How to take your own professional real estate photos

Research properties for just five minutes and you will come across both fantastic property photography and some truly awful examples of how not to use a camera phone. If you have ever been shopping for a book, you know that despite the age-old adage, it is impossible not to judge a book by its cover. It’s the entire reason covers exist, to be judged and bought! The same goes for your property’s photography. It is the first thing a potential buyer sees, and it has the amazing power to change their decision between finding out more or just moving on without a second thought. Luckily, technology has made it incredibly easy to take your own professional real estate photos. So, what option works best for you?

Taking your own professional real estate photos: choosing a camera

When selling your property, it’s unlikely that you are going to drop a cool $4000 on a DSLR camera just for a day’s shooting. Unless you already are a professional photographer then you are better off borrowing a camera, whether it be a DSLR, compact, mirrorless or other, from a friend. Get on social media and ask around. You will find it impossible not to find a camera this way! But just in case nobody is biting on your line, your last resort (but still a great and cheap option) is to hire a camera. Many companies require a minimum rental period, but this can be as cheap as $20 for a month. Don’t stress too much about which camera you get, cameras today are of such high quality that it’s hard to make a mistake with your choice.

Can’t (or won’t) acquire a real camera? Fair enough, you still have your phone! While it isn’t the ideal situation, as long as you can create optimal lighting in each room you photograph, then current smartphone cameras have the capability to produce some stunning photography. This is especially so if you adopt some simple post-production techniques.

Tip: have you considered using a drone? While this may be more expensive to hire, it can be a fantastic tool to highlight the benefits of not only your property but the area in which you live. Close to the beach? Why not let people know what the walk to the beach is like at dusk? Get creative with this, it will make your property stand out as professional real estate photos are still stuck in a particular formula.

Light up the room

An image that has just had its brightness and contrast maximized may make a property seem new or lighter at the very least, but it risks creating a sense of mistrust from potential buyers when they come to inspect the property. Use lighting in your photography to showcase a room, rather than just brighten it. If you have art that you would like to feature in an image, figure out how to use a single light to highlight the piece. This could range from adjusting an LED to shine down on the painting or finding a nice floor lamp whose light you can direct towards something you wish to feature.

Use your flash to your advantage. Avoid just pointing it into the room, as it will get lost and create ugly shadows in your image. Instead, bounce it off reflective surfaces, such as a wall or the ceiling. Of course, natural light is your best friend and you want to rely on it as much as possible if shooting during the day.

As far as times go, dusk is the favourite of the profession, as it provides great contrast between the sky and the building for sale, highlighting a property’s form and contrasting it against a darkening background. It also allows you to show off the lighting of the home, an aspect of ‘staging’ as important as your choice of furniture and colours when preparing for a sale.

Shooting techniques

  1. POV: sift through some interior professional real estate photos and you’ll be forgiven for thinking the photographer must be 4 feet tall. Shooting low helps to accentuate the full breadth/space of a room, so consider getting down onto the balls of your feet and highlighting the height of certain spaces.

  2. Balance: create an interesting photo and avoid flat images. Do this by making sure there is a foreground, a middle-ground and a background. This isn’t always easy, but rooms such as living rooms and outside shots can be used this way.

  3. Point the way: aim the viewer’s gaze towards whatever feature you wish to highlight. If you want to feature the bed, but it is in the background on the far right, no one is going to notice it.

  4. Shoot laterally: in other words, think outside the box! Just as with a drone, think of less formulaic images. Highlight areas of the home you love and have enjoyed when living in the property. Show people what it is like to live in the property with your images, showcasing some of the best aspects, such as the interplay of lines in the building’s architecture, to a particular part of the garden you think is beautiful.


  1. Watch your lines: Often with interior professional real estate photos a wide-angle lens is necessary to photograph as much of a room as possible. However, this can create curves in straight lines, called a barrel-effect. You can avoid the worst examples of this barrel-effect by keeping your focal length higher, between 16-24mm, rather than 12-14 mm. A professional photographer will straighten these lines in post-production but the process is not overly difficult and you can find out how through a quick online search.

  2. Avoid saturation: play with the vibrance of an image on Photoshop or a similar program. This is a more subtle tool than Saturation, which quickly makes an image look fake.

  3. Baby steps: don’t overdo your post production. Aim to make an image look warm, not on fire. And more than anything, be consistent across all your images.

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