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What is Real Estate Photography?

Real estate photography is more than just point-and-shoot photography: it is a way of selling a lifestyle. It makes the viewer feel safe, warm, sophisticated, and any other feeling your property radiates. In the competitive realm, it’s the hidden link that connects agents with viewers. Real estate photography sets the standard for what makes a house a home, and a property a place for creating special memories.

There are thousands of homes, apartments, business properties, and special venues listed for sale or rental every single day. In every listing, the photographs must help the viewer imagine themselves and their family or business within the space. Thus, the pictures need to create a sense of home, a sense of adventure, a sense of family, or a sense of self. The viewer will ask themselves, "What can this place hold for me?" There's no better way to imagine this than with the help of a photo. This is why real estate photographers specialize in emotion. They specialize in capturing what someone can feel in a space without the person even needing to be there.

by SmartShoot
Steve Loos

Tips for Real Estate Photography


Exterior photos

Of the whole shoot, one exterior image will be the most important. In a newspaper, in a printed guide and on the main screen of an online search, one image is included - just one. It must compel the viewer to stop and look, stop and call, or stop and email. Multiple photos are posted for online listings, but the exterior image is still the gateway to all other ones. Don’t sell yourself short. Use a wide-angled lens, an infrared shutter release, and a poling mechanism to capture the right angle and lighting. And don’t forget the tint of the roof. A light roof says to a potential buyer that a roof has to be replaced. Roofs often reflect light, which makes them appear lighter in a photo than to the naked eye. Always darken the roof, but never more than it is in real life. Real-estate photography is a fine balance of selling the image by capturing the best possible lighting and angle, while staying true to what the place looks like in real life. Otherwise, viewers will be disappointed when they see the property in person.


Lighting is key

Lighting, exposure, and adjusting the aperture to balance ambient and natural lighting for interior photos is unavoidable in this profession. Balance natural and ambient light using manual mode and flash to make interiors appear bright and airy while still capturing the blue sky or giant oak tree peeking through the window. Notice and engage in the existing light sources of the property, and enhance them by strategically scattering off-camera flashes throughout the property. Also, much can be accomplished through the use of exposure/flash fusion and HDR.


Keep it focused

Using ultra wide-angle lens shots to increase the size of the room is definitely the professional standard. However, the viewer will eventually catch onto the use of this lens. Vary your lens use with a telephoto to create a more intimate experience with the unique features of a property. Also, try angling shots through objects to focus on your selling features while including the vastness of the space.



Keep the camera level by using a professional-grade tripod and head that are both equipped with bubble levels. Check your viewfinder to ensure that all vertical lines are 100% vertical before snapping a shot. Otherwise, the room will appear distorted and in need of repair.

by Steve Loos

How much does Real Estate Photography cost?

Though a high-end photographer for a magazine spread might cost $12,000, generally you will find a real estate photographer for $500 to $1000 per property. Typically this allows you 15 to 20 final, touched up images. Some real estate photographers also provide panoramic photography services and can build virtual tours, which can cost more than a traditional shoot. If you are thinking about hiring for panoramic images or tours, there’s additional information in our Panorama Photography section for your consideration.

Hiring a Real Estate Photographer

A PFRE photographer should not only be adept in the art of photography, but also have a clear understanding of how the real-estate system works. To sell a place with a photo, you have to understand how to sell a place, period. A photographer must have a keen understanding of the target market and be able to adjust the shoot accordingly. They must be a good communicator with the ability to work with a real estate agent and property stager to enhance the overall experience of the potential viewers.

A great professional real-estate photographer must also be able to maintain the authenticity of the place while creating an emotional experience. It’s best to choose someone with extensive experience in off-camera flashes, panoramic photography, the post-production process and professional-grade equipment.

Find a Real Estate Creative near you!

SmartShoot brings the power of professional photos and videos.

We help businesses and individuals find and collaborate with professional freelance photographers and videographers. Our creatives have delivered over 80,000 projects around the globe.

An example project

20 - 30 Real Estate Photos

An affordable real estate shoot will include 20 - 30 images that are editable and publishable on property web listing pages and in print publications. Be sure to include information about the number of rooms, square footage or property size and desired time of day for the shoot. Ask to retain all rights to the shoot, but give the photographer the option to include them in a portfolio.

Suggested Price: $750

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