Real Estate Photography Tips: How To Make Each Photo Look Perfect Every Time

A picture is worth a thousand words. A news editor coined that phrase a century ago when he wanted a visual representation on the front page of a newspaper, as he suggested it could tell more of a story than the written word. That idea has proven accurate time and time again. With attention spans growing shorter and shorter, visual representation has become even more important. That is especially the case with real estate photography. Whether you’re selling your own home or work as a real estate agent, real estate photography can be the difference between bringing in more visitors to open houses and the property remaining on the market. Here is what you need to know about real estate photography.

 What Is Real Estate Photography?

a residential house with signage in its front lawn
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Real estate photography is the process of taking photographs of a property, such as a home or commercial building, and using it to both market the available real estate and to showcase the property. When a potential home buyer is looking for available housing on the market, they will sift through a number of listings. Because there are hundreds, if not thousands of available properties in a given area, stopping to read every listing is simply not an option. Instead, they will scroll through photographs of the property and stop on images of interest.

In order to increase the chance of someone stopping on a property listing, it is important for images to stand out. It doesn’t take much to set real estate photography apart, but when there are hundreds, if not thousands of other real estate options in the area, every little detail and visual improvement can make a huge difference.

Real Estate Photography for All Purposes

Real estate photograph is not just for agents and owners looking to sell property. It is also for those individuals who want to rent out their property. In most instances there are more renters than buyers on the market, which means the chance of attracting an interested renter is higher when the photography is better.

In the case of a rental, every month a rental remains on the market represents money out of an owner’s pocket. This time can be reduced by simply spending a bit more time on the real estate photography and making the images look as professionally done as possible.

Tips for Great Shots Every Time

a man taking photos and learning tricks about real estate photography
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You don’t have to be a professional photographer to capture professional looking real estate photos. You’re not dealing with models and you don’t need Photoshop to make the images pop (in fact, you’ll want to avoid doctoring your photographs). All you need to do is follow these handful of tips for a great shot every single time:

White Balance

One of the most critical steps of great photography is something many novice or inexperienced photographers fail to perform. It is adjusting the white balance on your camera for the particular photograph. Have you ever seen an image where whites look either too yellow or too blue? This is because the white balance wasn’t adjusted to accurately capture a photograph. Natural, outdoor lighting has more of a blue tint to it, while many interior lights have an orangish-hue (although you can buy white lights, which help reduce white balance issues).

To correct the white balance on your camera, power on your camera and point it at an object that is fully illuminated and completely white (such as a white wall). You may also want to have just a white piece of computer paper with you for this. Make sure the white is not in shadow. It needs to be an even white. Now fill your camera frame with the white and bring up the camera settings, then choose white balance. Holding the pure white canvas in front of the camera will tell the camera’s sensor what “white” is in the given lighting conditions. The camera will adjust so the images will look correct.

More Light Is Better

dining room photo that uses natural light, one of the tricks in real estate photography
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You want as much natural light coming into an image as possible. Natural light is pleasing to the eye, and it helps make the room look larger. Due to this, try to take your photographs during the day (ideally when the sun is out and not behind cloud cover). When taking pictures outside of the property, do so during the day. You will also want to position yourself between the sun and the property. If the sun is behind the subject and your lens is pointed in its direction, you’ll have a darkened silhouette of the property.

Consider a Wide-Angle Lens

Most cell phones now have a wide-angle lens feature, so you don’t even need to purchase a high-end DSLR camera and wide-angle lens to do this. The wide-angle lens will capture more of the room than the standard lens configuration. You will be able to stand in a corner of the room and see the rest of the room when taking the picture. This makes the room feel larger and brighter.

Level Image

You don’t want crooked pictures. Thankfully, with real estate photography there are enough horizontal lines this shouldn’t be a problem. Having a tripod for this can help if you don’t have steady hands. You may also want to turn the “grid” feature of your camera on. This places lines on your screen, breaking the image up into nine equally sized boxes. Crooked images can be offputting and look unprofessional.

If you’ve ever walked into a room and been distracted by a slightly crooked picture frame, this will be the feeling some people experience when looking at your photograph. Not everyone will notice, but in the world of real estate you need to set your listings apart. So avoid crooked images at all costs.

Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid

clean interiors of a real estate property
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There are a number of mistakes you want to avoid with your real estate photography. These are easy mistakes to avoid, and yet if you’re not paying attention the mistakes are easy to make as well.

Declutter the Home

If you’re taking pictures of a home or apartment that someone is living in you’ll want to declutter the area as much as possible. Clutter is distracting; plus it makes the room look smaller than it really is. Ideally you’ll wait to take pictures until after someone has moved out, but this isn’t always an option. So when moving everything out of a room isn’t an option, remove clutter whenever you can.

Keep Cabinets Closed

Open cabinets makes a room look messy. It can also be distracting. Someone viewing the image may wonder if the cabinets simply don’t close completely, which is not a great selling point. Or they may think you were too lazy to close the cabinets, which isn’t a positive sign either.

Along the same lines as closing the cabinets, always close the toilet lid. There is zero reason to ever have the toilet lid up (not just the seat but the lid as well). A viewer doesn’t need, or want, to see inside of the toilet. Much like having the cabinets open, a picture with a toilet seat and lid up appears lazy and off-putting.

Stay Out of the Pictures

an angle of a bathroom showing the bathtub, sink and mirror
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If you’ve looked over any amount of real estate photography, chances are you’ve seen images with individuals standing in front of bathroom mirrors, taking pictures of the bathroom. This reaks of unprofessionalism and is something you want to avoid. A professional will never stand in front of a mirror to take a picture. Second, when looking at a property, viewers want to imagine themselves in the property. That’s hard to do when there’s a stranger standing in the mirror, looking back at them.

Yes, you want to show off the mirror; but that doesn’t mean you need to stand directly in front of it when taking the picture. Stand off to the side or angle the camera so you are not in the shot. Now, there might be times where you’re taking pictures of stainless steel and, based on the amount of space and how the steel reflects, the camera will always be in view. There are ways to work around this. A professional photographer will place the camera on a tripod and cover themselves in a black cloth. This way, in the stainless steel reflection you don’t see a person but instead a black line, which just looks like any other reflection.


Real estate photography is critical to the success of any property listing. It doesn’t matter if the property listing is for a commercial facility for sale or for a home for rent. A picture truly says a thousand words. It also grabs a viewer’s attention. As one property will probably be competing with hundreds, if not thousands of other properties, the quality of the photographs will help it stand out. By following these tips and tricks, you’ll improve the quality of your photograph and, in return, cut the time it takes to sell or rent out real estate.

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