1. It’s not the megapixels, It’s the lens!
Even though smartphones have gotten better each year, taking ever better photos, the truth is they cannot change the laws of physics.
There is a reason DSLR cameras are so bulky when compared to a smartphone. Smartphones have a small camera sensor and lens. These two things limit the amount of light and information that your phone can see.
The cameras that real estate photographers use usually have very large lenses and sensors. This allows the photographer to capture details that normally would never be seen on a smartphone.
Large lenses also allow for wide-angle shots, allowing the viewer to see more of the property they are interested in a more natural way.
You can check out Tony & Chelsea Northrup’s great youtube comparison between a Canon EOS RP vs Samsung S20 Ultra (8K) vs iPhone 11 Pro Max.
2. Pro Photographers Shoot in RAW Format
So what is RAW format you ask? All DSLR and mirrorless cameras have the option to take pictures in JPEG and in RAW.
JPEG is a compressed image format that makes the file size small and manageable. Just about every image you see on the internet will be of this type or something similar.
The one thing JPEG images are not is easy to correct. Once an image is set to JPEG, it’s almost as if it was set in stone. Image is overexposed? you can’t fix it. Underexposed, ditto, if it’s jpeg it stays that way forever.
RAW images, on the other hand, are just what the name says, they are the raw information that came from the camera sensor.
The photo was too bright? no problem, you can correct that! Too dark, same thing.
RAW format cannot do miracles though. So if it is out of focus, or way too dark or bright, there is not much you can do. So always try to take your photos right from the get-go.
3. Many Images Are Actually Composites Of Several Photos
Many photographs are actually mage by combining several images into one.
One of the better-known examples of this is HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos. HDR images allow for the combining of exposures in a final image that can capture all the really bright and dark areas. The human eye sees in HDR.
Personally I’m not a fan of HDR, they look to fake for my taste, but some real estate photographers use this extensively.
The most common use for compositing images in real estate photos is for window pulls. This method allows you to make the outside of a window “visible” in a photo and not blown out.
What is a Window Pull?
Windows pulls are a technique that combines two images of a room with a window. One photo is exposed for the outside of the house, this makes everything you see in the windows perfect, but the inside of the house comes out dark. The second image is exposed for the inside of the house, so now the house looks great, but the window is a bright white light.
By combining both images you can now have a great looking photo where everything is exposed correctly. You can see a great tutorial by Rich Baum: Window Pull in Darken Mode for Beginners
4. All Photos Are Photoshopped
Yes, you heard right! They are corrected and enhanced in Photoshop and Lightroom. The truth is that nothing comes out of the camera just right. Every image you see is enhanced and correct using software such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and Luminar (I use all three).
With software such as these (and there are more) you can correct colors, change resolution, merge photos, and even remove things like carpet stains, blemishes on walls, add grass to the yard and even swap the sky.
Now with technology, you can even add virtual furniture, allowing for a virtual staging of the home.
There is a lot more that goes into a photograph that just the camera. Taking a good picture is a combination of skill, equipment, and software.
For me it is fun, so I made a career out of it!
I hope these tips help guide you in taking better pictures.
“What can I say? I love taking photos of houses.”
Based in Orlando Florida, Jose is a real estate photographer specializing in vacation homes, working for realtors and property managers to make their properties look great.