How to Get Into Real Estate Photography

The real estate industry is super-competitive.

It always has been, and it always will be. Ambitious realtors are all looking for their next listing. They’re all trying to get a leg up on the competition.

So how exactly do they stand out? How do they set themselves apart?

Here’s the simple and straightforward answer: Professional, eye-catching photography.

Amazing real estate photography will always be in demand — no matter what happens to the economy. In fact, during the times when the U.S. economy was down, the real estate photography market continued to thrive! When realtors are struggling to sell properties, their professionally-edited photos will often be the difference-maker in standing apart from the rest.

Real estate photography is also an attractive career choice. You can earn some extra cash by freelancing. However, being successful requires a few things. This guide will teach you those basics on how to get started in real estate photography — a fascinating and lucrative field.

Choosing the Right Gear

First of all, it’s essential to think of the tools you'll be using so you can truly succeed. However, you may already have the gear needed to get started with real estate photography.

1. Camera

Photographers usually spend most of their money on the camera itself. However, it's important to note that real estate photography is not as demanding as other photography niches. It doesn't require you to get the latest and greatest camera to get solid shots.

For the majority of your real estate photography work, a standard digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera will do the trick. You’ll always benefit from a camera with excellent high-ISO performance. Having a recent model helps. Usually, the more modern it is, the better performance you'll likely have.

If you already own a modern DSLR, you don’t need to upgrade to get started in real estate photography. Instead, save your money and budget for the other items discussed below.

2. Lenses

A wide-angle lens may be the most crucial piece of equipment in real estate photography. Make sure your lens can accommodate all shapes and sizes of properties since you won’t always be shooting massive multi-million dollar mansions.

To succeed as a real estate photographer, you also need a wide-angle or ultra wide-angle lens. They allow you to put your viewers in the middle of the scene. It makes them feel like they are actually in the room itself.

3. Accessories

While the above items are all essential, don’t overlook the number one item that can improve your real estate shots: a tripod. Often, you will be in low-light environments, and so a tripod can mean the difference between a mediocre shot and a fantastic shot. You will be stretched to shoot low-ISO images for top quality, plus reduced aperture for more exceptional sharpness and increased depth of field. Since a trade off must occur, shutter speed is usually the odd man out.

After you've acquired the proper camera, lens, and tripod, you may also want to add lights as well. Although not mandatory, lights will come in handy when you're shooting poorly-lit homes.

The Shoot


When working with clients, make sure their needs are satisfied and met. Make sure you have a list of shots showcasing the property if this is your first time doing this. Your client will almost undoubtedly want the main living areas covered like the bedrooms and bathrooms.

When you plan a real estate shoot, set expectations as early as possible, both for the shoot and your clients. When working with realtor clients, tell them the home needs to be in top photo condition, especially if people are still living in it.

On the other hand, if the home is uninhabited, the agent will probably be present while you're photographing the home. Therefore you need to communicate with the agent regarding the length of time he or she needs to be present.

Provide your clients with both web-based and full-resolution photographs. Real estate agents are typically busy. They don’t have the time nor tools needed to process images. Make sure that what you're exporting is ready to go into their system. Realtors usually know what type of files they need for their listings so make to ask them in advance, so you’ll know what kind of files to send back to them.

Capturing the Scene


Let’s say you’ve already got a client. You’ve brought your equipment and you show up at the home ready to begin the shoot. Now what?

First, survey the interior. Since you already have a good idea of the rooms you need to photograph, dive into the scene. Go ahead and set up the tripod. Compose the scene in a way that showcases the beauty of the home. This requires a special appreciation for architectural design. Include as many of the features of the room as possible like the ceiling fan, fireplace, television, windows, and more.

After you have composed the scene as you want it, shoot several bracketed images as well. These are photos shot from the same spot, but with different exposures. Take pictures that range in brightness and darkness and then work on merging them later. Bracketed images are typically shot in groups of 3, 5, or 7 shots. Software like Photoshop allows you to blend photos and combine the highlighted and shadowed regions to capture a vast range of exposure. Other software like Lightroom will enable you to adjust the photo’s contrast, brightness, sharpness, and color. Photo editing software will even allow you to remove unwanted objects within a picture, replace grey skies, and also add fire to fireplaces.

The Bottom Line

Real estate photography is extremely popular and in high demand. It provides new and exciting opportunities for just about anyone. Taking high-quality pictures of beautiful properties is a fascinating job. It allows for a flexible schedule and the ability to expand your photography skills.