The weather is not always nice and sunny, nor is it always ideal for those perfect exterior shots that every agent wants. To avoid rescheduling while providing the best photos for clients, we're going to give you tips on shooting real estate and doing cloudy day photography.
Lighting is a crucial factor in real estate photography because it creates contrast and shadows to highlight property details. When the weather is bad, you can choose the appropriate equipment and camera settings, use the clouds as a softbox, create directional light, and take advantage of cloud breaks.
Client expectations will vary widely depending on your location, so there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Hence, you may have to try various things to get the perfect shots.
While your equipment would be similar to the basic tools for real estate photography, it's also wise to bring waterproof camera coverings to protect your gear from snow or moisture.
Aside from a camera body, wide-angle lens, and tripod, you would need to use a separate flash and stand to control the lighting during unfavorable weather conditions. Likewise, you can place strobes or speedlights when there's no direct sunlight flooding into the windows for interior shots.
Bad weather can form piles of snow or puddles of water. Sometimes, the solution is all about going around the property and finding the best spot, probably the cleanest, to take your shots.
Cloudy day shooting settings are slightly different because the sun, your light source, will hide and show itself unexpectedly. First, set your camera into manual mode, then work on choosing the appropriate exposure.
Clouds don't necessarily mean it's a bad day to shoot. Like a softbox, you can use clouds as light modifiers to avoid shadows and diffuse harsh light.
If your client wants to add actual people to the shoot, the flat lighting from the clouds allows you to position the subjects in a bright, open area for more flattering lighting.
While light modifiers remove shadows, directional light can let you add shadows to create dimension. Depending on the light source's intensity, you can use a reflector's black side to bounce the directional light onto a property's features for smaller yet snappier lighting.
This part requires you to be attentive as there are times when the clouds will shift just enough to let a pool of light come through. When cloud breaks occur, see where the light lands and use it to create drama.
Some agents would also take advantage of the weather to attract clients who are considering particular seasons.
For example, bright skies give a sense of warmth and happiness, making properties more appealing and inviting to viewers. Meanwhile, big, fluffy clouds create a sense of calm, which can make a property look serene.
There are cloudy days when it would be difficult to find the correct exposure. However, you can counter dark lighting through bracketed shooting and editing in HDR.
For instance, shoot a photo where the exposure highlights the property. Next, focus on a different area, like the pathway. Then, aim for an evenly exposed background or the sky.
After that, you can stitch the pictures together in Photoshop to create an HDR shot.
Post-processing is a great way to enhance your real estate photos, especially if you want to fix uneven exposure.
Oh, and here is the PFRE sky library (contributed over the years by PFRE readers) if you need some sunny skies.
Do whatever it takes to accommodate your good clients in getting a great external shot, even if it takes multiple trips because of the weather. For view properties, it can be worth it to come back more than once to capture what makes a view property so valuable.
Shooting on overcast days can be good if you have a light and airy style. Overcast sky creates beautiful, soft shadows that also allow colors to stand out easily.
Turning images into black and white enables you to bring out more contrast. However, it's not ideal to edit your shots into black and white as people would need colors to have an accurate view of a property.
The real estate market is open all-year-long, which means the weather can influence your lighting. You can push through with cloudy day photography as long as you take advantage of the overcast sky, bring the right equipment, and know-how to post-process.
How does everyone handle bad weather situations?