Using quality photos in real estate listings can make all the difference. Capture the best images possible by making the space look its best, using high-quality equipment and considering what homebuyers want to see. We talked to the professionals and asked them for their best real estate photography tips and resources that will help you sell more homes.
Our 33 favorite real estate photography tips from the pros include:
1. Edit Your Photos from Day-to-Dusk Lighting
Marc Prosser, Co-Founder, Fit Small Business
Dusk is beautiful, but it’s a notoriously hard time of day to photograph. BoxBrownie offers an inexpensive yet professional way to edit your property photos from day to dusk. You get 40 staff designers who’ll edit your images in a realistic style to help you attract more homebuyers. Click here for a free trial and get three image enhancements plus one day-to-dusk edit when you sign up.
2. Invest in a Wide-Angle Lens
Ivan Ciraj, Sales Representative, Square One Condos
Ciraj gives two specific real estate photography tips. First, he states that using a wide-angle lens is essential to capturing the full essence of the space. Specifically, he states that using a wide-angle camera lens allows for wider shots that give a better sense of depth and detail.
Secondly, if you want further direction in how to take real estate photos, Ciraj stressed that using HDR photography will make you stand out from the crowd. HDR photography is when you take three photos of the same scene but at different shutter speeds for a combination of different lighting. In HDR, these three photos are merged into one that creates a combination of different lighting and brings out the details.
3. Use a Tripod to Get Sharp Photos in Natural Light
Erin Spain, Home and DIY Blogger, ErinSpain.com
Most homes look much more appealing when shot in natural light. If you don’t have professional flash equipment or a very steady hand, pictures taken without a tripod in natural light will look dark and blurry. Tripods allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds to take advantage of natural light while still keeping images sharp.
4. Furnish the House, but Don’t Overdecorate
Justin M. Riordan, Founder, Spade and Archer Design Agency
Empty houses are hard to see. Furniture provides scale, shows use, and adds light to spaces. Without it, the space is just walls, windows, floors, and ceilings. It is important to show how the space is used and how big the space is. Once you have taken care of these items, then stop decorating. There is a point when the decoration is no longer about the house and more about the decoration. Stop before you get there.
As technology continues to advance, you have other amazing visual options to offer along with your professional-quality real estate pictures. Many clients are going to expect a virtual tour of their property as part of the services you provide.
Virtual tours can expose a far wider range of potential clients to the listing in ways that only an in-person open house tour could in the past. Virtual tours are not simply a tool to supplement a well-rounded listing on the MLS; with Instagram and other social platforms, you can expose people who are genuinely invested in your area to walk through a great listing on the market. Learn more about this cutting-edge technology by reading a free e-book from Matterport, “Top 10 Ways to Use VR to Win Listings in Real Estate.”
6. Use Landscape Orientation for Optimal Viewing
John B. Thomas, Jr., Realtor and Associate Broker, eXp Realty
The human eye sees the world in a roughly 4:3 aspect ratio, though the standard ratio is moving to 16:9, so our brain finds the horizontal/landscape view more pleasing than the smartphone vertical picture we see far too often.
7. Hire a Professional Photographer
Blain Handley, Realtor, Keller Williams
Don’t scrimp on the cost of a highly-experienced real estate photographer in the field. This industry is littered with agents who take photos of high-dollar properties with their smartphones. Having professionally-taken photos is truly the key to marketing and selling the home.
While there are many ways in which you can take real estate photos with a professional quality, many agents will find their time best used communicating with clients instead. Check out our guide to hiring a professional photographer for real estate to learn more.
8. Forget Megapixels and Buy a Full-Frame Camera
Chris Feltus, Realtor, United Real Estate
Sensor size, not megapixels, is the most important criterion to consider when purchasing a new digital camera. Generally speaking, larger sensors mean better image quality and better low light performance, but more importantly, a wider field of view, which allows you to capture more of the room in your picture.
Take a look at the example image below to see the difference in what a realtor could capture with the right photography tools. The pink box is what your typical digital camera would capture. The dark blue line bordering the photo is what a full-frame camera would capture.
9. Emphasize the Best Feature in Each Room
Liat Tzoubari, Director of Sales & Marketing, Apartable
Our top tip for real estate photography would be to take a photo that emphasizes each room’s selling point, whether it is the natural light in the room, the spaciousness, or the little nook in the corner that will make buyers curious to see more.
In addition to static photographs, use eye-catching video to make your space pop. Traditional listing photos are a great way to showcase individual rooms and features, but a video can express the entire layout of a home. Video lets buyers see how a house flows, making it easier to envision themselves in the house and more likely that they’ll call you for a showing. If you’re ready to take your listings and email marketing to the next level, check out Hippo Video’s 14-day trial to explore the suite of video marketing tools.
For outstanding advice on how to take real estate photos, Linova Photography compiled a room-by-room guide demonstration on how to prepare for a photo shoot. Here are a few tips for preparing kitchens and bathrooms for your photo shoot:
To prepare a kitchen for a photo shoot:
- Remove everything from the top and doors of the fridge, including magnets, business cards, photos, etc.
- Clear and wipe off the counters so they look polished and clutter-free.
- Hide dish soaps, sponges, paper towels, and anything else around the sink.
- Curate the kitchen or dining table with nice set of dishes.
- Place a bowl of fruit or a bouquet of flowers on the kitchen counter if it doesn’t detract from the finishes.
To prepare a bathroom for a photo shoot, take the following steps:
- Put toilet seats and lids down.
- Hide toiletries that are on the counter or in the shower or bath.
- Clean mirrors and any glass surfaces.
- Remove old towels from doors, showers, and bathtubs and hang a new set of towels that coordinate with the paint or tiles.
- Depending on the space, place flowers or a potted plant on the counter.
Wind, rain, snow, fog, and other weather can make or break your real estate photos. Agents in rainy climates may find themselves with muddy photos or a growing list of cancellations if they don’t know how to handle ugly weather. If you live in Seattle or another area with a long rainy season, consider hiring a professional photographer who knows how to make the most of the conditions. Just confirm they offer “sky replacement” services to correct any nasty weather.
13. Dedicate Several Hours for Your Photo Shoot
Giovanni Farinacci, Courtier Immobilier Real Estate Broker, Keller Williams Prestige
I tend to orchestrate the shoot going room to room. A decent shoot takes about two hours for a 3,000-square-foot home.
14. Use Current Technology, Like Drones
Madison White, Marketing Assistant, Washington Capital Partners
If the property is large, think about using drone footage for your listing. The technology is accessible enough that a college student could do it on a budget (just make sure that they are licensed).
For more information on how to make the most of drone content, check out our guide to real estate drone photography and video.
15. Add a Pop of Color to Bring Your Photos to Life
Tamela Ekstrom, Owner & Broker, HAVEN Real Estate + Design
When we are selling homes, we like a neutral color palette so the homes appeal to a larger pool of buyers. However, in real estate photography, it’s the pops of bright color that photograph well. My biggest tip is using colorful artwork and vibrant pillows to make real estate photos pop and garner attention.
16. Take Shots During the “Magic Hour” at Dusk
Megan Luce and Kelly Dinnsen, Realtors, Willis Allen Real Estate
Shooting exteriors at dusk is one real estate photography tip that can yield dramatic results. For example, check out this gorgeous shot from Willis Allen Real Estate:
17. Pay Attention to Distortion
When learning how to take real estate photos, a key tip is to photograph a room as though you’re walking through the space. Photos often don’t match the human eye experience of the room, and sometimes can misrepresent beautiful features. Be sure to give your real estate pictures a close review and fix problem areas.
Alan Carville discussed one particular problem, called the “keystone effect,” that often occurs around architectural features. Sometimes, lenses add distortion to vertical lines in your photographs, making tall lines appear bowed or leaning backward, as in the example below. Luckily, this can be fixed in Photoshop if you know what to look for.
18. Use a Wide-Angle Lens, Not a Fisheye
Jennifer Allwood, Owner, The Magic Brush, Inc.
There is a trend right now in real estate photography to shoot homes with poor-quality fisheye lenses. Not only does this look ridiculous, but it’s deceiving to the potential buyer. Making a space look larger than it is by using a lens that distorts the area is not going to increase a buyer’s interest. They are going to arrive expecting a mansion and viewing a shack. Honest photos which accurately showcase the space are best.
19. Compose Your Pictures to Emphasize Space and Natural Light
Leah Brown, Realtor, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services | Anderson Properties
Space and natural light are two qualities that home buyers are always looking for. That’s why Leah Brown of Berkshire Hathaway advises that you keep space and natural light in mind as her top real estate photography tip. For a perfect example of this technique, check her comparison pictures below. Which looks more appealing?
20. Edit Photos but Don’t Go Overboard
Miles Abernathy, Founder, 399Retouch
We sometimes are asked to retouch real estate photographs in order to make a property look better online. There can be a fine line between making a photograph look the same as the eye sees the actual scene and making changes that do not show the reality.
For example, photos taken in bright sunlight often have deep shadows under the eaves. We have been asked to brighten those shadows so they would appear in the photo the way a human would see them. We’ve also “turned on” and “turned off” exterior lights, since either setting of the switch is possible.
A bit more questionable was a request from a European hotel. The owner had just planted a hedge, and the individual plants had no leaves. He wanted us to show how it would look when it grew some leaves, a few months in the future. We’ve also fixed some interior shots: Remove a person, remove the reflection from a mirror, and plump up a cushion on a sofa.
21. Begin with Preset Editing Options
Tanya Goodall Smith, Lead Photographer, WorkStory Photography
If you want to learn how to take professional-quality real estate photos, Smith advises beginning with preset editing options in Photoshop or Lightroom. She particularly advocated for the SLR Lounge Lightroom presets to give your real estate pictures a professional edge.
If you’ve ever wanted to do a twilight exterior photo shoot for a listing, consider taking a photography course. Although taking beautiful dusk photos seems simple, there is a method to getting the perfect shot, and that beautiful light can make it extremely difficult. However, with online photography tutorials like those offered by master photographer Mike Kelley, you can make the most of your camera and make your properties shine.
23. Consider Taking Your Own Photos
Robyn Porter, REALTOR, Long & Foster Real Estate
As I realtor, I take all my own photos. When I had my first multi-million dollar listing, I hired a “professional” photographer thinking, I should spend the extra money on good photos. I used a popular DC-area photography company that was popular with agents in my office. The photographer showed up (late!) and it turns out taking photos was his side gig. His other job was being a realtor. He said I’d have the photos the next day. I had high hopes given his fancy camera and equipment.
What a disappointment. His photos were of furniture and the ceiling took up most of each photo. After spending hundreds of dollars of my own money, I ended up only using one photo—an exterior shot—and retaking the photos myself. From that dismal experience, I never hired a “professional” again. In fact, I’ve had sellers choose me over another agent because of my photos and I’ve never taken a photography class in my life!
In apartments, historical homes, and other small spaces, it can be difficult to photograph an entire room at once. Design Sponge recommends making the most of the space by moving furniture around to capture the perfect angle and shooting through doorways to capture the whole space. You can also move things like wires, furniture, or distracting artwork out of the frame to make photos more universally appealing.
Vacant lots are challenging for any agent to photograph. While they might have fantastic features that make them the perfect spot for a number of options, showcasing these features can seem impossible in real estate pictures. LotNetwork.com recommends emphasizing natural features and showcasing the view from the property. Also, include photos of the surrounding neighborhood and, if possible, drone footage to show an aerial view of the site.
26. Use Your iPhone or a Basic Camera
Joe Cordes, Owner, CoMax Properties
As far as the camera equipment to use, it kind of depends on your situation. Assuming you’re taking your own photos, and are a one-person or small team, you have a couple of options. The first is just to use, or invest in, a really nice phone. The newest iPhones take amazing photos, have portrait mode, and would do just fine (provided the right light is available) shooting most rooms in a house.
The other option would be to invest in a simple DSLR camera (the most popular probably being the Canon or Nikon). At this point, a relatively simple one (which may lack things like autofocus) would be a fairly inexpensive business expense and good investment for you. If you have the money, the DSLR will yield better photos, but has a higher learning curve. Whichever of those two options you use, it’s much more about making sure you have enough light, and that you take the photos from interesting angles.
27. Avoid Exterior Photos of an Apartment
James McGrath, Co-Founder & Real Estate Salesperson, Yoreevo LLC
Since we’re NYC-focused, we mostly deal with apartments. For anyone putting up an apartment listing, I advise not to lead with exterior shots of the building. You only have one lead photo to grab a buyer’s attention, and a generic building shot likely won’t accomplish that. More importantly, I think there’s an unconscious bias among buyers against exterior photos. If an apartment is a disaster and needs a ton of work, there will only be exterior photos—so when I see a lead exterior photo, that’s what I expect. You don’t want buyers to have low expectations off the bat (if they even click past the initial photo).
28. Give Your Staging Universal Appeal
Keith Robinson, Chief Strategic Officer, NextHome, Inc.
First off, be sure you stage as needed. People decorate their homes to suit their own taste, which is great, but a stager is going to decorate it for the masses. In other words, it’s going to appeal to a broader audience. There is a reason Pottery Barn looks the way it does when you walk into one of their stores. Their staging might not be as functional for real life, but it sure is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. You only have one chance to make a first positive impression with a potential buyer, so maximize that impact and always stage the home so it can have its best chance in sparking that connection with a buyer.
One of the best ways to learn how to master real estate photography is to analyze great pictures to see why they work. We all know when realtor photography doesn’t work, but it’s important to look at the angles, lighting, staging, and other variables of great shots to guide how to take real estate photos for optimum results.
Over on Placester’s Real Estate Academy, they have an excellent write-up on what to look for when assessing great real estate pictures. They walk you through dozens of examples and explain why they work along with strategies to get similar results in your own photos.
30. Take Practice Photos to Perfect the Proper Angles
Kyle Hiscock, Realtor, The Hiscock SOLD Team
If you’re new to taking real estate photos, the best way to learn what angles will showcase your listing best is by practicing and making sure that you take lots of photos. You can always delete bad photos, but you cannot select a photo if you haven’t taken it. I suggest taking photos of each room from almost every possible angle.
31. Optimize Angles
Solomon Poretsky, Chief Development Officer, SVN International Corp
Your most powerful photographic tools are your eyes and your feet. If your angle is wrong, moving a few feet (or inches!) in either direction can make a big difference, and just looking carefully at the picture once you’ve taken it (assuming you’re using digital) can tell you if it’s a keeper or if you need to do something different.
32. Post Only the Best Photos
Joel Bennett, Content, Tokeet
Take various photos of each room but don’t post every single one in the listing. Try to use the best shot of each room—maybe two if it’s a big one, an odd shape, or just absolutely brilliantly detailed. Nobody wants to be sifting through your entire library of images; they want to know if the house is worth buying. Show them the best and they’ll fill in the blanks themselves.
33. Hire a Professional Photographer
Todd Jones, Full Service Real Estate Broker for Rodeo Realty, HomeLight
The most important thing absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt are great photographs. I’ve seen listing agents list a property and for whatever reason, they don’t put one photo in. And that’s just a crime. That’s doing a horrible disservice to the seller. A nice little trick is to upload new or updated photographs whenever you can. If somebody rearranges the furniture, go ahead and snap a new photo and put that in because that will help trigger a new search in the MLS. Somebody may have seen it before, but it might now catch their attention in a different way.
Bottom Line: Real Estate Photography Tips
Take your real estate listings to the next level with high-quality, carefully curated photographs. Help properties stand out by making the most of local weather conditions, highlighting photogenic features, and using the right equipment. Once you take the photographs, use editing software or hire a professional to correct lighting and otherwise touch up your images.
If you’re ready to take your real estate photography to the next level, check out BoxBrownie. Their team of professionals can help you with photo editing, floor plans, clipping, CGI renders, custom edits, and more. Plus, they boast 24-hour turnaround time, so you can create and share professional content quickly and easily. Click below to learn more.