3 Steps To Great Real Estate Photos
Terrible real estate photos are the biggest turn-off when looking at potential future homes or rentals. Capturing beautiful, clean pictures is key to getting buyers and renters interested. By using the right tools, lighting the space well, and staging the scene, great real estate photography is easy!
1. The Basics
While there are many nuanced photography tricks to getting the perfect commercial real estate shot, it’s important not to forget about the basics. Whether you’re a beginner just getting started in real estate photography or a seasoned pro, sticking to the fundamentals is key to getting great photos.
Bringing the right equipment to the shoot is the first step. It’s easy to overlook a tripod, thinking it’s easy enough to handhold the camera, but setting up on a tripod will make editing much easier later and give a good vantage point. Weird angles or converging lines make a picture, and therefore a home, look awkward and unappealing, but a tripod around eye-level helps to ensure beautiful lifelike pictures and good straight lines.
External lights and a wide angle lens are also key pieces of any real estate photographer’s kit. A wide angle lens allows you to capture the maximum amount of space, which showcases as much of each space as possible and establishes a comfortable atmosphere. Using external lights to highlight dark spaces eliminates dark shadows and creates an even light and an inviting look. Even something as simple as an off-camera flash can make a huge difference in highlighting the home.
2. Natural and Artificial Lighting
Nailing the lighting is important to all forms of photography, real estate included. While bringing external lights is important to creating an even lighting look and relieving harsh shadows, utilizing natural lighting is key to getting that light, bright look of real estate photography. For indoor shots, the weather outside doesn’t have to be perfect, but waiting for a nice day certainly helps. Rain drops streaking down the windows doesn’t have the same inviting effect as a beautiful sunny day outside.
To utilize the lovely lighting from the great outdoors, simply open up all the curtains and blinds and let the light stream in! Make sure all the lights inside are off to avoid weird color casts on the walls, unless they’re a unique feature you want to accent. Natural sunlight can make some strange shadows, however, which is where the flash comes in handy. The on-camera flash only points in one direction, forward, which can also cause some strange shadows, so using an external flash or strobe light is important to controlling the direction of the light and getting even, clean lighting. Aiming the light either up at the ceiling or backwards at a wall lets the light bounce off the wall and creates a softer, nicer ambient light.
Finally, shoot several different exposures from the same spot to composite later. Shoot one at the right exposure, one overexposed, and one underexposed. This is called bracketing, and allows for composite imaging in later editing. Typically, it’s brighter outside than it is inside and windows look overexposed and blown out. Taking multiple exposures lets you stitch them all together later in an editing software like Lightroom or Photoshop to have one perfect exposure for everything.
3. Staging and Cleaning Up the Frame
Although many homes are already staged and ready by the time they’re being photographed, sometimes they need a little bit of a touch-up. When staging for photos, you’re arranging specifically for the camera, not for people, and there are a couple of quick things that can make a big difference in frame.
Real estate photography is all about minimalism, so decluttering the space as much as possible is vital. Moving non-minimalistic decor, toys and games, magazines, or things like coats and shoes helps make the space look a lot cleaner. Taking away personal items and photos also reduce visual noise, as well as help the viewer to envision themselves in the home.
A camera lens is pickier than the human eye tends to be, and will accentuate unwanted details like wrinkled sheets or vacuum lines on carpeting, which can be easily fixed with a fabric steamer on the sheets and running a broom over the matted carpet. Taking the time to perfect little details like these takes your real estate photography to the next level.
Moving furniture around as needed can also help with the framing and composition of the photo. Symmetry looks great on-camera, so arranging with that rhythm helps to capture an eye-grabbing picture. Even minute adjustments can improve the composition, like pushing a chair or table a few inches to the side, or taking down a picture so it’s not cut off part way by the edge of the frame makes a big difference. Looking beyond the interior is also important to the staging process. Bright blue tarps, trash cans, cars, or other clutter visible outside the windows aren’t pretty and feel claustrophobic. If it’s not possible to move exterior disarray, frosted window panes can hide it without keeping light out.
With the right lighting and staging, capturing bright, clean real estate pictures that will look great online and on social media is easy. Strong property listing photos will entice potential buyers and add value to the home.
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