The Importance Of Composition In Real Estate Photography

November 20th, 2013

CompositionThis is a tutorial that Scott and Malia did a couple of years ago. I’ve none a post on it before, but composition is a super important subject in real estate photography and this tutorial is worth watching again if you’ve already seen it.

The most important question you need to ask yourself with each photo is what is the story you want to tell with the photo in terms of features and layout and feeling of the room. As Scott says “What is the photo about?

Once you have that concept in mind of what the photo is about it can guide decisions about what to include and what to exclude. You also can recognize which visual elements of the photo distract from the story and which visual elements add to your story.

The three main concepts that Scott covers in this tutorial are:

  1. Resist racking your wide-angle lens out to the widest focal length and including as much of the room as possible. Think about how the room feels rather than just how it looks.
  2. Think about how foreground visual elements work in relation to background elements.
  3. Think about shapes and tones in the room.

Oh yeah, and you need to practice this stuff. Some people get these concepts faster than others, but we all need to practice to get good at it! Another good way to practice these concepts is to think and talk about your work and the work of others on the PFRE flickr forum. Frequently others will see things you don’t notice.

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10 Responses to “The Importance Of Composition In Real Estate Photography”

  • Larry,

    Another excellent thought provoking review.

    Many thanks for sharing.

    Sincerely,

    Norman
    NOROS GROUP LLc
    Balto. Md.

  • This is a great video. It’s so much more appealing to look at an image with a thought out composition than a full 10mm wide angle shot. I like the emphasis on camera height as well. Thanks Scott, Malia and Larry.

  • Thanks! Awesome video! Great way to start the day before going to my shoot this morning!

  • Excellent!! I shot two houses yesterday, processed them last night, and am just about to go back to the originals to try some different crops- (can’t shoot them again!!) – yes, I’m guilty of being a “10mm -in-the-corner ” (usually(!) kind of shooter. — later… MUCH better on a couple of shots. Thanks Larry, Scott and Mallia

  • Larry, thanks for digging this one up from the archives!
    Shameless self-promotion: there is, of course, a full video instructional series that goes WAY in depth on real estate lighting technique. If you liked the composition video, you’ll like these even more:
    http://www.lightingforrealestatephotography.com

  • Several months ago, I forwarded that video link to a client who is one of those where a 10mm ultra-wide encompassing 3 walls isn’t wide enough. Was tired of trying to explain it so came from a different perspective (no pun intended). Some success, but still wants wide.

  • I like this post and I am a fan of Scott, for sure. My challenge is composing what my customers want. I love everything Scott has to say here, but the fact is that my agent/broker may want, and insist on, have the widest space shown.

    I get around this by sprinkling in better composed shots with the “wide in the corner” shots that they actually want. It gives them what they want, while at the same time giving them what they need. Some will appreciate it and respond to the better composition. Some don’t care. Some will flat out request that I not do that ever again. Whichever way I’m shooting, I always try to compose the best shot possible, while also operating within my customers expectations.

    At the end of the day, I’m providing a service. As an artist, it’s my duty to educate. As a business owner, it’s my responsibility to satisfy my client. I would say, if someone doesn’t appreciate the better composed shots, don’t worry about it. Hey, you’re still getting paid to do what you love!

    The video is great by the way. Loved every second.

  • Educating my clients is an ongoing effort. I’m always “preaching” the power of images to my clients.

    Our goal as a team is to get home buyers to stop on an MLS listing and put it on their A-List. That is the only goal! We aren’t documenting a home via the images, the written description does that. We are working very hard to entice the buyer to come see the home. By working to capture the feel of the home we can better entice the buyer to come visit the home. So I convince my clients that the boilerplate uber wide views aren’t helping achieve the end goal. More intimate scenes have a LOT more power in capturing the buyer’s attention.

  • I think we all struggle with the “wide from the corner” syndrome. Make the room big, show everything… Scott does a great job of focusing in on the key points of rooms and views. I’ve learned a lot from him and this forum about composition. Some real estate agents love the wide corner shots though.

  • Ah…yes…the bigger the better syndrome – or the more room you can cram into that 10 mm lens, the better. Part of that pressure comes from agents as well. They want their listings to appear “spacious”. Having listed homes myself I understand the instinct, but having worked with buyers as well, I know they really resent it when the photography indicates a sense of space that isn’t there. Its actually quite a turn-off because it can appear that the seller and their agent are deliberately misleading them. Personally, while wanting to give my clients what they want, I do push back when an agent thinks the “bowling alley” effect is a good thing.

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