11 Secrets to Taking Real Estate Photos Like a Pro

real estate photos

Last year, 44% of home buyers started their search online. That’s a big change from 1981 when 22% of people began their search in the local newspaper.

With this change in how people search for their new home, sellers must also change. To successfully sell your home, you need to be where the buyers are. You also need to catch their eye and appeal to them.

The newspaper was not a suitable medium for stunning real estate photos, but online is. Use these tips to ensure your home listing stands out in a good way.

1. Have the Right Amount

You don’t want to have too few or too many images showcasing your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 87% of home buyers relied on the photos to help them make their decision.

So, don’t you want to give them enough material to make a decision? Aim to have 22 to 27 photos of your home. This number is dependent on the size of the house and the number of rooms.

If your listing has fewer than 9 photos, it’ll sell significantly slower than other homes on the market. On the other end of the spectrum, homes with more than 28 photos also took longer to sell.

2. Put in the Prep Work

To make your photos look professional, you need to put in the prep work so the home is photo-ready. No one wants to look at pictures of your home in its lived-in state. You’ll need to do this prep work before an open house or showing, so do it now and have your home market-ready.


Do a deep clean of every room. This means either hiring the professionals or spending an entire weekend doing it yourself. Wash the windows, clean the carpets, polish your stainless steel appliances, and dust everything.


Try to remove all of the clutter. Clean off the counters, tabletops, shelves, and any other flat surface where items have collected. Put the small appliances away in the kitchen.

Hide that stack of mail, the tv remotes, and all of the items on your bathroom counters.


This is a tough task, but necessary if you want home buyers to imagine themselves in your home. Remove anything that personalizes your home to you. Take down the family photos, remove the refrigerator magnets, hide the pet accessories and toys.

You should also hide any holiday decorations. While they’re beautiful; they date your photos in a big way. You need your photos to look timeless.

Stage Each Room

With a critical eye, make small changes to each room to make them more inviting. You could move a chair to the other side of the room.

Turn on the lights and see if you need to add more light. Remember, natural light is a big seller, so if a room tends to be dark, you need to brighten it as much as possible.

3. Choose the Right Day and Time

You want to pick a day when the weather is pleasant. Bright and direct midday sun will give you harsh lighting and shadows. This will wash out the bright areas and deepen the shadows in the dark areas.

A partly cloudy day will filter the light just enough to give you bright sun without it being direct. Another option is to take your photos first thing in the morning or towards the end of the day. The light is softer then and easier to get a clear shot.

Unless you’re experienced in photography, skip the twilight shot. These can be tricky with the limited 20-minute window. However, if you’re experienced with photography and can take a clear shot, a twilight photo will make your listing stand out.

4. Shoot from the Right Spot

One mistake DIY home sellers make is to not capture the entire room in a single shot. This will make the room feel smaller. You want to capture as much of the room as possible in each image.

The first way to do this is by holding the camera at the correct height. This is not at eye level.

Instead, use a tripod and have the camera somewhere in the chest height range. This will give the camera a straight-on view.

Next, you need to stand in the right spot in the room. To give your photos depth, aim to capture at least three walls in the image. This often means that the best place to shoot from is the doorway.

You also need to think about the placement of the furniture, windows, and other amenities. For instance, if your angle has the couch blocking the stone fireplace, then you’ve chosen the wrong spot.

5. Use a Wide Angle Lens

Skip the fisheye lens and use a wide-angle lens instead. A fisheye lens will give your home a false sense of space. While you want the room to feel spacious, you don’t want to lie to buyers about the size.

A wide-angle lens will allow you to capture the entire space without distorting it. A 24mm wide-angle lens should do the trick.

6. Don’t Depend on Editing

While a certain amount of editing can tweak a photo from good to great, it isn’t something you should depend on. Too much editing and your home photos can end up looking fake. This isn’t what you want.

This includes putting a fake background in the windows. Instead, try to angle your shot to have the outside view be the best possible.

7. Take Multiple Pictures

If you’re unsure of the right settings, take more pictures than you need. Don’t be afraid to adjust the shutter speed and exposure. This will give you several images to choose from.

Don’t depend on the small preview screen on your camera to tell you if you have a good shot. By taking more photos than you need with varying settings, you’ll give yourself options later.

8. Use a Tripod

No matter how steady you think you are, you’re never entirely still. These slight shakes and movements can add blur to your images. This will make your photos look slightly off in a way that people can’t quite place.

Using a tripod will ensure your camera stay perfectly still during each shot. By using the equipment that the professionals use, you’ll get your photos closer to looking professional.

A tripod will also ensure that every room is shot from the same chest height angle we mentioned earlier. This will give your images uniformity.

9. Pay Attention to Distortion

One common amateur mistake is to not look for distortion. When taking pictures of architectural elements, it’s easy to distort the vertical lines.

They can bow due to the lens you’re using. Or they can slant in or out at an angle.

One way to fix this is to ensure you have your camera set at the right height. You may find moving it up or down will fix the slant. The goal is to get the camera straight on.

10. Have the Right Lighting

To make your home look like a professional listing and not for sale by owner, you need to have the right lighting. Ever notice how professional listings have well-lit shots, and every room looks sunny and inviting?

You can do this by using as much natural lighting as possible. You can enhance the natural lighting by turning on every light in the room. You want to rely on the camera’s flash as little as possible.

The camera flash should be used as a supplement to enhance the lighting. Rely too heavily on it, and you’ll create ugly shadows.

Don’t take your interior photos on a cloudy or rainy day. This will create gloomy and depressing images.

You should also consider taking the screen off of the windows and opening all of the blinds as much as possible. Both of these things block the natural light coming in the room.

11. Capture Features but Don’t Focus on Them

If there are unique or highly desirable features in the home, you want to be sure to capture them in your photos. However, this doesn’t mean framing the picture around that one feature.

Instead, you want to include the feature in the shot and then use other items to draw the viewer’s eye to it. For example, you could put a brightly colored tea kettle on that high-end stove. Or you could place a vase of colorful fresh flowers on the handcrafted marble fireplace.

Use pops of color to draw the viewer’s eye to where you want it to go. This allows you to highlight the home’s best features without dedicating an entire photo to one element.

Take Professional Looking Real Estate Photos

By keeping these tips in mind, you too can take professional-looking real estate photos. Remember, taking great photos is all about the prep work. It doesn’t matter how talented of a photographer you are if your subject matter isn’t photo-ready.

Then you’ll want to set yourself up for success by using the right equipment, choosing the right time of day, and experimenting with different settings.

List your home today and have the power of an agent at a for sale by owner price.

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