Real Estate photography has been my primary area of interest with experience dating back to 2014.
The standard approaches for marketing properties depend on the type of use as follows:
- Real Estate marketing – goal is to show the space – size of the room, relationship to other areas of the house along with any views, if they are a property selling point.
- Short term vacation rentals – in addition to showing basic areas, the focus is more on comfort, ambience and suggesting lifestyle use of the rental. Vacation rental photos are licensed for an extended period of time.
- Builders and commercial – all of the above with special focus on design elements.
Different techniques utilized in Real Estate Photography are ambient, ambient blended with flash (flambient), high dynamic range or HDR, and with lighting. Yes, busy agents don’t necessarily care to know how the imagery is made, they just want images that will stand out in a sea of other listings. But it is worth understanding what will get them the images that represent their brand and display their commitment to clients by putting a best foot forward for their property.
Most common in marketing for real estate is HDR. This process combines multiple exposures to cover the dynamic range needed to evenly lighten shadows, brighten mid-tones and reduce highlights. It is generally popular due to the ease of shooting several frames at once and then batch processing in post for the final result of outsourcing to an overseas editor. Since MLS photos are provided with a limited license for the time of the listing, this technique is used for when the output does not need to be perfect and colors need not necessarily be true to life. Personally, I started out with HDR and still use it, but I found that batch processing usually gave poor results with color casts and artifacts on ceilings a walls and dark woods looking orange. Again good enough for online marketing and the MLS, but… I always knew it could be better.
This led me to the next level, using flash with ambient and blending in Photoshop. This is the technique that provides a clean representation of colors and woods. Flambient results in superior imagery for print and upscale marketing online.
Not all properties require such detail and accuracy and will probably sell with the latest cell-phone photos, slanted walls and all, depending on the market and how fast properties are moving. Mid-range properties can be efficiently done with HDR or ‘flambiet’ and multi-million dollar listings with ocean views generally require larger lighting set-ups.
The results are usually this:
- Quick shots – slightly better than cell phone quality with proper composition, with or without flash depending on lighting.
- HDR – better for averaging the highlights and shadows with light window scenes. HDR tends to also average white balance and it can result in color casts and changes to true colors and woods.
- Flambient with pops is a step above giving more accuracy in colors and woods and a cleaner look overall.
- Full lighting using larger strobes and modifiers – required for high-end listings that tend to have big rooms, tall ceilings, a big views. It’s tops, but takes more time on site.
If you skimmed over all that, I get it. I can help you determine what approach will get you the best photography appropriate for the property you are marketing.