5 Real Estate Photography Tips
In the fiercely competitive field of real estate, everything you do as an agent must stand out, especially your photos. Every photo you post into the multiple listing service (MLS) directly reflects on your image as an agent to your clients and the public, so these photos must pop and shine.
Hire a Professional
Professional photography is indispensable for capturing luxury real estate, but even small, residential projects should be worth your time and effort, within a reasonable budget. Plan accordingly.
Also, think from the perspective of the buyer: they’ll often thumb through hundreds of photos before deciding they want to see THAT house. You want your listing to be THAT house. Every room, every detail, must stand out, and professional photography can be the best way to make that happen.
Some may argue that hiring a professional could distort photos in such a way as to misrepresent the property, like exaggerating room sizes. However, as long as the home is accurately represented and all material facts are disclosed, photo presentation is fair game. You will definitely be listing the home’s square footage, and if the rooms appear larger in the photos than in real life, that could be the result of many factors, including the design of the home or a wide angle lens, used by a skillful photographer.
Capture photos during the “magic hour”
The “magic hour” happens during two windows of time – sunrise (“dawn”) and sunset (“dusk”), when golden rays and brilliant colors cast stunning light on your photos. Exterior real estate photos can especially benefit from such lighting, allowing your listing to be beautifully showcased for all to see. It is highly recommended that you shoot the exterior when the sun is hitting the front of the house, which often provides a better effect in your listing’s cover photo. (Selgo, L., 2013)
Within this tip, it is important to note that you will definitely be adjusting angles based on the time of day. The sun rises in the East and sets in West, so your directional cues begin and end there.
Schedule more time than you think you’ll need
It is amazing that projects always seem to take more time than allotted, and this can certainly be the case when photographing your listing. Make sure you arrive early, and budget enough time to set up all the equipment you’ll need. Most of the time, you will be expected to have about 25 photos in your MLS listing, but it can vary from house to house. As there is no hard and fast rule, allow yourself up to an hour, and adjust if essential elements of the home take longer to shoot.
Another tip from the experts: you’ll want to take multiple shots over the course of your time there, as lighting can quickly change, and you’re better off leaving with more photos rather than less.
Add color to your photos
No, we’re not suggesting that you paint the walls, unless they need painting. We’re suggesting you bring colorful artwork, floral arrangements, or items of interest to cleverly stage your photos. (Gurner, J., 2018) This can be suggested when you talk over your marketing strategy with the client. Make sure you properly walk through this process with them, so you both are on the same page. This can ensure their cooperation, and may allow you both to brainstorm for more creative ideas.
Granted, you won’t want to use props and arrangements to distract in your photos. Over-staging can be more harmful than helpful if potential buyers don’t see the size of the room because your artwork takes over. Definitely use discernment to creatively add color without distracting from showcasing the home itself.
Harness the power of HDR
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range imaging. It works by allowing you to take multiple photos, with varying ranges of light and dark. These photos can then be combined into a single image – one that captures the best ranges of darks and lights. (Gordon, W., 2014) This comes in handy in the following situations:
- Landscape Photos – Sometimes a camera cannot use one shot to capture the lights and darks in a large area, like in a landscape photo. The HDR setting helps correct this. (Gordon, W., 2014)
- Rooms with too much sunlight or too much dark – Either way, your HDR camera setting should help you capture the best of both worlds without compromising the quality of your image. (Gordon, W., 2014)
Please note, HDR is not best for every situation. Sometimes you may be shooting an area with vivid colors, and HDR can sometimes wash those out. (Gordon, W., 2014) Other times, HDR can make your photos too blurry if there is too much wind (or other movement). (Selgo, L., 2013) Use discernment, and find what works best for you.
Gordon, W. (2014), “What is HDR and when Should I use it in my Photos?” LifeHacker, Retrieved from
Gurner, J. (2018), “Top 27 Real Estate Photography Tips & Mistakes to Avoid,” FitsSmallBusiness, Retrieved from
Lefran, D. (n.d.), “6 Photography Tips during Magic Hour,” Picture Correct, Retrieved from https://www.picturecorrect.com/tips/6-photography-tricks-during-the-magic-hour/
Selgo, L. (2013), “Real Estate Photography Tutorial – Shot List and Guide,” Tips for Real Estate Photography, Retrieved from