Real estate photography is a commercial photographic genre able to generate a constant income. After all, people sell houses all the time, and good photographs make up half of the job because it’s easier to fall in love with a property when you see its bright colors, intense lighting, and well-chosen angles. 

Furthermore, real estate photos are the first impression you make as a real estate agent or property owner. The quality of the photos shows people how much you care about the property, how much energy you’ve invested in this process, and what to expect in terms of cleanliness, repair history, and attention to detail.

As a real estate photographer, you should bear all these in mind and purposefully apply them in your photo compositions. Here is everything you need to know to get started with real estate photography.

Real estate photography - tips & techniques

There are two aspects to consider when photographing a property. The first one is to capture the property’s features exactly. For example, color accuracy is an essential factor. Other factors are geometry, space, textures, lighting, and the view. Property photographs are realistic and leave no room for artistic interpretations. You need to capture the scenery as it is.

At the same time, property photography incorporates a lot of storytelling. A property isn’t just a space filled with objects. It has a history, an atmosphere, surroundings, and potential. All these should be captured in your property photographs. Look for personal details and unique aspects that make the property special.

What Is Real Estate Photography?

Real estate photography - is a particular type of property photography in which the purpose of the photos is to sell a property. Alongside the goal of accurately capturing the property’s features and infusing the photos with its stories, real estate photography incorporates a commercial transaction. As a result, real estate photographs need to help the real estate agent or the owner sell the property and make justice to the potential buyer at the same time.

A real estate photographer may work for people willing to sell a property, real estate agencies, real estate magazines or websites, construction development companies, or architecture and interior design companies. They may be full-time employees or freelancers. However, their range of photography skills needs to cover shooting in natural and artificial light, outdoor and indoor photography, aerial photography, and close-up photography. Their gear bag is heavy as well.

Equipment for Shooting Real Estate Photos

A real estate photographer should have a high-quality camera, a range of lenses, and a tripod.

  • In terms of cameras, high-end DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are the obvious choices because they provide high image resolutions, perform well in less-than-perfect lighting conditions, and grant access to a broad range of lenses. However, speed is sometimes important as your real estate photoshoot may have a time limit. 

  • If you don’t have the time to manage a complex camera with interchangeable lenses (or don’t want to carry the weight), go for a zoom Compact camera
  • Or even the latest Smartphone model (e.g., Samsung S23, iPhone 15 Pro, OnePlus 11, etc.).
  • An action camera (GoPro or DJI) may work very well too.

The reason for which compact cameras, smartphones, and action cameras work for real estate photography is the focal lengths of their lenses.

Lenses for real estate photography

Regardless of the camera you use, you need a wide-angle lens to capture the space accurately. A focal length between 10mm and 35mm will allow you to take environmental shots of an entire room, house, or property.

However, you will also take close-ups and detail shots, for which you need a slightly longer focal length, between 50mm and 100mm. A zoom lens provides a range of focal lengths, which is the main benefit of compact and smartphone cameras. They are also portable, lightweight, and ergonomic.

An action camera may also be helpful if you create video footage of the property. They provide a realistic perspective and help the potential buyer have valuable insight into how it feels to be inside the house or walk around the property.

The tripod stabilizes the camera and eliminates the risk of camera shake blur. Real estate photographs should be sharp, clear, and precise. In addition to the tripod, you can also use a remote trigger. Camera stabilization is key when you take HDR (high dynamic range) photographs, which you most likely will do for your real estate photography business.

Why Real Estate Drone Photography Is a Thing

Aerial photography has become part of real estate photography and for good reasons. Using a drone to photograph the property offers a unique perspective on the surroundings. One can see the neighborhood or landscape that surrounds the property and get an idea of the atmosphere. Furthermore, the property’s terrain, the arrangement of different buildings (e.g., driveway, barn, pool, etc.), the state of the roof, and other features become visible. Drone photography increases the value of your real estate photos and shows you’ve thought of everything.

Lighting Design for Real Estate Photography

Taking professional real estate photos requires the ability to take sharp, well-exposed outdoor and indoor pictures. This means working with natural and artificial light, and often with both of them at the same time (e.g., sunlight coming through the window).

If you value the realistic approach of real estate photography, you will only use the available light, meaning you won’t use additional light sources, such as external flash units, strobes, or ring lights. By working only with the available light, you show the property as it is. However, choose wisely the time of the day and pay attention to the weather forecast. Overcast days may not be a good choice for real estate photographs.

Nonetheless, you’ll find that the realistic approach is usually much more inviting and cozy. To get the perfect balance between natural and artificial light, you may need to use HDR photography and overlay multiple photographs with different exposures. But in the end, you’ll have natural-looking images with accurate colors and honest perspectives.

If you decide to use additional light sources, ensure you don’t create artificial scenes that look dramatic and overdone. Color temperature is key here. Match the color temperature of your lighting gear with the one inside the house. And use the lowest light intensity that provides you with enough light to take a good shot.

Composition in Real Estate Photography

It may be challenging to photograph busy interiors and create well-balanced compositions, but that’s the main idea of composition in real estate photography. Take the space you are given and find a perspective and shooting angle that reveals its features without overcrowding the frame. Use as much negative space as you can find.

The rule of thirds is to follow. Walls, furniture, and decorations come with lots of angles, dimensions, and textures. You can’t change how the house looks, but you can find the perspective that flatters it the most. For example, don’t shoot from your eye level because the lines will go down and make everything look skewed. Instead, shoot from a point that captures the correct geometry of walls and furniture. Usually, it’s a lower position than your eye level.

Also, keep the vertical lines vertical and the horizontal lines horizontal. Otherwise, the viewer will get the impression that the house is wobbly and distorted.

Indoor real estate photographs look better when the composition incorporates the outside view. Try to include see-through windows if that’s a feature of the property. People value natural lighting, and large windows are something to showcase.

In addition to the wide-angle perspective that includes almost the entire room, take a few photographs of meaningful details. It may be a fireplace, kitchen island, snug, staircase, design mirror, door handles, or anything else that catches your eye and is part of the property’s history or atmosphere.

Camera Settings for Property Photography

The main three things a real estate photographer should focus on are exposure, color accuracy, and sharpness. To manage exposure, start by setting the white balance either for the interior or the exterior of the property. Different light quality means different white balance settings, so don’t use the same one for the entire real estate photoshoot. It’s the only way to get high color accuracy and don’t end up with yellow or blue walls instead of white ones.

Then, try creating uniform lighting, either by closing the curtains and relying on indoor lighting or by turning on all the lights to match the sunshine intensity. Take a few shots monitoring the histogram until you get the perfect exposure. If you can’t create a balance between bright and dark areas, use HRD photography. HDR photography extends the range of tones by overlaying multiple shots with different exposures. It means you take photographs with the bright areas correctly exposed, then photographs with the dark areas correctly exposed, and you overlay them in post-processing.

To achieve the sharpness you need, use a deep depth of field by relying on wide-angle lenses, setting a narrow aperture (big f-number), and putting some distance between the camera and the subject. Narrow apertures mean less light entering the camera, thus a slower shutter speed. Use a tripod.

The interior and exterior of a building require different ISO values. Outdoors, you can use the minimum 100 or 200 if it’s overcast. Indoors, you can increase the ISO value up to 400. However, don’t go too high, especially with low-end cameras, because you’ll produce ISO noise.

Software Any Real Estate Photographer Should Try

You can hardly send your real estate photos to your client without editing. Choose software that fits your editing expertise and workflow but also provides all the tools you need for editing real estate images.

For example, choose a photo editor able to edit RAW files if that’s your preferred image file format. But don’t forget about HDR editing, natural-looking photo adjustments, color toning, and batch processing. You will need all of these and more. Some of the best options are:


gimp real estate photography

GIMP is a multiplatform photo editor that follows Adobe Photoshop’s philosophy, meaning it gives all the tools you need to edit photos but not too many automatic tools. It works with layers, features batch processing, and provides all basic image enhancement tools a real estate photographer needs. Furthermore, it’s free.

2. Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is a web-based photo editor that runs on laptops and mobile devices. It’s much more automatic than Adobe Photoshop and offers a lot of advanced AI-based features that do all the work. Furthermore, you have access to your work from different devices, can edit photos while still on location, and share your photos with your clients instantly. Adobe Lightroom supports batch processing and benefits from a large preset market. Once you find or create the presets that match your real estate photos, editing will be over in minutes. 

3. Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is a complete photo editing solution that features everything real estate photographers need, from batch processing to HDR editing to tone mapping to RAW editing. It’s a long-term photo editor you’ll use for all your editing tasks and photography genres. Although it may take some time to master all its features, the editing workflow is smooth and intuitive. Like with Lightroom, you can create or import presets and make your life easier.

4. Canva

Canva is a web-based solution for graphic design and image editing. It offers a free version that includes many of its features and runs on any device with a browser. However, if you prefer the standalone version, Canva offers one of those as well. Compared with dedicated photo editors, Canva only provides basic image enhancement tools. But the graphic design tools compensate. You can use the program to create brochures, catalogs, collages, and many other useful products.

Top 10 Tips for Real Estate Photography

Now that you know the real estate photography basics, it’s time for a shortlist. The following tips will help you take good real estate photographs from the beginning, avoiding the common mistakes most people in this situation make. As you have many things to do at a real estate photoshoot, it helps to create a routine and stick to it. These tips are designed to help you in this direction.

  1. Discuss with your client before the photoshoot and plan accordingly. You should know beforehand what type of property you are going to photograph (e.g., apartment, family house, mansion, industrial site, etc.), architecture style, interior design style, geographic position and orientation (e.g., where the sun is at the time of the photoshoot), and current status (e.g., with or without furniture, inhabited or not, etc.).
  2. Schedule time for a house-scanning task. Don’t count just the hours and minutes you need to take photos. Add time to familiarize yourself with the property, create the proper light design, and even clean up a little bit. People don’t know what to expect from a photo session, and you may have one or two surprises.
  3. Make a list of shots. Each type of property is different and requires attention to particular features. For example, for a family house photoshoot, you may need environmental shots that showcase the neighborhood. For an industrial site, aerial shots reveal the display of buildings and access roads. A shot list will help you plan better, prepare the gear, and schedule enough time to cover the entire property.


  1. Prepare your gear. Ensure you have everything you may need at hand. Besides the camera, lenses, and a tripod, you may need additional lights, a remote trigger, filters, or a laptop. Don’t forget about batteries and memory cards. If you did a thorough research, you can even set up the gear.
  2. Use a zoom lens or lenses with different focal lengths. Wide-angle lenses are on top of your gear list. But pack lenses with other focal lengths too. Versatility and efficiency go hand in hand and you never know when you find a house with an amazing ceiling design or wallpaper pattern. You’d better be prepared.
  3. Adapt to available light conditions. Sometimes you get to choose the time of day for your real estate photoshoot; sometimes you don’t. If the owner is only available in the evenings, you’ll need to adjust to low-light conditions. To make the house look more welcoming, you can turn on all its lights when taking outside environmental shots.

  1. Prioritize natural light. Artificial light is predictable and makes things easier for you. However, it makes the photos look cold and artificial. Natural light is much more trustworthy and inviting. However, ensure the light doesn’t come directly into the camera to avoid lens flare and ghosting. Lateral light is more flattering.

  1. Framing, framing, framing. Take lots of pictures using different angles and camera positions until you find the perfect framing. Each item that enters the frame should be there because you want it to be. Don’t focus only on the main subject. Check along the edges for awkward cropping. As a rule, to capture the three-dimensional space, try to include three walls.

  1. Pay attention to geometry. Vertical and horizontal lines should remain vertical and horizontal. The viewer should have a correct perspective over the photographed space. Ultra wide-angle lenses, for example, may create distortions at the edge of the frame. So pay attention to geometry and verify that your photographs respect the space. You may need to get to the furniture’s level, photograph from beyond a door, or level the camera on a flat surface (or a tripod).
  2. Respect the rules of composition. The rule of thirds works magic in real estate photography. It allows you to have just enough of the floor, walls, and ceiling and to balance everything perfectly. But you can also try other rules, such as the golden rule, the triangle rule, and the rule of odds.

Where I Can Be Hired as a Real Estate Photographer?

As a real estate photographer, you can work full-time for a real estate magazine or agency, an architecture or design studio, or a construction development company. They need photographers on site all the time, either to showcase their products and services or to document the construction process. To look for employment as a real estate photographer check out websites like Indeed and Glassdoor.

However, as a beginner real estate photographer you may want to work as a freelancer until you become an established photographer and even after that. There are plenty of freelancer websites where you can look for project-based work, such as Fiverr and Upwork. Make sure you create a strong portfolio that showcases your skills and ask for the right price. Freelancer platforms are competitive places where many photographers look for work.

You can also be hired as a real estate photographer through your professional and personal network. For example, you can use LinkedIn to publish your CV, connect with people with similar professional interests, attend events, and look for jobs. Or you can create and share an online portfolio, enter photography communities such as Viewbug, sell real estate stock images, or take real estate photography classes.

Last but not least, you depend on your location. While you can travel worldwide for a real estate photography shop, the expenses will be too much for any client to cover or for you to support. Thus, most likely you’ll take jobs near your home. Decide how far you are willing (and able) to travel for a job and start looking for jobs in your area. Visit real estate agencies and architecture and design studios and ask if they need your help. Be prepared to show a portfolio, take on small projects, and deliver exquisite quality.

The road goes both ways. If you are someone looking to hire a real estate photographer, consider the size of your project. Do you need a long-term collaboration or a project-based one? In the first scenario, you’d be better with a full-time or part-time real estate photographer, and you can look for them on headhunting platforms or through HR agencies. In the second scenario, a freelancer is a better choice. Scan freelancer apps and your professional network, ask people who use similar services, or browse through photography communities until you find the right person.

Long story short... how to take real estate pictures?

Real estate photography has strict rules and little room for artistic expression, but it doesn’t have to be generic and full of clichés. Focus on delivering outstanding image quality, realistic perspectives, and something from the story behind the scenes. Create your own photography style, both professional and personal, and build your business around it.