Steve Paxton over at fstopspot.com asked me to write a post for beginners thinking about getting into real estate photography. So since there are many beginners in the PFRE audience I decided to do a post here that he can use on fstopspot.com.
What is real estate photography? A large part of selling a property these days is about making it look good on the real estate sites. A property that looks good on the potential home buyers will attract home buyers to come look at it in person. Nowadays all real estate transactions start online.
What are the keys to creating your own real estate photography business? Here is my distilled summary with references to more details in previous PFRE blog posts:
- Essential Gear
- Wide-angle glass: This is the most is the most important piece of gear you need. You need a wide angle lens that has an effective focal length between 14 and 24mm. See the PFRE lenses page for all the options. The lens I recommend to most people is the Sigma 10-20mm. It has good quality for a very reasonable price and it’s available for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Samsung and Sony.
- DSLR: Any low-end DSLR is adequate. Don’t bother with point-and-shoot cameras, they don’t have good quality wide-angle lenses. If you are serious about this business you need a DSLR.
- Tripod: A Manfrotto or any sturdy tripod is adequate.
- Small flashes: Even if you are going to shot HDR/Exposure Fusion, I think you need at least one flash. A great way to go is a used SB-80Dx. Trigger one with Cactus wireless triggers and use optical triggering for more than the first one.
- Lighting Decisions: Lighting interiors with small flashes is the best approach but there is a learning curve with this technique. I recommend starting out with one flash and using Exposure Fusion. Then expand to multiple flashes as you learn how to use them. In the mean time Exposure Fusion covers up many flash learning problems.
- Small Flashes: This is the technique that about half of professional real estate photographers use.
- HDR: HDR is hard to control. It use to be more popular in real estate than it is now.
- Hybrid of EF and small flash: This is what about half of professional real estate photographers use
- Post Processing Software: You can get by with just Lightroom but to do top quality work you need Photoshop or Photoshop Elements too.
- Learning The Craft: Start out by learning still photography. All agents need stills. Then pay attention to what is popular in your market and expand into areas that there is a demand for in your area. Video is becoming more popular and with the right DSLR and some extra gear you can supply both stills and video.
- Building Your Business: Here are the key parts to building your real estate photography business with links to more details:
- What should you charge?
- Is there a strong market in your area for real estate photography?
- What's the best way to market yourself?
- Find the top 1-5% of agents in your local market
- Market to those top agents face-to-face - educate them on how great photography sells property
- Raise the marketing awareness of home sellers in your area
- Here is the key message that sells real estate photography.
If you are interested in more depth on any of these areas our PFRE eBooks and video series that present these subjects in a more organized and more detailed form. They are:
- Photography For Real Estate - An in depth look at real estate photography and what you need to get started.
- The Business of Real Estate Photography - How to build your real estate photography business.
- Lighting Interiors - How to use multiple small flashes to light interiors.
- Lighting for Real Estate video series - Scott's video series on how to use multiple small flashes.
- Image Editing For Real Estate Photography - Everything you need to know about image editing for real estate photography.