Real Estate Photography Tips For Beginners

Some amateurs think that photographing real estate is as easy as walking into a room and taking a photo. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. It’s a skill you must practice so you can master it. That is if you want to succeed in this competitive field.  In real estate photography, one of the questions asked by amateurs is the kind of equipment used and the settings of the camera. They also wonder how to put everything together correctly.

realestate-mainIn this real estate photography guide, we provide equipment and camera settings tips when shooting real estate.

Choose the right tool

In photographing a property, there are must-have items you should invest in. First, you need a wide-angle lens. You may wish to consider the 10-22 mm or 10-18 mm by Canon.

Nikon’s 14-24mm is also ideal.

If these options are out of your budget, you could choose Sigma and Tamron. They’re cheaper alternatives. These lenses can zoom out to make a room look large and spacious without distortion. When your budget allows it, invest in a tilt-shift lens or high-end primes.


Another needed piece of equipment for your real estate photography business is the tripod. You may think that you can just hold your camera during the shoot. But doing so will only give you unprofessional and blurred results. That said, make sure to invest in a good tripod. A remote shutter would also be helpful. It can resolve camera shake when you’re taking a shot.

Then, don’t forget to arm yourself with a good-quality flash. The pop-up flash of your DSLR camera won’t be enough. In real estate photography, a flash is a critical tool. Off-camera flash should have wireless triggers, though, to help you use your flash without any restrictions such as distance from camera.

But don’t limit yourself to shooting stills. Instead, try to shoot video as well. You can use your camera for both video and stills. When using your camera to record a video, choose a camera that lets you record 1080p or better video. Don’t offer your clients 480p videos or 720p ones. If you can do 4k and edit it on your computer that is an option as well, as long as the playback location will support it.

Play with light

Your eyes are complex. They can adapt along with your brain to easily adjust to different lighting conditions. Unfortunately, your camera can’t do what your eyes can.

Instead, it only captures light that  can strike the sensor. It records the light to be translated into a flat image.

realestate-architectureImage courtesy of Pixabay

Thus, to capture the best image of the property, you need to play around with the light to create dynamic photos that can attract buyers. You can do so by increasing the dynamic range of the photos by shooting in brackets or in RAW.

Dynamic images can also be created by playing with the light. You can adjust the exposure to highlight a view through a window while silhouetting the interior.

You can also get creative by using framing to create dynamics in your photo. It doesn’t matter what your preference is. What matters is that you should use the light in painting a dynamic picture for your buyers.

Know the proper exposure settings

How much light is captured per unit area in a scenario is called exposure. You can control exposure by using aperture, shutter speed, and sensitivity.

ISO pertains to the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light. If you increase its value, the sensor becomes more sensitive, thereby, it allows more light to be captured.

realestate-lightImage courtesy of Pixabay


The majority of cameras start at 100 ISO. It can go up to around 4000 ISO. Other cameras can go higher than that. But remember that the more sensitive the sensor is, the more it captures light in low-light. However, the photo won’t be crisp. Instead, it’ll have noise or grain. Keep the ISO low for best performance, such as 400 or 200.

Another setting you must look into is the aperture. It’s a setting that controls how wide the lens is open to take a photo. A wide opening will have lower aperture value. It also allows more light to strike the sensor. Furthermore, it dictates the depth of the image. The shallower it is, the more accurate the focus point will be.

If you choose a low aperture value, you’ll have shallower depth of field. That said, a high aperture value will have a lens that opens less to allow little light in. It creates a deep depth of field that lets you focus everything. In real estate photography, you should use between F8 and F11 aperture values for large depth since you are not trying to hide anything.

The shutter speed is also a vital setting that you must focus on. It tells you how long the lens can stay open to enable light to hit your tool’s sensor. Shutter speed offers more flexibility than ISO and aperture. Getting a low shutter speed may require a tripod.  Otherwise you’re risking having a blurry image. That said, it’s vital that you use a tripod if you’re thinking of using a slower shutter speed, such as to lower the ISO or use high aperture number. But remember that the longer it opens, the more differences in light and color that will show in the image. As a result, the image will have unwanted color casts.

From there, you can play with the shutter speed. Set your camera to manual ISO. And choose either M or AV mode. The former enables you to set the settings manually. The latter, on the other hand, sets the ISO and Aperture manually while the camera will set the shutter speed automatically.

Get it right

Images can look less than perfect from the camera.  In digital photography, there are still little things that can be corrected to create a final image.

It doesn’t mean that you must depend on post-processing. Remember, the best final photos are those images that came out of the camera that are close to perfect. That is, these images have accurate exposure, balanced shadows, highlights and color balance.

However, you must remember that fixing the issues in original shots can have some tradeoffs. With that said, you need to get things to look how you want your images to be. Make sure that every frame emphasizes what you want to focus on. You must only use post-processing tools in making those images amazing.

Arrange the property

Typically, potential buyers would look at exterior photos of the property first. With that said, make sure that you find the best light and angles of the property.

realestate-stairsImage courtesy of Pixabay

To do so, make sure to ask the real estate agent about the most vital features that you must highlight in the photos. Most of the time, exterior images can be from front and rear. They also want to see the patio or the deck. If the property has landscaping, you must feature that, too, in your images.

Every feature of the property must be shown off in the composition.

Know the best time of the day to shoot

Most outdoor photos can benefit from early or late daylights. To help you know the best time of the day to capture a property, you may use the Google Maps tool. As you use this tool, you’ll know whether the property is facing sunrise or sunset.

realestate-sunImage courtesy of Pixabay

You can photograph a property any time of the day. However, the white skies can affect the final result. Often, clients may request dusk  as it helps in selling a property.  You can photograph the exterior of the house from the best angle to showcase the entire house. Real estate photographers turn on all the lights of the house before shooting.

You can also add lights to the house’s rooms to create better lighting. Doing so will help you get a perfect balance.  As for the interior of the house, it’s best to understand that homes come in all sizes, styles, and conditions. That said, make sure that you prepare the house for the photo session.

You don’t need to do it on your own. After all, you’re a photographer and not a house cleaner. That said, ask some people to prepare the property before the session. Once it’s prepped, you can set out to capture the main rooms of the house.

Study the best camera height

In real estate photography, verticals must be correct. The interior of the house has edges, door frames and windows with vertical sides.

However, tilting your camera up or down will make vertical edges diverge/converge. As a result, they won’t appear straight.  Most clients want these sides to be truly vertical. You can achieve it by using a tilt-shift lens

You can level the camera to make the edges straight. But you can’t achieve the perfect result if you’re using a non-TS lens. At chest height camera level, you can have a photo with foreground subjects at the bottom while showing too much ceiling.

Chest height is an ideal camera height, although other photographers use door knob height or lower. If you prefer a chest height level, you must use a tilt-shift lens.

No matter what technique you use, you must learn how to create a useful composition. You’ll need to explore the room to know the best viewpoints. You can go from one corner of the house to the other. Capture a room from more than a viewpoint so that you can review the photos later and ensure that you can get the best image that you wish to show to your clients.

Although vertical lines must be vertical in real estate photography, there are exceptions this rule. For instance, when you photograph a stairwell, you may need to tilt the camera either up or down. In some cases, you may have no choice but to position the camera upwards when capturing the outside of the property.

Learn how to get good exposure

It can be a real challenge to perfect interior exposure. It’s especially true when you need to balance dark interiors and bright window light.

To deal with scene contrast, you can shoot while the outdoor light is low. The midday light is brighter outside than when it is during or after sunset. As mentioned previously, you need to turn on all lights inside to increase the brightness of the house’s interior.

The photos

After the session, you need to deliver the images to your client. Clients have different preferences. Most of them prefer lower resolution such as 72 dpi so that they can use them for the web. They may also request high resolution 300 dpi for printing purposes.

Remember that you’re not capturing the property for yourself but for your clients who require high-quality work. Although you need to invest in better equipment, you must only get the things that are necessary to help you perform the job well. From there, you can master the creative part of this job, like composition and angles.  You also need to learn its technical side.

For more information on real estate photography check out this article.

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