Jim Gross of Real Property Videos

Jim Gross

I have wanted to revisit some basic real estate photography tips for agents shooting their own homes. The tours that I see contain many of the same problems which can be easily avoided or fixed  with simple inexpensive software such as Photoshop Elements. We all know that realtors wear many hats in marketing their customers homes. Many agents have a passion for photography and great cameras that are prosumer quality. Others just lack the resources to find or afford a professional photographer as a part of the listing and staging process. This blog will help the do-it-yourself agent photographer.

If you are going to shoot a room and want to see more than just a sofa or a bed you will need a wide angle lens. Better ones provide clean, even shots. Cheap ones have barrel distortion caving in the sides of the picture (not worth the post shoot trauma to fix). Try to use a tripod and learn the manual settings enough to leave the shutter open long enough to minimize using flash. The most important aspects of real estate photography include turning the lights and fans on as you move room to room. Fans show motion and lights can make a room look very warm. Your camera will focus on the brightest light and automatically set for that light. That means, if you shoot into a bright daytime window your camera will set for the glare and the rest of the room will be dark. This is very trick even for professional real estate photographers. In general, refrain from shooting into a daytime sunny window. Look for “the shot” in each room. You can often photograph away from windows. The exception is that 30 minute “sweet spot” at sunset. The light outside will become even with interior lighting. Open up the blinds and take advantage of outside views.  Lastly, look at each shot carefully for windows, mirrors or other areas that may be catching your reflection. Try to stay out of the shot.

If your pictures seem dark, need to be cropped, or have shadows removed you can learn some easy tricks to greatly improve your image. (Keep in mind that even professional photographers edit each of their pictures before sending them off).

1. Auto Level – this can help pictures look sharper but you may still need to brighten.

2. Color Balance – If your colors seem to be off you can use this guideline of opposite colors to help offset a color: Cyan-Red; magenta-Green; Yellow-Blue.

3. Brightness/contrast levels. Sometimes a picture just needs to be brightened 10-20%. Note: Go easy on all these settings. Start with just a little bit.

4. Hue/Saturation – Sometimes the color is just too bright. If this is the case, just back off the saturation a bit.

5. Shadow Highlight: My favorite tool in the bucket! Just 10-20% brightens your picture by eliminating shadows. Great for real estate photography.

Some virtual tour companies offer picture optimization to make your pictures look their best as part of the process. It’s usually a manual process, so look for a small company that will value individual tours.