The Beginner Friendly Guide to Taking Your Own Real Estate Photos
Jacqueline Kyo Thomas
Looking for tips on how to improve your real estate photography? You’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll discuss how to create real estate photos that sell, and don’t suck. Let’s get started.
We get it. You’re a real estate agent who’s trying to sell homes. You’re not aiming for this year’s Pulitzer Prize in photography. However, if you truly want to stop prospective buyers right in their tracks with your real estate photos, you’ll need to think beyond the iPhone. While iPhones (and other smartphones) have revolutionized the selfie game, they don’t do much for selling homes. You literally have seconds to make an impression with a scroll-happy prospective buyer. That’s hard to do with an iPhone.
The answer in three words: Wide angle lens. In real estate photography, wide angle lenses can turn an ordinary picture into an extraordinary one. When you’re trying to stop a prospective buyer mid-scroll, you need extraordinary.
Speaking of which…
Canon Camera Bundle, Image Courtesy of Amazon
Start by choosing a camera for your real estate photography. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a camera, but you do need at least an entry-level DSLR. Why a DSLR? You need interchangeable lenses, which is possible with a DSLR camera. The two standard DSLR choices tend to be Canon and Nikon, with Canon appearing to be the more popular of the two. If you’re not sure which to go for, consider this Canon camera bundle that includes several of the other accessories that we’ll mention below.
Canon 10-18mm Lens, Image Courtesy of Amazon
As we mentioned above, it’s crucial that you invest in a wide angle lens for your real estate photos. Wide angle lenses make small rooms look bigger, which will help you tremendously when it comes to selling the home. It like a magic wand.
It also creates a better sense of depth, which makes your room look more detailed.
The best, beginner friendly wide angle lens to buy is between 10mm to 18mm. Whatever you do, never get a fisheye lens. It will distort your image.
Nikon Flash Kit, Image Courtesy of Amazon
Another no-no: Relying on your camera’s built-in flash. It’s always best to rely on natural light when possible, but if that’s not possible, consider adding a wireless, external flash. External flash allows you to control the light in the room.
Use your flash to light up those dim, lonely corners. Flood the room with brightness to create a cheery ambiance.
If you’re photographing a smaller room, you can get away with just one flash. However, for larger rooms, you may need more than one portable light to illuminate the area.
Tripod, Image Courtesy of Amazon
If you can't afford lights, at least get a $20 tripod for your camera. This reduces the blur that comes from your shaky hands. (No matter how still you are, your hands do shake.) And to completely eliminate shake, put the camera on the tripod and also on a timer.
A tripod is especially useful for night shots or simply just dim rooms when you need a longer exposure to let in as much light as possible.
Ideally, your tripod should be set to half the height of your room. If you’re in a 10 ft room, your tripod should get set to 5 ft.
Before you start taking photos, take a walk through the property to get an overall vibe of the place. For example, is the overall vibe of the home cozy or modern or light-filled? Use this vibe to create a simple story with your photos. In every photo of a “light-filled” home, capture the space’s openness and brightness.
Even though you’re telling a story with your photos, don’t feel the need to be obvious or heavy-handed. Simple and subtle repetition can convey the intended ideas to your buyer.
Encourage the seller to declutter their home before you take any photos. Remember that the camera sees everything, even things that you don’t pay attention to. For this reason, it’s important to be meticulous in the decluttering stage. Even if you don’t see it, the buyer will, and it will read as clutter and chaos.
For example, remove:
While some buyers are able to look beyond the clutter to the see the true of the property, most buyers will get stuck. Don’t roll the dice. Instead, declutter and get the property as close to perfect as possible.
Whenever you can, take your real estate photos in the daytime, preferably on a bright day when natural light floods your interiors. It’s always better to open the windows and let the sunshine in. Artificial light can do in a crunch, but natural light tends to read as “happy” in photography.
When photographing a room with windows, it can be tricky to avoid that overexposed look where the light from the windows tends to dim the rest of the room. Here’s where flash comes in. Add a flash to your camera and point it towards the ceiling. When you take the photo, the flash will serve to evenly bright the entire room to offset the brightness of the window.
Speaking of light, consider turning on the lights in the home to create a warmer looking space. Be sure to keep your light choice (on or off) consistent in all of the spaces that you photograph.
Don’t just settle for one shot of each room. Take multiple shots so that you have plenty of options to choose from when you’re going through your footage.
Also, don’t just take one type of image of each room. Take up-close images with focal points and those that show the room as a whole. Including both images in your final gallery will allow the interested prospective buyer to understand what they’re seeing.
Take shots from different angles. You don’t have to take the picture from the room’s entrance. You can also take images from an opposite corner that shows the room in an entirely different perspective.
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to edit your photos before sharing them. Photos rarely come out perfectly, especially if you're dealing with varying brightnesses.
Use a tool like Adobe Lightroom to make light corrections on your images, including brightness, color balance, and line straightening.
If editing your photos is too complicated, you can always hire someone to do it for you. It’s still cheaper than hiring a real estate photographer and the results can be just as professional. Check out the following photo editing companies for more information:
If you’re serious about taking your own real estate photos, you’ll need to invest time, effort, and (yes) money into doing it right. Fortunately, with the right equipment and a few pointers that you’ll pick up below, you will be 10 times better than you’d be otherwise.