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How Do You Shoot Elevated Real Estate Photography Shots?

Published: 07/02/2013
By: larry

ElevatedShotBack in the late 1980's when I started shooting my wife Levi's listings. She represented a builder in neighborhood of new homes on the Sammamish Plateau  on the Eastside of Seattle. She insisted that when the home was sighted above the street (many homes in this neighborhood were) we had to shoot the front shot from at least the level of the front door or preferably above. Her approach for shooting elevated shots was to either stand on the top of her Mitsubishi Montero or get the developer's superintendent to bring his big rig over in front of the listing and stand on top of  it to get the the front shot. We had never heard of PAP. Cameras used  stuff called film back then.

I started using a fold-up ladder in the back of my Toyota Tacoma to solve the elevated shooting problem because I didn't like waiting for the superintendent. This was a pretty good solution but there were some situations where getting about 10' above the street was jus not enough. About 2005 I discovered the painters pole. It's a great alternative and gets the elevated shots you need for real estate about 95% of the time.

Nowadays most serious real estate photographers use some form of PAP (Pole Aerial Photography), ladders, or standing on vehicles. There are a bunch of good alternatives for putting cameras on hand held poles from 10' to 20' and higher. To do the best job of doing front shots you frequently need to get higher than street level.

Please take the poll below so we can see what's most popular. Note that the poll below is the same poll as the one on the PAP page. Doesn't matter whether you take it here or on the PAP page it all goes into the same count.
[polldaddy poll=6103058]

19 comments on “How Do You Shoot Elevated Real Estate Photography Shots?”

  1. I actually do 2 of the above: 20' pole when a lot of elevation is needed and there's no wind, or an anchored platform on top of my SUV for quicker shots that don't need much elevation, if it's windy, or for elevated twilights.

  2. I have a 30' handheld pole, but it's usually used below the maximum height so I marked 16-21'. I also have a 4-9' pole that gets the camera to about 15' when held over my head.

  3. Allan...I built a platform, more to protect the camera, as it extends just beyond the lens, side, and back. It's front edge also serves as a reference for horizonal leveling vs the subject. Vertical leveling is immaterial as you are generally taking a birdseye view looking slightly downward. However, I take multiple shot along the vertical plane then decide which one I prefer, and fine tune both horizonals and verticals in post. Also set the lens a little extra wide to give me areas to trim.

  4. I use my stepladder for most exterior front photos, and when necessary, an extendible (up to 18' painters pole). I rarely extend it to its maximum, and I just level it by eye. Any further straightening can be easily done in Photoshop. Nice pano Mario!

  5. I have a Pole thats about 20' but I as often as possible I prefer to hold my tripod tripod above my head. I think tat just get about 8'-12' up, makes a big difference.
    I also have a 30' pole, but I hardly never use it...

  6. I have used painter's poles, a custom photographer's pole that could be extended, and finally, an airplane! Not an easy solution, but rc planes with camera built in also works nicely. Just watch out for the government and faa, but I doubt that you will have a problem if you don't get too high.

  7. @Mario,
    It's been a while since I have seen a 360 pano that impressed. The interior shot #2 of the 3 you posted was stunning. Having the ambient sound in the background was brilliant.

    Is this a a single or double shot 360, or multiple exposures. Like others here, I'd love to hear more about your technique. In any case, well done.

    John Driggers
    Adelaide, Australia

  8. I recently bought a 30 foot Agorfa Quickshot hand-held aluminium mast from the UK. I also purchased the CamRanger that was featured about a week ago here. I'm just waiting for a Manfrotto 234RC head to allow me to tilt the camera down a bit. At a tenth of the price of the 60 foot masts that have to be generally vehicle-mounted, the ROI should be good, plus I can take shots where large vehicles can't go, like backyards and steep properties (as long as I have a bit of flat ground to stand on). All up, about $AU1400.

  9. Like Dave I use the Agorfa mast but with the Hahnel viewer (supplied) all of which works great and produces top results. Previously I had a larger "tripod" based mast which I seldom used partly because it was a pain to transport, partly because it took too long to set up but mainly because I really did not need that much height.

  10. It's been a while since I last visited your blog. I saw this post and remembered that I had used an aerial photographer who started with a mast, but then switched to a small, remote controlled helium derigible with a camera on board. Sad to say, he never was able to make his business viable enough to stay at it. I enjoy your blog!

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