Real Estate Photography 101 – What’s Important to Get Started

April 3rd, 2011

I’ve been getting bunch of questions from people new to real estate photography lately and noticed that my post aimed at helping new comers get started in still photography hasn’t been updated for well over a year. Here is my current thinking for people just getting started.

Essential Gear

  • Wide angle lens: This is the most is the most important piece of gear you need. You need a wide angle lens that has an effective focal length between 14 and 24mm. See the PFRE lenses page for all the options. The lens I recommend to most people is the Sigma 10-20mm. It has good quality for a very reasonable price and it’s available for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Samsung and Sony.
  • DSLR: Any low-end DSLR is adequate. Don’t bother with point-and-shoot cameras, they just don’t have good quality wide angle lenses. If you are serious about this business you need a DSLR. The DSLR I recommend to most is the Canon Rebel. Low end Nikon DSLRs are just as good.
  • Tripod: A Manfrotto or other similar sturdy tripod is adequate.
  • Flash: Even if you are going to shot HDR/Exposure Fusion, I think you need at least one flash. A great way to go is a used SB-80Dx triggered with Cactus wireless triggers.

Lighting Decisions
Everyone starting out needs to make a decision about how they are going to approach lighting interiors. There are two distinct approaches:

  • Small Flashes: In this approach you use multiple small flash units like the classic standard Nikon SB-80Dx to light a room. The very best description of this technique is taught in Scott Hargis’s eBook, The Essential Guide to: Lighting Interiors, Techniques for lighting with small flash, or at one of Scott’s Workshops.
  • HDR/Exposure Fusion: This technique consists of shooting brackets (a series of exposures one or two stops apart). I have many other posts that talk about this technique and PFRE Media has a eBook in progress that will focus on all the details of this technique.

Post Processing Software
No matter how good you are you’ll need to do some post processing. Typical things like straightening verticals, removing barrel distortion, adjusting white balance, exposure etc. Nowadays you can do 90% of your post processing work in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. There will be some things like masking windows you’ll need Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to do. You could get by just fine with only Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 (Win/Mac), but Lightroom 3 is faster and easier to use.

Learning The Craft
Start out by learning still photography. All agents need stills. Then pay attention to what is popular in your market and expand into areas that there is a demand for in your area.

The best way to learn real estate photography is to join and participate in the PFRE flickr group. Look at the work others are doing and get feedback from more experienced photographers.

Creating and Building Your Business
Be careful not to get overly involved in the tech aspects of real estate photography to the point that you don’t pay attention to marketing and promoting your business and customer service. Customer service and marketing is over half of the real estate photography business.

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6 Responses to “Real Estate Photography 101 – What’s Important to Get Started”

  • Reading this blog is what helped me get started. Thanks Larry for all the work you put into it.

  • @Jody- Thanks for the feedback! You have a fun site!

  • This is a nice little checklist. I am updating to a Nikon D7000 from a Sony A100. I am getting a body only and will look to add a Sigma 10-20mm, and a couple of SB-26 flashes. I have an OLD tripod from Ritz camera that hopefully will suffice for now. The reason I went with D7000 is because I am also looking to do some portrait work and personal family shots. Thanks for the work you put in and looking forward to add some shots to the flikr group.

  • This is the post that gets everyone started. I’m just in the infancy of learning to shoot but when I read this post a while back it really helped to confirm the equipment selections I’d made. This really helps a lot whether you’re a Realtor looking to improve the quality of your photos (me) or someone looking to get started in the real estate photography business.

  • Love this site. So much info. Keep up the good work….

  • Thank you Larry for the post. As a home stager I must love pictures and I want to get the best possible pictures, this has been great help!
    thank you!

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