Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Photography Tips and Mistakes to Avoid for Beginners


Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Photography Tips and Mistakes to Avoid for Beginners

You might be surprised, but real estate industry is still full of agents who take photos of luxurious mansions with their smartphones. However, today, more than ever before, professionally-taken images help to sell your home fast and for the best price possible.

First of all, vivid, quality photos help real estate investors capture the attention of their target buyers. Secondly, great, eye-catching photos linger in mind for several days and influence the decisions made by real estate buyers.

High-quality photos are also more likely to be shared or posted online, and every time your real estate photos end up on Facebook or someone’s Pinterest board, you are one step closer to finding new customers and growing your real estate business.

Let’s Get Started:

Having professionally-taken photos is truly the key to marketing and selling any property. Don’t know where to start? This ultimate real estate photography guide is ideal for all beginners out there, who want to elevate their craft and learn how to create a real estate listing that sells. From the basics to real estate photography tips, tricks, and mistakes to avoid, we covered it all so that you can find all the essential information in one place.

Taking quality photos can be hard work, but on the other hand, you still can have a lot of fun along the way. We’ll show you how!

Basic Camera Equipment Used:

Of course, three best options for the beginners are Canon, Nikon, and Sony. We are not going to discuss which one is better, since all photographers have their preferences and, honestly, you can take quality photos using any of those cameras. What matters most, though, is using a few camera bodies – one for aerial photography of exteriors and interior photography, and the second one, the one that can handle low-light videos better, for all of your real estate video work. It is also very convenient to have a backup should anything ever happen to one of your cameras.

Both cameras should be able to handle both sides of your business (photos and video), so if one ever has an issue, you shouldn’t lose any work while repairing it. And being always prepared is crucial – it’s what keeps your business going and save you from a lot of unpleasant surprises in the long run.

Also, when looking for a new digital camera, sensor size, not megapixels, is the most important factor to consider. Larger sensors are simply better – they guarantee better image quality, better low light performance, and, most importantly, a wider field of view so that you can show more of the room than with a typical digital camera.

A full frame camera will benefit your real estate business in many ways. We will go even further and say that it’s a must have for any professional real estate photographer!

Why You Should Always Use a Wide-Angle Lens:

There is a trend nowadays to use fisheye or other cheap tricks instead of a wide-angle lens. These kinds of photos look not only weird but also deceiving to the potential home buyer, because they make space look larger than it is.

Strive to take both visually appealing and accurate photos with the good old wide-angle lens! You’ll also have to take a photo of tiny bathrooms and unusually shaped bedrooms a lot, and small spaces are difficult to take photos of without having a wide-angle lens.

Watch out - shooting too wide of an angle can also cause distortions and inaccurate perspectives! But if you do everything right, you can easily emphasize space giving each room a true sense of depth and detail.

Preparing Your House for The Photos:

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that before the photo shoot, you have to prepare each room. While a decent photo shoot takes about 2 hours, you also need to dedicate an hour or so to clean and stage the house. Be prepared to move furniture, remove all personal items, clear and wipe off all the counters, and more.

There is a lot you can do to make every room look even better: de-clutter, clean, raise the blinds – especially if there is a nice view outside – turn off the ceiling fans, etc. Most importantly, you need to prepare your kitchen – here is a good step-by-step guide that will help you to do everything right.

Read More: How to Prepare Your Kitchen for Professional Real Estate Photography?

Approaching the Property:

The most important photo is the cover photo of your listing. Usually, it’s an exterior photo, and it’s important to take some time to find the best angle and best light for this picture. What we usually recommend is to ask the home owner or the realtor what makes this house special and what they appreciate the most. It might be a hot tub, beautiful front door, new garage, spacious patio, pool, or virtually anything. Each feature should be emphasized in the composition and don’t forget to use the surroundings – if needed, trim the grass or add a few bright flowers.

Exterior/Interior Lighting:

The best advice we can give is to use natural light as much as possible. Almost any home look much more appealing when shot in natural light. If it’s too dark, bring some light stands or remove the blinds/curtains - space and natural light are two qualities that drastically transform real estate photos! It sounds simple but tries always to keep it in mind when composing your pictures.

Pro Tip: Taking photos at dusk or sunset can yield unusual, dramatic, and eye-catching results! When you feel like experimenting and trying something completely new and exciting, the twilight exterior photo shot might be exactly what you were looking for!

Camera Height and Vertical Edges:

Creativity is important when taking quality photos, but there is one rule in real estate photography you should follow no matter what: all verticals must be correct! In other words, all vertical edges like corners of walls, edges, door frames, and windows should appear straight. With a tripod, it’s not that complicated!

Always Use a Tripod:

Finding the right tripod can be a daunting task, but you should always have one with you! Ideally, you would have two tripods - one for stills and one for videos, but it’s possible to find one tripod for both. The perfect tripod should be not only durable and reliable but also affordable. Below, we listed the best sturdy tripods for any real estate project.

The best tripods used by professionals:

1. MeFOTO RoadTrip and GlobeTrotter (ideal for stills)

2. Globetrotter tripods

3. Benro Tripods (great for videos)

4. Manfrotto tripods

5. Finding the Proper Angles:

Real estate photography is all about finding the right angle. For instance, if you’re trying to show off some unusual shelves in a kitchen, you need to find the angle that will show both their size and their quality or, maybe, some unusual, visually appealing details.

If you are a beginner, start practicing by taking multiple photos of the same spot. There is no better way to learn how to find the proper angle than taking photos of each room from almost every angle possible. Later, you can select the best pictures and analyze each photo to understand better why exactly this angle works best.

Use More than One Flash:

No matter how big or small your property is, always try to bring more than one flash. It’s always a good idea to have one light flash in your kit at all times, as well as a bigger one for large areas, such as kitchen or dining room. One flash for small bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets is perfect, but for big rooms, we highly recommend to use two or more lights.

Show Each Room’s Selling Point:

There is always that one feature that makes this particular room special. When shooting, try to emphasize the best feature in each room, whether it’s an interesting shape, low (or high) ceilings, vintage staircase, or spaciousness.

Details Matter:

Before the shoot, set up the kitchen or dining table with a nice set of dishes, bring some flowers, or add a bright artwork to bring your photo to life!

Getting Good Exposure:

In other words, you’ll need to learn how to deal with scene contrast. Usually, the main challenge for amateur photographers is balancing bright windows with darker interiors. The best you can do in this situation is to shoot when outdoor light levels are lower – in the morning, during or after the sunset, or on a dark, rainy day.

Flash Shadows:

When it comes to professional real estate photography, flash shadows can be very distracting to the viewer. Shadows from things that hang from ceilings (such as ceilings fans, chandeliers, etc.) are the biggest pain for photographers! The trick here is to use multiple flashes from different directions.

Post-Processing Software and Advanced Editing Techniques for Beginners

In short, you should edit all your photos before showing them to anybody. The easiest way to fix most of your real estate photos is to use preset editing - Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a must-have tool for any photographer! But while for the most part preset editing involves only a couple clicks, a few photos (usually those that used as the cover photos or the first photos of your listing) require just a little-advanced editing to make them stand out above your average real estate pictures. You can adjust the colors, use a few filters, or remove a few unwanted objects, if needed, using Adobe Photoshop.

To sum up, here are some mistakes to avoid:

1. Don’t Take Unrealistic Photos of Your Property: Try not to use any fancy lenses if they make your property look unrealistic and misleading. Also, while the post-production is undoubtedly important, we do not recommend using a lot of filters – real estate photos should look realistic and visually appealing at the same time.

2. Don’t Include Too Much of The Street in Exterior Images: Instead, strive to show off the spacious driveway, beautiful porch, or a blooming garden.

3. Don’t Take Blurry Images: While other photographers can endlessly experiment with their settings, the real estate photographer can use the sharp and high-quality images only for their listings.

4. Don’t Use Unedited Images: Another golden rule: you can’t skip the post-production step, even if it means using only preset editing option in Photoshop or Lightroom.

5. Don’t Include Holiday Décor, Pets, Clothes, Shoes, Photos, or anything personal. Talk to the owners of the house and ask them to remove all the items before the photo shoot.

6. Avoid Vertical Orientation: It’s always better to use landscape orientation for optimal viewing. Home buyers prefer the horizontal view, not those low-quality smartphone vertical pictures!

7. Watch for Flash Reflection or Your Reflection in Mirrors: As long as you're shooting shiny things with on-camera flash, you’ll always have that ugly reflection right in the middle of your picture. The best thing to do in this situation simply removes the flash reflection (or your reflection in the mirror) later using Adobe Photoshop.

Real estate photography is all about creativity, but you still need to keep in mind that it’s a fast-paced industry and all your photos are temporary. This business might be detached from most of the artistic freedom you enjoy with other forms of photography, but it’s still an art to take phenomenal and unique photos of each property.

So, if you want your photos will be the main reason that property just went under contract in less than 48 hours, you’ll have to work hard – and fast – to meet all the stiff requirements of this highly competitive industry.


  • Nadhiya

    • Sep 17, 2019

    In real estate business photography is one of the best marketing tools which most of the people are not aware and only few have used this tool to achieve success in their business. There are many photographers in Chennai. Wedid photography is one of the experienced and professional photographers.

  • Aiden Hunter

    • Sep 23, 2019

    Thanks for sharing the useful information for beginner photographers. I have come across a professional Real Estate photographer who is located in Perth. If you would like to check out his portfolios, visit here:

  • Tyler Johnson

    • Sep 25, 2019

    That's a good idea to get a wide-angle lens. I feel like that would help make the house look bigger. I'll have to make sure to use one of those if I decide to sell a house after in invest in one for a while.

  • Austin

    • Oct 16, 2019

    Thanks for helpful guide and tips about Real Estate Photography. selling or buying a house can be a hard process. Clients usually want to see best photos about the property they concern. If we can provide great photos..we may get the first important point.

  • Rick Davis

    • Feb 12, 2020

    I liked your tip of using multiple flashes from different directions when taking pictures for your house. My wife and I are wanting to sell our house and we were wondering how we can take good pictures to post on our listing. I'll be sure to tell her that we should use a lot of flashes when taking pictures of our house.

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