The dos and don’ts of real estate photography

by Olivia D'Orazio05 Nov 2014
Photography is like selling real estate: most agents think they can do it, but there’s a trick to doing it well.
We spoke with real estate photographers and got their six top tips for taking listings photos.
Do: Use the ambient light
Natural light is a photographer’s best friend. Open the blinds and let the sunlight into the space for the photo.
“Shoot at a time when the exterior light is the same as the interior light,” says Hugh Saffar, a photographer with HS Media, “so about an hour or an hour and a half before the sun sets.”
However, photographer Alin Bugeage says to avoid taking photos during certain times of the day when the sun casts a harsh shadow.
“Right now in the winter, the sun is a bit lower on the horizon in the morning, especially if it’s a sunny day,” he says. “Know the home and work with the sun. As an agent, you’ll not go in the home only once.”
If there are no large windows in the room, install bright lights to better illuminate the space.
“When a buyer goes inside, they look for a bright house and if you have dim bulbs, that’s not going to help you sell the house,” Bugeage says. “Turn on all the lights. It will bring more light in the home, so you don’t have just the window light.”
Don’t: Use a camera flash
The standard flash that comes with a point-and-shoot camera – and even an iPhone – is too harsh and sharp for real estate photography.
“Use as much ambient light as possible,” Saffar says. “If you don’t use the flash correctly, the photo will look fake, it’ll look flat.”
Do: Use a tripod
You can find a good tripod for less than $50 but the impact on your photos is truly priceless.
“Put whatever you have on a tripod and level the camera, whether it’s a cheap camera or an iPhone,” Bugeage says. “That is one of the most important things, to have at least a level image.”
Without a levelled image, the straight lines in the home, like the walls and the floors, can look warped.
“The first rule is that vertical lines should always be vertical,” Saffar adds.
Don’t: Shoot at an angle
Never point the camera up or down when taking photos, as that will warp the lines of the home.
“When you’re shooting a camera, specifically wide angle lenses, if you point it up or down, the vertical lines won’t be vertical,” Saffar says.
Instead, try to get on the same level as the subject of the photo, or use a tripod to photograph large or wide features of the home.

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