Maybe you started your real estate photography business with hopes of building a team, building a long client list, and being every agent’s go-to photographer. What if you had different goals, though? Photographing real estate teaches you how to interpret a built space into a photograph, and that skill can lead to different types of photography clients.
One of the most common shifts from real estate photography is into interior photography, where you focus on shooting for interior designers. Yes, the two genres of photography have some big differences, but the transition from real estate to interiors can be a smooth and rewarding one! Let’s take a look at what you can do TODAY to start leveraging your existing real estate photography work into interior photography clients for your future.
The first thing to do when you think you may want to transition from real estate photography to interior photography is to study. What exactly ARE the differences? Why do you want to move to interior photography? How are the compositions different? What about the process, how is that different from one to the other?
Once you understand more about the differences between real estate photography and interior photography, it’ll help you understand what you need to focus on as you make that transition.
Go through your existing photo library and look for photos that are more design-focused. Even if you haven’t been shooting for interior designers, there’s a good possibility that your real estate shoots have included some shots that apply to interiors.
Since you’ve taken some time to learn about the differences in the look of photos between real estate and interiors, it’s now time to revisit your photo library!
Take time to revisit your existing photo library from past shoots and look for specific photos that are more design-focused. You’ll be keeping an eye out for compositions that are not too wide (steer clear of anything wider than 20mm on a full frame camera), with a focus on any one-point perspectives. Details, vignettes, and anything that has that “lifestyle” feel with staging may also be a good fit.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have loads of photos that work as interior photography samples. It’s better to have few, but excellent, photos. Plus, these are just the ones that you’ll be starting with!
Now that you’ve got some photos picked out from past shoots, consider re-editing them. Interior design photography tends to have a much more natural look, with softer lighting, softer window pulls, and only natural shadows. In other words, it should feel natural and flash-free.
Depending on your editing style for real estate photography, you may not need to change much in the new edit! Often, though, there are some adjustments to be made. One of the biggest differences that is typically noticeable is in the window pulls.
If you can clearly see the outside view and its exposure is similar to the interior, then you’ll want to consider adjusting that. For interior photography, the windows tend to have brighter light. Views out of those windows, if visible at all, are softer and brighter than the interior.
You may also find a few photos that are almost a good fit for interior photography, but would benefit from tighter crops. Consider that for interior design, you often just need to see a small portion of the room to make an impact.
One final thing to consider is removing distractions. Things like outlets, light switches, and cables can often distract from the design and so are commonly removed in editing. Most of the time it’s a quick use of the Patch tool in Photoshop to remove these items, but this small edit can make a huge difference!
While you may have gotten a set of photos to start marketing your services to interior designers, you’ll need to keep growing that portfolio! While on real estate shoots, look for additional shots you can take that would fit a designer look. For example, you may want to get some one-point perspectives in addition to angled views of a room.
Look for walls with strong elements, symmetry, or clear views beyond. Don’t forget to keep the compositions tight and go easy on the flash. Getting just a few additional shots at each shoot can quickly build your portfolio and give you more Instagram content that appeals to interior designers.
Other opportunities to look for are vignettes with staging, detail shots of special features, and any standout architectural elements. Don’t be afraid to get in close! These types of photos are often best when shot with lenses that are 50mm focal length or tighter.
On social media, show ONLY photos that feel more focused on the design. As you build the collection of photos that you can present to potential interior photography clients, you’ll also want to consider your online presence. Specifically, focus some energy on considering what you show on Instagram (it’s an undeniable hub for marketing services and finding resources, after all!).
If you’re looking to make a full transition to interior photography, then you’ll want to start showing only the photos that fit that look. It’s absolutely true that you should be showing the type of work you want to bring in! So when you want to work with interior designers, show work that appeals to interior designers. This means staying clear of ultra-wide angles, strong window pulls, or heavy flash use. Your goal is to make it crystal clear that you work with interior designers.
While you’re doing an audit on your social media, consider revamping your website! The galleries should speak to interior designers, rather than real estate agents. Ask yourself if the photos shown in the galleries are composed and edited like the photos you’ve seen in design magazines. If not, go back to your photo library and take another look at possible photos you can revamp.
One final spot to create or audit your galleries is on Houzz. If you’re not on Houzz yet, you should absolutely create a free profile. Houzz is a source for many home projects, both for consumers and fellow professionals. Take some time to create a free profile and get added to their professional photographer directory.
It’s not all about the photos on Instagram! Consider what you caption with the photos and whether your descriptions need to change. With real estate, it’s easy to fall into the habit of mentioning the property statistics - location, square footage, listing agent. In other words, it’s easy to try to “sell” the property when describing it.
With interior photography, though, the emphasis is much more on the architectural features and the feeling of a space. Next time you go to caption a photo, consider how the space feels, the lifestyle created in that home, and any exciting features that are noteworthy. No need to focus on all these things in one caption.
Rather, get creative with describing one quality of the space well. A good place to start is to imagine what activities happen in that space, and use those as motivation to evoke some feeling.
If you’re looking to transition into interior photography, it’s easy to start thinking of real estate photography as a stepping stone, but are you also looking at it as an opportunity? Look at each real estate shoot as a chance to experiment, capture design photos, and grow.
Yes, real estate is all about quick turnarounds, but shifting to a mindset of using these shoots as a learning opportunity will have you taking advantage of that time in a new property to get additional shots you need for the portfolio, trying out a different lighting technique or composition, and leveraging it for your longer-term goal.
This means that you’ll possibly be spending a bit more time at locations, investing more time in the editing, or moving more slowly through the shoot itself. The idea is to really take advantage of every opportunity you have in a space so that you can potentially create portfolio images.
Not all agents are the same, so if you have any clients who work with high-end properties or who appreciate a natural, design-focused look to their listing photos, then focus on serving them well! These agents are the ones who will be more flexible with longer shoots and experimenting on location. These are the agents that will give you more opportunities to do all of the above tips and make the most out of your real estate shoots.
Real estate photography and interior photography are very similar on the surface, but actually have distinct differences in the workflow, objective, and use. Thankfully, the similarities they do share mean that you can use real estate photography as a stepping stone to different clientele.
It takes some learning, reenvisioning past work, and shifting your mindset about current opportunities, but you can certainly leverage real estate shoots into a portfolio that will attract interior designers!