gives an intense and rugged vibe to your images. There are many grunge filters and tools that can be downloaded for free today, which make it easy to apply.

If you opt not to utilize filters and adjust the settings manually instead, you can achieve the grunge style by significantly boosting the contrast and then lowering the saturation levels. Lastly, boost your image’s texture by adding a lot of large grain.

The Bright and Airy Style​

If you want your images to have a happy, upbeat, and excited vibe, then the bright and airy style is for you. This photo editing style works great for real estate photography as it gives your property a cheery energy that can positively impact your potential buyers.

To achieve the look, first boost the exposure level of your photo until it is just slightly overexposed. However, be sure that you do not wash out any areas!

Next, utilize the tone curve to boost your shadows while keeping your highlights stable. Lastly, add a light leak effect via the gradient or graduated filter tool. You can also add a bit of haze to top off the look.

The Black and White Style ​

The black and white style is known to make the scene more dramatic, empathetic, and also classic. It has a timeless feel that can give any image a boost in character and personality.

You can achieve this look by completely desaturating your image.

Moreover, if you want your black and white images to have their own twist, you can also add as slight color tint using the split toning tool or the color grading tool. This gives it either a warmer or cooler feel, on top of its already sophisticated traits.

The High Contrast Style​

The high contrast style makes a harsh yet attractive image. All you need to do is simply boost up your contrast and drop the blacks while increasing your whites.

This should suffice, but if you prefer to make it all the more unique, increase the clarity in your image to add texture.

Lastly, we recommend dropping the saturation a little but in order to balance out how much the intensity of the color information.

The Cinematic Style​

Last but not the least, we have the cinematic style. For anyone and everyone who loves a touch of flare and a great deal of drama in their images, this is the one for you. In fact, having a portfolio edited entirely using the cinematic style may very well look like a collection of movie stills.

The best way to achieve this look is by lowering the exposure levels of your image until you get a nice, dark and moody look.

Afterwards, amp up your black point in your tone curve setting by a little bit, and then slightly desaturate your image. Lastly, add an orange / teal split tone to top it all off.

Importance Of Photo Editing

Photo editing helps your images reach their full potential by enhancing their features and effectively garnering the attention of the audience you want to attract.

By applying any of the styles above, you are sure to reach a wider market and communicate your property to the right buyer.