Shooting for Real Estate Gold

By Matthew Bamberg / Oct 19, 2005

Take a look at the image above. Is it artful? Some would probably say yes, indeed. The added palm in the corner gives the image a source point from which the viewer looks at the swimming pool–a kind of peek-a-boo feeling. Capturing images for use in the real estate industry requires that the photographer be skillful in composing a picture. And having good equipment helps too.

If you’re a realtor, architect, builder or just someone who likes to photograph Roman Columns, grill work or the steel and glass of man’s greatest achievements you’ll want to consider various options when digital camera shopping–options such as how much the lens zooms and how wide and tall the frame of the picture will be through the lens. The easiest way to do this at the camera store is to simply look through the lens, zooming both in and out to see how you’ll be able to frame an image taken with that camera.

Digital Camera Choices for Realtor and Other Architectural Photographers

It used to be a realtor was judged by the car he/she drove–a good omen if he/she drives up in a Beamer (that’s BMW) and taking clients around with flare and style.

Nowadays realtors also may be judged by the technical gadgetry they use in their work from palm pilots to personal Web sites.

Along with that gadgetry is some sort of digital camera with which he/she can produce photographs for the leaflets that perspective clients will grab under the for sale signs of homes all over the world.

There are new ways to market properties that will attract buyers in droves both by staging homes and creating images from the staging that real estate professionals have created.

Tech-savvy, wheeling-and-dealing realtors can consider buying the sub-thousand dollar model SLR (Single Lens Reflex, or camera where they can change the lenses) instead of the tiny boxes that contain upteen megapixels of fun, but many less options for indoor photography, the type of photography that is the lifeblood of the real estate business.

A Nikon D-70 or Canon Digital Rebel XT, both cameras costing a little over $800 have the options that realtors will need to take glamorous indoor photos with little effort. The sensor in the camera is bigger than in the point-and-shoot models (the little boxy cameras), so that you get more detail, an important factor in architectural photography.

For example, in order to take a good picture of an interior, the camera can be set to A-DEP mode (written the same way on the knob of the camera) before shooting away. The camera automatically focuses using multiple points within the frame of a picture so none of the picture will be blurred.

The lens the camera comes with (usually a telephoto 28-105 mm) will be adequate for a realtors needs when the camera is zoomed inward (to the range of about 28 mm, a value that is marked on the lens) to catch greatest area of living space at once inside a frame.

Keep in mind the following tips when shooting real estate for sale–

1. Get a shot that includes a wide space of something that’s dramatic about the property. If your seller has invested in something expensive such as bamboo or travertine floors catch a big part of that in the frame. In the picture below a large part of the drama of a vaulted ceiling was caught within the frame. For teckies who use Photoshop, you’ll be interested in knowing that it was shot with a wide angle lens (10 mm) and then straightened out in Photoshop first by selecting the image and then applying the transform tool and clicking and dragging the corners to eliminate lens curvature (Edit>Transform…) because there was some lens distortion in the original shot.

2. Keep each room in focus by framing shots so they include one room or one area of a room without any other extraneous furnishings or wall coverings that take away from that focus.
3. When filming reflective surfaces make sure your reflection is not in the picture.
4. If you’re proud of the home’s remodeled bathroom, include a shot that shows all surfaces extending from, say, a wallpapered wall, to a granite counter, to the solid wood cabinetry and down to the stone floor. Use a wide angle lens if possible (a lens with that can include all of the surfaces in one frame without you having to leave the room to catch it all).
5. Use a tripod (they’re cheap some costing under $50 and others less if you buy used) without a flash in darker spaces (you can turn your flash off on most cameras with the button that shows a picture of a flash with a line through it). Your lens will stay open longer in all modes, capturing more natural light and resulting in a terrific picture without all the light blasts you get with flash.
6. If you have no tripod and are photographing inside and want to eliminate blur set your ISO speed above 400. To do this search through your menu options to locate ISO speeds in increments somewhat like this: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 etc… This will eliminate blur that comes from when you shake your camera while you shoot.

About the author

Matthew Bamberg

Matthew Bamberg has provided photographs and written articles for various Southern California newspapers and magazines, including The Desert Sun and The Press-Enterprise. More recently, Matt has been teaching at UC Riverside while also authoring several books like the Quick and Easy Secrets book series (Cengage), Killer Photos with Your iPhone (with Kris Krug and Greg Ketchum, Cengage), the 50 Greatest Photo Opportunities in San Francisco (Cengage) and Digital Art Photography For Dummies (Wiley).