5 Real Estate Photo Tips for Stunning DIY Photos
There is a steady demand for real estate photography around the world, with each listing trying to win over the attention of multiple potential buyers. It is a lucrative business that, when done right, can lead to an endless amount of clients.
The great thing about real estate photography is that you do not have to be a professional photographer to get started. There are many tips and tricks you can practice to get better over time, and the more clients you end up catering to, the more experienced you will be.
If you are still learning the ropes and would like to know how to make your real estate photos stand out more, we have prepared our top 5 real estate photography tips to achieve just that.
What is real estate photography?
Before getting into the details of each photography tip, let us first explore what exactly the real estate photography business is and what you can expect from getting into the industry.
Real estate photography, as its name suggests, is all about capturing images that make a property as attractive as possible. This could entail interior and exterior shots, as well as taking images during different times of day. Most photos for real estate are taken with a wide-angle lens in order to get the maximum amount of field and detail into one shot. This type of photography is not too much not close ups or focusing on one element, instead, it showcases each listing per space or room.
Is Real Estate Photography Profitable?
With the current housing market today, it most definitely is profitable. It may not be as popular as landscape or portrait photography, but being a niche industry just makes it all the more valuable once you get your clients. This means you can price higher than other types of standard photography, and may even get a bulk of customers looking into the service.
On top of that, there is an abundance of real estate agents, which directly correlates to the abundance of houses that need to be photographed.
Do Real Estate Photographers Earn A Lot?
This would depend on a few factors. For one, the location and size of the listing both play major roles in determining how much your fee should be. Your experience and skill set are also worthy to factor in, making it more profitable for seasoned photographers compared to beginners.
If you want to speed up your experience level and get as many projects as you can, try to aim for prime real estate areas in major cities such as New York, London, Paris, and the like.
Tip 1: Invest The Right Equipment / Gear Needed For Real Estate Photography
The better the quality of your equipment, the better chances you have at producing crisp, vibrant, and detailed images. While you do not need to invest in high-end equipment especially while still starting out, we recommend looking into the specs of each gear you buy to ensure it meets the standards you are looking to achieve. The fundamental types of equipment you need for real estate photography are:
Full Frame Digital Camera
Full frame cameras have the ability to shoot relatively large spaces while still maintaining as much detail and quality in the image. We recommend focusing on the sensor size of the camera, rather than the megapixels it can shoot with. The reason behind this is that a larger sensor size produces better quality images no matter the lighting condition, which would save you a lot of time, effort, and energy when caught in low light settings – which, let’s face it, happens a lot.
Wide Angle Lens
The most recommended type of lens for real estate photography is a wide-angle lens because they are able to create a sense of depth and capture just how spacious the room is.
It is important to note that certain wide-angle lenses such as fisheye can create unrealistic photographs and put the space in a bad light. Avoid lenses that distort the image and aim for those that represent the listing in the most appealing yet authentic way. For this, we recommend getting a wide-angle lens that is around 16-35 mm.
A durable and sturdy tripod will always be on our top must-have equipment for photography. Utilizing a tripod results in sharper, well-lit images because it greatly reduces the chances of camera shakes and also allows you to slow down the shutter speed to let in more light.
It also helps in maintaining a leveled plane to achieve clear-cut vertical lines. With a durable tripod, you can guarantee getting the best angle for all of your shots, especially since it allows you to easily experiment with different shooting heights.
Last but not the least, a tripod is absolutely essential when shooting bracketed images in order to achieve HDR photos – a method of photography we highly recommend trying out.
A remote trigger is the perfect compliment to a tripod as it allows you to capture images without having to manually press the shutter button. This greatly helps in reducing camera shake and ensures that your images are crisp and in the right angle. If you are shooting with extremely low shutter speeds, this is a tool we highly recommend investing in since even the slightest touch of the camera can trigger unfocused images.
Flash And A Flash Trigger
Lighting is one of the key points that make or break a real estate image. More often than not, natural light is not always sufficient during the entire shoot and you will need to supplement it with additional lights. Similarly, there are bound to be areas within the house that are constantly not well lit such as bathrooms and hallways. This is why having a flash with you is always a good back up.
Investing in a trigger allows you to position both your flash and camera appropriately, and then triggering them together without dealing with extra set up complications.
Lastly, if you are using flash, it is best to have a light stand in order to mount your flash and other additional illumination tools. Anything that makes your hands free to use, makes the process faster and easier, and gives you peace of mind during a shoot is well worth the investment.
Tip 2: Build A Real Estate Photography Portfolio
In order to get into real estate photography, you first need to have a few good looking images to show for it. A good portfolio can make it easier to gather clients that are right for you, and the more clients you handle, the more practice you have at creating stunning photos.
Not only will you be able to showcase your talent in composition, editing, and overall aesthetics, but your potential clients will also be able to better determine if your skillset and natural style is what they are looking for.
It may be a little difficult to build a portfolio in the beginning, but there are a few ways to go about it such as asking your family and friends if you can photograph their homes or perhaps accepting jobs at a lower price than you would intend to charge once you get the business going.
Once you have the portfolio set, you can start reaching out to a real estate agent, property broker, and others in the real estate market who may need a real estate photographer regularly. This is one way you can get stunning photos because there is no better way than hands-on practice and building experience.
Tip 3: Practice These Real Estate Photography Techniques
Now that you have your equipment ready and your portfolio slowly building up, keep practicing these tried and tested techniques in order to properly shoot your real estate photographs.
You know what makes a home attractive? Space and natural light. You want to showcase as much space as you can to display just what the property has to offer. By shooting with a wide-angle lens, you get to include more within one shot and can create a sense of depth within the room. Just ensure that you are not misrepresenting the area to look much larger than it actually is.
Keep Vertical Edges Aligned
Always keep your vertical edges straight, such as your walls, cabinets, tables, and the like. This helps in making the flow of the space easier to process and makes for a more pleasing image. By keeping your lines leveled (both vertical and horizontal), you hold more power over navigating how your viewer’s eyes will flow through the image.
Exposing To The Right
Exposing to the right means overexposing your image. It is an advanced technique that may take a few trial and errors to achieve. Once you find a good balance with overexposing an image, your photos will look brighter and more vibrant.
Remember that real estate photography heavily relies on good lighting, therefore ensuring that you get an ample amount of light through the sensor would yield great results. You will need to be careful not to overdo it as this can wash out a lot of details in your highlights, which we definitely would not want.
Angling Your Interiors
The best way to shoot interiors is by figuring out which angle captures the best features of the room and highlights its depth. This would normally entail having an interested object in your foreground and also being careful with the lights you have on.
There can be multiple light sources when indoors, all of which can have different kinds of light. By having a mix of this, you risk having an unnatural color cast on your image. We recommend shooting with natural light, and artificial lights that are more controlled. Either way, you will be able to fix it in post.
We also recommended overexposing your windows since this allows the focus to remain within the room and not on the view outside.
Use Flash and Light Stands
A flash can assist you in quickly illuminating darker areas of the room that need more attention Also practice different ways to angle your flash for the scene, such as bouncing it off the ceiling or a white wall.
By having a light stand to secure your flash on, you can effectively position your lighting in the best way possible and shoot low-light areas like a professional.
Experiment With Different Heights
Tripods come in a variety of adjustments, and exploring each of them allows you to achieve many different angles and perspectives. After a little trial and error, you will soon get the hang of figuring out which height is best for a given space. To get you started, some of the common heights to stick to are:
Vaulted Ceilings: Keep your height high to maximize the full effect of the space
Kitchens: Keep it at counter height in order to give off a more intimate and cozy vibe.
Bathrooms: Keep the height several inches above the counter
Exteriors: Keep the height high at around 6 to 12 feet if able to. Ensure that it is stable and that you get a good view of the entire side of the property.
Highlighting The Best Exterior Features
An exterior shot of the listing is most likely what your viewers will see first – making it your chance to grab their attention and pique their interest. Ensure that you have the right angle to maximize what the property has to offer, and make sure you do it under the right lighting conditions.
Some of the key highlights to feature are:
- Deck / Patio
- Pool / Hot Tub
Wait For The Right Time Of Day
When it comes to exterior photography, dealing with natural light is your main choice. Because of this, it is important to study how the light affects the listing during different times of the day.
Shooting with harsh sunlight will only lead to heavy shadows, which in turn will drown out a lot of details. You want to aim for a relatively cloudy day, sunset or twilight, or at dusk. These are the best times where light naturally bounces off the property and makes for a very appealing exposure.
Tip 4: Determine Your Pricing Ahead
In order to continue capturing stunning photos, you need to ensure that you are well compensated. Getting paid fairly also helps keep your motivation and dedication to the craft going, which only builds on your skill set and experience.
We recommend following our cost-plus pricing model when determining how much you want to price your services. First, you want to cover your cost by computing your materials, labor, and overhead.
Cost of Materials + Cost of Labor + Overhead = Total Cost
Once you have your total cost, factor in your desired profit. For example, if you want to profit at about 20% of your total cost, it will look like:
Total Cost + Desired Profit (20% of Total Cost) = Final Price
As your business expands, you can of course shift these numbers as you see fit in order to keep the business afloat and your profit at a reasonable amount. This helps you from feeling the effects of unplanned expenses that tend to come up every now and then.
Cost of Materials
The cost materials include your hard drives, cloud storage, and other digital space that factor in as billable items. This is also where you include any transportation fees and specific items that the project required.
Cost of Labor
Cost of labor reflects all the time and energy you spent preparing your shot list, studying the property, staging the multiple areas, cleaning up, commuting or driving to and from client meetings, post production, uploading the final work, and so on.
The easiest way to determine how much all this could potentially cost is being more aware of how many hours you spend on each task, and then charge by the hours. Your hourly rate can of course go up as your business progresses but it is important to stay realistic and value your time from the beginning.
Overhead costs are also known as the varying set of things you invest in that last longer than just one project. Things that fall under overhead costs are your camera equipment, insurance for your gear, editing software, post-production equipment, lighting, backdrops, and more. If you opted to have an assistant, their salary counts as overhead as well.
On top of that, your marketing efforts and advertising budget for both digital and on print are also overhead costs.
In order to calculate this when sending a quote to one client, add up all your overhead costs and then divide the total by the estimated number of jobs you may work on a yearly basis. That final number is what you should add to your cost-plus pricing.
Total Overhead Cost / Projected # of jobs in a year = Price to add in your cost-plus calculation
There are also more detailed pricing strategies that may make it easier for you to calculate your services, such as:
Set Different Rates For Different Sized Properties
Simply charge more for bigger houses or for a higher number of rooms. A good way to go about this is by setting rates based on the square feet.
A quick example would be:
- Under $200 for properties that are 3,000 square feet or less.
- Over $200 for properties that are more than 3,000 square feet.
Adjust Your Rate Based On The Time Of Day
Taking sunset, twilight, or night shots involves more equipment and post-production compared to images taken during the day. Because it requires more effort and resources, you can charge more for these time slots.
Higher-End Listings Mean Higher Rates
If the listing is set at a premium price, then so should your services. After all, you image and efforts are what help make the listing sell.
Tip 5: Practicing The Best Settings For Real Estate Photography
The settings will vary with each environment, but the basics we highly recommend working around are:
- Shooting in RAW
- Keeping your ISO low
- Sticking between F/8 to F/11 aperture
- Setting your exposure mode to Aperture Priority