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The Best Guide to Real Estate Photography for Agents Who Understand the Importance of Good Images

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

You're well aware of how competitive the real estate market can be. A potential buyer can be overwhelmed with dozens of properties (and brokers) to select from with just a fast Google search.

So, how do you make your ad stand out from the rest?

It's not only about finding the right price point or selecting the most popular listing sites. It's all about developing a compelling vision for future homebuyers if you want to sell more houses. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, your real estate photography talents (or lack thereof) speak volumes about your brand's quality.

Consider this your comprehensive guide to nailing your listing images, even if your professional photographer is sick or on vacation.

Why are great images so important in real estate marketing?

Visuals have a significant effect on every single person on the planet.

There's no doubt about that. The correct real estate photo can pique a buyer's interest, create anticipation, and ultimately impact their decision.

"Using professional photography is the #1 strategy to make your listing stand out from the competition and puts you in the best position to acquire more showings, more offers, and ultimately a higher sale price," according to experts like Michael.

But why should you believe us? Here's an easy example of why listing images are important.

"A major life event nearly invariably occurs at the time of a property acquisition in real estate." "Your customer might be downsizing, upsizing, divorcing, getting married, having a baby, and so on," explains Debra Beagle, co-owner and managing broker of Ashton Real Estate Group (which, by the way, is the world's #1 RE/MAX team).

It's critical for rainmakers like Debra's agents to go above and beyond the position of Realtor to become professional problem-solvers for their clients.

Your prospect isn't just considering spending $350,000 on a four-bedroom house with a pool. They're imagining who they'll be when they live there. Perhaps they aspire to be the picture-perfect parent who prepares healthy dinners every night, or the type of switched-on executive who wakes up energized and ready to take the fast track to the top.

Are you unsure how much to pay your team? Learn how many of the industry's top teams organize their compensation, including commission splits, salary decisions, and whether to hire a VA or hire 'in-house.'

Should you hire a pro or do it yourself?

You've probably figured out what we're going to say.

Yes, whenever feasible. You should hire a professional photographer to take your real estate images.

"You don't take a photograph, you make it," legendary photographer Ansel Adams once said.

To put it another way, there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes to produce a truly eye-catching photograph. Photography is a whole art form in and of itself. We're betting you'd rather stay in the real estate business.

But, if you're still undecided, let's consider your possibilities for a moment.

The advantages of hiring a professional photographer are as follows:

  • Your homes will sell more quickly — Professionally produced images have been shown to speed up the sale of a home by at least 32%. Consider the implications for your company's bottom line.

  • They know how to make any space appear amazing – Some rooms are cramped and difficult to photograph. Other rooms, on the other hand, may be plain and lacking in depth. A professional will understand how to make the most of any space. They've been taught to have a critical eye and can use lighting, angles, and staging in unexpected ways.

  • Professional photographers will have the camera, lenses, and lighting equipment to address whatever obstacles a property may present. They can also use expert editing to improve the images and make them look even better.

Contrary to popular belief, there are several disadvantages to employing a professional photographer.

  • False expectations - Photos don't always accurately portray the reality of a home. A professional photographer, for example, would use a wide-angle lens to catch the entire space in one shot if the room is small. However, this may give the impression that the room is larger than it is. When potential buyers view the home in person, you run the risk of disappointing them.

  • Quality images take time — If you hire a professional photographer, you'll need to schedule the shoot and possibly wait a accouple days to a week for the photos to be edited. If you're in a hurry to sell your home, this isn't the best option.

Advantages of taking your own photos

  • Quick outcomes - Obviously, taking your own photos is considerably faster. There's no need to plan ahead of time, and you won't have to wait for the photographer to edit and return your photos.

  • Cost-effective — By taking the images yourself, you can save money that would otherwise be spent on a professional photographer.

  • Ownership of an image – Some photographers choose to retain ownership of their photographs. In some cases, you just display the photos for the purpose of your listing, and they secure their work so that no other photographer can profit from them. This isn't an issue if you take your own photos.

The disadvantages of taking your own photos

  • Image quality - You won't be able to attain the same image quality as a professional unless you've undergone some photographic training. You're not going to be able to do it.

  • This is the killer: it takes time away from your other tasks. Yes, taking your own photos saves time, but it also means you'll have to set aside time for the shoot and editing—time that could be better spent following up with your database and closing more purchases.

What does it cost to hire a professional real estate photographer?

Price can be a decisive factor in whether or not you hire a professional photographer, depending on where you are in your real estate career. Can you afford to hire a professional, as much as you'd like to?

The cost of real estate photography varies from $100 to $500 each shot, based on a variety of criteria, including:

  • The photographing location and/or kind of property

  • If you'd want to include drone photos and/or a virtual tour, (please let us know.)

  • The time of day the shoot takes place

  • You should also keep in mind that some photographers need full payment up front, while others require a deposit, and yet others accept payment upon completion.

What is the best way to locate a photographer?

Contact us at or through our website. we are in the pierce county area and service the surrounding areas.

Your local board of Realtors is a good place to start. They typically have a database of vetted photographers or photographers who pay to have their services advertised.

Word of mouth is another excellent technique to find a fantastic photographer. If you come across a stunning property, simply contact the selling agent and ask if they'd be willing to give the photographer's identity. Just make sure you pick photographs that not only catch your eye, but also have a style that fits your own brand.

Many photographers, of course, opt to sell themselves on social media. To see what pops up, go to various social media sites and search for real estate photographers in your area.

Most photographers' portfolios will be right there in front of you, thanks to Instagram and Pinterest. You'll have a good idea of the photographer's style so you can evaluate them ahead of time.

Questions to Ask a potential Real Estate photographer you want to use.

There are a few crucial questions to ask before entering into a deal once you've picked your top photography candidates:

  • Do you have any experience with real estate photography?

  • Do you provide a comprehensive range of services? Images or videos from a drone? Virtual reality tours in 360 degrees?

  • Are you able to capture twilight photographs outside?

  • What is the estimated turnaround time? How long will I have to wait for the finished product

  • Is a deposit required before the shoot?

  • Who will be the owner of the photography rights?

  • Do you have all of the necessary professional tools?

A guide to real estate photography in a nutshell

Okay, we've all seen the listing photos that are comically horrible.

We realize we need a professional photographer to show off our homes' true potential and offer our consumers the best bargain possible. However, there are instances when you simply have to roll up your sleeves, grab your iPhone, and take your own listing images for whatever reason.

Here are some pointers for doing it yourself while still getting amazing results.

1. Photographing outstanding listing photos

  • Clean up.- So many terrible real estate images have clutter as a common factor. Make sure you create a canvas that is as blank as possible so that your prospect may picture themselves in it. (I'll get to that in a minute.)

  • Allow the light to enter. Open the drapes or blinds to allow as much light as possible into each room. Natural lighting is ideal for DIY photos, and it's even more important if you're not using a professional flash.

  • Attempt to achieve a natural height. Photos taken from an odd vantage point appear amateurish. You don't want to go too low since the furnishings will be exposed too much. You also don't want to go too high because you'll end up with too much ceiling in the picture

2. Should you include any images in your shot list?

Create a shot list ahead of time so you can get at the house knowing exactly what you'll need and avoid wasting time photographing the bathroom sink.

  • 1-2 images of the house's front (try to get different angles)

  • 1-3 pictures of your backyard

  • 1 image of a bathroom

  • The kitchen, bedroom, and living room are all shown in two wide shots.

  • 1 photo for each of the home's additional features

Each property, of course, has its own distinct selling characteristics.

One house may have a spectacular fireplace in the living room, while another may have a spectacular pool area. It's fine to shoot a lot of images and then pick the finest of them afterwards. Just make sure you have your shot list ready so you know which photos you absolutely must take before leaving the site.

3. How to stage for stellar images

In order to make each room of the property appealing, you’ll need get serious about staging.

  • Eliminate all clutter. We’re not kidding about this decluttering thing. You may need to go as far as to empty the kitchen sink, clear the counter tops and remove any other unnecessary items that may be distracting.

  • Remove personal or controversial items. These include items that indicate political affiliations, sports teams and family photos.

  • Consider people’s pet peeves. Fridge magnets, dirty mirrors, wrinkly sheets, toilet seat up, etc. Make sure the property looks as close to perfection as possible.

Remember to do a full walkthrough before starting to shoot after you've finished setting each room. Is there anything about the home that would put a potential buyer off? Is there anything more you'd like to say?

Keep in mind that you're selling a way of life. Set up a dining room table for two, decorate with candles, fresh flowers, or anything else that will let your prospects imagine themselves living there.

4. What kind of editing software should you use?

If you've read thus far, you're probably thinking that real estate photography isn't such a huge problem. Don't be deceived, though.

The editing procedure is extensive. It's also where professional photographers make their magic. However, there are a lot of tools available that can make editing accessible to those of us without extensive photographic experience.

For the purposes of this guide, we'll focus on one essential feature: HDR (High Dynamic Range).

In essence, HDR photography mixes many shots of the same image (one light, one normal, and one dark) to create a highly dynamic image that uses the contrasting colors of light from the various images.

This photographic software has been available for a long time, but it was just recently released for iPhones and select Android devices.

Here are the 3 most used editing software's for Real Estate Photography

  • HDR Aurora

  • Adobe Lightroom

  • Adobe Photoshop

All of the above have advantages and disadvantages. Adobe Photoshop, for example, allows you to combine many exposures into a single image and alter every last element of a photograph, but it can also be quite difficult to grasp.

If you're new to this, you could find Aurora HDR or Adobe Lightroom to be more user-friendly.

Bad real estate photography is no longer an option in this day and age.

Your potential buyers are searching the internet for their dream house and a trusted advisor to guide them through the next part of their lives. Most of the time, your listing photos are your first digital handshake with potential clients, so make sure you put your best foot forward by following these suggestions.

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