Real Estate Still Photography
The techniques used for Real Estate photography allow for rapid and efficient photography. This translates into lower costs for the work, as well as minimal disruption of the client's schedule. Multiple exposures are taken at each set up, and later combined using either tone mapping or exposure blending to achieve the final image. Occasionally, supplemental illumination is necessary to balance out the lighting. The result is of high quality, but we cannot slow down to do complex lighting setups or color matching.
Exterior photography attempts to accomplish three things:
- Illustrate the exterior form of the building(s).
- Place the building(s) in context to one another and their surroundings.
- Show off any exterior architectural or landscaping features which set the property apart.
In an ideal external series each photo will, to some extent, accomplish two of these.
Although the photographer might not have a choice as to time of day for the photography, Elevations are best done with the light coming from a low angle (morning and evening), or under the soft light of an overcast day. Twilight can introduce some interesting effects, but the lights should be on throughout the property, and some supplemental lighting will be required.
Recently, aerial photography is making significant inroads into real estate photography. Much of it is overdone, but the novelty is beginning to wear off. RPAS (drone, UAV) operations now require compliance with Canadian airspace regulations, and licensing is necessary for pilots. A drone gives the advantage of an elevated perspective, not achievable with a camera on a tripod. Problems present when the drone is flown so high that the boundary of the property is lost in the image. Altitude only works if something like a farm is being shown with obvious boundaries.
Regardless of the camera used, photos must always be corrected for white balance, lens aberrations must be removed and perspective distortions should be corrected.
Generally, anything that helps make a good landscape photograph will enhance the impact of an exterior shot in a real estate series.
The exterior, like the interior, of a property for sale should be kept in immaculate condition. Particularly for photography, staging is very important.
With the mixture of light sources inherent in interior real estate photography, we generally try to set a balance between the warm (yellowish) cast of incandescent light sources and the cold (bluish) cast of daylight coming through the windows to give an overall best feel to the room.
(It is possible to give a consistent white balance over the entire room by using studio flashes and modifiers, but interior photography of this type would be priced as a commercial assignment, and might involve a half day to a day per shot.)
Photographing an empty property is nearly pointless. A series of photographs of empty rooms just reinforces the sense of void! Perhaps a shot of the kitchen, laundry room, and the bathrooms might impart information, but a staged property is much more welcoming. If the property is still occupied, tidying it up using the staging checklist will make it much more presentable for photography. If the property is vacant, moving some items in to present it better is recommended.
No matter the value of the property or the aesthetic of the staging, the principles of the photography remain unchanged. The dynamic range must be compressed to avoid undesirably dark areas within the room image while avoiding blown highlights outside the windows. Mixed light sources will create differing color casts in various areas of the image. As much as possible, these color casts must be balanced with each other to produce an overall pleasing image. Of course, lens and perspective distortions must be corrected in the final image.