Taking beautiful photos of your home that accurately capture its best features can be challenging. With some planning, the right equipment, and a few photography tricks, you can get magazine-worthy real estate photos. Follow these tips to take stunning home photos you’ll be proud to share.
Choose the Right Time of Day
The time of day significantly impacts how your home looks in photos. Here are the best times to shoot:
Morning Golden Hour
The soft, golden light of early morning flatters home exteriors. For the warmest light, shoot in the hour after sunrise. Late morning photos can look stark and uninviting.
Late Afternoon Golden Hour
Two to three hours before sunset casts a warm glow on home interiors. Long shadows create dramatic angles. Avoid noon photos when the sun is directly overhead.
With no harsh shadows, overcast days allow you to capture fine details. It’s ideal for shooting home exteriors. Wait for the clouds to break up to avoid flat, dreary photos.
During the blue hour after sunset and before nightfall, exterior lighting illuminates architecture. Use a tripod for sharp twilight photos.
After dark, open all your home’s interior lights to highlight architectural details. Use a tripod and adjust exposure settings for detail without blowing out bright lights.
Prep Your Home for Photography
To make your home look its best in photos:
Pare down clutter and pack away excess decor. Remove personal photos and kids’ toys to depersonalize the space. Simple, clean rooms photograph better.
Scrub surfaces, mop floors, and wash windows inside and out. Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures. Remove cobwebs and pet hair. A spotless home photographs beautifully.
Limit decor to a few thoughtful pieces—a pretty throw, fresh florals, stacked coffee table books. Too many knickknacks distract from elegant, airy spaces.
Open blinds and curtains to maximize natural light. Turn on all interior lights, replacing bulbs that are different temperatures. Candlelight adds warmth for evening photos.
Stage Each Room
Pull out barstools, set out pretty dishes, fluff pillows, turn on lamps, fold back bedding. Make the home look lived-in yet orderly.
Use the Best Photo Gear
Invest in quality photography equipment for super sharp, vivid home photos:
A digital SLR camera allows you to manually adjust settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for optimal exposure. Models like the Canon EOS Rebel deliver professional results.
Wide Angle Lens
A wide angle lens (at least 24mm) captures sweeping architectural shots without distortion. It’s perfect for cramped rooms. Some lenses go as wide as 14mm.
To prevent blurry low light or twilight shots, use a sturdy tripod and remote shutter release or timer to eliminate camera shake. Tripods also allow panoramic stitching.
Off Camera Flash
Adding a flash creates shadows that exaggerate imperfections like clutter and cracks. Instead, bounce a remote off camera flash for soft, even lighting.
Use an 18% neutral gray card to set a custom white balance and achieve accurate colors. It provides a white balance reference point.
Master Real Estate Photography Techniques
Applying these professional photography techniques yields high-quality home photos:
Focus on the Exterior
Start by photographing the home’s curb appeal façade to showcase architecture and landscaping. Shoot from an angle to include the entry and yard.
Capture Scenic Views
Take wide shots of the home framed by sweeping landscapes or city skylines. It highlights desirable surroundings. Drone photography from above has visual impact.
Include Outdoor Living Areas
Photograph patios, decks, and porches staged with outdoor furniture and décor. Fire bowls and water features come alive at twilight.
Shoot Room Overviews
Stand in corners to fit entire rooms in the frame. Elevated angles minimize distortions from wide lenses. Vertical lines should be straight.
Embrace Negative Space
Don’t clutter shots. Allow large swaths of unoccupied space to create an airy feel—especially in small rooms. Centralize focal points.
Mix Vertical and Horizontal
Shoot horizontals to emphasize room length and verticals to draw the eye up. Mix orientations for visual variety and to highlight tall ceilings.
Spotlight Architectural Details
Take close-ups of special features like crown moldings, fireplaces, tilework and backsplashes. Use selective focus and dramatic angles.
Shoot Lifestyle Vignettes
Convey how a space gets used by photographing kitchens set for breakfast or bedrooms staged with laptops and books.
Include the Exterior at Dusk
Capture the home illuminated against the night sky. Use accents, landscape and path lights. Long exposures create light blur effects.
Boost Clarity in Editing
Post process in Lightroom or Photoshop. Adjust tone curves, vibrance, sharpness and clarity to make details pop. Selective editing can fix problem spots.
Enlist a Real Estate Photographer
For best results, hire a real estate photographer to skillfully light and capture wide angles in cramped indoor spaces using specialized gear. Expect to invest at least $200 to $500.
Common Real Estate Photography Mistakes to Avoid
Steer clear of these all-too-common real estate photography blunders:
Shooting Off Center
Framing shots off center looks sloppy. Use the rule of thirds properly to line up the horizon and verticals.
Mixing Light Temperatures
Mismatched light temperatures create an ugly yellow/blue color cast. Replace bulbs until all are daylight or soft white.
Resist overdoing photo edits that make rooms appear artificially saturated or too sharp. Subtlety enhances natural beauty.
Distorted Wide Angle Shots
Ultra wide angle lenses curve straight lines like walls when not positioned correctly. Fix lens distortion in post.
Blowing Out Bright Spots
Overexposed windows and light fixtures lack detail. Use HDR techniques or exposure compensation to capture highlights.
Forgetting Room Overviews
Focusing solely on vignettes leaves out important wide shots establishing space layout and flow. Include both detail and overview images.
Crowded rooms look smaller. Pare down furniture and stylistic overload so the architecture can shine.
Harsh midday sun creates unpleasant shadows and squinting. Photograph at sunset or soften light with a diffuser.
Overcast skies create dull, lifeless exterior shots. Wait for clouds to clear or brighten things up in Photoshop.
Vertical compositions make rooms feel closed and cramped. Favor horizontal framing to convey spaciousness.
Real Estate Photo Editing Tips in Photoshop
Use these Photoshop techniques to take your home photos to the next level:
Adjust White Balance
Fix color casts like yellow incandescent light. Click white or gray areas with the white balance tool to neutralize color.
Boost Overall Exposure
Lighten dark, underexposed shots with Levels adjustments and luminosity masks to bring out detail. Take care not to blow out highlights.
Reduce Highlight Blowouts
Recover overexposed bright windows and lights using Photoshop’s highlight recovery or HDR tone mapping features.
Brush in Local Exposure
Dodging and burning with adjustment brushes lightens or darkens specific areas. For example, brighten dark corners.
Desaturate Distracting Colors
Mute loud decor like a red couch or bright blue wall that competes with the home’s neutral palette.
Remove Lens/Perspective Distortion
Correct leaning vertical lines using the adaptive wide angle filter. The transform tool also helps.
Add sharpness to focal points like house numbers and fixtures. Soften distracting backgrounds using Gaussian blur.
Swap dull skies for stunning sunrises, sunsets or stormy skies using sky replacement tools and layers.
Eliminate cracks, stains, graffiti, leaves and other imperfections using the Clone Stamp and Spot Healing tools.
Add Light Effects
Make exteriors pop with lens flares placed near the sun. Headlights and street lamps illuminate night scenes.
Subtly darken shadows beneath trees, eaves and porches using Burn to accentuate textures and details.
Create an Online Real Estate Photo Gallery
Showcase your home photos by creating an online photo gallery:
Build a Website
Use a site builder like Squarespace to create a professional real estate website with large galleries and room for property details.
Host a Slideshow
Embed a full-screen slideshow video that cycles through photos with elegant panning and transition effects. Add captions.
Optimize Load Speed
Compress image file sizes so pages load quickly. Large photos strain mobile data plans. Resize for the web.
Let potential buyers download high-res photo files to take a closer look on their devices. Watermark if desired.
Share on Social Media
Post real estate photos on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Drive traffic back to your site. Hashtag location.
Include Photo Captions
Identify rooms like “spacious kitchen with granite counters” to aid navigation. List special features shown.
Link to Virtual Tours
Embed virtual tours using Matterport for an interactive 3D viewing experience. Photos drive interest to tours.
Swap in new photos regularly to keep listings looking fresh. Change up scenes and angles to reveal more.
Real Estate Videography Tips
Expanded listings with video content grab more attention. Follow these real estate videography best practices:
Invest in a Gimbal
A camera stabilizer smooths out shake that makes video look amateur. Gimbals allow cinematic tracking shots.
Mix Wide and Close Shots
Establish space layout with wide pans before focusing on details like fixtures. A range of perspectives provides context.
Capture 3-7 Second Clips
String together a series of steady short video clips rather than one long shaky take. Vary camera angles.
Adjust White Balance
Set white balance according to lighting and lock exposure to prevent fluctuations indoors and out.
Shoot Lifestyle Scenes
Film rooms in use – like cooking in the kitchen or lounging in the living room – to help viewers envision living there.
Overlay Ambient Audio
Layer in pleasant ambient sounds like birds chirping rather than stark silent footage to boost aesthetics.
Incorporate Motion Timelapses
Timelapses of clouds rolling by or city traffic create living pictures when edited into video tours.
Fly Over with a Drone
A drone flyover shot reveals the surrounding neighborhood and impressive roof architecture not visible from the ground.
Add Text Graphics
Briefly overlay room names, home specs and special features to call attention to selling points.
Prominently Showcase Video
Host on YouTube, Vimeo or your real estate site. Embed video prominently on listing pages to increase engagement.
Key Real Estate Photography Tips to Remember
- Shoot during the warm light of golden hour for flattering illumination.
- Thoroughly clean and declutter each room prior to photographing.
- Use professional gear like DSLR cameras, wide angle lenses and tripods.
- Include wide room overviews along with close-ups of details.
- Time interior and exterior shots according to optimal lighting conditions.
- Fix common issues like distorting lenses and blown out highlights using post-processing.
- Build an online gallery to showcase photos to potential buyers.
- Add video and virtual tours to enrich the listing and highlight more features.
Frequently Asked Questions About Real Estate Photography
Here are answers to some common real estate photography questions:
Should I hire a professional real estate photographer?
While DIY photography can work for casual listings, hiring a professional real estate photographer is recommended for higher-end properties. Experienced real estate photographers have specialized equipment and expertise that typically yields far superior results compared to amateur photography or iPhone shots. Investing in pro real estate photography gives your listing a competitive edge in attracting buyers.
What is the best camera and lens for real estate photography?
A DSLR like a Canon or Nikon paired with a wide angle lens around 10-14mm delivers sharp, distortion-free architectural shots. Wide angle lenses prevent having to stand too far back in cramped indoor spaces. For detailed close-ups, opt for macro lenses and off-camera flash units.
How many photos should a real estate listing have?
Ideally, include 20-40 high-quality photos per property listing. Strive for a complete visual tour with exterior shots, room overviews, detail close-ups, twilight and aerial drone shots. More photos allow potential buyers to fully evaluate the home.
What are the most important real estate photography tips?
Clean and declutter. Shoot during optimal morning and evening lighting. Use wide lens with a leveled tripod. Frame shots straight-on centered. Include room overviews and close-ups. Correct distortion and blown-out highlights in editing.
How much does real estate photography cost?
Professional real estate photography costs an average of $200 – $500 for a 2,000 sq. ft. home, depending on the photographer’s experience and your region. Larger luxury homes with 10 or more rooms run $600 – $1,500. One-time shoots for MLS listings generally cost less than marketing packages.
With the right camera equipment, shooting techniques and post-processing skills, you can showcase homes at their absolute best with gorgeous, magazine-quality real estate photography. Pay attention to lighting, preparation, angles, composition, and detail. Invest time to capture the architecture, layout and special features from multiple perspectives. With phenomenal photos that highlight the property’s selling points, your real estate listings will attract serious buyers.