There are few secrets in real estate photography

(other than having the correct equipment and knowing how to use it,  experience, attention to detail, a determination to offer the best service possible and hard work)

Ive been a professional photographer for 8 years now. Around 4 years ago, a real estate agent asked me if I could take some photographs for one of their clients. I said “yes” without really knowing much about the process. That was how this particular journey began.

I realised I had to acquire a bit of equipment, some new skills and a lot of experience in order to find a balance between capturing a property how it was perceived by the owner / agent and what it was like in reality. I quickly realised I had to avoid easy and quick gimmicks that make photographs initially more appealing but ultimately disappoint.

So, I very soon left behind those agents whose focus was primarily to get people through the door to impress their clients and instead, began to work closely with those who wished to honestly present the best features of each property.

I get asked these things a lot:

And I’m always happy to discuss them as I’m not giving much away!

What cameras do you use?

I currently use the Nikkon D810 and D850. The image quality and dynamic range are class leading and reliability second to none. I always take at least 2 cameras to each shoot to ensure the job can always be completed.

As for lenses: only Nikon’s best. This normally means the 14-24, 16-35 and 24-70. Very low levels of distortion and naturally sharp optiics mean great images. At the widest angle, the view is very similar to human eye which, again, adds to the realism of the image.

I also use the DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone and the DJI Ronin-M gimbal

What about lighting?

I employ multiple small lights (speed lights) which are all remotely contolled from the camera. As many as 5 can be employed in a single image but you’ll never see them.

However, I only use artificial lights to supplement natural light in order to replicate reality. As good as modern cameras are, they still can not detect the same range of light and dark as the human eye, so may need a bit of help in dark areas. I aim to make the use so subtle that it is almost imperceptible to most people that the additional lights are even there.

How do you deal with inside / outisde?

Often, the light outside a house can be hundreds of times brighter (light levels increase logarithmically) than inside. There are 3 ways of dealing with this and they are easy to spot – at least if they are not done well, which is often the case!

 

+ Expose for the interior and just forget about the outside. This often results in “blown out” windows where very little or nothing is visible though the windows. This is very quick but obviously not very realistic.

+ Brighten the interior to match the exterior. A seemingly very popular method (and one I used to employ when I started) that is best described as cheap and cheerful. Certain photographers just use a single flash on the camera and can move through a house very quickly. Inevitably though, there will be harsh shadows in strange places, lots of daft reflections and the overall result often just looks synthetic.

+ Take one image (or 2 or 3), correctly exposed for the interior, and another for the exterior. These can then be blended in Photoshop. If done carefully and subtley (it often isn’t), this gives by far the most accurate representation of the actual scene. You shouldn’t be surprised to know that this is the route I go!

How long does it take to complete a shoot?

There are many variables invloved in the answer to this. Of course, the size of the property is a big influence but the weather, available light and readiness of the property can make a big difference.

However, I always work quickly and efficiently in order to minimise the disturbance to the occupants of the property and most shoots take 40 – 80 minutes. The post-processing takes anything from 1 to 3 hours.

Even my competitors often ask how I produce the photographs I do at the price I charge.

Simply, I’m not afraid of hard work and believe in fair pay for fair work. I want to deliver the best quality possible at a reasonable price. Selling your house can be an expensive process but I only charge what the service is worth, not what I think I can get away with.

I approach real estate photography the same for each property, modest or mansion. I bring all my experience, skill and attention to detail to deliver no matter the value of your house.

I never forget who I am actually working for and is paying the bill – it’s generally not the real estate agent. It’s you.

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