What Is Real Estate Photography

It’s important we are all on the same page when discussing real estate photography. For the sake of this website, real estate photography is when we create photos for a property listing that a real estate agent is going to sell on the housing market. In other words, we are creating photos that will be placed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

So What’s The Big Deal?!

Creativity. As photographers, especially if you have done portrait work or weddings, we tend to become very attached to our images. We like to produce a work of art that the client will fall in love with and cherish as a memory forever. This site first and foremost focuses on running a real estate photography business. A business that is detached from most of the artistic freedom you enjoy with other forms of photography. The photos you take of properties are meant to last a couple of days and although they will be phenomenal, we need to remember that we are providing a service for a fast-paced industry and our photos are temporary. Oh, and they are already late – you were supposed to have them completed yesterday.

(After all, you are expecting your photos will be the main reason that property just went under contract in less than 48 hours…right?)

7036WakefieldStreet-Dallas-TXDon’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the resulting photos aren’t valuable and aren’t worth a price. We ARE going to be providing a service and getting paid for said service. However we need to relax a bit on the artistic aspect and instead treat real estate photography as a business where we minimize subjectivity and concentrate on producing a product that can be duplicated one photo shoot after another.

Through reading the posts on this site, you’ll gain knowledge about running a real estate photography business and creating photos that are top notch for marketing a property for sale. On the flip side, the tools and tips that are discussed are not meant to be taken to commercial photo shoots with the expectation of being on the cover of Architectural Digest. (Although don’t be surprised after practicing if the quality of your photos improves to the point that you think they can compete with published images.)

Want to share? Have at it!

17 thoughts on “What Is Real Estate Photography”

  1. Thank you very much I needed to come across your article/email. Crucial time for my business as I have worked for one client already and would still like some pointers to better my self and my business.

  2. I thought using quad copters or any drone for Ariel video/still use was deemed illegal by the FAA particularly if the photo/video is for commercial purposes? How have you skirted around this?

    • There are many articles on the legality of using UAVs for aerial/video work. Currently, regulations by the FAA don’t allow commercial work, but they are regulations…not law. So basically they are recommendations that have proven to not stand up in court. Using UAVs to do work for agents in real estate photography is a decision the photographer needs to make on whether it’s worth offering the service with the possibility of having to deal with the FAA, or just holding off until clear laws are signed it’s proven “legal”.

      • Yes using photos from drones for any commercial venture is illegal unless specifically approved by the FAA. You must obtain a section 333 exemption. It is a long laborious process. Your drone operator must posses a private pilots license and have a current pilot medical certificate issued by an FAA Flight Surgeon.

        These are not recommendations.

        Here is the information: https://www.faa.gov/uas/legislative_programs/section_333/

  3. My Wife is a Realtor and I have been taking photos for her and some others. This website is a great resource thanks.

    Also many companies are offering aerial photos using drones and your comments are right on. I have ordered my DJI and am going the GP 4 Hero Balck edition. This can do 1080p (120frames) up to 4k at 30frames. Those 1080 numbers will make for rock solid slow motion shots. I also purchased the 3 axis gimble.


    • Thanks for stopping by Rich! The drone usage rules are very milky right now with the FAA and congress trying to come up with something for all of us to follow. Technically from what I understand, regardless of your license you need FAA permission specific to every flight if you plan on doing commercial work. Taking photos of homes that will then be used to sell those homes is considered commercial, even if you aren’t technically getting paid for the job because of your partnership with your wife. So just stay in the loop with the latest rules and I wish you guys all the best!

      (A good resource is http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/)

      • I agree it is very “milky” right now in regards to drones. No one has been been fined or pursued and there is no law technically. I agree they need to be used responsibly and a licence or even testing process needs to be implemented.

        See the number of companies offering this service now I feel we need to jump in as to not miss the boat. I have a number of articles and follow the FAA guidelines and website. In time it will all shake out but what scares me is numb sculls like the one who crashed the drone at the white house when all of DC is a NO fly zone. People such as that could ruin it or make it more difficult.

        again great site and I have added to my list to stay up on.


    • Reached a “settlement”… and for reckless use no less. Of the thousands offering these services that all?? No worries with the announcements this week.

      The licencing process being announced this is going to be a none issue. I for one am moving forward and offering services.

  4. Great article, full of very specific tips. Real estate photography is as learned of a discipline as learning how to take great wedding photos or newborns. The equipment needed is no small investment either. It can be a rewarding and lucrative way to make your living. Having said that, for most realtors and home sellers, the cons of taking your own pictures for your listings far outweigh the ‘saving $100’ pro. Very often, homeowners and realtors that decide to take their own pictures without knowing what they’re doing sit on their listings for longer than usual, and quite often end up lowering their asking price. If you could spend even $100 on a very basic set of photos, or even spend $500 on the bells and whistles professional session, and then NOT have to drop the listing by $10 or even $20k to get more ‘bites’, isn’t it completely worth it? If I was a realtor, I’d make learning how to be the BEST real estate photographer my number one marketing priority. Great website!!!! Heather W. http://www.gulfshoresphotopro.com

  5. 1) I agree with all of what Heather had to say. In the past I run into realtors tell me they can take their own photographs and then cringe when I see their end product. – Again, I agree with Heather (!!!)

    2) There still seems to be a lot of confusion out there – regarding the use of ‘quad-copters’, etc for photography – and I don’t think they FAA is really interested in clearing up the confusion anytime in the near future. Does anyone have an update on were things currently stand regarding the issue??

    • David my understanding is that in order to fly legally, you have to have an exemption from the FAA with specific permission of where you can fly. This would be for commercial use. If you fly without permission, you are at risk of being fined by the FAA up to $10,000. I haven’t contacted the FAA, so I’m just basing my thoughts off what I have read online.

    • Hi Brexan,

      For US fliers I think it’s standard to have a Part 107 Certificate to legally fly commercially. You obtain the certificate by taking a test provided by the FAA. You still must comply with additional guidelines like flying under a certain max height, be outside of an X mile radius from any airports, etc. You’ll want to look up the requirements for your area, or better yet, find a lawyer who knows about aircraft/drones that could guide you in the right direction to be compliant.



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