What goes into a professional real estate photography shoot? Part 2
In my last post, I talked about scheduling, preparing, and arriving at a shoot. In this post, I will spend some time talking about the shooting and editing process.
90% of the time, I take an elevated photo of the exterior. I do this for several reason depending on the property and the angle in which I am taking it. The main reason is because I want the camera to be aimed at the center of the house and not looking up at the house. To me, it is more appealing as it shows a little more detail of the architecture that you cannot get from the ground level. Sometimes, the composition of the photo just looks better from the ground. Some professional real estate photographers take very, very high elevated exteriors of the home – but I haven’t found a circumstance in which that would be beneficial as of yet. There really isn’t a science behind it, it is just a matter of preference and composition. I pull this off the poor man’s way – I hold the tripod in the air and set the camera off with a timer 🙂 Sometimes I will set the tripod on top of my car, and/or use a stool to get height.
Once I am in the house I will do a quick walkthrough to turn on any lights, clean anything up, and get an idea of the general layout that I will be photographing. I also spend a little time getting to know the homeowner, or joke around with the Realtor I am working with which makes things much more enjoyable than they already are.
My photography technique is something that is difficult to explain. Depending on the architecture of the house, the colors or decoration, and the lighting conditions, I shoot one of 3 different ways – each of which includes shooting multiple bracketed exposures (a sequence of 3-8 exposures of the room from dark to light). I shoot multiple exposures to give myself some flexibility later in the editing process.
- Bracketed exposures only – If the room has neutral or light colors, I use this method. I will select the best exposure and edit that one photo – or I will blend a couple of them together later in the editing process.
- Multiple flashes – If the colors of the room are really dark, or the lighting conditions are poor, I will use multiple flashes – or take multiple exposures with the flash illuminating the room in different directions. I can blend these images together later in the editing process.
- Bracketed exposures and flash combined – I usually use this if I really like a room and want to bring as many details out as possible, or if every bad lighting and poor color condition possible presents itself.
Here are a few other thought processes I use while photographing a home:
- When it is time to actually shoot, I I try to get at least two angles of each room if it makes sense.
- Keep the camera about 4-5 feet off the ground depending on what room I am in.
- I usually shoot kitchens at about 5-6 feet because I don’t want to see under the cabinets.
- When shooting bathrooms, two of the biggest mistakes I see are keeping the toilet seat up, or aiming the camera directly at the toilet – making it the subject of the photo. Bathroom photos should always focus on the room itself or something really nice like a custom floor or countertop – not the toilet.
- Make sure you do not show up in any reflections. If it can’t be avoided, I will photoshop myself out in editing.
- Tidiness – clean up desks, under beds, take all of the pictures off of the refrigerator, put away or hide kids toys, etc. (I will be providing a preparation checklist very soon.)
Once the shoot is complete, I pack up and head home to dump photos and begin editing. Now there can be anywhere from 60-300 photos per shoot because I am shooting multiple exposures of each angle. This method gives me tons of flexibility in editing, and ensures that I got the shot.
The first thing I do is go through each room sequence and find the best exposure to edit. Once I find that, I do a quick edit and flag it so that I know which photos I will be using at a glance. Once finished with that, I sort them, geotag them, and keyword them all so that I can view them in a map later, and find them easy later on. After this, I will step away for awhile to get a fresh look at them when I return. Once I come back, I do some final edits and start to export them. Below is a timelapse of a recent editing process I went through from start to finish.
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That is pretty much it. I hope you were able to take something out of this overview, and that I was able to paint a clear picture as to what all goes into a shoot.