Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Real Estate imaging is About Quick and Good– Sometimes not Perfect

Posted by larrylohrman on May 26, 2007



M. James Northen made some appropriate observations. My recent posts that give some references to info about the fine points of rather involved interior lighting should not be miss construed to mean that this is the way real estate photography is approached. On the contrary real estate photography must be done on a time scale that doesn’t allow the attention to detail that Nathanael Bennett describes in his LightSource interview. The phrase that M. James uses is the title of this post, “Real Estate imaging is About Quick and Good– Sometimes not Perfect”. I think this sums up the approach that real estate photographers are forced take. Here are M. James’s comments:

“There is a lot of discussion about getting the light right using speed-lights or studio strobes; while there is nothing wrong with lighting ….. Real Estate imaging is about quick and good – sometimes not perfect. I am going to sound like a pompous know it all and am willing to take the chance from looking at everyone’s pictures in the hopes that it helps more than insults.

“There is a book that everyone in this genre/industry should read – The confused Photographers Guide to Spot Metering – by Farzad – or something like that. I now that once a person truly understands how their spot meter works they will get better results. I shot probably 85% of my website images with nothing more than an accurate exposure and looking at the scene to see what was important in the light values. No speedlights … no strobes …. No reflectors …. NOTHING. Getting the windows is not everything ….. Conveying feeling is everything.

“I am not saying that these days I don’t arrive with enough gear to light or blow up Madison Square Garden, but I still like to leave as much of it in the truck as I can, including 5 more Vivitars which I am enjoying. I just finished shooting an assisted living facility – recognizing the range of the scene lets me use much of the available light and fill in holes with the speedlights rather than blasting it with strobes on stands. While Real Estate imaging is about the rooms …. It is also about selling and highlights and shadows illustrate a room to it’s best. I can evaluate a room pretty quickly these days …. But still use a meter to fine tune things …. And bracket in half stops either way – aperture and shutter.

“A weekend with Farzads book and really understanding spot metering and scene range – will raise the bar on a lot of shooters results.”

Good advice! Thanks M. James for keeping me down to earth.

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2 Responses to “Real Estate imaging is About Quick and Good– Sometimes not Perfect”

  1. I think an important point is being made here. While we have been viewing some really high quality photography, Real Estate photography is in class by itself and involves the ability to shoot a listing within the budget of price and time that is appropriate for the vast majority of listings. I tend to strive for a very high standard but sometimes reality wins out when I realize that not every image I’m going to shoot is going to make it to magazine level quality. It’s not the purpose of most real estate photography. What makes this work interesting is continuing to learn new techniques for getting good images in a wide variety of settings and to do it quickly. Although there is a market for higher budget shoots, it’s a very small percentage of what the real estate industry wants from their photographer.

    In addition to the technical aspects of real estate photography, an eye for composition and marketing are also important. I have learned a great deal from the many agents and home owners I have worked for so my eye has been trained to look at a property based on collective market knowledge of my clients. There are always new things to learn in the regard.

    My thanks to M. James for the book recommendation. I’m going to order it. And to Larry, as always, for making this sharing of knowledge possible.

  2. Thanks Mark,

    I think that you fleshed out my comment and idea nicely ….. composition and identifying the flattering aspecst of the room are key. Proper Exposure to illustrate those features is next and then the ability to use the images in more creative ways either in whole or cropped comes next. Having the abiltiy to complete those elements qucikly and with success is what Real Estate Photography is about.

    Mark also makes a great point about learning …… I don’t think there is a day goes by that I don’t learn something from my clients ot their clients. Last week I had a client turn the lampshade around so that the seams were not visible.

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