There's been a lot of talk recently about using RCMA (Remote Control Model Aircraft) for real estate but the total costs of equipment and insurance and time practicing etc. all add up. It's not for everyone. It's mostly a upper-end real estate photography tool. There are many of the old standby approaches that will take care of 90% of the real estate situations. But I think every real estate photographer needs to have a way to get the camera 10' to 15' in the air for a great front shot.
There are two basic reasons:
- The siting of some homes is such that it is impossible to get a reasonably good front exterior shot standing on the ground. Routinely there will be homes in hilly neighborhoods where the bottom of the front door will be 10 to 20 feet above the street level.
- Even if the home you are shooting is sited on a flat lot where the bottom of the front door is at street level, a front shot 10 to 20 feet higher looks way better than one standing at street level. There's always someone who wants to argue about this but I submit if you don't believe me try it. The results are obvious. Also note that in poll below about 89% of real estate photographers agree with me.
A height of 10' to 15' will nicely cover 99% of the shots you'll need to take. Nowadays there are a lot of good alternatives for getting your camera 10' to 15' above the ground:
- Carry a fold up ladder. That's my fold up ladder above in the bed of my Toyota pickup. These fold up ladders will fit in any trunk and get you up to 10' to 12'. I also have a pole too but rarely use it because I like to use my 5DMKII with a 24-70 for front shots. Here is another PFRE readers solution for a ladder setup.
- Fold-up your tripod legs and hold your camera and tripod over your head holding on to the tripod legs. You'll be amazed at the difference it makes.
- Use a painters pole: It's very easy to put a point and shoot camera on a painter's pole. Here is a PFRE readers solution.
- PolePixie is a very popular solution.
- The WonderPole is also a popular solution.
- The Polester solution.
- Giant tripods are a very popular solution. It's easier and safer to put your full size DSLR on one of these. You can use a CamRanger to control the camera when it's up in the air.
- Big masts that go up to 30' or 50' are an alternative, but there are a very few situations that require this kind of height.
- Of course there are balloons and kites and RMCA that will do this too but for just simple front exterior shots they are a lot of bother when you can get good results with a ladder, pole or giant tripod.
What do you use? Take the poll below so everyone can see what's most popular. I'm a bit surprised that about 13% of readers think they "don't need no stinking elevated shots". Yes you do! You can't make great front exterior shots if you are always standing at the street level.