Beautiful Real Estate Photos (and What Makes Them Work)
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
Great real estate photography doesn’t simply require a keen eye behind the lens to make properties look beautiful. It also needs to inspire buyers to take action — to purchase a property from an agent or hire them to help sell their home.
Taking photos for real estate listings on your own is certainly a viable option if you’re comfortable doing so. Having said that, it’s proven that listings with professional real estate photography sell for better prices (and quicker) than those shot by amateurs (including agents). Whichever avenue you take, though, the important thing is to get beautiful real estate photos — and lots of them — for your listings.
The works of some accomplished real estate photographers are highlighted below — all of which are prime examples of listing photos done very well. View the real estate pictures below and learn why each worked so well for the agents who represented them.
Homes with Natural Lighting
The sun is your best friend when shooting photos for real estate listings. Many real estate photographers will tell you the best time of day to break out the camera and start snapping shots of homes for sale is late morning and early afternoon, when the sun is generally shining brightest. This natural lighting provides ample opportunities to capture every corner of a home’s interior and exterior.
This particular photographer was able to utilize the sun at its peak, not to mention use great composition that captured the entire front half of the property and the brilliant blue sky above.
Another unique and beneficial way to take advantage of natural light is to expose all windows in a listing. Slide curtains aside, roll up shades, or remove both entirely so the most possible sunlight enters the home. Then, take your real estate pictures of the areas of the home that soak up the most sun. This will vary by time of day, of course, so figure out where the light will hit inside the residence at different points of the day to anticipate where to set up your shots.
Homes with Artificial Lighting
Daytime is an optimal period to secure the best real estate photos … most of the time. Properties equipped with plenty of artificial lighting, however, offer a unique aesthetic you may want to capture for your listings instead.
Take the real estate picture above, for instance: The back patio, the wall along the pool, the ground-floor entryway, and the second-floor room all provide more than enough lighting for the photographer to capture the backyard in its entirety.
Even with lots of artificial lights, your listings’ layouts will ultimately determine whether shooting their exteriors at night will be an option, so study the landscape around the property and your lighting options to see what’s possible in terms of a potential photo shoot.
Having only very little exterior lights to work with can sometimes work in a listing’s favor when shooting real estate pictures. Case in point: This home was shot from a further distance than the one mentioned before, but due to all of the lights in the residence being used in this shot, the house stands out more and even accentuates the foreground (the driveway, grass, and trees) and background (the silhouette of the trees behind the home). This is more of an advanced shot, but a distinctive one nonetheless — and one that could make your properties stand out from typical daytime ones.
Luxury Real Estate
If you’re lucky enough to be in the luxury real estate business, you know a good portion of your real estate photography work is already done for you. High-end properties with beautiful amenities, spacious rooms, and lots of modern tools (think smart home tech) make your sales job much easier … but that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get the best real estate photos.
Staging work still needs to be done. Even a messy mansion or top-floor loft can look unappealing when not “dressed for success,” so to speak. Just look at how the furniture in the real estate picture above is well-placed.
Luxury homes for sale outside the city also offer interesting real estate photo choices for agents — perhaps even more so than urban high-end residences, since there’s (more often than not) an accompanying yard to shoot in addition to the home itself. Whether it’s a pool, a deck, or a garden, there’s likely several other aspects to a listing you’ll want to get real estate photos of, aside from the interior and exterior shots of the home itself.
An effective way to show off the size of a yard is to get pictures from a high point in the home itself. Anywhere that offers a wide view of the entire backyard or front yard which allows you to show off the home’s whole space is ideal.
Urban properties come in all shapes and sizes and offer residents an array of different retail, restaurant, business, and education locations. When it comes to real estate pictures, though, you can’t highlight those last four amenities, so find what makes your city listing special.
Does it have a great view of the city skyline? Is there a sizable or swanky balcony? How about a roofdeck: Is there a common (or even private) space where tenants or homeowners can enjoy? Find out what makes your listing different than all others.
Who says you need to be outdoors to exhibit the city skyline in your real estate photos? This shot shows off the comfortable living room, but also manages to take advantage of the stunning views outside the windows. No, not every urban home for sale will have this view, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t buildings, parks, and other appealing spaces outside the residence that can’t be photographed and used to attract prospective home buyers.
The overwhelming majority of real estate agents don’t work in city limits, but rather miles away in the suburbs. The patented real estate picture to secure for listings in suburban communities is the full-facing shot of the entire front of the home. Notice the green grass, the finely pruned bushes, and the overall cleanness of the scene. There aren’t any elements that distract the eye from the property, which is exactly how exterior shots should be.
The front of your listings are the first things visitors to your real estate website will see, so it’s imperative to get them done right. If needed, hire a landscaping crew to clean up the yard in advance and even spruce them up with some flowers, greenery, and lawn decorations.
As already noted, daytime isn’t the only period to get the best real estate photos. Wait until nighttime as well to show off a residence and surrounding property to give interested buyers a glimpse into what the home looks like at day’s end. It’s best to get pictures of the exterior at multiple points throughout the day — dawn, afternoon, dusk, late night — to give prospective buyers a full glimpse of the home’s aesthetic at varying times and show off its interior and exterior lighting.
A considerable number of Realtors also operate in rural communities — areas that offer perhaps more individual characteristics than suburban and urban regions offer. Listings in relatively or heavily sparse towns in the desert, forest, or flatlands may not seem to make for optimal real estate photo shoots, but there are countless ways to make homes for sale in these parts stand out.
Look above at the astounding shot taken by real estate photographer Jon Woodbury. It displays practically the entire property on which the listing resides along with the captivating dusklight. Many rural homeowners purchase in these areas for the peace and quiet, and that’s exactly what this real estate picture exhibits.
Homes in Warm Climates
This photo manages to not only show off the entire exterior of the home and luscious yard, but also the back of the property, thanks to the unique walkway running through the middle of the residence. The fact that the end view behind the house is bright blue water is icing on the cake. This unique angle manages to incorporate several warm-climate features of the home in a single shot, particularly the great variety of greenery planted along the yard.
Properties in Cold Climates
On the opposite end of the weather spectrum is cold-climate homes. You don’t need 80 degree conditions to sell a listing — in fact, many buyers prefer living in snowy environments. Agents selling in these types of communities would be wise to make the weather a focal point of their real estate photos.
Areas where heavy snow is a part of life most of the year can still prove appealing to a number of prospective homeowners. The key with real estate pictures of the exteriors homes is to ensure the fluffy white stuff doesn’t prevent you from exposing all of the property’s great features.
A great deal has been covered about the exterior of your homes for sale, but what about the interior of your listings? It’s equally as important, of course, but requires a different approach from shooting real estate photos of the outside of properties.
Staging is the key element to interior real estate photography success. This photo shows staging at its finest: a symmetrical shot of the living space that highlights the neutral color scheme, the matching loveseats, the coffee table, and the unique decor and accessories. Making the living areas of your listings seem warm and pleasant, while at the same time stylish and organized, should be a top goal when shooting.
The kitchen and dining room are also must-shoot portions of your real estate listings. These areas are often attached to one another, so getting them in the same frame to show the convenient cooking-and-eating space can be a big draw for home buyers searching your site.
Whether the two rooms are joined together or separate, try to get as wide of an angle as possible in your shots to show the entire spaces. Just know that close-ups of the sink or a window in each room won’t do the areas any justice.
Don’t feel as if you have to stay on the property of your listing to get the best real estate photo of it. Move back or (briefly) stand in the street to get a better angle if you think there’s one to be had. In this listing photo, we get an all-encompassing view of the house, its stature atop the hill on its street, the size of its yard, and a peek at the surrounding neighborhood.
With homes like this that are short on space around the property to work with, use outside-the-box angles and compositions to get high-quality real estate listing pictures.
The overwhelming majority of your real estate pictures will show your listings by themselves. However, get a few that display other homes next to your listing and that reside on the same street or in the same development to show how it meshes with them aesthetically.
This real estate listing photo shows not only the exterior of the listing in question, but also how the home fits into the overall neighborhood. Buyers take the quality of homes near listings into great consideration when narrowing their home search down to a few possibles, both in terms of home values and design. Showing that your listing fits in well style-wise with nearby properties is a big plus.
The condo and apartment market is another niche that necessitates a different real estate listing photography strategy, at least in terms of shooting the exterior. Selling a unit in an apartment complex, for instance, means you’re best off taking photos of the entire building, as shown in the real estate photo above.
Special amenities like a community space outside, a gym, and an entertainment room are common conveniences afforded apartment dwellers. Whatever amenities featured at your listing’s building, have your real estate photographer take numerous shots of them.
Multi-family properties pose a different challenge than detached listings regarding exterior shots. The interior real estate pictures you shoot will be generally similar to single-family, stand-alone homes. But when shooting the outside of these buildings, you want to show off multiple facets of the property: how big the entire structure is, what on-site amenities there are, and what the parking situation is, among other things.
Here, the real estate photographer put some distance between himself and the real estate he shot to get pics of the building from top to bottom.
Want to hire a professional real estate photographer? Learn how in this Real Estate Marketing Academy post.
Prefer to shoot your own real estate listing photos? Get insights into staging and the best cameras.
Have more questions about photography for real estate? Feel free to share yours with us in the comments below.
Published on January 17, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
As the Content Creator at Placester, I'm devoted to producing content that helps transform real estate professionals' marketing efforts and bottom lines. When I'm not developing Academy posts here, I'm writing film reviews and screenplays (the latter of which will never see the light of day).