I don’t photograph much real estate these days, but when I do it is because someone wants the home photographed like an architectural photographer. The main reason is that I charge (quite literally) 10x more than your standard real estate photography pricing. In this post, I am not going to break down the difference between real estate photography and architectural photography and I am not going to try and convince you to hire an architectural photographer over a real estate photographer. In fact, most real estate agents are NOT going to like this style. They will think they are “too dark” and will likely want all of the lights turned on and super bright walls.
Instead, what I will do in this post is share what goes into a real estate photography shoot when I am hired to do it.
I photographed real estate for a long time. Nearly 10 years and almost exclusively. When I started my architectural photography career, I was still shooting real estate. I have helped produce online courses specifically on real estate and have even been an educator in the real estate photography space. My architectural photography career developed out of my real estate photography career.
TWO DAYS OF PHOTOGRAPHING AND FILMING VIDEO
When I used to photograph “run and gun” real estate, my goal would be to make it in and out of the house in under an hour with both photos and a video. I had an incredibly efficient process and attention to detail was not as critical.
For real estate shoots that require photo and video, I prefer to have two days blocked off. We may not use the entirety of the two days, but I don’t want the pressure of capturing everything in a single day. I want to shoot according to what the light is doing and it is challenging to be in two different places at the same time, so being able to have a second day to capture things I wasn’t able to the previous day is critical. For this shoot, I photographed all of the late afternoon and evening shots on day one, and then photographed all of the morning and early afternoon shots on day two. Preferably we would have had two full days for this, but the house unfortunately was not ready so we lost a half day of light.
Here are a couple of the late afternoon/evening images I made:
PATIENCE AND CREATING OPPORTUNITIES
The reason it takes up to two days isn’t because we are working slowly or because we are spending too much time on any given image. It’s because we are patiently waiting for the light to do what we need it to do and creating light where it isn’t doing what we want. This is important to give each image the look that I want. What is it that I want? Long shadows primarily. These help to create a sense of nostalgia. Also, while we are photographing one room, we may have some timelapse running in other parts of the home. Those take hours to run sometimes.
Here are some examples of where we needed to create some light to make the mood we wanted. Use the slider to see a before image (straight out of the camera) and an after image with light that we created.
In this first image, we had one flash outside of the window aiming into the room and pointing toward the right side of the frame. We had another flash lighting up the bathroom in back from outside as well. If this were a traditional “real estate” photo, we would have blasted a light into the bedroom to light everything up.
In this second image, the first shot is straight out of the camera with no flash. We positioned a light outside of the window on the left and aimed it toward the floor to create some natural-looking light. If this were a standard “real estate” photo, we would have made the room incredibly bright and flat.
As mentioned, it isn’t that we move slow during these days. In fact we can be quite efficient. For example, these next two images were created back to back. A flash was sitting outside of the window aiming toward the cabinetry and all we had to do was move the camera – the flash stayed in basically the same spot. In this instance, we were shooting this early in the morning shortly after sunrise and wouldn’t be getting any light in here for several hours, so we were replicating the late-morning light so that we didn’t have to wait all morning for it to come through.
The way I shoot video is kind of a whirlwind and is not a process that is easy for me to explain. Mainly because I am kind of “editing” in my head as I shoot and I already have a general sense of the overall vibe of the video and the shots needed to convey that as I am shooting. I generally gather video footage in-between photos, but then will occasionally just walk around with my camera and grab clips throughout the day when I see interesting things that make sense. Here is the final product: