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Tips & Tricks

6 Quick Tips For Better Real Estate Photography [+Infographic]

By Guest Contributor on March 31st 2016

Knowing your camera’s functions inside out is the foundation for any great photograph – real estate or otherwise. But when you’re focusing on an interior shot, what you need to know and do gets a little more specific. For the best real estate photography, keep these six tips in mind.

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1. The right photography kit

Wide angle lenses are the cornerstone of great property photography, especially for rooms with limited space. 16mm to 24mm lenses will give you the best perspective from a corner, but a standard lens will do the job for close-ups.

Adam Price, a KeyAGENT photographer, advises others to always take their flash guns to light up dark spaces in larger rooms. A remote shutter will also help tackle the problem of shakiness if you need to set a long shutter speed. And quality tripods with spirit levels are a godsend, as anyone who’s accidentally taken a slightly wonky photograph will tell you!

2. Tailored aperture and shutter speed

When shooting a whole room, you’ll need a large depth of field with a smaller aperture (bigger f-stop). But when there’s an interesting feature in a room, like a tap or banister, a bigger aperture will give you the shallower depth of field you’ll need to show it off.

Once your aperture is sorted, leave the shutter speed on as long as necessary to get the right exposure. A tripod is absolutely necessary for this. Using an f-stop of f11 on a full frame, and f9 on a cropped frame will ensure the whole room is in focus.

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3. Perfect lighting

The soft, natural light of early morning and late afternoon is perfect for real estate photography. But if you’re shooting around these hours, you’ll need to make a judgement call with overhead bulbs, lamps or a combination.

Using an off-camera flash will help you illuminate darker areas. Remember: direct flash can often cause shadows, and can be seen on reflective surfaces, like kettles and toasters.

4. Thoughtful angles

Our photographers suggest positioning yourself in the corner of a room and shooting across at an approximate 45-degree angle. It gives you the opportunity to capture as much of the room as possible – which is the ultimate aim of any property photography project.

[REWIND: WHAT IS THE BEST DSLR SETUP FOR REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHY? – Q&A WITH MATTHEW SAVILLE]

5. Comfortable staging

Picture yourself as the viewer. In most cases, they’ll want to envision themselves living comfortably in this space. You won’t be able to do extensive staging on most real estate photography jobs but attention to detail can work wonders. Look out for cushions to plump and chairs to straighten – and always keep sinks dish-free.

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6. Clean post-production

Removing shadows, correcting lighting and adjusting contrast levels are small tweaks that will give your photography extra sparkle. If you can see sky outside a window and it’s not particularly summery, we’d also advocate brightening it up to show the property off to its best potential.

These are our tips for taking the best interior real estate photographs, but always experiment to get the best shot. Good luck!

About the Guest Contributor

As Head of Photographer Support for KeyAGENT, Thomas Shelley recruits photographers who operate in the real estate industry. With a community of 800 photographers, he manages contracted jobs for them across the UK.

If you’re interested in becoming a guest contributor, contact us!

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Justin Haugen

    would love to see some sample images that show windows and how they handle the difference in exposure between indoor and out.

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    • Dave Haynie

      I’d like to see what’ done there, too. My house has been on the market, a series of shots done with two different real estate photographers.. These are a higher class than I’ve been getting, though at least my second guy mostly followed the guideline of only showing two walls in a shot. When you see three, it can make the room seem confining.

      In my experience, they’ve typically just let the windows overexpose and wash out. That might be the right answer for this current set, which were taken in the winter. But the original set was shot in the late spring, and my house is full of windows and completely surrounded with beautiful forest views by then.

      The original guy used way too much HDR in his editing, but didn’t really get any good outdoor views anyway — I suspect he was just HDRing off a raw, not a bracketed set. I suppose as in most things, it’s not that there’s a right or wrong answer, but that either might be the correct one under the right circumstances. But no overtweaking in Photomatix, thanks.

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    • Dave Haynie

      And yeah, I probably should have done a shoot of my own… unfortunately, I also seem to ge a general contractor on the house every weekend these days…

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    • Justin Haugen

      I shoot some real estate infrequently. With a flash on a stand with a magbounce, I’ve managed to make pretty decent looking interior photos with acceptable exposure outside the home.

      I do it for select realtor friends, but I really don’t want to put more time and effort into the shoot and editing for run of the mill listings. It’s simply too much work for too little return. If I spend more than an hour on location and 30 minutes to and hour on editing, I would rather not bother.

      But if it were a top dollar listing of commercial real estate gig, I’d feel much more motivated to composite and do it proper service.

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    • Spacephoto photography

      Real estate photography can be very tough job but it is constant, so you will earn less but stable income, especially when your doing the property’s where tenants are living you can spend like 30min -1h just staging the flat or house, cleaning bottles out of bathrooms and kitchen work tops from pans and other stuff, plus the travel and editing and floor plan drawing and editing one property if your quick can take up to 3-5h

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    • Spacephoto photography

      Difference between indoors and outdoors is made in photo shop by cutting out windows from darker image and placing in brighter here you will have some example

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    • Spacephoto photography

      this is exposed image

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    • Spacephoto photography

      and this is darker image for windows

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  2. Sachin Myneni

    Assuming one has to have either Nikon on Canon branded gear, I am surprised why the most expensive L series 16-35/2.8 and 24-70/2.8 are being recommended ? The 17-40/f4 and 24-70/f4 or 24-105 f4 would be equally capable and a lot cheaper. Especially since a tripod is being used one doesn’t need the extra stop of light. The only downside, if it is for real estate photography, is the shallow depth of field shots for any interesting artifacts… but how much and how often does one have to do that and cannot be done by f4 ?
    I appreciate the sections about thoughtfulness and comfortable seating. Those I seem to miss when I think of real estate photography. Thanks for the article!

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    • Hanssie

      We just recommended two popular ones that are on the market at this time. The 24-105 is also a great lens. One that I used for most of my photography career!

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    • Ben Young

      I’d pick the 16-35 f/4.0 IS USM over the f/2.8 variant for this work.

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