The goal isn’t to have nice pictures. Ultimately, it’s to sell a home. And having a collection of listing photos that capture the imagination of your ideal buyers can help you do that.

By following the real estate photography tips found in this article, you can get the shots you want and the result you need (an appointment with a potential client). And you’ll be able to do it on your own, if for some reason you can’t hire a professional.

Whether you’re a newer agent or you need to take on the role of photographer for the first time, this is for you. Let’s jump right in.

How To Prepare

Preparation always sets experts apart from amateurs. So to get expert-quality listing photos, don’t just wing it and hope for the best. Follow these three real estate photography tips instead.

Plan It Out

Where will you shoot your photos?

Create a shot list beforehand. Think about the key selling points of the property and be sure to capture them from different angles. Consider the following spaces:

  • Exterior Shots — Showcase the curb appeal. Capture the front, back, and sides of the house. Don’t forget any unique features like a garden, pool, or patio.
  • Interior Rooms — Highlight each room, emphasizing the flow and functionality. Aim for well-lit, clutter-free spaces. Again, capture key features like fireplaces, built-in shelves, or architectural details.
  • Kitchen and Bathrooms — These are often deal-breaker areas. Showcase modern appliances, countertops, and any unique design elements.

When will the shoot happen?

Natural lighting will always improve the aesthetic appeal of your photos. That’s why timing is crucial. Consider the following schedule:

  • Daytime Shots — Schedule both interior and exterior shots during the day to showcase the property in natural light. Late morning or early afternoon often provides the best lighting conditions.
  • Golden Hour — Capture exterior shots during the “golden hour” (shortly after sunrise or before sunset) for warm, beautiful light that’s easy to work with.
  • Twilight Shots — A few shots during the twilight can add a touch of elegance. Capture the property with interior and exterior lights on for a cozy, inviting feel.

What kind of gear do you need?

Even with the best tips, real estate photography is never easy to do at the highest levels. But having the right tools for the job will give you a huge advantage.

If you’re just getting started, here’s a quick list of the essentials.

✅  A DSLR camera or mirrorless camera with manual settings. In other words, don’t use your smartphone! (Approximate cost for a nice entry-level camera: $500 to $800.)

✅  A versatile lens, like a 50mm or 24-70mm, you can use for different scenarios. (Approximate cost: anywhere from $150 to $1,000, depending on brand and type)

✅  High-capacity and fast memory cards to store your photos. (Approximate cost: $30 to $100)

✅  A camera bag to keep your gear safe and organized. (Approximate cost for a decent quality camera bag: $50 to $150)

✅  A tripod is essential for capturing stable, well-composed shots. (Approximate cost: $50 to $100)

✅  Photo editing software. (Approximate cost: There are free options available, but you can get much higher quality software for about $10 to $50 per month.)

If you want to go beyond the basics, consider gearing up with the following “good to have” items:

  • External Flash — useful for low-light situations and creative lighting
  • Lens Filters — UV filters for protection, polarizers, and ND filters for different effects
  • Camera Cleaning Kit — helps you keep your lens and sensor dust-free
  • Remote Shutter Release — for capturing shake-free long-exposure shots
  • Reflectors — to enhance natural light or fill in shadows

And if you’re seriously committed to becoming an agent who doubles as a professional real estate photographer, you could supercharge your store of supplies with gear such as the following:

  • Additional, specialized lenses like macro, fisheye, or prime lenses
  • High-End camera that has full-frame sensors and other advanced features
  • Studio lighting kit for controlled and consistent lighting
  • External hard drives so you can store and back up large amounts of high-resolution images

 Learn From Others

It’s good to have a plan, all the right gear, and a working knowledge of real estate photography tips related to composition. But in addition to that, you need to develop an “eye” for the kind of shots that will help you sell more homes.

The best way to develop your artistic sensibility and ability to discern what will “work” in terms of composition (that is, the arrangement and placement of visual elements within a frame) is to check out some examples.

You can find inspiration by searching for “real estate listing photos” on sites like Pinterest or Unsplash. And here’s a quick (and funny!) article that will help you tell the difference between “great” and “good” listing photos.

Declutter & Stage the Home

A decluttered home always appears to be more open and inviting. So do what you can to have the home picked up, organized, cleaned, and staged before you take any of your photos. Here’s a helpful guide from NAR about home staging.

Ideally, the seller could move their nonessential belongings into a storage unit to free up as much space as possible. Also, remove any pictures of the seller and their family from your shots. Again, you want the buyer to imagine the home as being theirs, not someone else’s.

(If you can, it’s best to hire a professional stager to take care of all of this for you and the seller.)

These are the best real estate photography tips, especially if you're just getting started as an agent.

Real Estate Photography Tips

You’ve got the gear. You’ve planned out the where, when, and what. And you’ve developed an “eye” for how your listing photos should look. Now it’s time to put it all together and get to work.

Follow These Steps for the Day of the Shoot

Step1: Arrive Early

Get to the property well before the scheduled shoot time. This allows you to assess the natural lighting conditions, make any last-minute adjustments, and ensure everything is in order.

Step 2: Set Up Efficiently

Once you’re on site, start by setting up your gear efficiently. Ensure your camera settings are optimized for the environment, and double-check that you have all the necessary equipment ready to go.

Step 3: Review Your Shot List

Before diving into the shoot, remind yourself of what you planned to shoot and when so you don’t miss anything. And familiarize yourself with the key selling points you identified during the planning phase.

Step 4: Inspect Each Room

Take a quick walk through the property to inspect each room. Do any last-minute decluttering and staging that might need to happen. Make sure lights are working, and confirm that each space is tidy and photo-ready.

Step 5: Take Your Photos & Stick to Your Schedule

If you’ve planned for daytime shots, ensure you start and finish within the optimal natural lighting window. For golden hour and twilight shots, be mindful of the specific timing to capture that magical light.

Capture the Right Shots in the Right Way

Since this is a beginner’s guide, we’re not going to cover everything you need to know about composition in photography. Instead, here are three quick real estate photography tips.

✏️ Rule of Thirds

Frame your shots using what’s often referred to as “the rule of thirds.” Imagine the image divided into nine equal segments, and place key elements along these lines or at their intersections.

✏️ Angles and Perspectives

Experiment with different angles to showcase the home’s features effectively. Capture both wide shots to provide context and close-ups to emphasize details.

✏️ Consistency is Key

Maintain a consistent style throughout the shoot. This includes consistent lighting, framing, and color balance. A cohesive set of photos creates a professional and polished look for your listing.

Get the Lighting Right

Proper lighting is critical. It’s what helps you create warmth, spaciousness, and dimension. But it’s also what ruins an otherwise stellar shot – too dark and the space feels compressed and shadowy; too bright and the space feels cold and uninviting.

Photo editing can take care of these issues to some extent. But to save you the headache of having to fix bad real estate photos, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Make sure the spaces are bright with natural light. Open curtains and blinds to let in sunlight, creating a bright and inviting atmosphere. Be mindful of shadows and adjust your shooting angles accordingly.
  • Keep the brightest source of light (especially the sun) behind you.
  • In rooms with insufficient natural light, make good use of your attached flash unit (by bouncing it off the walls to soften it, for example). Use external flashes strategically to fill in shadows and illuminate darker corners.
  • Be mindful of the time of day. Pick the best time of day for your “money shots” of the interior (typically the morning), and come back when golden sunlight is pouring in the windows to get exterior and aerial shots.
  • Aim for balanced lighting throughout the property. Avoid overly bright or dark areas by adjusting your camera settings and, if needed, using HDR (High Dynamic Range) techniques during post-processing.

Real Estate Photography Tips for After the Shoot

Edit Your Photos

You don’t want potential buyers to mindlessly scroll through a bunch of pictures. You want them to be captivated enough by your listing photos that they want to pick up the phone and call you to schedule an appointment right away. A bit of post-production can truly go a long way in helping you do that.

Photo editing can get as technical as you want it to be. If this part sounds daunting, don’t worry. Even basic touch-ups can be enough. Here are nine quick real estate photography tips related to photo editing.

1. Choose the Right Software

Invest in professional photo editing software like Adobe Lightroom or Capture One. These tools provide powerful features for color correction, exposure adjustment, and fine-tuning.

2. Correct Exposure & White Balance

Make sure the photo looks just right by getting the brightness (i.e., exposure) and colors dialed in. Adjust the brightness to show all the details, both in the bright and dark areas. Also, make sure the colors look natural and true to what you see in real life, without any weird tint (i.e., adjust any color cast).

3. Crop and Straighten

Crop your images for better composition and alignment. Straighten horizons and vertical lines to give your photos a polished and professional look.

4. Enhance Colors and Saturation

Boost colors to make the property visually appealing. Be mindful of maintaining a natural look, avoiding overly saturated tones. Enhance the vibrancy of key features without overwhelming the overall scene.

5. Sharpen and Reduce Noise

Make your photo clearer and smoother by doing two things. First, use sharpening (i.e., making the details stand out) to enhance important elements in the shot, such as an architectural piece or a countertop decoration. Second, use what’s called “noise reduction” to clean up any fuzziness or graininess, especially in photos taken in low light.

6. Remove Distractions

Edit out any distracting elements or imperfections. Remove unwanted objects, blemishes, or reflections that may divert attention from the home’s features you’re trying to emphasize.

7. Maintain Consistency

It’s important to have a consistent look and feel (i.e., editing style) across all of your photos. It can elevate their overall impression of the home, and be a form of “visual storytelling.” As a side benefit, it can also build trust because potential clients will often attribute the attention to detail in your photos to your high level of professionalism.

8. Consider HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Think about using the HDR setting for photos with really bright and really dark parts. When you turn on HDR, the camera takes multiple shots at different exposures and then combines them to create a photo with a broader range of light and detail.

It’s like using the best parts from each shot to make sure everything looks just right in the final picture. This is super handy for spaces with big windows inside.

9. Take a Break Before Final Review

Photo editing takes time. After a while, it’s easy to develop a kind of “blindness” to mistakes, ways your photos could be improved, and the difference between good and bad.

Before you finally add your photos to the listing once and for all, take a break. Come back later, maybe after a few hours or the next day, for a final review. With fresh eyes you’ll be better equipped to identify any areas that may need further perfecting.

Write a Listing Description That Helps You Sell Faster & for Higher

Listing descriptions are extremely important. And here’s a fun fact: you don’t have to spend a ton of time mastering the art and science of copywriting. All it takes to boost the selling power of your listing descriptions is a bit of know-how and some practice.

Here are four real estate listing description examples and a super helpful list of best practices.