The real estate market is very competitive. People are always moving to different cities for different reasons. New subdivisions are constantly under development across the nation. Real estate agents have to stay on top of their marketing game to keep up with the pace and remain successful.
A huge part of real estate marketing is photos. Agents use photos of the homes they have listed on multiple listing websites, their own websites, and on social media business profiles.
When someone is in search of a home, they typically just do not have time to go out and actually look at every home available in their price range and targeted area. So, they (and/or their agent) turn to online listing sites to do the research for them. This allows them to view multiple listings in a short amount of time to narrow down their home search. This means they only have photos to go by, so the photos of the home need to be appealing and catch the attention of the potential home buyer.
If you are considering venturing into real estate photography, here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction.
You need more than just a point and shoot camera to get good real estate photos. You will be working with different sized rooms, different wall colors, and different lighting scenarios. So you will need a camera capable of switching lenses and using off camera flash.
You will also need a good wide angle lens or two. You need to be able to get large areas in one image so the wider the better. Also invest in a tripod, wireless triggers, and light stands.
When a buyer is searching for a home online, the outside of the home is generally the first thing they see with a real estate listing. The advantage of shooting exteriors is that you can come pretty much any time of day to get what you need. Early morning or late afternoon/early evening is the best time to avoid harsh blown out skies, and the lighting will be more even during these times of days.
A quick trip to the home during one of these times of day will give you an idea of which side the sun hits the home, front or back, so you can plan accordingly.
Try to avoid including distracting elements in the images, such as vehicles or the neighbor’s home. The focus should be the outside of the home, the yard, and any other elements that make the home unique. Gardens, pools, patios/decks, landscaping, etc. should all be included in the gallery. These are things that give the outside personality and curb appeal.
Many real estate photographers use what is known as the “dusk/dark technique.” This is when you wait until the time of day when it almost dark out but still enough light to take the image and see the exterior. You turn all of the lights in the home on so that the rooms are visible in the photo. This helps give the image that “home sweet home” relaxed feel.
When shooting the interior home, you want to be sure to cover all of the homes best qualities and selling characteristics.
The rooms you should put the most emphasis on are living room, kitchen/dining room, master bedroom and master bathroom. Of course getting shots of secondary bedrooms and baths are a good idea because the more a buyer can see when searching for a home online, the better odds of them becoming interested.
If there is a library, office, finished basement, massive walk in closet, theatre, or fancy high tech laundry room, be sure to include images of those as well!
You also don’t want to photograph a dirty or cluttered home. So be sure to have your client make sure the home is clean and inviting because otherwise, it will show in the images.
When it comes to photographing rooms, regardless of the size, perspective matters. You want to shoot at angles that give the images a nice flow to them, allowing the viewers’ eye's to “travel” throughout the photo as if they are on a tour of the home. This may require you moving furniture around (if there is any) or shooting from below, above, to the left, to the right, or straight ahead.
If the room has wall to ceiling windows, choose an angle that shows that. If the room features a uniquely designed ceiling, make sure to include it.
Indoor lighting can be tricky and vary from home to home and even room to room. The wall colors, the amount of natural light coming through the windows, the in-home lighting, and time of day all play a role in the exposure. It is up to you to figure out how to balance everything out.
If you have bright lighting coming through the window, leaving you with some bright areas and some darker, a simple fill flash can help even everything out. Bouncing your flash off of a ceiling or wall is also a great way to get even lighting.
Lighting, exposure, white balance, etc. can all be adjusted in post processing if needed. You can even adjust just specific parts of the image if needed. If you need to tone down the exposure in a blown out window or increase the contrast on a marble countertop, grab a brush in Photoshop or Lightroom and touch up as needed.
Do not attempt to over-edit or attempt creative edits with real estate photography. You want the home to look real, inviting, and visually appealing.
Do your research, look at other photographers' work, and maybe practice in your own home or a friend’s home. The real estate photography market is huge and competitive. Use these steps to get you started. The more you practice and learn, the better you will get!