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What is Real Estate Photography? An Essential Breakdown for Beginners (With Five Starter Tips)

What is Real Estate Photography? An Essential Breakdown for Beginners (With Five Starter Tips)

Where would real estate be without its first impression? Real estate photography is the art of selling a home or apartment before a person even pulls out their wallet.

At least 46% of people view the quality of a photo or video incredibly important in a first impression. Real estate photography takes this to a whole new level due to the demands of the niche – with so much money on the line, every little detail counts. If you’ve ever been curious to get into real estate photography yourself, you need to know just as much about the industry as you do the technical aspect.

Real estate photography is the act of capturing the exterior and interior of a home to get people buying or renting. I’ll explore the unique challenges of the niche, then share tips on creating strong first impressions with your photography.

Source Image: Pixabay

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What Is Real Estate Photography?
  3. The Basic Subjects of Real Estate Photography 
  4. Necessary Equipment For Taking Real Estate Photos
  5. Five Beginner Tips to Start Practicing Real Estate Photography
  6. Conclusion: Real Estate Photography is the Definition of a Best Foot Forward

an example of exterior real estate photography showing a cream and brown porch with green furniture, trees, and flowers

Source Image: Pixabay

What is Real Estate Photography?

Real estate photography ensures buyers or renters are given the full picture on their purchase – literally. This niche involves capturing a series of well-lit and personable photos that include all aspects of a home.

Whether for reasons of schedule or personal preference, it’s not always possible to become acquainted with a new home in-person. Real estate photography allows people to feel as if they’ve walked through the halls themselves from the comfort of their computer or phone. Even buyers who can visit in-person will still appreciate quality photos for giving them a strong first impression. After all, many other homes nearby are competing for the same attention. 

This niche also involves important financial and legal details such as providing evidence for potential insurance claims. When people move in, they need a baseline of quality – real estate photos can bring up a potential clash of interest, such as damaged siding or missing floorboards that weren’t shown in the original photos. 

Is Real Estate Photography Difficult? 

Real estate photography is a niche that automatically invokes prestige and technical polish. The field itself is rather expensive, what with elements like mortgages and homeowner’s insurance. 

Just like any other niche, taking quality real estate photography is nothing practice and preparation won’t solve. What makes learning this skill easier is understanding the function behind these photos and the result you’re trying to invoke – getting viewers eager to browse, contact, and potentially buy.

Is Real Estate Photography a Good Side Hustle? 

Real estate photography isn’t seen as beginner-friendly as portrait or pet photography, but it can make a good side hustle if you’re ambitious. The national average for an American real estate photographer hovers at nearly $38,000 per year, but can hit almost $60,000 with a few years of experience.

an overhead shot of an interior with white couches, dark floorboards, and various knick knacks

Source Image: Pixabay

The Basic Subjects of Real Estate Photography 

Real estate photography isn’t just snapping a few photos of a house and calling it a day. This photography niche requires a high level of detail and a powerful eye for composition to build trust with a potential buyer.

Put yourself into the shoes of someone who wants to purchase a home: what details would be appealing? Likewise, what could potentially turn them off from buying? Every photo you take will form their idea of a home that could be the next step in their lives. 

Interior Rooms

Viewers need a good idea of how closely a home matches their personal preferences and lifestyle. Real estate photography requires several shots of interior rooms (with larger rooms sometimes needing multiple angles). 

Interior rooms you’ll need to take photos of can include:

  • Bedrooms
  • Studios
  • Basements
  • Attics
  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms
  • Laundry rooms

Exterior Photos

The exterior of a home is such an important aspect of photography there’s an entire sales category dedicated to it: curb appeal. This term refers to how attractive and well-maintained a home appears from the outside.

Exterior photos you’ll need to take photos of can include:

  • A wide shot of the entire home
  • Driveway
  • Porch
  • Patio
  • Backyard

Landscaping Photos

Landscaping drives up the cost of a home for both the buyer and the seller. The surrounding landscape can’t be overlooked in real estate photography – these details are sometimes the most compelling for potential homeowners. 

For example, nearby trees are a significant draw for homeowners not just for their beauty, but how they reduce energy costs. Their ongoing shade reduces the need for air conditioning during the summer, while their thick leaves block frigid winter air. If you’ve ever needed more of a push to practice environmental photography, this is the place to do it!

Landscaping photos you’ll need to take photos of can include:

  • Gardens
  • Pools
  • Spas
  • Trees
  • Ponds

a black camera on a black tripod resting on a grassy sidewalk on a sunny day

Source Image: Pixabay

Necessary Equipment for Taking Real Estate Photos

Real estate photography is an exhaustive process that requires bright lighting, stable shots, and a sharp attention to detail. The following equipment will make gathering up visual samples a little easier.

Tripods and Remote Triggers for Stabilizing Shots

Crooked real estate photos will look unpleasant at best and outright amateurish at worst. Tripods and remote triggers help you stabilize shots and can even speed things up for you.

Tripods give your camera solid, flat ground to line up a level shot of an interior or exterior environment. You can raise the camera higher or lower depending on the angle you feel best suits your work. If you’re using your smartphone, there are tripod-esque selfie sticks you can attach your phone to. With less time needed to constantly stabilize a shot, you can save a few minutes of fussing. 

Remote triggers are also useful for reducing the need to manually take photos. Just pressing a button can be enough to shake the camera and cause unwanted blurring. A remote trigger is basically a remote control for your camera, allowing you to take photos without touching your device. 

Multiple Focal Lengths to Capture Size or Detail

Different focal lengths broaden your ability to create a sense of scale or hone in on specific details. The best focal lengths for real estate photography should be in the 24mm to 35mm range.

This focal length range is highly flexible and able to suit a variety of interior environments. Remember: the goal is to accurately showcase as much of a room as possible. Sometimes this means you need to take more than one shot, too.

If you’re in a particularly cramped space – such as a broom closet or a washing room – you can try a narrow focal length between 14mm to 16mm. 

Lighting Equipment to Improve Color and Contrast

Ideally, real estate photography should be taken during the morning or afternoon to take advantage of natural daylight. If you don’t have much of a choice in the matter, consider bringing portable lighting equipment.

Some lighting equipment for your photography studio can be taken with you. A speedlight is good for smaller rooms or focusing on furniture, while a portable softbox can be useful for filling up a larger room. 

Photo Editing Software for Simple Touch-Ups

Even the most experienced photographer may need a little help putting together high-quality real estate photos. Photo editing software gives you the ability to brighten, darken, or adjust photos until they’re polished enough to present.

However – and this can’t be stressed enough – photo edits should be as simple as possible. Too many edits can drastically change the final result and end up misleading the viewer, which defeats the purpose of real estate photography. 

Photo editing software is easy to come by and there are many ways to incorporate it into your life – you can do a one-time purchase with DaVinci Resolve or a subscription model for Adobe Suite. There are even freeware photo editing programs such as GIMP or Canva.

an example of daytime real estate photography showing a blue house with white trimming and green shrubbery

Source Image: Pixabay

Five Beginner Tips to Start Practicing Real Estate Photography

Everyone has to start somewhere when building a skill – real estate photography is no different. While massive homes and fancy gardens may seem intimidating to shoot, these following tips will make starting a portfolio easier.

Create a Simple List of Interiors and Exteriors

Before you even start angling your camera for a great shot, start off by creating a list of interiors and exteriors. This simple step will make sure you don’t miss anything important as you gather up a visual collection of the home. 

Just like a house isn’t built in a day, your real estate photography portfolio needs to be tackled in steps. As you finish each section of the list, check it off before moving to the next. 

Start With Your Own Home or a Friend’s Home

Another way to start off simple is with your own home or a friend’s home. While you can always reach out to a real estate agent to see if they’ll let you practice, they’ll likely prefer to work with an established professional.

Starting off in a familiar environment will let you adjust furniture or lighting on your own time. This is a prime time to practice telling a story with your photography. For example, you can still make a clean bedroom appear ‘lived in’ by placing a few throw pillows or a book on the bed. You want the viewer to feel as if the home is already part of their own life. 

Always Bring Extra Memory Cards

One of the most soul-crushing experiences is to run out of memory right when you’re getting into the groove. Always bring extra memory cards so you don’t run out of space when you need it most.

Make sure you have somewhere safe and dry to put the memory cards, too. They’re small enough they could easily get lost or crushed.

Practice With Detailed Close-Ups as well as Wide Shots

High quality real estate photography provides a variety of close-ups as well as wide shots. Knowing which one to use in your portfolio starts with understanding what you’re trying to communicate to the viewer.

A narrow focal length is better for close-ups, allowing you to hone in on small details potential buyers want to know. You can use close-up shots to show the detail in marble tiling or the loving care put into house siding. 

A wide focal length will help you take a classic wide shot, ideal for showing the entirety of a room or landscaping. These shots let the viewer get a well-rounded first impression of a given area, almost as if they’ve walked into the space themselves. 

Get Comfortable With Subtle Post Editing Touch Ups

Post editing in real estate photography should be as subtle as possible. The goal with this niche is to provide an accurate impression of a home, not a stylized rendition.

If a buyer thinks they’re getting one thing, but show up and see something else entirely? They could be turned off from buying. Subtle post editing touch ups are best for enhancing what’s already there, such as bringing out the wall’s colors or getting rid of an unnecessary detail (such as a napkin on the floor). 

Common edits real estate photographers make to their interior and exterior photography are:

  • Improving white balance
  • Saturating or desaturating colors 
  • Editing out minor errors (such as a dust speck or an item dropped onto the floor)

a wide shot of an interior showing a bed with colorful pillows and a colorful rug with beige walls

Source Image: Pixabay

Conclusion: Real Estate Photography is the Definition of a Best Foot Forward 

Real estate photography is all about a powerful first impression. Getting into this niche means having a deep understanding of what a potential buyer is looking for in the first place.

Real estate photography involves taking crisp, clear photos of interior and exterior environments to push a sale. These photos should be divided into close-up shots and wide shots to showcase as much of the home as possible. While post editing touch-ups should be as subtle as possible, photographers can still exercise a little artistry — inviting lighting and varied angles go a long way in drawing a viewer in. 

A beginner real estate photographer should get started snapping shots of their own home or a friend’s home. Portable lighting equipment and a tripod will go a long way in creating well-lit, stable shots. Over time, you’ll become comfortable switching up angles or crafting compelling compositions to grab a prospective buyer’s attention.

Quality real estate photography captures the warm, cozy feel of a home before it becomes a home. 


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