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Leveraging Real Estate Shoots to Attract Interior Designers

Published: 02/06/2021

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. 

How to Leverage Your Real Estate Photo Shoots to Attract Interior Designers

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.

Study the Differences Between Real Estate and Interior Photography

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? 

One-point perspective taken at 35mm length during a vacation rental shoot.
One-point perspective taken at 35mm length during a vacation rental shoot.
  • Look through Hashtags on Instagram: For learning about how interior photographs look differently than real estate photographs, Instagram is the perfect source! Search for hashtags like #interiorphotography or #interiordesign and study the results. 
  • Browse Magazines: Another perfect way to study the different looks is by browsing magazines, whether digital or print. Check out issues from Architectural Digest, Luxe, Dwell, Elle… Take your pick! The editorial style that you see in magazines is what architectural and interior designers strive for when they hire a professional photographer, so these publications will give you a great reference point.
  • Talk to Other Photographers: To learn more about the process of interior photography, your best bet is to talk to fellow photographers! The workflow tends to be very different from real estate photography, so getting to know some interior photographers who are open to conversation is crucial. 
  • Connect on Facebook: Thankfully, social media makes connecting with others very easy. Facebook has a few large groups that focus on architectural and interior photography, including a women-only group called Female Architectural & Interior Photographers
  • Dive into Clubhouse: Clubhouse is a newer platform that has quickly become one of the best ways to connect with new people! Seek out topics around architecture, interior design, and photography to find active rooms that are relevant. Instagram is still the biggest hub for photographers, so following and DMing some interior photographers to ask a few questions is completely acceptable. 

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.

Look for Design-focused Images in Your Photo Library

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! 

Details taken with a 50mm lens at a real estate shoot.
Details taken with a 50mm lens at a real estate shoot.

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!

Revisit Your Editing on Past Shoots

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!

Capture Additional Photos that Fit the Look and Feel of the Interior

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.

Angled, but tighter composition taken during a vacation rental shoot.
Angled, but tighter composition taken during a vacation rental shoot.

Show Design-focused Images on Social Media

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. 

Change the Captions for Your Social Media Posts

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.

Shift Your Real Estate Shoot Mentality

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. 

Bathtub detail taken with a 50mm lens during a real estate shoot.
Bathtub detail taken with a 50mm lens during a real estate shoot.

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.

Seek Out Specific Real Estate Agents 

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.

Conclusion

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!

Natalia Robert
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