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Real Estate Photography Tips

As someone who works in real estate marketing, I find myself increasingly frustrated and annoyed by the piss-poor standards when it comes to real estate photography, everything from bad metering, e.g. metering from a light source such as a window, which creates an underexposed image or using a forward firing flash creating horrible shadows to terrible angles and converging vertical lines. All of which could be fixed easily by following a few simple rules and spending more than a few seconds per shot.

Good photography is of vital importance in real estate as it’s the first thing that people see in your marketing materials before reading a single word of your marketing text. If you have poor photos, many will simply move onto the next listing, or maybe not even look at your listing because of a poor photo.

The first thing to do, whether you have a professional DSLR or point and shoot camera, buy a tripod, a cheap $30 tripod will do, it will allow you to set a slower shutter speed to capture more light, removing the need to use a flash. Most modern digital cameras have some sort of manual exposure setting and to avoid those blurry photos, use your camera’s self timer function to avoid “camera shake”. Always use the widest angle lens available to you and zoom out to it’s widest angle, I’d say 18mm on a crop sensor camera is the minimum wide angle you’ll need, a lot of point and shoot cameras are equivalent to that.

Preparing the room for photography is vitally important, I always open all blinds and/or curtains to maximize natural light and turn on all available lights in the home, remove any trash and generally tidy up, also remove fridge magnets etc. I like to open all interior doors and closets to show/highlight space.

From a shooting angle point of view, I always place my camera as far back into the corner of the room as possible on my tripod at about chest height (5ft) using the built in level of the tripod if available or use the viewfinder to get equal amount of floor and ceiling in shot, making sure that vertical lines are straight. In smaller rooms, set your camera in a portrait position (vertical) to capture more of the floor and ceiling, making the room look larger, this technique is great for bathrooms, walk-in closets and hallways.

Metering is very important, always take a metering point somewhere inside the room away from windows and light sources to get the correct exposure, this does tend to “blow out” the windows a little, but the room will be correctly exposed. To get a balance of light from windows and internal brightness, I use a technique called HDR (High Dynamic Range), I take 3 or more shots 1-2 stops apart and combine them in software which allows for visibility out of the window while keeping the correct exposure inside.

I hope that this brief write-up helps you produce better photos of your properties, if you have some questions, please feel free to post a comment below, and I will attempt to give you some advice.

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