Why Do Real Estate Photos Look So Good? [Expert Guide]

A lot of work goes into making sure that real estate listings come out as clean, sharp, vibrant, and professional looking as possible. Many real estate photographers, real estate agents, and home sellers invest in quality equipment, software, and even training or services in order to achieve this with every photo shoot.

If you are a real estate agent, photographer, or home owner just starting out, you may be wondering how you can get from where you are now all the way up to the attractive real estate listing photos you see online from a professional real estate photographer. While it may feel like you have a long way to go, we are here to tell you that you are on the right track by stumbling upon this guide of real estate photography tips.

All you have to do is slowly get accustomed to the basics of real estate photos – this includes the equipment needed, capturing the shots, and finally editing them. Once you have the fundamentals down, practice is your best friend from here on out. The more experience you gain, the more mistakes you make, the better you get as time passes until you can consider yourself a professional photographer.

Ready to get started?

Do real estate photos matter?

First off, let’s get our goals and motivation set in place. Why do you need to learn this guide and improve your skills when it comes to professional real estate photography?

Truthfully, getting the best real estate photos are crucial to getting your property noticed and making that sale come by faster than you expected. They serve as the fastest way to communicate your property’s features, highlights, inclusions, and character to your audience. Basically, it is essential to keep your real estate business going.

In today’s digital age, getting access to an endless amount of listings can be both overwhelming and beneficial to a potential buyer. It is your job to narrow that decision making process down for them and make your property stand out above the rest. The best way you can do that is by offering visuals that can garner attention within the first 3 seconds.

Potential buyers process listings through visuals first. If they should find your photos and videos attractive enough, then they go on to read the information you provided and hopefully reach out to discuss further.

In short, yes, real estate photos matter because they are your way in.

What makes a good real estate photo?

There are three main categories that make up a good real estate photo. The following all work hand in hand to provide high quality shots, and each needs ample attention and investment to work effectively as a whole.


If you want to get high quality shots, you need to equip yourself with the right set of gear to support that. The most important photography equipment you need to invest in for real estate are:

  • Camera body – You can opt to have a cropped sensor camera or a full-frame camera, with the latter being a more efficient choice. The variety of options for either camera type varies in build and budget range. Whichever you decide on, getting a durable camera body is only second to getting a perfect lens.
  • Wide-angle lens – This is by far the most important tool you will need for real estate photos. Wide-angle lens is the best type of lens to shoot different sized properties, at varying lighting conditions. Ensure that you get one with a good aperture and preferably zoom capabilities.
  • Tripod – The third staple in your gearbox should be a durable tripod. This is what assists you in getting just the right angle, reducing camera shake, and also maximizing the amount of light available in your environment.
  • Flash – Lighting can be one of the most challenging factors in real estate photography. Having a flash handy along with other external lighting gear such as light stands and light modifiers enables you to take more control of the scene and get a perfectly lit shot.
  • Triggers – Investing in a remote trigger for your camera and a flash trigger is a great decision. These are very convenient to use and allow you to take photos of difficult angles, most of which you cannot position yourself behind the camera for. It is also great for reducing camera shake and keeping your set up still.

Editing Software

After you have your images from the shoot, it is time to process them and enhance their natural assets even more.

Getting a good editing software can help you in achieving your photo’s top potential. Find one that is not only easy to use but is also packed with tools that can give you full control over your image. From the basic adjustments of light, color, and perspective, to more advanced settings such as HDR mode, chromatic aberration adjustments, object removal tools, and lens correction.


It pays to have the right equipment and software, but nothing beats skill and being able to efficiently work with what resources you have. This is something you can develop with more practice and a whole lot of trial and error.

The more you capture real estate images, the more you understand what you look for in every scene, your personal process in achieving your desired outcome, and how to think on your feet should the situation call for it.

There are a few tips and tricks we have gathered that you can practice more to hone your current set of skills. You can find them in detail below.

How do I take professional-looking photos in real estate?

Always Come Prepared

In order to focus on getting your shots right and professional, it is best to always come to the shoot fully prepared and confident in yourself. One of the important steps to take when prepping for a shoot is having a shot list handy for each property.

No two listings are exactly the same, but there is a set of standard images every real estate photographer should capture. Knowing what you need to cover frees up a little mental space and helps you focus more on the task at hand. Some of the shots we suggest including are:

  • At least 2 shots of each main room or space in the house such as bedrooms, kitchen, living room, etc.
  • At least 1 shot of the bathroom.
  • At least 2 shots of the backyard.
  • At least 2 shots of the front of the house.
  • At least 1 shot for each of the features such as the gym, laundry room, garage, pantry, etc.

Next up, prepare your gear! It is best to pack your things the day or night before the shoot, this way you are less likely to forget any essentials. This includes your back up gear like extra batteries, a charger, more memory cards, and the like.

Declutter The Space Or Use Virtual Staging

Clutter tends to build up over time to the point that we barely notice the little things stacking up. For more professional looking real estate images, these need to go. Rid the space of any personal belongings and unnecessary items that only make the room look smaller.

By adding elements that do not give value to the space, you end up disrupting the flow of the area and making it look less inviting for potential buyers. These include things placed on top of counters, coffee tables, floors, and more.

However, if your listing is only semi furnished or not furnished at all, opt for virtual staging instead. What’s great about virtual staging is the ability to communicate a variety of styles and characteristics by using just one room. You have the freedom to change furniture, rearrange the space, and add different kinds of accents according to the market you are trying to capture.

Virtual staging is a budget-friendly and time saving way to turn ordinary or bare real estate photos to lively and exciting images.

Compose Each Photo Mindfully

In relation to staging your area (either virtually or in real life), it is important to compose the image mindfully. By simply studying your space and learning the best angles to highlight its features, you can make a world of difference as to how the rooms translate in your listing photos.

Images taken from the corners of the room usually look much better and have the best view of the entire area. However, every listing is unique and identifying the most ideal angles per space, according to how the furniture is laid out and how the light hits the surfaces, is crucial to getting professional, high quality shots.

Use Landscape Orientation

Horizontal listings can accurately display the best features of the home because of its wide angle. It gives a better overall composition and also allows the viewers to envision themselves in the space.

Moreover, it is important to keep your camera straight no matter the angle you decide to shoot from and always utilize a tripod to stabilize your shots.  This helps lessen skewing and distortion in your images, in order to give a more precise representation of your listings.

Make photos interactive through current technologies

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec

In today’s digital era, listings go far beyond still images in order to capture an audience’s attention. To keep your property relevant and more enticing, add in videos, virtual tours, drone photography, 3D images and the like.

As technology gets more and more advanced, so do the marketing strategies needed to keep with the times. These allow your potential buyers to get a better feel of the listing and better envision themselves making the investment without even having to step foot in the property. While it may seem like more effort, it actually saves you time, resources, and energy that would have otherwise been used to set meetings, house tours, open houses, and more.

mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Plan Around the Weather & Natural Light

Lighting directly impacts how your images translate your listings. To bring each space to its full potential, stay up to date on the weather conditions within the property’s area, and also study how the natural light hits different parts of the room in varying times of day.

If your lighting conditions are too unpredictable, which is the case in many rainy areas, investing in your own external lights can give you better control over the photo shoot.

Utilize Editing Presets

Another advantage to getting quality editing software is the set of presets you can maximize from them. Especially when using Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom, you can get access to a wide range of both free and paid presets. Each of which can hasten your editing process and cut your post production time by a substantial amount.

Presets have the ability to tweak all the basic adjustment panels, with only minimal changes on your end depending on how you want your results to come out. You can also customize your own presets or copy the adjustments you made through Adobe Lightroom and paste it on the rest of the batch with similar lighting.

Use The Right Camera Settings

Your camera settings will vary depending on the lighting conditions of your listing, and you will need to adjust it on the spot according to how the weather is working out for you. Despite this, there are still standard guidelines that you can use as a reference and slightly tweak afterwards.

First of all, always shoot in RAW format. This enables your camera to capture all the details within your scene and allows it to process as much information as it can, which results in sharper, brighter, and higher quality images. It also helps you gain more control when it is time to edit them.

Secondly, keep your exposure mode on Aperture Priority. Aperture is what helps you get a better hold on the exposure level and we recommend keeping it stable all throughout the shoot. The variable you must change is your shutter speed, and ISO if necessary.

Now, it’s time for a more detailed guide. Try out the camera settings below depending on the photo shoot you have for the day:

For Interiors That Are Not Dark

  • Aperture – f/8
  • Exposure Mode – Aperture Priority
  • ISO – 400
  • Shutter Speed – Determined by Camera
  • Metering Mode – Matrix
  • Focus Mode – Single-Shot Autofocus

Your aperture can go even wider at f/7.1 in the instance that your image is a bit underexposed with these settings. However, we do not recommend adding on the ISO too much as this causes more noise and grain.

If these settings make your photo a little overexposed, narrow down the aperture to f/11 or reduce your ISO level.

For Interiors That Are Dark

  • Aperture – f/8
  • Exposure Mode – Aperture Priority
  • ISO – 400
  • Shutter Speed – Determined by Camera
  • Metering Mode – Spot
  • Focus Mode – Single-Shot Autofocus

The only difference between shooting interiors that are dark or bright is the metering mode.

With a spot metering mode, your camera can precisely measure the amount of light available within the space and set the exposure based off of that.

For shooting interiors with a contrasting light, you may also opt to bracket your images and create an HDR photo instead.

For Exteriors Taken During The Day

  • Aperture – f/11
  • Exposure Mode – Aperture Priority
  • ISO – 100
  • Shutter Speed – Determined by Camera
  • Metering Mode – Matrix
  • Focus Mode – Single-Shot Autofocus

If these settings result in a slightly overexposed image, step the aperture down a little by around f/13 or f/14, which efficiently limits the amount of light that gets in the shot.

However, if the settings result in a slightly underexposed image, you can set the aperture to f/10 or f/9 to brighten it up. You may also increase the ISO around 200 to 400 instead of adjusting the aperture.

For Exteriors Taken During The Evening

  • Aperture – f/8
  • Exposure Mode – Aperture Priority
  • ISO – 200
  • Shutter Speed – Determined by Camera
  • Metering Mode – Matrix
  • Focus Mode – Single-Shot Autofocus

When shooting in the evening, twilight hour, or golden hour, the above settings should create a beautiful, vivid image that perfectly captures the hues of the sky as it compliments your property.

If these settings make your image look a little too dark, you can either make your aperture wider at f/7 or f/6 or your ISO higher at around 400.

Hire A Freelance Photographer Or Editor

More often than not, it is always best to outsource. Hiring a photographer, an editor, or both to take care of your real estate photography can save you a lot of time, energy, and money by getting the job done fast, professionally, and without you having to lift a finger.

With Time Off Editing, we provide a quick turnaround of deliverables, professionally edited photos, and a variety of options for your real estate listing needs. Not only can we provide HDR editing, but we can also offer virtual staging, twilight editing, video editing, and so much more.

Contact us to see how we can maximize your real estate listings’ potential today.