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Great Real Estate Photography with a Phone 101

Posted On: March 18, 2019

Your a realtor. You just started in the business or you have been at it for a while. You want to take better pictures of your real estate listings but you can't budget for a professional photographer. You want to make your clients happy but all you have is an Iphone or Android smartphone. What to do???? 

Real Estate Photography with a phone doesn't have to be difficult.

Well, option one: If your in South Florida, put your license with us and the professional photography is included! Yes, that was a shameless plug for my brokerage but it's a small price to pay to get some free practical advise. 

Option Two: Learn to use your phones camera to it's best ability. 

Now, keep in mind you would ideally be using a smart phone from the last 2-3 years. I say this because the quality of the lens' and software is such that you can get better than expected results using the automatic settings of the phones camera app.

Some things to consider when doing real estate photography with a phone regardless of the smartphone you are using. 

1: Light and where that light is coming from is the difference between an ok picture and a really good one. Light Should fill the space and to the extent possible, you should try to illuminate dark areas. Don't shoot directly into the light. Let the light source be behind you, above you or beside you. Don't let your phones camera have to struggle to adjust to a powerful light source right in front of it. The result will be a really dark photo.

1A: If you don't have a choice about where the light is coming from, then consider using the HDR function that most newer phones come with. HDR will shoot multiple pictures that will automatically be combined to give the best reproduction of light possible. As you get more experienced with judging the results, you will be more adept at positioning yourself for getting the best exposure. 

2: Shoot the room and the lifestyle and not a piece of furniture. 
How many times do you see the living room picture and all you see is the couch? Well intended as that might be, you need to find the best vantage point that lets a person see the layout of a room with good light. Before you take pictures, scope out a room to see from what vantage point you can capture the space in it's entirety. When Real Estate photography with a phone is your only option, you want to capture as much of the space as possible.

3: Night photography that doesn't capture a whole space is really mood photography and doesn't always translate to a great real estate photograph. 
Owners have very strong experiences and feelings about their homes and that is as it should be. But sometimes capturing that mood via nighttime photography is usually more intimate and may not have much to do with the house. The example would be a dimly lit chair or the setting sun casting shadows in a part of a room, etc. In a perfect world, when you shoot night or evening shots, you want to capture the whole space. An area that may feel intimate should still show the whole space. 

Real Estate Photography with a Phone
Natural Light, No Clutter, Views Through The Window

4: Don't fake it!!! Take pictures of what is actually there. Don't hang your phone over a balcony to catch a glimpse of what you would never see otherwise. I can't tell you how many times I have clients complaining about showing them properties where the photos have NOTHING to do with the listing. Even if the view sucks, there are things that can be done to make a property more appealing while being genuine. Remember, someone bought the home for a reason and may have very likely enjoyed their time there so, shoot for capturing that energy if possible. 

5: Tell your clients to have the property ready for photographs. IE: Pick it up and have it clean. Don't be afraid to move things around with the owner to get the best exposure of a properties space. Busy, cluttered, full spaces don't shoot well. There is nothing wrong with lots of pictures on the wall. But boxes, containers, cluttered shelving, cluttered tables are to be avoided when possible. 

6: Drone photography. Though this goes beyond real estate photography with a phone and this articles scope, it comes up a lot. We do it but have learned that it has specific uses. For example. It's great in single family homes to give overhead shots of the property to see how a home sits on its lot. While some photographers will use tripods to shoot the front of a house that can go up to 12 or 15 feet in height, a good quality drone image can capture the same quality with more flexibility. In High-rise photography you can give a potential buyer a great view of a building or area that they would otherwise not get from ground level. 

Getting back to phone photography, it's very important to be shooting with the phone in wide angle (landscape) and not portrait mode. That means a rectangle resting on its long side. It's not easy to take pictures of living spaces in portrait mode unless it's a narrow space with limited access like a closet or pantry or similar. Otherwise, you want as wide of a shot as possible to capture the whole space. 

Once you have taken your photos, you now have the chance to tweak or improve them. In both the IOS and Android, the camera app or the photos app will have the ability to adjust or correct photos for color, shadows, exposure, etc. In most cases if you are new to this, you can simply find the button within the photo editing app that allows for “automatic" or ”auto” corrections. In most cases this will get the job done. 

Real Estate Photography with a Phone
After this image was taken, the colors were corrected and the colorful artwork was enhanced without changing what you would see to the normal eye.

If your feeling daring, you can use apps (in both Ios and Android) that can also correct things like straightening photos and lens correction. We all have a tendency to lean one direction or another and camera lenses don't always capture things exactly right. This type of software can solve that problem. 

To learn more about how Real Estate Photography with a phone adds value and other tips, check out this article about Bad Real Estate Photos and what they might mean to your clients.

In addition, Here is link to Udemy that shows some phone photography courses you can take. Alternatively, if you're in South Florida, you can always move your license to us and we'll shoot your properties with a lot more than just a phone at no additional cost to you or your client.

Real Estate photography with a phone doesn't need to be hard and with these quick tips and tricks you can present your clients property in a better light.

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