What's the first thing that catches your attention when you're looking for a new place to live? Usually it's a stunning photo of the house or apartment interior that makes a buyer lose themselves in thought and start picturing how they'll soon be filling the space with their own furniture.

In fact, studies have shown that homes with high-quality photography sell 32% faster and at higher prices than those homes with lackluster photos. If you've ever compared a home or apartment listing where the showcase images were taken with a cellphone to one where the images were taken by a professional, you know it's easy to tell the difference.

Real estate photography is a great career path for photographers, whether it's the primary source of income or a weekend side gig. It's a steady way to make money and see new places. Here are a few pieces we suggest to help you get started on a budget.

The Camera

While it's fun and stylish to shoot film, I don't recommend going analog when you're shooting real estate. Most modern-day real estate photography won't benefit much from the film aesthetic. Only special occasions really call for film photography, like photographing a castle or a supremely stylish Gatsbyesque mansion.

Because of this, I suggest a digital camera. It's easier to take shot after shot, and you'll have faster deliverable files to give to the client compared to having to wait for your film to develop. Real estate photography calls for sharp, contrast-filled, heavily-saturated images that show a lot of detail.

That being said, a super-high-megapixel camera isn't necessary. A Sony a7R IV would be nice for having editing flexibility in case you want to crop in on details, but in most cases, 16-24 megapixels will be enough for showing the space. The trick here is adding a step or two of exposure compensation to make the space look brighter and more inviting. Nobody wants to live in a cavern.

If you're looking to spend a little extra money, the Nikon D750 DSLR will give you 24 megapixels of solid full-frame performance. Some nice budget options for smaller sensors could be the Nikon D3300, Canon Rebel T5i, Panasonic Lumix GH3 or Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. These may not be the newest models, but they're perfect for just getting started.

Lenses

Telephoto lenses are great for portraits, but not so great for showing the space inside a room. Distortion-free wide-angle lenses are your best bet here, allowing you to squeeze as much as you can into the frame. In real estate photography, you'll want to make exteriors look magnificent and interiors look spacious and welcoming.

The bad news is that quality ultrawide lenses tend to be expensive. The good news is that you don't need to spend extra on ultra-wide aperture lenses because you won't need a shallow depth of field. In fact, you may want to shoot both your exteriors and interiors with a smaller aperture, around f/8 or f/11 in order to get as much in focus as you can. Don't worry at all about getting perfect bokeh.

If you've got the funds, consider a tilt-shift lens like the Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 D PC-E. A tilt-shift lens will allow you to eliminate lens distortion and make sure all your architecture lines are straight. Otherwise, you may want to try smaller-aperture wide angle lenses like the Tokina AT-X 11-16mm f/2.8 for Nikon F-mount APS-C, Nikkor 18mm f/3.5 AIS Manual for F-Mount full-frame, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 for EF-mount APS-C or Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 for Micro Four Thirds

Accessories

We know that accessories aren't always the most exciting thing to talk about when it comes to gear, but they tend to be a small expense that can make a big difference.

A tripod, for example, is not only good for stability but also for consistency. When photographing different areas of the property, a consistent view will give a much more professional and realistic look than some rooms shot from up high and others from down low. Pick up a tripod with a bubble spirit level and place your camera around five feet high for each shot.

It doesn't have to be fancy, just heavy-duty enough to hold up your camera and lens. Some of our favorite budget options are the Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum tripod or the Manfrotto 290 Light.

Earlier, I mentioned that rooms should be bright and filled with light. A portable flash unit for your system will certainly help there. Point the flash up and bounce the light off of the ceiling in order to evenly distribute the light in the room and make it look vibrant.

In rooms with very high ceilings, your flash may not make the impact you were hoping for. Consider bringing a portable silver umbrella or other reflector and firing your flash into that to bounce the light around the room.

A circular polarizer filter for the front of your lens will also come in handy here. It'll cut back the reflection on windows and any water features like ponds or pools. It will also reduce the reflection on shiny surfaces of the exterior and give you the opportunity to photograph the front door on a beautiful, haze-free blue sky.

Finally, if you're planning on trying videography or you want some amazing overhead shots, think about picking up a flying drone camera. It may not be in everyone's budget, but a 4K-ready Mavic Pro Starter Bundle will make any real estate shooter stand out from the crowd.

 


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