How to Photograph a Real Estate Interior or Property

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Are you or someone you know thinking of selling or renting out a property? Whether it’s a house, an apartment, a restaurant, or a hotel; the key to successfully marketing it is with captivatingly well exposed, and well-composed photographs. Here are a few tips on how to successfully photograph a clear, bright interior with visible exterior showing through the windows. Learn how to stack your bracketed photos so that your finished photographs show the outside and the inside of your rooms clearly and perfectly balanced.

The problem with interiors

Here is what it looks like when you expose for the inside or interior of a room.

How to Photograph Real Estate Interiors or Properties

This is what it looks like when you expose for the outside.

How to Photograph Real Estate Interiors or Properties

This is a big problem, right? You can very rarely get a well-balanced shot of the interior of a room without blowing out the windows. The trick is to take several bracketed exposures of each room and stack them, in order to get a clear, evenly exposed photograph.

Here is what you want your final photo to look like.

How to Photograph Real Estate Interiors or Properties

Equipment needed

This is what you will need to shoot interiors:

  • DSLR with auto bracketing feature.
  • Tripod – I like to use a tripod with a bubble level on the head to ensure straight horizontals.
  • Wide-angle lens – Depending on your camera’s sensor, use the widest angle lens that you have available.
  • Shutter release – Not essential, but quite useful to reduce camera movement (resulting in a blurry image) when pressing the shutter.

Quick and easy steps to achieve the perfectly exposed shot

Firstly, it’s recommended to do a little home staging of the rooms that you want to photograph. Having it clear of clutter and clean definitely makes for better photographs. You can arrange some flowers and some fruit bowls to warm up the interior space, and make it look inviting. Clearing the floors of clutter will also make the rooms look more spacious.

How to Photograph Real Estate Interiors or Properties

You don’t need to redecorate or go through a whole moving process, but definitely, a little planning beforehand will make your photographs look more professional. Sometimes just moving a few pieces of furniture around or putting things away in another room will suffice. Turn on all lights that you feel will give depth to the room and open all curtains and blinds. I always like to show the outside, but of course, if the view is not a very nice one, you may want to shut the blinds partly.

A wide-angle lens is best for this type of photography because you will want to get most of the room into your shot. I often find that shooting from corners of the room and getting three walls into my shot will help the viewer get a better feeling for the size of the room. Sometimes shooting from the doorway also works well if the room is very small.

You often have to squeeze and make yourself small to get behind your tripod. I sometimes find myself in some pretty strange positions in order to get the perfect shot. You may even develop some contortionist skills doing this type of photography. Move around the room to find the perfect angle that showcases the best features of the room. Also, try not to shoot directly at windows. Instead, if possible, try to shoot at an angle.

How to Photograph Real Estate Interiors or Properties

Setting up and shooting

You will want to set up your camera on a tripod and shoot at waist level, not eye level. The verticals need to be straight and by lowering your camera and shooting straight you will achieve a better-composed photo with a better angle. Look at the view from your camera and try to assure straight vertical lines when looking at cabinets or tall furniture.

Set your camera’s auto bracketing feature (AEB) to shoot several shots. Depending on the amount of light in each room, you will need to shoot between three to nine bracketed exposures at 1 to 1.5 stops between each. I prefer to use natural light as much as possible, so timing the photo shoots with the time of day is essential. Usually, the more light you have in a room, the more brackets you will need.

How to Photograph Real Estate Interiors or Properties

A shutter release will assure that the camera will not move during the bracketed shooting. You will want to shoot quickly and have the camera as steady as possible if you’re not using a shutter release.

Blending exposures

There are several different techniques to stack your photos in order to blend your bracketed exposures together. I personally use a stacking software called Photomatix Pro 5. I am satisfied with the results I can achieve with minimal adjustments and I enjoy the time-saving quality that it provides.

You can search for other HDR software and choose the one that best suits your needs and budget. You usually get a trial period or a trial version that includes watermarks. This will allow you to test with your own photos in order to see if you like it before you purchase it. Recent versions of the most popular photography software like Photoshop and Lightroom now have a HDR merge feature to perform HDR processing and tone-mapping.

How to Photograph Real Estate Interiors or Properties

Your photos are ready when you feel like the room is evenly exposed and you can see the outside view clearly through the windows.

Conclusion

Have fun experimenting with your photography and showing your friends and family what great, professional looking interior photographs you took of your property! They may even ask you to photograph their properties if ever the time comes when they are contemplating selling or renting.

Don’t hesitate to show me your photos in the comments section.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Sandra Roussy

is a Canadian writer, photographer, and teacher living abroad and enjoying all the outstanding photography opportunities accessible every day. She is now living in a beautiful beach town on Mexico’s pacific coast where she photographs real estate, local events, and writes about her life abroad. Follow her adventures from the road on her blog.

  • rpalazzo@mail.ru

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  • Alfonso Suarez Medrano Beltran

    Very well and clear explained, it is easy to read and understand even to non native english speaker people as me.

  • Sandra Photographer

    Thank you, Alfonso.

  • Sandra Photographer

    Thank you, Alfonso.

  • Khürt L. Williams
  • Frescarosa

    “You often have to squeeze and make yourself small to get behind your tripod. I sometimes find myself in some pretty strange positions in order to get the perfect shot. You may even develop some contortionist skills doing this type of photography.”

    You can also use a camera with articulated screen…

  • bwhobrey@mail.ru

    I’ve profited 104,000 thousand dollars in last 12 months by doing an on-line job at home and I was able to do it by w­o­r­k­i­n­g in my own time f­o­r 3+ h a day. I used a money making model I found on-line and I am amazed that i was able to make so much extra income. It’s user friendly and I am just so happy that i found this. Here is what i did… http://www.wzurl.me/tEXzrw

  • Khürt L. Williams

    A good idea. But unless you have a camera with a touch screen , the photographer still has to be behind the camera to change certain settings.

  • Sandra Photographer

    Thank you, Khürt. Glad you enjoyed it. Great photo!

  • Sandra Photographer

    Yes, that’s a good point, Frescarosa. I shoot with the full frame Canon 6D at the moment and it doesn’t have this option. Personally, I would not make that a requirement when choosing a camera. That’s just me. 🙂

  • Sandra Photographer

    Good point, Khürt.

  • Lev Bass

    This is a good approach when you find yourself without external lighting. One problem here is the amount of time needed to manage all the multiple shots of the same scene and to blend them into the final image. But I am wondering how often you forget your flashes but remember the tripod and remote shutter release? Yes, setting up flashes and umbrellas takes time but not as much as postprocessing. And, I think, results would be more natural looking compared to HDR.

  • Niels Krarup Jessen

    Great reading. I am preparing for a house swap so this is timed perfectly.
    Could an alternative to shutter release be the timer?

    And standing on a ladder using panoramic shooting compensates for the missing wide angle lens.

  • Sandra Photographer

    Hi Lev,
    Yes, there are several different ways of doing this type of photography. I find that using a stacking software like Photomatix Pro5 saves a lot of time. Using artificial light is another approach and gives a different result. We can experiment with different types and choose which is best for us. It comes down to personal choices and tastes.
    Thanks 🙂

  • Sandra Photographer

    Hi Niels,
    Glad to hear you enjoyed the article. 🙂
    I would opt for pressing the shutter button manually above using the timer. You want to shoot your bracketed shots as quickly as possible and using the timer will leave you with several seconds in between shots.
    Use the widest lens you have available and shoot from the farthest point of the room. In a corner or in the doorway if you have to. I don’t recommend the ladder as this would distort your horizontal lines. I have never shot in panoramic, so I can’t say what the result from that would be.
    Have fun with your shoot and good luck with your house swap.

  • Peter

    Always try to keep the verticals vertical with any architectural photography. Correct in post with the Perspective & straighten tools. Nothing worse than a wall that looks like it is falling over & most people don’t know why they don’t like the look of the photo, but it can put people off, they just don’t know why. This is more important than a lot of people think, possibly more important than seeing what is outside.

  • Sandra Photographer

    Very good point, Peter, I agree with you. However, this particular article is about how to stack photos to get evenly exposed photos. 🙂
    Explaining how to use the post process tools you mentioned and even reviewing some tilt and shift lenses could be a great subject for another article about architectural photography.

  • Shubham Gurjar

    i love this helpful post. i also have a blog and i want to create post like your. see my blog and give some suggestions to me.https://thinkblogster.com/2017/02/15/basics-of-photography/

  • Niels Krarup Jessen

    Hi Sandra,

    Just to give you a view of an image taken from under the ceiling on a two-step ladder in a 4 by 4 meter room.

    I have a fixed lens Fuji X10 camera because I decided to get rid of all the equipment that does not help or encourage me to see …

    Cheers

    Niels

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c
    488f0471bf6278288a2c83a7c9e219e7e63aa2b922ed135dc6e7e14bb739a38.jpg

  • Using a 24 TS-E will solve most of your issues and pretty much eliminate the need to correct in post. Try using manual exposure blending with flash instead of HDR. While a lot more tedious the results are much better than what HDR gives you. 🙂

  • mary.graham.1992@mail.ru

    I’ve earned $104k in last 12 months by freelancing on-line a­n­d I was able to do it by wor­king part-time f­o­r few h on daily basis. I followed an earning opportunity I stumbled upon online and I am happy that i was able to make so much money. It’s beginner-friendly a­­n­­d I’m just so grateful that i found it. Check out what I did… http://www.wzurl.me/tPSR1w

  • Sandra Photographer

    Hi Todd,
    Yes, using a tilt-shift lens and external flash equipment definitely solves a lot of issues regarding verticals and lighting. However, unless you are doing architectural photography full time, this is expensive equipment and not affordable to everyone. Thanks 🙂

  • Hector Rodriguez

    Great article! I also use a 6D and find it helpful to hook up to a refurbished ipad Mini to see what I’m shooting.

  • Sandra Photographer

    That’s a great idea, Hector! 🙂

  • Sandra Photographer

    That’s an interesting perspective, Niels. Thanks! 🙂

  • jessica_lacy

    I was paid 104000 dollars past year by doing a web based task furthermore I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­o­r several hours on a daily basis. I tried work opportunity I came across online and so I am delighted that I was capable to earn such great money. It’s actually newbie-friendly and therefore I am so delighted that I found out about it. Check out exactly what I do… http://www.cat.org.uk/snip/93439

  • Very helpful tutorial for Perfect shoot

  • Sandra Photographer

    Thank you, Digi5Studios! Glad you found it helpful. 🙂

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