How Real Estate Photography Made Me a Better Photographer (& Person)

How Real Estate Photography Made Me a Better Photographer (& Person)

Yes, there is such a category as real estate photography. It might mean something different to different photographers, but to me, it is when a Realtor contacts me, needing professional listing photos. Sometimes, they have promised their sellers that they will obtain professional photos of the home in question. Other times, they just know that I can provide a degree of quality in a photo that they cannot with their camera or cell phone. Often, the listing sells faster, precisely because of my photos. This is feedback I readily receive from Realtors that use me. 

But that's not what I wanted to talk about.

For years now, I have not gone out of my way to market my photography. Of course, I have posted some photo shoots in blog posts and I have updated Twitter and Facebook telling of different photographic escapades, but in general, I have not marketed it a lot. That's what's funny...the past two years have been some of my busiest years in photography. It's like there is a direct correlation between the lack of my promotion of my photography and the amount of business that I procure. That being said, I do think I laid a lot of ground work in years past, letting many know what I do. Then, I set out to prove to them what I do by taking excellent photos and having them on display often enough for people to remember me. 

What I thought real estate photography would be

Many photographers consider themselves artists, and I find my opinions to be no different about my photography. I see it as art...I want it to be art...I strive for it to be art. When I first started shooting listing photos for Realtors, I thought it was all about the art of it. I thought that was the most important part. I was getting these really different shots, often highlighting a few details about the house, but not the house overall. While they were great photos to look at in the abstract, they were not fitting exactly what the Realtor had hired me help them sell the house. They needed the entire house to look great. If that meant that some details or rooms have an artful way they were displayed, so be it. If not, that's fine too, just so long as some quality photographs of the house were being obtained. 

That's when it hit me; this is a different sort of photographic venture than I had ever been on before. There was a business side to this that some of my other gigs didn't have. There was a sense of urgency and  a desire for quick turnaround that I felt partially responsible for. 

Faster, More Efficient at my Craft

As a result, I worked to become faster and more all-encompasing in my real estate photo shoots. 

Often, the Realtors will meet me at the property, in order to let me in and assist with anything that might need moving or positioning. Therefore, it was important to be efficient not just for my time, but for theirs. I needed to figure out a few things so that I could get in and out, and ensure the shots I got were the ones we'd want:

  • What shots I needed
  • What rooms/spots NOT to shoot
  • How to use what natural light I could
  • How far I could be back in a room/doorway while still making the room look great

Some photography pals of mine,  @Eje_G and @ChrislanePD, had one great rule: keep verticals vertical. What did they mean by that? Keep the vertical lines (doorway, window, cabinet, etc) remaining vertical in photography of buildings and rooms. It creates more realism and helps the image to be more believable. Sound simple enough, right? Well, it is definitely easier said than done. I can honestly say that after many real estate photo shoots, I can capture everything exactly how I need to right in the camera. That helps me save time in editing afterward, if I'm not having to straighten everything when I get back to my computer. 

So, having become more efficient in my craft, and largely in part because of a new venture called real estate photography, I feel as thought I'm a better photographer. I hope I am always able to improve upon my craft. I hope I am always able to learn new things and take on new ventures. 

What is something you do that you could do faster? What could you push yourself to do better? Let me know in the comments below. 

Bruce A. UlrichComment