How Would You Approach Real Estate Photography? - Digital Photography School
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How Would You Approach Real Estate Photography?

Yesterday I received this email from Tabitha – a dPS reader. I thought it might make an interesting community discussion. Can you help her with any advice?

Dear dPS – next week I’ve been asked to photograph a friends house which is being sold. They have decided not to sell their house through a real estate agent (it’s a long story) and are doing it independently and need some shots of the outside and inside of the house for their marketing campaign.

As their only friend with a DSLR I landed the job. I have no idea where to start and would love any advice that you or your community have? 99% of my photography is portraiture so I am feeling somewhat out of depth!

I have a Canon 5D Mk II and 2 lenses – a 17-40mm lens and a 24-105mm lens.

It’s over to you dPS community – what advice do you have for Tabitha?

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://www.tesarphoto.blogspot.com Michael Tesar

    I have been into photography for a couple years now, but recently got my first DSLR. I have been contemplating getting into the Real Estate photography business. We just got back from Disney World, Orlando, Fl and I got some, what I think, are Amazing photos of where we stayed. Check out my resort photos here http://www.tesarphoto.blogspot.com

    Let me know what you think,
    Thanks

  • http://guillermodelamaza.com guillermo de la maza

    On interior photography my post-processing workflow is like this:

    -DxO labs Optics Pro to fix geometric distortions (common to most wide angle lenses), chromatic aberrations and other such nuances
    -PS to polish the image (getting rid or dents or dirty spots on walls, floors, etc.) or to rebuild some areas that couldn’t be fixed on the spot. Sometimes additional perspective correction is needed so that all lines within the frame are vertical and horizontal.
    -Nik Viveza to correct colors selectively
    -Nik Color Efex Pro to enhance foliage, correct contrast and sometimes to polarize patches of sky that might be showing

    My tips for shooting an interior scene are these:
    -Check if your 17mm lens can be easily corrected for geometric distortion, if not, better go with the 24mm and if need be try making mini-panoramas so that you’ve got a wider perspective.
    -If you have a flash or light available, use them to compensate the light coming from windows, domes, etc.
    -Take at least two exposures of each shot. One without any light or strobes going off -to see what needs to be compensated, and another with additional lightning. If you’ve got several exposures of a shot, you can later merge them in order to obtain correct exposure and details of all areas.
    -If you’re using more than two light sources, keep shadows in check. It is not uncommon for double of crossing shadows to appear in the least expected places.
    -You can use gels to add a touch of home to the overall mood.
    -Use low ISOs and compensate with long-exposure
    -Try not to overblow your saturation, contrast and ISO settings as this will limit your post-prod leeway
    -Use the sturdiest and stablest tripod you can get your hands on
    -Try using a remote (RF, IR or wired)
    -If possible and available, I suggest you to use a tethered setting (camera connected to computer) so that you can spot problem areas better and fix them on the spot. This will save you lots of headaches in post later.
    -DSLRemote for iPhone or iPad is a handy tool on this respect too. Specially with the latter.

    Hope this all helps! ;o)

  • Brian Linnekens

    This article very clear and well explained. Real estate photography can take a variety of avenues.The hardest part for a real estate photographer is to convince Realtor and especially listing Agents that images are the best marketing tool to sell a home.awesome job by the way, your work is amazing!

    http://www.brianlinnekens.com/2013/10/08/errors-on-credit-reports-and-checking-them-with-brian-linnekens/

  • Josh Mais

    I have always learned so much by going to http://www.photographyforrealestate.com, it is a great resource for real estate photographers!

    Josh

    http://www.kansascityspaces.com

  • PioneerTraining

    I am very glad to learn alot from you this meaningful knowledge. From an article describing your unique way , we can see that you are an approachable , humorous person

  • Property Salvo

    Salvo Property Group is a privately owned family business that has been in the real estate industry for over 30 years providing comfortable and convenient living and business spaces. Know the general information of the company here: http://bit.ly/1lta126

Some older comments

  • guillermo de la maza

    April 29, 2012 05:17 am

    On interior photography my post-processing workflow is like this:

    -DxO labs Optics Pro to fix geometric distortions (common to most wide angle lenses), chromatic aberrations and other such nuances
    -PS to polish the image (getting rid or dents or dirty spots on walls, floors, etc.) or to rebuild some areas that couldn't be fixed on the spot. Sometimes additional perspective correction is needed so that all lines within the frame are vertical and horizontal.
    -Nik Viveza to correct colors selectively
    -Nik Color Efex Pro to enhance foliage, correct contrast and sometimes to polarize patches of sky that might be showing

    My tips for shooting an interior scene are these:
    -Check if your 17mm lens can be easily corrected for geometric distortion, if not, better go with the 24mm and if need be try making mini-panoramas so that you've got a wider perspective.
    -If you have a flash or light available, use them to compensate the light coming from windows, domes, etc.
    -Take at least two exposures of each shot. One without any light or strobes going off -to see what needs to be compensated, and another with additional lightning. If you've got several exposures of a shot, you can later merge them in order to obtain correct exposure and details of all areas.
    -If you're using more than two light sources, keep shadows in check. It is not uncommon for double of crossing shadows to appear in the least expected places.
    -You can use gels to add a touch of home to the overall mood.
    -Use low ISOs and compensate with long-exposure
    -Try not to overblow your saturation, contrast and ISO settings as this will limit your post-prod leeway
    -Use the sturdiest and stablest tripod you can get your hands on
    -Try using a remote (RF, IR or wired)
    -If possible and available, I suggest you to use a tethered setting (camera connected to computer) so that you can spot problem areas better and fix them on the spot. This will save you lots of headaches in post later.
    -DSLRemote for iPhone or iPad is a handy tool on this respect too. Specially with the latter.

    Hope this all helps! ;o)

  • Michael Tesar

    April 28, 2012 11:34 pm

    I have been into photography for a couple years now, but recently got my first DSLR. I have been contemplating getting into the Real Estate photography business. We just got back from Disney World, Orlando, Fl and I got some, what I think, are Amazing photos of where we stayed. Check out my resort photos here http://www.tesarphoto.blogspot.com

    Let me know what you think,
    Thanks

  • Rob Smith

    April 28, 2012 07:02 pm

    Great discussion and have learnt a lot about the more technical aspects of this type of photography. Am keen, though, to hear the views of experienced pro real estate photographers about the price for this sort of work. Is one able to agree a price that is value linked - the contribution great images make to the sale of a property - or is it merely a once off payment? I've been fortunate enough to convince my realtor clients of the contribution great images make to their selling and marketing efforts and they have agreed to pay me a fee for the images supplied as well as a small percentage of the final selling price of the property. What pricing formulas have other photographers been able to negotiate?

  • Sandy

    April 28, 2012 05:04 am

    As a real estate and commercial photographer the best bet is to look online and get an idea of examples there. The best site to do this and for information is www.realestatephotography.com. Also, check flickr and look at the groups there that have real estate images. It iwll give you a TON of info. I love what I do and that's where I started.

  • eosDave

    April 28, 2012 03:53 am

    Get a level for your camera hot shoe so that your wide angle shots don't get strange because the camera is tilted.. A tilt-shift lens is also exceedingly useful if you want your photos to be better than good snapshots.

  • timbambam

    April 28, 2012 01:31 am

    Well here is a subject that architectural photographers like to or don't like to talk about. When it comes to taking photos of someones home there is a lot to take into consideration. You already have at least most of the right tools. A wide angle lens is nessasary. Depending on lighting a couple of speedlights and a couple of radio controlled flash triggers.
    You need to look at each room to find the best angles and features. You do not need a picture of everyroom unless they are all spectacular. Outdoor shots are always best taken during the golden hours. I can tell you there really is an art to doing this correctly. Otherwise it would be a lot easier to get work in to Architectural Diegest. Some other things to remember are, get rid of clutter,fresh flowers for dining room tables,fresh fruit in a bowl or fresh veggies in a bowl for the kitchen. Look for money shots. Every home seems to have one or two really spectacular views. Search them out. Lastly remember when useing speedlights to gel them to match the lights in the room.

  • Nicky Dou

    April 27, 2012 12:27 pm

    First - have sellers de-clutter... then Stage home if needed.
    When taking pics - make sure all lights are on - all fans are off... light candles...
    I usually take pics with my SIGMA 10-20mm for Real Estate stuff (I have a Nikon D5000)... I always edit afterwards to adjust lighting and crop so that room doesn't appear larger than it really is... In bathrooms (which I find are probably the most difficult) get down on your knees so that you will not show up in mirror - I usually take from an angle. I also use animoto to create video/virtual tour link. Here is one of my recent videos of a home I just listed on our beautiful lake here in Northwest Arkansas - Beaver Lake...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caU0WFcyVWg

  • Jay Malone

    April 27, 2012 11:34 am

    If you really want to see how to shoot the houses..check out the work of Mike Kelley http://mpkelley.com/

  • Monika Foltman

    April 27, 2012 09:15 am

    I would start from checking a few real estates websites to see how the houses are presented there, you will immediately spot the differences between good and bad shots. While house hunting I noticed that the same interior can be presented in many ways, sometimes a fresh new house may look very dark, dull and ugly...

    Choose the sunny day to photograph the facade od a house and the garden and before taking the shot remove all the items like bins,children's toys or garden tools away.

    Ask the owners to prepare the house - tidy it up and arrange nicely (for ex. dress the dinning table with the nice set of plates and flowers) remove all the items like ironing board, clothes etc. - shots of the messy house won't help to sell the property. And be careful not to catch the image of yourself with the camera in one of the mirrors :) quite easy to do that..

    For the good shots you need the wide angle lens to capture the full view of the room, with the full frame and 17 mm should do, shooting in a very small room is always a challenge though. Make sure the rooms are bright enough and the light is even. Sometimes the yellow bulbs mess with the white balance and the white walls look yellow - with the property for sale it's important to keep the colours as faithful as possible.

    Probably many of what I wrote is quite obvious but I hope I could be any help...

  • Carroll Owens

    April 27, 2012 09:12 am

    Put the toilet seat down.

  • Mike

    April 27, 2012 09:07 am

    If you can't get good weather, you can put in some blue sky post-production - or if you're not an expert in PhotoShop get someone who is to help.
    I can pretty much echo what others have said - use a tripod, watch out for windows, lightswitches are your friend, and do ensure there's not any clutter anywhere! Point is, people will only buy the house if they see it as a step up from where they are now; a cluttered dark house will not sell. There's some good tips on clutter (well, decluttering) at http://news.open2view.com/2012/04/26/clean-that-mess-up-why-clutter-gets-in-the-way-of-house-selling
    Good luck :)

  • Harold

    April 27, 2012 08:59 am

    One more thing...how could I forget. Don't shoot the exterior on dreary days.

  • Harold

    April 27, 2012 08:56 am

    All very good answers. this may have already been mentioned (too many post to read), but:
    Stage the shot when possible (rearrange or remove furniture/make sure the house is clean)
    Use an indirect light source if yoiu must use artificial lighting
    Ensure everything is in focus
    Saturate the colors
    Shoot the outside during the evening to get the warming effect
    Use a circular polarizer if you shoot in daylight (easier to correct upfront than on photoshop)
    Find attractive angles that make the home look big and luxurious
    Depending on the lens you use, be careful of barrel distortion although it can be corrected with proper software
    Get creative and have fun!

  • David Halperin

    April 27, 2012 08:44 am

    What's been said above is all sound advice. I'd only add that although several people recommend no flash, I find that a little discreet bounce flash off the ceiling really lifts the scene. I manually dial the flash output down -- how much depends on the room, via trial-and-error. Also it needs more diffusion than the pebbled plastic built into some flashes. You can spend money on a commercial diffuser, but I'm finding that a simple white cotton handkerchief draped over the flash head works well.

    Also, if you decide to do any HDR, here's a great little free application that delivers excellent results with just a few clicks: HDRtist. www.ohanaware.com/hdrtist

  • Martin Soler Photography

    April 27, 2012 08:28 am

    Sure a lot of this has been said already. Here's how I would do it:
    1. Shoot around sunrise and sunset with the lights on and a nice blue sky outside.
    2. Shoot wide angle, take rooms from corners so you can get as much as possible in the frame.
    3. Do HDR if you really need to (if you're shooting mid-day) but I would avoid it or really just use it to capture the burned out windows.
    4. Make sure your camera is totally horizontal and correct the barrel effect and vertical lines in post to make sure the walls are all straight everywhere. Nothing scream amateur more than slanted walls.

  • MISSBLACKROSE

    April 26, 2012 12:12 am

    Hi james, thanks for nice explanation, cos i just did the photographing villa also, and i am so nervous. i am using the lens 11 - 16 mm tokina that i put on cannon 550D, can you help me how i set the aperture and iso if the place is dark already, as i am living in Bali so we dark at 7 30 pm. Thank you so much for your tip. ilike using tripod for slow speed.

  • Ken

    April 25, 2012 03:20 am

    I agree with Jackie on this one.

    Your 5d and 17-40 are perfect.

    You must have a tripod. And you must have a level for the tripod. Nothing screams amateur than converging verticals, which is what you'll have when not using a tripod and level.

    Camera settings. My Sigma 10-20 takes a sharp shot at f8 to f11. I'm sure the Canon 17-40 is sharper at 5.6 but you can't go wrong at f8 or f11. Try to make sure your camera never leaves the F stop you start with. You can end up with some weird DoF issues in processing. Focus the camera and then set it to manual after you get focus.

    Shoot RAW. I can't stress this enough. Others will probably disagree, but you will want to be able to control color temp later in processing. It also helps to pull out a stop or two in exposure.

    You must have a flash. On camera or off is fine. Most of the time the exposure on the outside isn't going to match the interior. I tried to not use a flash for the longest time and had to give it. It makes things a whole lot easier in post.

    I also use the Promote Control. It allows you to take more than several exposures without touching the camera. It also gives an option for mirror lockup between the shots. A very nice investment!

    I normally take multiple exposures with the ambient light. Make sure the brightest highlight is exposed properly or within 2 stops. The same with the shadow. Then I'll take several shots with an umbrella and strobe changing the power of the light and/or adjusting ISO or shutter.. Some spaces are tight and I use my 580ex aimed at the ceiling. Placement of the flash depends on where the windows/doors are. These are the places where you want the flash exposure to match the outside exposure. This will help in post-processing. Don't worry about the actual flash/umbrella/softbox being in the photo. That's one reason why you take ambient shots to be able to paint out the flash in post. In the end I usually end up with about 8 ambient shots and 3 or 4 flash shots.

    For post processing I usually hand blend using layer masks in CS5. Pick your best overall exposed ambient shot. Blend in a few other ambient's to balance the light. Then bring in your flash shot to pull the details from the blown out windows. Don't forget to pull detail from the lamps and ceiling lights, etc. Clients don't like blown out lights. If your light is fairly balanced you can get away with HDR programs instead of hand blending, though, I usually end of hand blending in the end anyway.

    You could go in and just use an on camera flash and take one shot of each room. This does work, but you don't get the warmness of blending ambient shots with it.

    Anyone who says this is easy, please post and show me your technique. :)

    This shot I used several ambient's. One strobe above the camera and CL. Hand blended in CS5. Good luck!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bibbeek/6722950671/in/set-72157622646665961

  • Vid

    April 25, 2012 02:08 am

    Be honest and don't waste peoples time

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6243444/House-for-sale-with-views-of-nuclear-power-station.html

  • Daryl Banks

    April 24, 2012 10:36 pm

    I spent years assisting interiors photographers and also shooting real estate photos on my own. Living in Toronto most of the real estate photography I did was condos and what I used most was the 16-35mm lens and a small off camera flash. Some condos can be so tight you dont have adequate space for bouncing flash off a wall or ceiling

  • J S

    April 24, 2012 10:31 am

    Having bought and sold a lot of homes (in the rental business for a while) you can be fancy with equipment but the keys are:

    1- neat and clean sells. Get rid of most furniture in the house. Get rid of any personal items (photos of the kids/friends/crazy party pictures on the fridge). Get rid of any cat/dog evidence. Make sure no loud paint or carpet colors.
    2- shoot without the flash. You'll need a tripod to keep the image sharp. shoot from 5ft or so off the floor.
    3- Front of house (taken from 3ft low as 'up' shot), rear of house, front yard from inside the house, back yard from inside the house or a far corner placing the house at the opposite side of the frame.
    4- Kitchen, baths, living room,master bedroom, any finished basement/attic, unique features like hardwood trim are critical. Twelve shots of six different kids bedrooms don't add anything to the photo stream. It's not about completeness. You're telling a story of key features. Look at home magazines for shot placement - especially kitchen and bath remodels where they showcase the completed work.
    5- Use photoshop or Gimp.org to clean up the photos from cropping to color brightness/contrast balance.
    6- Most of the photography work can be done with a point-and-shoot digital camera (without flash) using Gimp.org (free) software to clean up.

  • Scottc

    April 24, 2012 08:45 am

    From a wide angle with a good sun angle for outside and as if I wanted it to sell!

    I took the photos that were advertised for a home I sold in 2008, they worked well. I don't have any of those available, but this "Moving Out" collage, from Germany in 2011, is pretty close.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5872172168/

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer

    April 24, 2012 05:53 am

    My photography tip: do not shoot from eye level

    Often when photographing home interiors I shoot with the bottom portion of my tripod legs closed, only extending the two upper lengths (and the more stable ones). This way the shots are below eye level, as seen in this shoot of a St. Petersburg, Florida home:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/2012/2/27/old-northeast-st-petersburg-real-estate-photography-9th-ave.html

    However, for kitchens I usually shoot from higher up so as to shoot down onto the countertops.

  • Paul Saulnier

    April 24, 2012 01:59 am

    its easy....wide angle lens ...tripod....shutter release cable....no flash ....nothing magical ....just like doing a night shot outside...use the shutter speed ...manual white balance and voila ...its that simple !

  • Cliff

    April 23, 2012 11:57 pm

    Keep it simple, since this is not what you want to be your main photography focus (yet) unless you just want an excuse to buy an 10-22mm lens . Use your 17mm lens stopped down to ensure the whole room is in focus. USE A TRIPOD. Shoot at a time when you can balance the outdoor lighting with your studio lights (you may need to use a ND filter if the outside light is too bright. shoot from a doorway with the camera mostly out of the room to get as much coverage of the room as possible. Feature highlights. If you want to do a video, go slowly through the house and find someone with a good voice who knows the house to narrate. As others have said HDR is nice as are panoramic tours. All that will depend on what software you have, how much time you have for the learning curve,etc. Good luck to you and to your friends tryingg to sell a house in this market.

  • Scott Murphy

    April 23, 2012 11:56 pm

    Hello, I would recommend using a tilt/shift lens (renting) or at least be sure to correct perspective distortion in Phototshop. It will set your images apart from most other Real Estate photographers.

  • Andy

    April 23, 2012 11:44 pm

    Use a Tilt & Shift lens, it will set your work apart from most other photographers. Your building lines will be straight and you can be highly creative at wide angle. See an example here - http://www.andylegresley.com/2012/04/property-shoot-nature-reserve/

  • Jackie, Broomall, PA

    April 23, 2012 11:12 pm

    Jay's interior shots are way too dark. Not the results of professional real estate photography. I run into this all the time with other "photographers." Framing could use improvement (esp. bathroom and small bdrm shot). "Studying" Design magazines such as Architectural Digest can be a great help in learning composition and angles for shooting interiors. Regardless of the price range of a home, if the shot itself, in terms of composition and lighting exposure is unlike anything you've ever seen in a Design magazine, you know you've missed the mark.

    The whole selling point of getting a Realtor to use PROFESSIONAL Photography for their Listings, is to know how to create exposures that tackle the issues of mixing exterior light with interior and not having dark interiors. Too many people think if that is the way the room looks when we walk in, there are no other options. It is our job as Professionals to best represent our trade, and be capable of the "creative exposures" that will show the home at it's best, bright and inviting, even if that brightness needs to come from our lighting and exposure techniques. That is what we are being hired for, to best represent the home via photography. And don't forget to get the White Balance right. Limit use of flash, and avoid on-camera flash altogether for most realistic color and representation of the ambiance of actually being in the space, opt for tripod instead. For a really high end job where there is a stylist and assistant, additional lighting is used on strategically placed light stands and the shoot will last all day or longer depending on the size of the home or estate. Such a job is priced accordingly and usually more representative of a magazine shoot, and not typical of what the Realtor's are willing to pay except in the case of those mega-million dollar listings. Happy Shooting!

  • masontitus

    April 23, 2012 10:49 pm

    I have been contemplating getting into real estate photography since I've been looking at houses for sale and notice the terrible pictures posted! I've found 1 local person who has started doing real estate photos and their pictures are taken with a very wide angle to make the rooms seem large, and very well lit inside. I hadn't noticed it before, but they may be HDR as well since the windows aren't blown out like James mentioned.

    I'm curious for those who are already doing this, what do you charge to take pictures of a house for a realtor?

  • Karen

    April 23, 2012 10:43 pm

    Also get multiple angles of each room. Corners are the best bet.

  • Karen

    April 23, 2012 10:40 pm

    I currently take photos for real estate. I use a 10-24mm lens, I make sure all the lights are turned on ion the house. Open window shades if you can. Make sure there is no clutter around, shoes jackets, magazines, animal toys, dishes,, garbage cans. Clear kitchen counter tops as much as possible, make sure you take away toothbrushes, floor mats, towels and garbage in bathrooms. In bedrooms make sure the bottom of the bed spread cover bed ans is even and that there is nothing showing under the beds. When you go outside move cars from driveway and garbage cans out of picture. Try not to photograph power lines. When you are shooting inside get a low perspective, use a speedlite and bounce off ceiling. Camera settings, shutter 60, f-stop 5.6 is good for inside, adjust flash to suit light in room. Watch for your reflection in mirrors and windows.

    Hope this helps, good luck!

  • Joanne

    April 23, 2012 10:18 pm

    I used to design real estate ads as a graphic designer. These are a few tips that I think are important. Maybe not the technical aspect of photography but very important.

    1. Make sure the yard is clean when taking the front picture. Nobody wants to see toys all over the yard.
    2. Make sure the horizon line is straight.
    3. Consider that the picture may be used both landscape and portrait in an ad. Either shoot one of each or make sure there is enough space around the house to crop in this manner.
    4. Inside the house make sure that there is enough natural light.

    I would look at some real estate photography online and see what you find appealing. Consider what aspects you like and try to duplicate this in your photography.

  • Stefano

    April 23, 2012 09:13 pm

    I saw a lot of (natural look) HDR in real estate photography.
    I personally like it since it avoids dark and too bright areas.

  • Connie t

    April 23, 2012 04:31 pm

    Clean all the counter tops, I have been looking for a house and look on the internet at all the pictures of the house. A lot of people don't even clean. Take pictures of the kitchen. That is one thing I want to see. One of the front of the house, not the neighborhood, I could care less, I want to see what the house looks like. Try to get the main rooms. It gives someone a reason to come see the house. Make a video of the house and put it on Youtube. When I was driving around and saw a for sale sign, I ran the address on Youtube and would see videos on the houses sometimes. Take a picture of the master bedroom. I sold my house 2 years ago with out a realtor. I made a flyer and created a blog just for my house. I made a slide show and put that on the blog. Put your blog address on the flyer so people can see your house. Put the fliers out in your yard with the for sale sign.

  • Mykolas

    April 23, 2012 04:19 pm

    Hello,

    Check http://freshome.com/ site. They post a lot of nice pictures interiors and exteriorios.

  • Matt Daniels

    April 23, 2012 02:42 pm

    I've been doing real estate photography for some time now. I also use Canon 5D Mark II's and mainly shoot HDRs. I shoot HDR to bring out additional detail and bring back some range in areas that are over- or under-exposed. I feel that using additional artificial lighting brings attention to some areas of the home that our eyes would not naturally see, threrefore creating an advertisement that is not completely accurate. I do not overdo my post-processing, to make the property look as natural as possible while creating appealing images at the same time. Here are a list of tips that I usually follow:
    1. Use a tripod (this should be obvious) and a cable shutter release
    2. Shoot in live view mode with grid display (this locks the mirror up and prevents minor mirror vibrations)
    3. Try to shoot the interior during sunset / twilight
    4. Make sure all of the lights inside and outside the home are turned on (no matter when you shoot it)
    5. When shooting the exterior, wet down the hardscape to produce a more appealing image
    6. Light the fireplaces (if the property has them)
    7. Try to line up all verticle and horizontal lines; the lines near the border of the image should be parallel with image border (using grid display will help with this; they can be perfected in post-processing)

    I use a 16-35mm, 17-40mm and a 24-105mm for real estate photography. The lens you use depends on the property you're shooting and how much corner space you'll have. The 24-105mm produces the least amount of barrel distortion, but if you use the 17-40 just try to stay away from shooting at 17.

    Hope this helps. Good luck!

  • Linda Sorensen

    April 23, 2012 01:47 pm

    The timing of this question being publishes and the subsequent answers couldn't be more perfect. My realtor nephew would like me to consider real estate photography, which I am. So these suggestions will go a long way to help me to produce a quality result. Thanks DPS and readers.

  • Averil

    April 23, 2012 10:11 am

    I have been thinking about venturing into Real Estate. If I did I would go HDR to capture all the different levels of light from outside to inside and all the nooks and crannys

  • Sue

    April 23, 2012 10:07 am

    http://photographyforrealestate.net/

    This website has tons of info about real estate photography.

  • valerie Jardin

    April 23, 2012 10:06 am

    Make sure you don't shoot too wide or potential buyers will be disappointed when they tour the house and feel cheated. Realtors don't want to hear: "But it looked SO much bigger on the pictures!"
    Also, make sure you straighten your verticals in post processing. Nothing looks worse than wide angle shots with curved vertical lines and you see a lot of those in real estate photography.
    Good luck!

  • Ann Strober

    April 23, 2012 09:51 am

    My agent uses real estate software to create a virtual tour. She asked me to hold the camera to create portrait shots and move so that a common feature is in adjacent shots. The software stitches the shots and does some correcting. Another thing I learned is that some MLS sites set a limit to the file size of each photo. I use the Basic setting to set a smaller file size. The Normal and Fine creates bigger sizes. the virtual tour does not require a size. So use the Fine setting. I do have a problem with the view being badly over exposed when I shoot a room. I am going to try a neutral density filter.

  • Fran

    April 23, 2012 09:42 am

    Lot of good info on here on camera angles and lenses so I'll focus on home specifics as someone who is currently selling and looking to purchase. Like others have said, declutter. Have the owners put up personal items and photos, make the beds and for the love of all that is holy, lower the toilet seats. You wouldn't believe how many listings don't do those last 2 I mentioned.

  • Ann Strober

    April 23, 2012 09:38 am

    I am doing real estate in my community. I use my 18-135 mm lens on my Nikon D40X. The first thing I do is ask the agent what she wants to emphasize. Once I see it from her prospective it is easy to do future homes. I walk around the property to take the exterior shots. Pay attention to the wishes of the agent. Is it the view, the parking space, the nearness to neighbors, and the deck? Be sure that unnecessary objects are removed. Once we had to move the ice melter bags on the front porch. Shoot from many angles, try to avoid neighbor's houses in the shot. Makes it look crowded. Inside, take test shots to establish the white balance. Each room may change that. Try it with blinds open or closed to get the real color. I use a Nikon 600 speed light. I use the widest angle to be able to shoot a room from the door. I have to be careful that I hold the camera level so I don't have to adjust it later. At the computer, I tweak the shots a little. Some cropping and a little exposure and shadow adjustments. I try to get it right in the camera. After this I upload into DropBox.

  • Paul Broderick

    April 23, 2012 09:31 am

    If the house is overly furnished don't be afraid to move out some of the tables and chairs for a more open look. Put unused lamps behind couches and large chairs for a nice wall lighting.

  • Alexx

    April 23, 2012 08:39 am

    Don't forget to add little details.

    Table set up with wine, something "cooking" on the stovetop, etc.

  • Ricardo Galvao

    April 23, 2012 07:20 am

    Making Courses...
    Studying....
    Watching others success Photographers

    I work with a mirrorless...Samsung NX100
    Camera does not matter

  • James Taylor

    April 23, 2012 07:07 am

    Scott Kelby gave some tips a recent episode of The Grid that may help you a little bit on shooting the outside. Good luck. http://scottkelby.com/2012/some-are-calling-it-our-best-episode-of-the-grid-ever/

  • Ron Warren

    April 23, 2012 07:01 am

    Widest lens you have (tilt-shift if you can). Use a tripod. Take care to position the camera on the tripod at about half the height of the room to save you perspective adjusting later (and, as James said, watch out for wide angle barrel distortion). Get a good overall exposure, but also bracket the shots for HDR. Bright light coming in from the windows can mean real estate photography is ideal for some light-handed HDR work. Shoot from the corners or through wide entryways to make every room look as large as possible. Strategically turn on/off lights in the room for the warmest, homiest looks. Remove all clutter. In rooms like bathrooms, be careful of mirrors. You don't want to show up in the picture in the mirror -- in heavily mirrored rooms, I'll set the timer and get out of the room. Better to show the camera than me. Mirror issues can sometimes be avoided by shooting from lower down, too (unless the mirror is floor to ceiling). I rarely use flash for interiors, but you might have need to. Be careful where you place your lights (because of mirror or window reflections). You may find it more useful to backlight some features or furniture. Hope and pray (or demand) that the home is furnished or staged. Unless a home has some fancy features, it is hard to make it look good empty. Exteriors are fairly easy, just watch your light and angles. If you are stuck shooting when the light is at a poor angle, try gobo's to block some contrast-killing light and flare/glare. Good luck!

  • Jay

    April 23, 2012 06:40 am

    Real estate images can be challenging. Getting shots on the outside are relatively easy and your two lenses should serve you well. However, once you get indoors, it's a whole new ballgame. Sometimes houses are designed in a way where there is enough ambient light that I do not need any strobes. But others have been dark and it required lighting or a combination of bracketed images at different exposures (almost HDR but not really).

    Best thing to do is be prepared. The 17mm on the wide angle should work well. The MK II does well at high ISO so don't be afraid to do that. The images to be used won't be that big. If you have a tripod, great. If you have some off camera flash, that will help in darker rooms (just bounce it off the ceiling - nothing direct as it will look cheesy).

    If the light is bright in the rooms bracket your shots so that you can bring out details in the darker areas (I would suggest nearly a stop difference for each one). Below is a house I did and you can see where it was bright outside, but I was able to get some detail from the outdoors by combining shots. Make use of lamps and other lights in the house mixed with the ambient. It gives a better sense of drama.

    http://bit.ly/JF2cC6

    Hope this helps!

  • Natasha McEachron

    April 23, 2012 06:38 am

    Hello Tabitha,

    You already have experience with photography so I'm sure you'll do fine. I recently read the two articles below about real estate photography and shooting interiors and found them to be useful. Best of luck and hopefully we'll get an update with some photos from your shoot!

    http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/shooting-articles/a-how-to-guide-to-getting-started-in-real-estate-photography/
    http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/inspiration/8-tips-for-taking-interior-shots-like-a-pro/

  • James

    April 23, 2012 06:36 am

    I have a couple of friends who are realtors, and as their only dslr-weilding friend, I landed the job of shooting their houses.

    When they first approached me, I had one lens: the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and I knew that wouldn't cut it on my d7000, so I went and dropped $1000 on the 10-24. I don't regret this expense and have made much of the money back.

    Your 17-40 should work alright, provided it's not too distortion heavy a the wide end. I do most of my real estate shooting at the 10 or 12mm setting, which in crop terms is 15-18mm. So 17 should be fine, but be sure to correct for the barrel distortion in post.

    The exterior will likely be the easiest: just get the house in the center of the frame, maybe with a bright blue sky above and some lush grass below. I tend to attempt some HDR-type stuff of exteriors (and really nice interiors) but I usually end up using a straight exposure.

    I set the D7000 up to add some vibrancy and saturation to the jpgs (I shoot RAW/jpg when I shoot real estate, and almost never have to go to the raw files). This would be easy to do in post, but it's faster to let the camera do it.

    The house should be styled inside and out, with no clutter anywhere. My collection of maneki neko (japanese lucky cats) are beautiful and I love to display them, but house buyers don't care: they want to see a room with some furniture in it, some lamps, maybe a few decorative pillows, and a few pieces of art on the walls, but everything else should go into a drawer or closet (or out of frame, at least) until you're done shooting, and your friends should really just pack all the stuff up, as anyone who visits won't want to see any of that stuff either. This includes things on the kitchen counter—coffee makers, etc.—things on bedside tables, bathroom counters, and everywhere else that we humans like to stack our stuff.

    I tend to shoot from the corners of rooms. I try to get entrances and exits to every room. And I deliver 1 shot of every secondary room and at least 2 shots of every major room (living room, kitchen, master bedroom, etc.).

    The house needs to look bright and cheery. I achieve this with the aforementioned presets, and by turning on every last light I can find. Much of this can be done in post, but you'll want to be careful that it doesn't look photoshopped (if you know what I mean).

    Try not to blow out windows, if you can help it. I tend to shoot in the middle of the afternoon, so I usually can't help it, but if you can shoot early in the morning or late in the afternoon, it would be nice to show the view out of the living room windows. This assumes that stuff outside is worth looking at, so you might want to blow the windows out...

    A tip on shooting rooms: try to keep the camera perfectly level and shoot from the vertical center of the room. This will make cleaning up distortion much easier. I shot my first few houses on a tripod, and measured things, and used a remote release and all, but now I just wing it and I often wish I was still using the tripod. If you don't want to use the tripod, do be mindful of camera position and how far out of square you are.

    Sorry to be longwinded and rambley, and I hope I don't come off as too prescriptive. This is just how I do it.

    If I remember anything else, I'll add it below, and if you have any questions, I'll try to keep an eye on this and answer back.

  • Paul Seymour

    April 23, 2012 06:26 am

    I do a lot of these here our things I do and have learned.
    1. shoot wide angel and get as much in as possible I like my 12-24mm
    2. I like to light without a flash I use 2 large soft box lights when possible
    3. shoot from a tripod
    4. Shoot after they stage the house or just before an open house when it looks it best.
    5. Most shots will be wide but mix in some cool close up features like one I did recently had awesome glass door knobs that I shot close up.
    6. I like Animoto for making them a video from the picutures that they can put on YouTube.
    7. DVDs with the video and pics of the house for open house visitors is a nice thing for them to take home with them that can be left out at the open house and doesn't cost much to do.

  • Bobby

    April 23, 2012 06:21 am

    Use the 17-40mm. Get near a corner of the room. Stay at 17mm. Shoot. Makes rooms look bigger which is going to draw people in.

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