A Comprehensive Guide on Taking Great Property Photos

They say that a picture paints a thousand words. In the case of real estate marketing, listing photos can speak more than the description, as it helps buyers and renters see what exactly the property looks like. 

About 87 percent of home buyers relied on photos to help make their decision, according to America’s National Association of Realtors. Moreover, professionally-photographed homes sell 32 percent faster than other listings. Here in the Philippines, a country teeming with active social media users, photos matter. 

The simple truth is that real estate photography can make or break your lead generation and conversion efforts

If you want to sell properties faster and win more clients, refer to this comprehensive guide on how to take great real estate photos.

General Real Estate Photography Tips

Before we delve into photography tips specific to the gear you’re using, it’s important to know general photography tactics that are essential regardless of the camera you’re using. Take note of these tips as you prepare for your shoots:

Create a Shot List

Knowing what you have to shoot can make your photography sessions more efficient. It keeps you from forgetting important shots as well. This is especially important when you have plenty of rooms to cover. At the most basic, you must have:

  • Wide-angle shots of the living room, bedroom, kitchen, dining room, and bathroom
  • Shots of the front to emphasize curb appeal
  • Shots of the backyard from different angles
  • Shots of other home amenities (garage, utility room, balcony, roof deck, walk-in closet)

Make Sure You Have Enough Light

Poorly-lit photos are automatically unappealing to property seekers. If you think about it, they are also counterintuitive to your goal of showing off the space since the bad lighting obscures the excellent characteristics of the property.

Photo via DepositPhotos

To increase lighting in the area, open the windows and let natural light in. If that’s not possible, turn on the overhead lights or other light sources, such as pin and accent lights in the room.

Emphasize the Best Features of the Space

Remember that you’re taking photos not only to show people what the property looks like, but more importantly, to present the space in the best way possible. This is where angle comes in. The golden rule here is to focus your angle on the best features of the space

For example, if the condo unit’s living room opens up to a balcony view of the city, shoot in such a way that the scenery will be the focal point of the image. The kitchen’s beautiful open shelves should be captured in the angle you choose. Always highlight the most impressive feature of the space.

Take Photos from Different Angles

While it’s important to focus your angles on the best features of the space, don’t hesitate to explore different angles, too. Not only will this give you tons of options for post-production, but also offer variety to your final line-up of listing images. It avoids monotony and adds visual interest to the photos.

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

If you’re promoting a brand new property, clutter wouldn’t necessarily be a problem since these spaces are usually free of unnecessary stuff. But if you’re selling a pre-owned home, you should be able to organize spaces, especially tidying up the areas that can be readily seen in photos: tables, countertops, and desks. If possible, conceal the owner’s belongings as well, including family pictures and personal collections. 

Use a Tripod

As much as possible, don’t take photos without a tool that can stabilize your camera or your hand. Otherwise, you’ll have blurry, messy, unprofessional-looking photos. Instead, use a tripod to capture clear, crisp images. Another benefit to using a tripod is you’ll be able to set up your camera at the same, consistent height, from one space to another. 

Photo via DepositPhotos

Know Basic Photography Principles

It pays to learn about the essential elements of photography so you can apply them to your real estate shoots. You don’t have to be an expert. But if you have to focus on just three principles, prioritize these:

  • Pattern. These are the repetitive elements in your subject, which capture the eyes instantly. These could be the three stool chairs against the kitchen island or the wallpaper backdrop in the living room.
  • Symmetry. This is created when the elements in the composition mirror each other when the image is cut in half. A good example of this is the front door of a house with windows on each of its sides.
  • Rule of thirds. Imagine a 3×3 grid, created by two vertical and two horizontal lines. Those four points where the four lines intersect are where your points of interest must be.

Real Estate Photography for Android Users

Believe it or not, you can take professional-looking images with just your Android phone. Here are some best practices to use when shooting with your smartphone:

Turn on the Grid Lines

Most Android phones have the Grid Lines feature, which can help in following the rule of thirds. Use this as a visual guide in your shoots. Don’t worry, the lines won’t show in the final property photos.

Photo via DepositPhotos

Use the High Dynamic Range (HDR) Option

As the name suggests, High Dynamic Range adds more “dynamic range” to photos. Dynamic range is the ratio of light to dark in an image. Rather than taking only one photo, HDR uses three photos shot at different exposures and then combines them all in one image. The result is better, high-quality real estate shots.

Go with Pro Mode 

Pro Mode is an Android feature that lets you manually adjust capture settings, namely the color, temperature, aperture, and ISO of the camera. Do some test shots in your own home before your shoot, exploring these different settings under different light conditions. This way, you have a better idea of how to fine-tune settings during the actual shoot.

Play with Different Camera Modes

While the default camera mode on your phone is okay, it’s good to explore other camera modes. Panorama, for instance, is perfect for capturing the entire outdoor space. Ultra Stable Video, on the other hand, can lessen the blurs and provide a cleaner, crisper video, which is excellent for shooting a property tour. Maximize these different camera modes on your phone to produce better-quality images.

Photo via DepositPhotos

Choose Night Mode

Want to capture the beauty of the property at night? Hit the Night Mode. This lets you take clear, crisp photos without manually increasing the ISO and keeping your phone on a flat surface.

Real Estate Photography for iOS Users

iPhone users can create professional-looking property photos. The key is to be familiar with what your device can do. Follow these tips to create exceptional listing images:

Select a Photographic Style

On the latest models of the iPhone, there’s the option to choose a preset: Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm, or Cool. You may also toggle the Tone and Warmth Settings, depending on how bright or richly colored you want your photo to be. Experiment with different presets to find the best combination for your real estate images.

Photo via DepositPhotos

Turn on the Grid Lines

Just like Android phones, iPhones have Grid Lines feature on their cameras. Switch this on, so you can easily follow the rule of thirds. 

Set the HDR On

Also similar to Android phones, iPhones have HDR. This is very useful for a subject that has very dark and very bright areas. For rooms that have uneven lighting, use HDR.

Improve the Focus and Exposure

iPhone’s focus feature allows you to capture subjects in sharp focus. It’s pretty simple: tap the area on the screen you would like to be focused on. Once you see a yellow square, the focus is already set. Meanwhile, you can also adjust the exposure to make the photo brighter or darker. To adjust, you just have to swipe up or down when you see the yellow square.

Maximize the Ultra Wide Camera

The newest models of iPhone come with an ultra-wide camera that helps you capture a greater field of view. To activate this feature, tap 0.5 above the shutter button. Use this to take images of the exterior of the property and emphasize curb appeal.

Photo via DepositPhotos

Real Estate Photography for DSLR Users

If you can, invest in a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. It’s an extremely helpful tool for real estate brokers, which you can surely use for years. If you’re a beginner in SLR photography, these are the tips you should know: 

Be Familiar with the Shooting Modes

The first thing you should learn is the shooting modes, which will direct the camera as to how much control you would want over the photos. The modes are labeled as Av, Tv, and M. 

Av or A means aperture priority. This means you’ll set the aperture, and the camera will automatically choose the shutter speed. The aperture is the size of the lens opening. The larger the opening, the more light the camera lets in. The narrower the opening, the less light passes through. Aperture is measured in f-stops. A larger aperture has a smaller f-stop, while a smaller aperture has a bigger f-stop.

This feature mainly affects the depth of field, which refers to the elements in the photo with a sharp focus. In general, you use a small aperture to make sure that the entire image, from the foreground to the background, is sharp. This is why it’s good to use this when taking a photo of the property’s exterior. 

Meanwhile, a large aperture is used when you want to bring more focus to your subject and blur the background. If you want to focus your shots on impressive details of the property, say, the infinity swimming pool set against a view of the mountains, use a large aperture.

Photo via DepositPhotos

Tv or S means shutter priority. It’s similar to aperture priority, in the way that you set the shutter speed and the camera adjusts the aperture. The shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter stays open when taking a photo. 

The longer the shutter stays open, the more light passes through. The short shutter speed is ideal for freezing fast-moving subjects, while the long shutter speed is for blurring a moving subject. The short-shutter speed is commonly used for night cityscape photography, capturing the light streaks from moving vehicles.

M means manual. This feature is when you want to have full control over the aperture and shutter speed. This is the ideal mode when you’ve already mastered these camera settings. 

Adjust the ISO

ISO controls the camera’s sensitivity to light. In general, the ISO setting of 100 to 200 is okay for shooting outdoors, say, when taking photos of the backyard, property exterior, or the community amenities. For low-light areas and indoor shooting, the ideal ISO is 400 to 800. Do note that the clarity of the image will also depend on the aperture and shutter speed settings. 

Fine-Tune the White Balance Settings

When you have different sources of light, the colors in the photo change, with some appearing unnatural. To cure this, use the white balance settings in your camera: Auto, Daylight, Fluorescent, Tungsten, and more. Explore these settings under different light conditions to be more familiar with them. 

Photo via DepositPhotos

Fix the Autofocus Modes

DSLR cameras have different autofocus modes. These are beneficial for maintaining the sharp quality of the photo. For real estate photography, which often involves stationary subjects, the most commonly used is the autofocus-single (AF-S). With this setting, the camera will automatically lock the focus on the property or room you’re taking a photo of.

If Possible, Don’t Use Flash

The camera’s built-in flash can create harsh shadows and other unappealing effects. Rather than using this feature, increase the ISO in low-light situations. Or, better yet, schedule your real estate shoots during the day, when natural light is available.

The real estate photos you put up in your listings can be a huge come-on or turn-off for future clients. Don’t treat it as an afterthought. Don’t take them haphazardly. Rather, spend a great deal planning your shoots, preparing your gear, and learning about tips and tricks to produce the best, professional-looking images. 

Once they’re ready, put them up on a Lamudi listing to increase your property’s visibility.

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