Real Estate Photography

24 March 2016

My take on Real Estate Photography - Interiors

There are a great deal of discussions happening in the field of RE photography these, so I thought I'd add my thoughts from my experience in shooting residential properties. When shooting interiors, ensure that you have clean socks in case the client prefers you to remove your shoes. Some photographers carry a couple of pairs of clean white socks in their kit for this purpose.

One of the comments I encounter is the question of equipment type. There is a perception amongst a high percentage of photographers out there, that if you don't shoot using a Canikon, you can't be any good. Good marketing by the respective companies but very wrong.

Having been fortunate enough to try and use close to every camera brand both film and digital, over the years, I have settled on the Pentax K3. From my experience this camera is equal or better than cameras carrying a much higher price and bigger sensor. My equipment consists of the K3, Sigma 10-20, Pentax 16-50mm f2.8, Pentax flashes 360 and 540 and a Gitzo carbon fibre tripod which is light and very sturdy.

When it comes to taking the interior shots of a home, there are two schools of thought. One is to use flashes and soft boxes/umbrellas, which can take longer to set up and chew up a fair bit of time. The other is using HDR where required, such as capturing the scene outside the window whilst still getting a good shot of the interior.

When it comes to lighting the rooms, I find a combination of interior lighting and natural light works, in particular when you consider the amount of sunlight we experience in Perth. Having a soft cloudy day is a rare delight for Perth photographers. There is a school of thought that the interior lights should be left off, however I have found that having the lights on gives the image a nice lift.

One of the rooms that can be challenging is the bathroom, often with vast expanses of mirror and keeping yourself out of the image can be interesting. If you are going to stand in the bath or on any of the fixtures, take your shoes off so that you don't scuff the surface. Repairs can be very costly. When shooting bedrooms, if the fly screen/security mesh can be removed to allow you to shoot through the window, the result will be worth it. Ensure the passage lights are on to remove a dark doorway, move stray containers, towels, rugs, etc. as these will make the place look untidy and detract from the final image.

When using a wide angle lens, one of the aspects of using these lenses is the accentuated perspective you will experience. I have seen numerous RE images where this has a very negative effect on the final results. In order to minimise the effect, the position of the camera is important as it will minimise the amount of correction required when editing. In addition the best setting on the camera is manual and I've found f5.6 to f8 to provide a good depth of field when using the 10-20 lens. I always shoot RAW for these shoots, jpeg loses too much information and limits editing flexibility.

Once the shoot is complete and it comes to editing, I have found that Capture One Pro 9 to be the best software to date. In my opinion, this software offers the greatest flexibility and unlike some software, as you add layers the file sizes don't increase much at all. Once you have settled on the exposures that suit your style, batch editing becomes a lot easier because the basic edit per image can be standardised, leaving only a slight tweak for the more challenging images.

I have at times been asked to remove certain features of the image which I feel will make the image deceptive so talk the client out of it, because when the potential buyer visits the property, they will see the difference and wonder what else was being hidden. In addition, doing these types of edits is time consuming and I can guarantee that the client will not be prepared to pay the additional fee.

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