Adding Drop Shadows to Your Real Estate Photography in Photoshop

Realism, depth, and perspective are just some of the words that will probably describe how an image in real estate photography can exude more impact. A photo that presents itself as a 3-dimensional image compared to a flat 2D render would more likely gain a better following as a result of appealing to aesthetic perceptions. Drop shadows is a perfect way to put that perspective in place. This technique that is available in most realty editor software enables objects and elements to pop out, creating a distinction between two different planes of sight.

Concept of Drop Shadows

The drop shadow feature in real estate photography through enhancement creates an impression of something being on a different planar view. It helps people visualize where the object is situated and creates a separation between the wall and the ground. Another benefit of drop shadows is its ability to recreate a realistic image that casts shadows if there is a viable source of light. For instance, windows or interior ceiling lights.

There are other types of shadows which you may encounter during the enhancement process. The first is natural shadows drawn out from real estate photography. Natural shadows require no major enhancement through real estate photo editing software unless there is an itch to make them look deeper. Reflective shadows on the other hand are the reflects generated by windows or furniture which have a glistening surface. These are also enough to trigger a cognitive response from people who can interpret these objects in a 3-dimensional plane of existence.

How to Make Your Own Drop Shadows

This mini guide on how to tinker around your real estate photo editing software will teach you how to create drop shadows. It is important to keep in mind that while real estate photography might already provide the ample depth in perspective, it is always good to watch out for the imperfections and pockets of doubt that could put reputations at jeopardy.

  1. Create a copy of the photo as a new layer.

Duplicating the photo will be the first and foremost important task, ensuring that the final product will be a superimposition of two images. Real estate photo editing software such as Photoshop can easily execute such commands through the layers panel, creating a visible selection of which photo you are working on.

  1. Select the object that requires a drop shadow.

Selection is possible through a range of tools. Again, Photoshop as a real estate photo editing software offers several methods. First is the quick selection tool which is a brush-on type of selection and could be the easiest but least accurate. There is also the option of engaging lasso tools, with three various options to choose from depending on the shape and complexity of the object. There is also the pen tool, which is a viable option for objects with highly curved sides.

  1. Invert the selection using CTRL+I and remove the background.

Inverting the selection now selects the background and retains the object that will have a drop shadow. By punching the control and “I” button the keyboard, you will see the previously unselected area to now be shrouded in the dashed lines, indicating a successful inversion. Once this is done, select edit and cut, or simply hit the delete button on the keyboard to get rid of it. A canvas in Photoshop would normally surface a chequered background as a sign that the image (or part of it) has perished.

  1. Duplicate the layer with the object, but this time, fill this layer with the color black.

Now, if in the process of real estate photography, a shadow was not generated, then this is that defining moment where the real estate photo editing software shines. The object of interest should be filled with black by heading to edit and selecting fill. This will now constitute the shadow which will be used later on.

  1. Go back to the original photo and remove the object and retain the background.

Now on to the original untampered image, select the object and do not invert it. Rather, delete it and it should now be the one with the chequered background. At this point, the real estate photo editing software you are using should be able to retain the different edited layers as they will play a part in merging later on.

  1. Switch over now to the layer with the blackened object. Position it without moving the established position on the ground.

First, make sure that this layer is located just below the image where the object of interest has been cut out. Now use the transform tool to manipulate the shadow. Bring it down, making the shape obscure and follow a compressed version of it to look like a casted shadow.

  1. You should see the original object as you move the drop shadow.

As you perform item number 6, the layer with the object left in the canvas or workstation should begin to reveal itself. Real estate photo editing software through layers, can help you manage different objects so they fall into the perfect places.

  1. Soften the shadow and make it lighter.

At this stage, your shadow will look vibrant, carrying a deep color of black. Real estate photography can never produce anything like this unless the luminosity is extreme, therefore, further intervention is required. Take a jab at adjusting the opacity and make the shadow a little bit more translucent. Perhaps also try to soften the edges so they don’t look like cut-outs, but rather blurry silhouettes, as shadows should normally be.

  1. Repeat for each object on the photo.

The only thing about drop shadows are that it requires work and patience. For each object in the image that you would want to put this effect on, you must repeat the procedure for each. This is due to the nature of each object taking on a different, if not unique shape and form, to which the previous application will not apply to.


There you have it. Adding drop shadows is not as difficult but requires quite a bit of patience to do. At the end of the day, what we want to do is to fill in what real estate photography has fallen short on and present a holistically real and believable image that feeds off of depth and perception.


Relevant Quick Links: