6 Effective Steps for Getting Into Real Estate Photography

Are you thinking of starting a career in real estate photography? Whether you are completely new, or you are a professional photographer who is looking to try something new, this page provides everything you need to get into real estate photography.

If you are also asking yourself these questions: “Is real estate photography really a profitable field?” “How much can I earn as a real estate photographer?” “What kind of camera and equipment should I buy for my real estate photography business?”

I have answered all these questions in more detail below. But first, let’s begin by defining a real estate photographer. Then we will proceed to the steps for getting into real estate photography, and finish by answering your questions and exploring the best lenses for real estate photography.

Who is a Real Estate Photographer?

Real estate photographers are professional photographers whose work involves taking professional photographs of residential homes and commercial properties for rent or for sale.

A real estate photographer usually works with designers, architects, home decorators, homeowners, realtors, and even magazines that need high-quality pictures to advertise their services or sell properties. Most real estate photographers work with an assistant to help with equipment, editing, and anything else necessary.

Real estate photograph
A real estate photographer taking wide pictures of an empty room.

As a real estate photographer, you can choose to venture into the scope of home photography. This includes taking professional photographs of residential homes and apartments for sale or for renting purposes. 

Equally, you can also choose to venture into commercial real estate properties. This includes photographing executive offices, warehouses, and other commercial properties.

Moreover, aside from just taking photographs, a real estate photographer must also be prepared to spend more time and resources on a few other things. This includes home staging, photo editing, administration work, sales, and marketing.

Some Skills and Expertise Real Estate Photographers Poses

Just like any other industry, to become successful in your real estate business, you will need to develop some skills and experience. To give you a hint on what is required, I have listed down some common skills required to run a successful real estate photography business.

Time management

This photography industry involves meeting tight deadlines in a short time duration. You are responsible for managing your time effectively; starting with the time you spend taking pictures, to editing those pictures, and talking with your clients.

Business management

There are simply no shortcuts to getting clients. Other real estate photographers in your area are also competing for the same job.  You need to possess some business management skills, such as marketing yourself to find clients, and handling your finances.

Computer skills

Computers and software have influenced today’s business world. While you may be amazing at snapping highly creative photographs, creating and marketing your portfolio and editing images is equally critical to your success. Therefore, having knowledge of computers and relevant software will help you down the road.

Communication skills

This goes without saying. If you want to excel in this photography field, you need to polish your communication skills. And this includes polishing your writing skills, speaking, and listening skills, so you can network, attract, and retain your real estate photography clients.

Photo editing

Many photographers, including the likes of Andrew Bramasco and Craig Keene, would also tell you that it takes more than just snapping pictures to get a great final product. Let me explain.  

On top of knowing how to take great pictures, you also need to know how to work with photo editing software, such as Skylum, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Lightroom, to name a few. This is so you can enhance your photographs by cropping, adding contrast or brightness, or changing image exposure.

How To Become a Real Estate Photographer

Whoever said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth a lot more words was probably right about that. When it comes to real estate, visuals sell properties far much better than anything else does. Therefore, your visuals should look nothing less than stellar.

real estate photography
A wide image of a living room taken by Canon EOS Rebel SL3 Digital SLR camera.

Real estate photography is potentially a lucrative career. But just how do you get into real estate photography? There are certainly no specific licensing or certifications required, but the industry does require some technical skills if you want your business to flourish.  

Let’s now look at the following 6 easy steps for how to get into real estate photography:

Step 1: Learn photography

In addition to having an artistic eye, professional photographers also have a thorough understanding of cameras, composition, and lighting. 

And talking about learning photography, some people may prefer developing the above mentioned skills by joining a university, a college, or an art school to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. But learning through others is still a great way to gain first-hand experience. 

With that said, an expert photographer can help you understand photography best practices and guide you through the path of becoming successful in your industry. Moreover, having a degree might help you become more successful, and encourage confidence in your expertise. 

But believe me, you don’t need a college degree or other certifications if you already have what it takes to attract high paying photography clients. That is the technical skills and natural talent.

Some self-taught famous photographers, such Steve McCurry, and Joshua Thaisen, for example, learned through patience, networking, and doing more practice. Just like them, you also can develop and gain more experience through patience, practice and commitment.

Step 2: Buy professional photography gear

When it comes to real estate photography, basic photography gear is all that matters. You are going to be capturing static subjects, so the most basic camera equipment is fine to start with. 

According to the industry professionals, although you can still get the job done even with your smartphone’s camera, you can become more successful with proper gear, including good cameras, lenses, tripods, and good lighting. Learn more about photography gear below.

Equipment Brand Specifications
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL3 Type of Camera: Digital SLR

Sensor: APS-C

Megapixels: 24.1MP

Lens mount: Canon EF 

ISO range: 100-25,600

Weight: 451g 

Lens: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens Brand: Canon

Focal Length: 17-40 Ultra wide

Type of Lens: wide Angle

Compatible Mountings: Canon EF

Lighting: Godox TT685II-C Camera Flash Speedlite, 2.4G HSS 1/8000s TTL GN60 F Brand: Godox

Number of Batteries: 4 AA batteries

Wireless Communication Technology: Optical Pulse

Compatible Mountings: Canon

Cameras:

You may want to buy one of those fancy cameras to take your photography business a few steps higher. But you don’t necessarily need an expensive camera with more features if you are going to use it for real estate photography where you are photographing static images. 

When getting a digital camera, go for the one that suits your needs without hurting your pocket. Just keep in mind these two essential features that your camera should have:

  1. Multiple exposure bracketing, and
  2. The capability to trigger remote flash.

A beginner single-lens reflex Digital SLR camera has these features and allows for interchangeable lenses. This is especially helpful when it comes to shooting different-sized rooms and buildings.

Lenses:

Although you don’t need ultra-wide-angle prime lenses, I know some photographers who love them for their crispy sharpness and less lens distortion. But instead of getting one of these, I’d recommend buying zoom lenses due to their flexible zooming capabilities.

For crop-sensor cameras, you can get a lens with a focal range of about 10-24 millimeters. Some brands may have varying focal ranges, but it is not such a big deal to use a different focal length like, for instance, 10-12mm or 12-24mm.

Meanwhile, for full-frame cameras, a wide lens, such as the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM, for example, will serve you well. But since you don’t always shoot that wide, I would also recommend taking that extra step and getting a more versatile lens with a focal range of 16-35mm. Something like the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED.

Tripods:

When getting a tripod, be sure to choose one that can adjust to your eye-level so you can use the camera’s viewfinder without bending. 

A good tripod should be sturdy enough to support both your camera body and lenses. It should also provide stability as you shoot, making sure that your real estate photographs are not appearing blurry.  

Lighting:

Natural light is sometimes very beneficial. Make use of it whenever you can, especially for outdoor shooting. For indoors shooting, however, you can consider working with lighting tools like flash and softbox. 

A softbox, for example, can help fill shadows and illuminate the rooms without overexposure. Meanwhile, you can either attach a flash to the body of the camera or use it separately. 

Similarly, if you are one of those photographers that use extra lighting, then you may want to consider getting a few external lightings. Several brands offer great flash choices. For example, the Godox V1-S Flash for Sony cameras, provides a full range of settings that works well in real estate photography.

Step 3: Understand your camera and take pictures

Once you have your camera and equipment at hand, take some time to learn and understand how to use your camera settings and features efficiently. YouTube can be especially useful when it comes to learning how to use your camera and gear efficiently.

You can take advantage of it to get familiar with adjusting your tripod, changing your camera lenses and flashes. And talking about YouTube videos, you might find it helpful to watch this Nikon D3400 tutorial for beginners to understand your buttons, dial, and settings. In addition to that, you can also practice taking photographs of property specifics using different angles and light.

Once you have established your own style, be sure to share your work with your friends or social media followers to get feedback. And once you have gained enough confidence in your practice, you can offer to snap a couple of free photographs for local realtors or charge them a small fee. More about pricing below.

Offering to work for free would be a win-win situation for both you and your client. While they are getting some freebies that they can use for marketing, you, on another hand, are developing and sharpening skills and experience. And on top of that, you are also building a strong portfolio and establishing a relationship with a potential customer.

Step 4: Learn how to use photo editing software

Your work as a commercial real estate photographer doesn’t end at taking a few photographs with your camera. Images always need some adjustment and enhancement to look as beautiful and magnificent as possible. And that is where photo editing software comes in handy.

after editing real estate photograph
How editing in Adobe Lightroom can help improve your real estate photographs.

Knowledge of how to edit and exploit your images can give your work a professional feel. Therefore, mastering various types of photo editing software, such as Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, or Skylum is critical to getting and pleasing real estate photography clients. 

Additionally, your image editing proficiency level will determine or predict the time post-processing takes. Keep in mind that in real estate photography, clients are always expecting quick turnarounds; usually between 24 and 48 hours.

Step 5: Create a strong portfolio

It is true that a portfolio or a personal website is a great way of showcasing your best work. But it is also a great way to demonstrate your expertise to potential prospects, and make your work accessible to many. 

Whenever you take pictures of a property, don’t forget to preserve your rights to those pictures so you can feature them in your portfolio. And talking about portfolios, they are usually very easy to build. Various website design tools like WordPress and Squarespace, for example, provide customizable templates and creative designs.

Step 6: Find clients

You can start establishing a clientele base by marketing your portfolio on social media and to brands that may need your services. Once you get a job, complete it successfully and be sure to ask your clients for reference. This is so you can back your skills with strong verifications.

Just like some photographers, when starting your real estate customer base, you may consider offering an initial photographing service for free or relatively cheap. Doing so will help you build trust with prospective clients, while adding solid experience to your portfolio.

Top Questions (FAQs)

What is real estate photography?

Real estate photography is all about taking professional pictures of properties for marketing purposes, usually for selling or renting. It involves photographing the interiors and exteriors of residential homes and commercial properties, such as executive offices. Skills and experience in architecture and interior photography is especially valuable and necessary in this industry.

Accordingly, real estate photographs should clearly show the layout, space, features, lighting, and must follow specific rules and guidelines. In short, you need to capture wide-angles and include more details in your photographs.

How much can you charge as a real estate photographer?

Actually, what to charge for your real estate photography services will depend on a few factors: the area or value of your client’s property, the scope of the job, and the amount of time you spend working.

For instance, if you can complete the entire job in half a day, that’s one thing. However, if you must spend more time consulting with your clients, renting the right equipment, and doing advanced post-production, then you will need to charge a lot more.

Here’s a basic overview of what you can or expect to be paid in certain circumstances: For a quick job, the rates can range from $100 to $1000, depending on your location and experience. Meanwhile, a larger job that requires more time and effort to complete may attract some hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars.

How can you promote your business or real estate photography services online?

Social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube have so far proven to be very effective when it comes to promoting your real estate photography services.

But you will also need to establish an outstanding online portfolio or personal website and link it to your preferred marketing social media platforms. This allows anyone who finds you on social media to also follow or view your online portfolio.

Establishing a strong online portfolio is the best way as it allows users who are visiting your website to see everything. And this includes your professionally looking photographs, service and pricing page, and everything else, in one place.

Moreover, a professionally looking portfolio is a highly valuable (must have) tool for photographers. It is simply the way to demonstrate your credibility and professionalism, market yourself, and attract high paying clients.

But publishing high-quality photos alone will not make your site rank on the first page of Google SERPs. You will need to establish a proper content strategy, publish SEO optimized blog posts to accompany your real estate photographs.
This is so that users can easily find your business online when they enter search queries that match the keywords you use in your posts.

What type of lens should you get for real estate photography?

To get those wide real estate photos we often see on Facebook and other online marketing mediums, you need a lens with a focal range of 10 to 24 millimeters.

Even though wide-angle lenses are ideal for capturing the extent of a space; making rooms appear larger than usual, you might want to keep away from fisheye lenses. As much as they are unique and fun, fisheye lenses often add too much distortion, making your images look very unnatural. 

Remember that you will be taking both indoor and outdoor shots of real estate properties. So, it would be best if you choose a camera setup that works well in both situations. The following are some examples of lenses that you may want to get for your real estate photography business: 

Lens Type Description
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM With an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, this Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM is one of the best-selling Canon lenses on Amazon.
Nikon Nikkor AF-S FX  16-35mm f/4G ED This Nikon AF-S FX 16-35mm, has a focal length that covers an incredibly wide range. It can shoot at 16mm for interiors and up to 35mm for exteriors.
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens is designed for Canon cameras. With zero distortion and fast focusing, it makes for a perfect lens for shooting real estate photographs.

Where can you learn real estate photography online?

There are dozens of real estate photography online courses that can help you master the basics of this technique, including the business aspects. 

And because it is usually easier to get lost when searching for available courses online, I’d recommend narrowing your search to your best 5 platforms. Udemy is a great place to start looking for an affordable photography course, but be sure to explore Alison, and Coursera to see what is available in their scope. 

Similarly, you can also search for, and join photography groups on Facebook, Meetup, and Flickr, for example, to connect and learn from other photographers. This is an awesome way of gaining real-life experience and practicing with your camera and other equipment.

Closing Remarks

Real estate photography may be a challenging photography genre. But it is a relatively fun and lucrative line of work for a professional photographer. It just makes for an awesome side hustle or even a full-time job.

While it may seem easy at first, there is often a lot more going on than just photographing properties and getting paid for it. 

Real estate photography also involves things like finding clients and communicating with them. It involves preparing and carrying out a shooting, and making sure that your client is fully satisfied with a beautiful and well polished final product. 

I hope you enjoyed learning about these tips just as much as I enjoyed writing about them. Feel free to get in touch if you need help with finding the right camera and gear for your photography business. In the meantime, you can keep an eye open for the next post.