Real-Estate Photography

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    Caitlin Compton

    Hey all!

    In the next couple of months, my family is going to open up our old house for holiday rental on Airbnb or something similar. Obviously we’re going to need photos of it and being the family photography, I imagine that’ll fall to me! 🙂 So, does anyone have any tips for shooting house interiors? It’s probably going to be more of a once of thing, so I want to do a good job, but without getting into all the nitty gritty details – if that’s possible! lol 🙂 The rooms are on the smaller side and some of the ceilings are wooden (which could interfere with speedlights etc, I guess) I don’t own any speedlights, is this something I’m going to have to purchase? I really have know idea about real-estate photography, so any tips are welcome!

    David Frazer

    Here are my tips… Sorry, I seem to be incapable of not getting into nitty gritty details. 😐

    Of course I don’t need to tell you to make sure the rooms are neat and orderly! You would be surprised how often I get to a house where they were warned two days in advance there was a photographer coming and the beds are not made, the floors are a mess, there are unwashed dishes on the counter, etc… I like to have one or two items per section of counter in the kitchen, close the toilet in the bathroom, remove kleenex boxes from beside the beds, etc. On a more pertinent note, you may find that it is easier in the long run to take the interior photos with the lights off on a slightly overcast day. (More on that under PROCESSING.) Of course, you live there, so you certainly could take every picture with the lights off and the lights on to see which you like better.

    1) Use a tripod!
    Using a tripod is essential! It gives you the time to set up your composition and allows you to easily bracket your shots. It also allows you to use the slow shutter speeds you will probably need. Make sure your camera is level and stable.
    2) Use your wide-angle lens
    17mm on your Tamron 17-50 should be wide enough if you are very careful with your camera placement. You will want to place your camera in corners, in the other room, or even in the closet to get as far back as possible. I like my pictures best when shot around 24mm full-frame (about 16mm crop sensor). You will want to take some wide-angle “overview” photos that show how the rooms relate to each other, especially in the living areas (dining room, kitchen, family/sitting/living rooms, etc) You will also want to take some pictures to give a feeling for the place. The mood shots / feeling shots may be more zoomed in.

    1) Aperture mode
    Put your camera in aperture-priority mode, around f/5.6 or f/8 and iso 100 to 400. This will allow for the sharpest possible images, and allow pretty much everything to be in focus. It is ok if the shutter speed goes up to 30 seconds – houses and furniture don’t move.
    2) Auto bracketing
    As you do not have a flash you will want to bracket your shots so that you can do either HDR or an exposure fusion. Here are instructions on how to turn on AEB on the Canon 60D. You will want to set it to +2,0,-2 or +3,0,-3 (two or three stops above and below)
    3) Set the camera to delay mode
    5 seconds delay before taking the pictures will allow you to get your hands off the camera and eliminate any possible vibration or movement.

    1) Use HDR, but in moderation
    You want the picture to feel like you just walked into a real place. Your knowledge on editing HDRs will come in handy for this! I don’t know if lightroom has an exposure fusion option, but if it does, that might give more realistic results than HDR. Unless you have a view of Lake Louise or Mount Saint Helens out your window, you don’t need to see what is outside the windows. Especially if it is the neighbour’s vinyl siding.
    2) Straighten your verticals
    Make sure every vertical line is exactly vertical – doors, walls, windows, etc. If the camera was pointing slightly up or down you will need to use the perspective correction tool.
    3) Make the photos bright
    The average picture’s histogram has the greatest amount of data near the centre. In real estate photography, you generally want it between the center and 3/4.
    normal histogramreal estate histogram
    4) Remove colour casting
    If you have a neutral-coloured room and the light coming in through one window is blue, you can simply de-saturate the blues to make the picture look more natural. If you have a room where there are trees out one window, blue sky out another window, incandescent bulbs in the bedside lamps, fluorescent lights on the ceiling, and leds in the walk-in closet, you will have green light coming in one window, blue light coming in the other window, orange light from the lamps, ugly green light from the ceiling lights, and blue-white light coming from the closet. If you have hair left after editing that, you probably decided to turn the whole thing black and white. If you can, arrange to take the pictures on a day that is slightly overcast, and with the lights off.

    • This reply was modified 50 years, 10 months ago by .
    David Frazer

    Oh, and the outside pictures are better taken when you have nice blue sky and puffy white clouds… So, ideally two different days. 🙂

    • This reply was modified 50 years, 10 months ago by .
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