What’s the difference between Professional Real Estate Listing Photos and Non Professional Listing Photos? (and why does it matter)

This is a question that doesn’t get asked a lot in our industry today.

In this article we are going to answer this question, but first let me ask you a few more questions…

As a real estate agent, is it important for you to have your home-sellers believe in your capabilities to be able to professionally market and sell their home?

When you’re on a listing appointment, do you tell a potential new client that your marketing is average? Meaning, are you doing the same thing that everyone other agent in you market is doing?

Do you think that being average at marketing and selling a home is going to win you more listings?

Where does the first showing actually take place today? Is it online or in the actual house itself?

If you’re concerned with your own personal brand as a REALTOR, and if you want home-buyers and sellers to see you as a digitally competent agent who knows how to market and sell a home in today’s market, then the difference between professional and non-professional listings photos is EVERYTHING!

Real estate photography should be the cornerstone for every real estate agent who is listing a property for sale in 2021, but unfortunately it’s not.

Start a search for properties in your area and you’ll find plenty of bad real estate photos taken with iPhone, or “professional” photos that were taken by the cheapest photographer in town.

As a real estate agent you need to be able to know the difference between what makes for a great real estate photo, and what does not.

This is because you want your listings to stand out online.

And you want your listings to stand out online because: The First Showing Takes Place Online, not in the actual house.

Furthermore, how you market a home is a direct representation of you as an agent, as a salesperson, and has a business because you’re an entrepreneur.

In this Blog, Podcast, and Video i’m going to train you on everything you need to know as a real estate agent about Real Estate Photography so that you can become a pro at Listings Marketing.

Real Estate Photography 101 for REALTORS

I’m going to cover several aspects of real estate photography that you need to know as a real estate agent.

After this training, you will be able to make better decisions on finding and choosing the right professional real estate photographer to shoot your listings.

Shooting and editing professional real estate photos is an art, but it’s not rocket science. If your real estate photographer is performing all of items listed below, then he/she is not a professional and you need to find someone else.

This list summarizes everything we are going to cover.

  1. Wide Angle Lens is needed for shooting real estate.
  2. Lens Correction to a real estate photo is done in post (photo editing)
  3. Color Accuracy, an accurate representation of color is necessary.
  4. Flash Photography, you cannot shoot real estate without Flash.
  5. HDR, this is an upsell and not a good one.
  6. TV Screen Replacements, this should be a standard feature for all photographs.
  7. Fireplace and/or Firepit Fire Additions, adding fire to these is important.
  8. Window Pulls, for most photographs you should have clear views through the windows.
  9. Sky Replacements (if necessary) should be standard. You should always have great looking natural skies in your photos.
  10. Tripods, a real estate photographer uses a tripod for 100% of the photos they shoot inside of a home.
  11. Item Removal, in 2021 it’s easy to remove things from a real estate photo, like a, car, sign or even a bulldozer.
A real estate photographer needs a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera with a wide angle lens.

Wide Angle Lens for Real Estate Photography

You need a wide angle lens to properly shoot real estate, and the best focal length for real estate is 16mm.

You DO NOT want to use or take photos using a Fisheye lens, or go too wide in your photos.

Going too wide will the interiors of your listings look bigger, but looks can be deceiving to your online buyers and when they actually get to the property and see that it is much smaller in person than it looked online, not only will they be upset, but they may also completely lose interest in the property because of this deception. I’ve seen this happen.

Lens Correction

When you shoot a photograph with a wide angle lens you will get some distortions in the space and we want to correct these distortions to make the photograph look professional.

These correction will straighten out all of our lines in the photograph, basically we want to have straight 90 degree lines in our walls. The photographs below demonstrate this.

Color Accuracy

Maintaining accurate colors in real estate photos can be challenging even for a pro, but it’s neccessary to photography a listing so that an online viewer can view it as if they were in the property right at that moment.

Flash photography and property photo editing are needed to maintain color accuracy.

Flash Photography

You can achieve accurate colors by shooting using flash. Without using flash you simply will not achieve accurate colors for your interior photos. Exterior photos don’t require flash for daytime shots, but can if you’re shooting at twilight.

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Don’t use HDR. Many real estate photography companies upsell HDR as a “better” type of photography for your listings, THEY ARE LYING.

HDR should not be used in real estate photography, unless you are putting the home into a comic book series.

The method of editing for real estate photography is what is called: Blending. In blending you take a few flash shots and an ambient shot (no flash) and “blend” together in editing to produce a bright and color accurate photo.

TV Screen Replacements

In 2021, it’s very easy to replace your TV screen to finish off an edit. TV screen replacement is a phenomenal way to add style and depth into your real estate photographs.

Fireplace and Firepit Fire Additions

Just like TV screen replacements, adding fire to your real estate photos in fireplaces and firepits is a great way to add depth and style into your real estate photographs and it can be done affordably.

Window Pulls (having clear views through the windows)

You want an online home shopper to view and see the property as if they were standing right there inside of it and having a clear view out the window is part of it. Just like TV screen replacements, having clear views through the windows is important for adding depth and style to your photos.

However, getting those clear views through the windows does require extra time to shoot and edit which will increase the cost of the project overall for the photographer. In my opinion it’s totally worth it.

Sky Replacements

On the day of your real estate listing shoot you may not have the best skies to capture naturally in your photos. This is not a problem because you can easily swap a sky in every photo. Having a great sky in your exterior photos is absolutely necessary.

The same goes for your interior photos with views of the outside. You want to make sure that you have nice bright blue skies for all of your exterior windows views.

Item Removal

It’s easy to have items removed from photos today. However, it should be noted that if you can move the items before taking the photos, then move them.

Removing things like cars, signs, and even bulldozers can easily be done in Adobe Photoshop, but this does require more time in editing and usually is an upcharge.

Again it is totally worth the cost if you want a professional real estate image to use on your listing.

Image with no Sky Replacement or Item Removal
Image with Sky Replacement but no Item Removal
Image with Sky Replacement and Item Removal

Tripods

For all of your interior photos you absolutely need a tripod. There is no way to blend and edit photos together without one.

For exterior photos you can get away with it and shoot photos without a tripod, but only for daylight photos and with perfect lighting conditions.

If your photographer doesn’t use a tripod in their real estate photography, then they are not a real estate photographer.


How to find a professional real estate photographer

This is everything that goes into making professional looking real estate photos.

With this information you will be able to make better decisions into not only choosing the right real estate photographer for your listings, but also have some input into the style that you want the photographer to achieve.

If you don’t have a regular goto photographer and need to find one, then you should begin online by reaching out to collegues, friends, and family for recommendations.

There are a lot of photographers out there, but since they are all artist, none of them are the same and they will all have a different style that they bring to your listing.

Find them, check out thier online portfolio first before you ask how much, you’re looking for high quality not the lowest price.

Hope you get a lot out of this article and the rest in this series of Real Estate Marketing for Agent.

Thanks

George “el Guapo” Cuevas

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