10 Tips for Real Estate Photography
You know the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” but did you know that when it comes to selling a house a picture is worth $3,400.00? As a real estate agent or anyone who is interested in selling a house, real estate photography is something that will make your house sell faster and for more money.
In a recent study, it was found that professionally photographed houses sold for an average of $3,400.00 to $11,200.00 more than houses without professional photographs!
My name is Russell and I am a Real Estate/ Architectural Photographer based out of Clearwater, FL. In this guide I am going to show you how to get the best real estate photographs possible.
What I am going to show you here can be used when selling a house, getting a great listing for a rental property, showcasing a business for its web site or on its Google Business page (which shows up on Google maps).
Here are some statistics that show the importance of having professional photographs taken.
- 92% of homebuyers are searching for houses on-line.[i]
- 87% of homebuyers who search for a home online search primarily with photos.[ii]
- In a 2014 review done in the Chicago area, homes with professional photographs sold 32% faster. [iii]
- Homes sell for an average of $3,400.00 to $11,200.00 more with professional photos.[iv]
These are guidelines to keep in mind when photographing a home. You can either do these steps yourself or ensure that the person that you hire does them. If they don’t you know that they are taking shortcuts.
1. Prepare and stage the room.
Before you photograph a house, ensure that it clean.
Get any extra items or odd items put away and organized.
Do a quick walk through and decide what areas are going to be photographed.
You could even go so far as to move furniture and add flowers and plants.
2. Use a high-quality digital camera.
There are many different types of cameras on the market and it’s hard to know which camera is better than another. There is so much to know about cameras and this isn’t meant to be more than a simple guide.
That said there are some basics that hold true:
- Use a high-resolution camera, at least 20MP.
- Use a full-frame camera. This means that the image sensor is the same size as 35mm film.
- Shoot in RAW format.
I would recommend either a Sony A7 or a Canon EOS 5D Mark iii (I use the Canon 5D).
3. Use a prime lens.
A prime lens means that the lens is a fixed length.
Generally a prime lens will produce a sharper image with less distortion than a zoom lens.
- Use a high quality lens of about 20mm for general rooms.
- Use a 35mm lens for a medium shot, say of a cabinet or bed and
- Use a 80mm or 100mm lens to get detail shots.
A high quality lens won’t have as much distortion as a cheaper lens. If you are able to, use a tilt shift lens. These allow you to keep the back of a camera level and still shot the image from a higher or lower perspective.
The main lens that I use is a Canon 20mm. My dream lens is a Canon 17mm T/S. I also use a 24-70mm 2.8L and a 100mm macro.
4. Shoot from the corner of the room.
This is just a general rule but you usually get the best images from the corners of a room.
There are times however that this doesn’t apply so use this rule as a starting point.
5. Get sharp images – Use a tripod.
It’s important to use a tripod and ideally a remote trigger. A lot of times you have to use a long shutter speed and a tripod ensures that you get a sharp image. You also need to make sure that you keep the back of the camera vertical.
The reason for this is that when you tilt the camera, you cause the lines in the room to converge. High quality architectural photographs have straight lines. Set your tripod to about 5 feet high and use a bubble level to ensure that it is level.
For a tripod I would recommend a Manfrotto and for a remote trigger I use a Cam Ranger. The Cam Ranger is really cool because it is actually a Wi-Fi connection so that you can remotely operate and control your camera from your IPhone or IPad and see the images as you take them.
6. Get bright images – Set exposure correctly.
When you use the automatic exposure in a camera, it assumes that the overall scene is an average of 18% grey.
This is correct most of the time except when your subject is darker or brighter than 18%.
If you have a white room, using the cameras exposure will make it look grey and will underexpose the image.
If you have a dark room (mahogany kitchen cabinets) again the camera will make it look grey instead of dark.
If you use a handheld meter it will get a correct exposure for the scene.
You can also be aware of this exposure shift happening and either overexpose or underexpose to compensate depending on the scene you are photographing.
I use a handheld meter in addition to the cameras build in meter. The meter I use is a Sekonic
7. Get correctly colored images – Set white balance.
White balance is the color temperature of the light.
Some light is more yellow and other light is bluer. Some light is green. Generally sunlight is blue, tungsten is yellow and florescent is green.
When shooting architectural/real estate photos, the main thing that you run into is mixing tungsten with sunlight and this can get tricky.
Generally in the daytime you can open the windows and set your camera to the daylight setting.
At night use the tungsten setting.
But keep in mind that in the daytime, there are times when you have a bathroom that doesn’t have an exterior window and you will need to use the tungsten setting.
Also, there can be an overall colorcast from an accent wall or chair that will make the room color seem a bit off. You can remove this using a color strip and image editing software. I use a Color Checker Passport, which you can use for both white balance and colorcast corrections.
8. Get the whole picture.
Ensure that you take a variety of images. Really good real estate photography will give you a full tour of the house so you know exactly what the property is like.
Usually it’s a good idea to start with the wide-angle shots, then move in closer (and change lenses) for some mid shots and finally go in even closer for some macro shots of architectural details.
This will give you the whole picture of the space.
Also ensure that if you are photographing a condo or apartment that you also get photos of the facilities.
9. For exterior photos – Get off the ground.
For the outside of the house, you want to get up off the ground at least 15 feet. These photos are typically used as the featured photo of a listing so taking the time to get this shot perfect is really important to your real estate photography.
You can do this by using a pole and remote trigger or you can use a drone and go even higher.
10. Edit your photos.
It’s important to edit your photos because you will rarely have an image that is 100% prefect out of the camera. Every digital image generally appear flat straight out of the camera and requires some basic sharpening and tonal corrections.
Earlier I told you to use the raw setting on your camera. Using raw ensures that you are recording all of information that your camera is able to capture when you take a photo.
If you use the Jpeg setting, your camera is automatically throwing out some information and processing the image at the time of capture.
Using the raw setting give you the most freedom to edit the images once you get them on your computer.
To learn how to edit I would recommend taking a class from Phlearn.com and the best software for photo editing is Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to real estate photography. If you did, please share it with your friends.
You can download a PDF version of these tips here: Click Here
Russell Missonis Photography