Reading
blue-triangle-element

Articles

PFRE is the original online resource for real estate and interior photographers. Since 2006, it has been a community hub where like-minded professionals from around the world gather to share information with a common goal of improving their work and advancing their business. With thousands of articles, covering hundreds of topics, PFRE offers the most robust collection of educational material in our field. The history of real estate photography has been documented within these pages.
All Articles
blue-triangle-element

Latest

Exporting files to Lightroom classic

Is it hard for you to manage images in Lightroom? Here are tips on how to organize photos in Lightroom to improve your editing workflow.

COMMUNITY
blue-triangle-element

Forum

The PFRE Community Forum is an online resource for discussing the art and business of Real Estate and Interior Photography.
Join The Discussion
blue-triangle-element

Latest

View Now
Contest
blue-triangle-element

OVERVIEW

For over a decade, photographers from around the world have participated in PFRE’s monthly photography contests, culminating in the year-end crowning of PFRE’s Photographer of the Year. With a new theme each month and commentary offered by some of the finest real estate & interior photographers anywhere, these contests offer a fun, competitive environment with rich learning opportunities. 

Contest Rules
blue-triangle-element

CURRENT CONTESTS

View / Submit
blue-triangle-element

PAST CONTESTS

View Archive
Resources
blue-triangle-element

Resources

PFRE prides itself on the depth and breadth of the information and professional development resources it makes available to our community. Our goal is to help real estate and interior photographers be successful while bringing the community together and elevating the industry as a whole.
blue-triangle-element

Conference News

No items found

How High Should Your Camera Be When Shooting Real Estate Interiors?

Published: 01/03/2021

Are you wondering at what height to set your tripod? When should you shoot lower or higher? Height consistency is essential in real estate photography, so we're going to discuss the appropriate shooting level for different parts of a property, including factors for changing height when shooting across one.

Camera Height for Real Estate Photography

Keeping the camera at a straight level for real estate photography is crucial to avoid image distortion. While each home is different, you can follow an overall height on all properties. It's ideal to set the shooting height around 4 to 5 feet to achieve natural and proportionally-balanced images.

You might need to change height levels as you shoot in various kinds of properties, so we're going to look into how you can achieve this without making the images look contorted.

Shot of second floor living area

Guidelines for Adjusting Shooting Height

Even though it's ideal to set the camera height at around 4 to 5 feet, there are instances where you need to adjust to capture the perfect real estate images. These are some pointers to help you make changes.

Choose a Good Starting Point 

While the height may depend on the situation, a good starting point would be to shoot from the chest level because it resembles the viewpoint of a person walking around a property.

Putting the camera below the head gives a better-pleasing perspective than a top-down view. In effect, people can see and admire the floors and furniture instead of the cupboard or wall hangings.

To give viewers this feeling, you need to ensure the surface of tables and countertops is entirely in view rather than the underside.

Make Adjustments in Every Room

While there's no hard rule about setting the height, adjusting from the starting point of 4 to 5 feet is an excellent way to shoot, depending on the type of interior.

Keep in mind that every property has various layouts, dimensions, and features. As you look through the viewfinder, you can gauge whether you need to shoot at a lower or higher perspective.

  • In rooms where there aren't large surfaces, you generally keep the camera between 3 feet and 4 feet off the floor. Composition considerations will determine the exact height.
  • In kitchens or bathrooms, set the camera height at 1.25 feet to 2 feet above the counter height. Keep the camera height high enough to avoid seeing the surface on the bottom of the cabinets. There may be lights and other stuff under there you don't want to show.
  • In bedrooms where the primary surface in the photograph is the bed, have the camera height 1.25 feet to 2 feet above the height of the bed. The lower the bed, the lower the camera goes.
  • You may want to shoot lower in a dining room where people typically sit. On the other hand, you may go higher in a kitchen where people would stand around while cooking.
  • Position the camera about the mid-face level to avoid high countertops in kitchens. Be careful as setting the tripod too high can make the space appear small.
  • Raising or lowering the camera (as well as how wide you are shooting) controls how much of the ceiling or floor is in the image. If measuring seems tricky, shoot halfway between the ceiling and the floor. However, this won't work well in areas with a very high ceiling.
  • You may shoot at 3.5 feet if you're using a geared three-way head to level the camera.
  • Bring the height down if the pieces of furniture are low to the ground so that everything remains straight. Make sure you won't crop the legs off needlessly.

Think Like the Viewer

Another way to determine the correct shooting height is to put yourself in the shoes of the viewers. Real estate photography is about helping people imagine themselves in a property, so you need to consider how the buyers might use the room. 

Moreover, you have to highlight a room's key features and details. For example, if you need to photograph a living room with a great entertainment system, you can position your gear about the height of a person sitting down while watching.

Kitchen with white counter and cabinets

Consider the Perspective of Your Lens

Most rooms come with a plethora of horizontal and vertical lines, which can guide you whether you have the correct elevation or not. 

A wide-angle lens broadens the perspective horizontally, giving emphasis on the floor and ceiling. Once you notice that your lines are leaning outwards or inwards, then that means you're on the wrong shooting height.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Height for Shooting 360° Panoramas?

As opposed to regular real estate photos, it's best to shoot panoramas closer to 4 feet since viewers want to control what they see. When you lower the camera's height, people don't need to pan down constantly to see the key features.

What's the Importance of Height in Real Estate Photography?

The shooting height is crucial in real estate photography as it influences your composition, and consequently, the final image. Hence, you need to find the middle ground to ensure you capture the important features and the mood of the space.

Conclusion

Height consistency is vital in real estate shots as you need to ensure that features don't look distorted or too enlarged and that lines remain straight. Working with the right shooting height of about 4 to 5 feet can improve your real estate photography.

I'm sure others will have different points of view on this.

9 comments on “How High Should Your Camera Be When Shooting Real Estate Interiors?”

  1. This is one of those this that separate one photographers style from another. If there is a special formula then all photographers would be the same. Each photographers has a vision and shows it thru their own style.

  2. I tend to shoot from a lower height in the bedroom if it is a nicely decorated bed/room, just above the foot of the bed toward the headboard. I feel this gives the bed more of a "hotel" feel. My thought is that if I can convey that the room will feel like an escape each night, it will be more desirable.

  3. I follow pretty much those same guidelines for camera height. I try to get midway between floor and ceiling, keeping camera level for non-converging verticals. For two-story spaces, I go higher. I notice that most RE photos in our MLS -- even for vertical spaces -- are horizontal (landscape) orientation. I go vertical (portrait) for two-story foyers and grand stairways for example.

  4. Generally I shoot at about 4-5 feet. I tend to be a little higher than others, and then I point the camera slightly downward. I adjust my verticals in lightroom or photoshop. I realize that this crops my image a bit, but that's ok with me as I start with a pretty wide lens. I've received feedback from clients that ceilings are not very important so I'd rather have more floor than ceiling. This means I need to have my camera pointed down. I don't have a tilt shift lens so this is how I do it. Additionally, framing out the ceiling makes dealing with ceiling hotspots a little easier too.

  5. I'm under 5' tall and, in my second half of life, I've found another profession that is perfect for me (g'head--try to guess the first). I am naturally shooting at 15-20" above counter height, no stooping required. Maybe my petite self is overly sensitive to this, but shots where the camera is lower make me very uncomfortable, like I'm a Hobbit (don't say it), or sinking into the floor. 36" seems like it would be far too low, but I'll try some experiments and see if I like it. I'll sneak in a little more ceiling if it is coffered or otherwise architecturally interesting, but generally prefer a bit more floor and do the fake tilt-shift/post fix like Trevor does.

  6. I think it would be a great guide for starters to put the camera as low as you possibly can without making things look ridiculous. Sometimes that's very low, like when shooting at coffee tables and stuff.

  7. The heights in the article are a good starting point. Bed heights can range a lot. I've had everything from Japanese style, on the floor mattress to four-posters that have a step to help climb in. With a standard US bed, the 15"-20" above the mattress guideline will work most of the time. I keep an eye out for balance with the rest of the furniture too.

    There is a local office that uses a staffer to take photos (as opposed to "make" photos) that is vertically challenged. They will often shoot below counter height in kitchens and bathrooms and present a toddlers-eye view of a home that just doesn't work. The agents aren't paying extra for the photography so they don't seem to care very much. I haven't been able to sell anybody from that office on using professional photography. Their descriptions are all about the same and just a compilation of standard RE marketing clichés. I haven't given up on marketing to those agents, but they are a much lower priority if I'm out visiting open houses.

    I look for a good balance of ceiling and floor for most rooms. In kitchens, I want to have some separation between an island and the counters. Most of the time I am adjusting my camera height and occasionally I'll do a little fake T/S if I need. With two story high rooms, I don't have excess ceiling issues so I am looking for a good composition that doesn't leave a huge amount of negative space with the walls. These rooms usually have tall windows that allude to the high ceiling so I don't have to actually show the ceiling to convey the height. I try to shoot horizontally exclusively. I feel it works better on the local MLS's which are formatted that way and when a gallery is viewed on a mobile device, the person doesn't have to keep flipping the phone around.

  8. For me, the general starting point is 1/2 of the ceiling height. Since most homes have 8 foot ceilings +/-, I keep the camera at 48". With a level camera set half way between the floor and ceiling, all the walls will be straight and there will be a good balance between the floor and ceiling. Adjust as you go for composition. I typically stay at 48" for most rooms and I lower the camera 6-8" for bathrooms, in favor of more floor. Exteriors are all shot with a 24mm T/S set at 5'-6" (height of my eye).

  9. Interesting to see the range of perspectives. Good topic.

    For me, camera height is generally 54" for most rooms; varying as composition may require. Kitchens are almost invariably higher, enough to not show underneath the upper cabinets. Bathrooms, are whatever composition and reflective surfaces dictate.

    As I discuss with my clients, we want to down play expansive ceilings in favor of floors. It's about selling square footage from that perspective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

magnifiercrossmenucross-circle