A beginner’s guide to property photography.

Taking photos of a property provides a unique set of challenges – from capturing the space in small rooms to making sure you’ve got the best lighting for estate agent photography.

Modern stylish home with large lawn.

Property photography covers both the interiors and exteriors of houses and commercial buildings – and is usually commissioned by an estate agent. Our experts will help you find the best camera settings for property photography, effective ways to set up your camera for interior shots and more. If you’re an estate agent, this guide will also help you get a property in ship shape for an online listing – attracting higher offers and a quicker sale.


What you’ll learn:


What is property photography?

Taking photos of any building or structure could class as property photography. More specifically, it usually relates to the taking of images by – or to be used by – estate agents. These professional quality images are normally used in print brochures and on websites. 


The two main areas for property photography are:

Interior property photography. This includes taking photos of rooms and interior architectural detailing. While you might have more control over lighting, capturing the dimensions of interior spaces can be tough.


Exterior property photography. This covers everything from wide shots of the building to more inspirational images of gardens, outside space and other exterior features. You’ll have to work with natural light, different seasons and the weather. 


Each type of property photography requires specific settings, equipment and skills. The key to high-quality photography of real estate is to capture a genuine representation of the building, while also selling it as a desirable purchase. 


It’s a mixture of the art of photography and the realities of marketing. To be a successful property photographer you’ll need to be able to sell a property but also add your own artistic stamp to your images.


“Your style is your business card. It’s your marketing, your trade. How you edit the photos – the angles that you select to shoot, the subjects that you choose to select – all of those things go into your style.” 

Property and Aerial Photographer Jonathan Boone


The best equipment for property photography.

If you’re starting out in property photography with the aim of working for estate agents, or you’re an agent looking to take the photos yourself, you’ll need to invest in some equipment up front. Thankfully, you won’t need studio space, as the properties are your studios. But you will require a few key pieces of equipment to make your property photographs shine. 


Best camera for property photography.

If you’re serious about property photography, you’ll need a high-quality DSLR camera. A full frame camera instead of a cropped sensor one is the best option for high quality photography of homes, offices and other buildings.

Professional camera on tripod

Choose a camera with the ability to adapt to shoot dimly lit interiors or exteriors in changeable weather. Being able to add different lenses and flashes, as well as cable releases and triggers, will give you more freedom and choice on the day. Cameras with wireless connectivity offer the most versatility. 


Best lenses for property photography.

With varied weather conditions and not knowing what you’ll find in each property, a selection of camera lenses can put you in charge.

  • Wide angle lenses. These should be your go-to. Start with a focal length of around 14mm or 16mm to capture the whole room in one, clear image. Then add different wide-angle lens, such as a super wide 10mm lens. If you go down to an 8mm lens, you get into fish-eye lens territory. While these capture a lot of a room, you’ll have bending at the image’s edge. 


  • Zoom lenses. These can help you capture a lot of different rooms quickly. Often, you’ll have limited time to photograph a whole house. Setting up and changing lenses for each image takes time. A zoom lens allows you to make some of these changes with your lens. 


  • Macro lenses. Great for close ups on architectural detailing or interior features.


  • Tilt-shift lenses. These adaptors can be added to help achieve straighter lines in your images. If you simply point your camera up, lines can start to converge – or bend – creating an unreal effect. Tilt-shift adaptors or lenses shift your lens up by a few millimetres, preventing this effect.
“Bring your wide-angle lenses, but also carry a macro lens for detail and close-up shots.” 

Property Photographer Jillian Lancaster


Best tripod

A tripod is vital for all property photography, otherwise you won’t capture razor-sharp images. Remember, some rooms will have limited light so you’ll need to adjust the aperture, shutter speed and ISO to make the most of low light conditions. Without a tripod, your images could blur. 


Choose one that’s adaptable for creating amazing exterior shots and capable of fitting on small kitchen worktops.

Equipment dos and don’ts.

When choosing your property photography equipment, there are a few key dos and don’ts to remember.


  • Pack spare batteries and SD cards. You’ll usually only get one chance to shoot a property.
  • Focus on lenses. Use your budget on lenses rather than the camera, as this is where you’ll need the quality and adaptability.
  • Test your kit. Make sure everything works and you know how to get the best from each lens.
  • Add some extras. Trigger switches, remote flashes and other items can help on your shoot.


  • Forget about lighting. You can work with natural light but it’s important to bring your own lighting rigs or bounce umbrellas with you. 

  • Make assumptions. Pack your kit assuming the worst will happen, whether it’s a scratched lens or flat battery. 

  • Damage the property. Putting up tripods, lighting rigs or even a step ladder can scratch or mark walls and floors – not ideal when you’re trying to sell the property. 
“Whatever lens you use, the most important thing is to know your equipment. Know how your camera works, know how your editing software works, and know what your limitations are.” 

Jillian Lancaster


The best settings and techniques for property photography.

Once you’ve chosen your kit, it’s time to get to know your camera. To achieve the best camera settings, try experimenting with your own property. This will mean you’re ready and raring to go as soon as you arrive at your assignment. 

How to prepare a property for photographs.

First things first. Ahead of the shoot, make sure the property is prepared as if you were preparing for an actual viewing. Here are some golden pieces of advice to make sure you avoid rookie mistakes:

  • Move any vehicles from outside
  • Remove any clutter such as bins and hoses
  • Wash the windows thoroughly and keep the curtains or blinds open
  • Clear the sink, keep the toilet seat down and close wardrobe doors
  • Hide any appliances, fridge magnets or food bowls for pets

Best lighting to showcase interior rooms.

For interiors, you’ll often be faced with less than ideal lighting. So it’ll be up to you to create the best lighting conditions for your interior shots. This could include opening all the curtains, blinds and even some windows to see the room in natural light. 


Play around with the internal lights. Under-cupboard lighting in kitchens, for example, can help to highlight the worktops, while some LED spotlights can wash out a room, making it feel cold and unwelcoming. 



Next, set up your own lighting system, whether this is spotlights, umbrellas or light boxes. The aim is to get rid of dark corners and harsh shadows, providing a level light across the room. 


Finally, get the correct exposure settings on your camera. If you’re working in low-light settings, be careful when using a wider aperture. This can give you a shallow depth of field and put half the room out of focus. Instead, use a narrow aperture and a slower shutter speed to compensate for the light – it may help you achieve a deeper depth of field.


Take multiple photos at different exposures to capture the light indoors and outdoors. Here a tripod comes in handy, so you can shoot identical angles of the same room and then combine those photos in post-processing to capture a high dynamic range (HDR)

First exposure interior real estate photo of a commercial property

First exposure image

Second exposure interior real estate photo of a commercial property

Second exposure image

Combination of both interior real estate images of a commercial property

Combined images

Making the most of natural light.

When lighting an exterior shot, choose the time of day carefully. Midday can provide a harsh light with deep shadows. Go for early morning or late evening – often called the Golden Hour – depending on which direction the property is facing. 


The aim is to get the softer light of a low sun shining directly onto the exterior surface you’re shooting. This might mean photographing the front at one time of day and the back at another. 


Remember, the time of year and weather also impacts the levels of light. If you’re shooting in autumn or winter, check the weather before you go. You might need to suggest another day for exterior shoots if the weather isn’t welcoming. There might be more freedom around when you can shoot the exterior, as you probably won’t need access to the property itself. 


Choosing the right camera height for photographing indoors.

As a rule of thumb, chest height is good for interior photography. You’ll want to capture all the room’s features, with less roof, in the final image. If you go lower than chest height, you might get all the items in shot but the balance may be off. 


From kitchen units to door frames, there are a lot of straight lines on the vertical. Use a tilt lens so you can get your camera at chest height and prevent the lines converging. 


Setting and location dos and don’ts.


Remember these key property photography tips to help you master your camera’s settings and the property itself.


  • Let the property lead you. Tweak your camera settings to bring the property to life – don’t simply impose your favourite settings.

  • Balance interior and exterior. If shooting interiors, consider what’s visible outside. And if shooting exteriors, you can use internal lighting to highlight the windows and doors. 

  • Create a visual flow. Use the layout of the room, doors, windows and key items of furniture to create a balanced image.


  • Put every light on. This can create unintentional colour mixing from different lightbulb temperatures. This mixing can give unnatural hues to photos, requiring more editing in post-processing.

  • Forget colour temperature. Take some test shots to see if the temperature is right. Adjust to get it spot on.

  • Zoom in too much. Shoot wide and capture everything, then crop and adjust in post-production.

How to develop as a property photographer: 5 key tips.

Apart from taking great property photos, there are a few aspects of estate agent photography that can make your work shine and the offers come rolling in. 


1. Practise, practise, practise.

Practise in your house or your friends’ homes, or go to churches or public buildings to gain experience capturing different architecture – so you’re prepared for any type of property shoot.

2. Work with people.

Estate agent photography is about selling properties, so the art of working with homeowners is where you can succeed or fail. This can mean building up your soft skills and cultivating a professional persona for dealing with your clients. Everyone will have slightly different requirements.

3. Get feedback.

Once you’ve done a few shoots, be sure to ask for feedback. See what your colleagues, clients or peers liked about your work and ask about areas requiring improvement. Photographing real estate takes time and practise to master, so keep pushing yourself to improve.

4. Tailor your services.

Some properties will be large, high-priced or otherwise remarkable, and therefore require many photographs. Others will only need 10 or 15 snaps. Consider adapting the time spent on each property so you can fulfil the needs of each.

5. Be honest about time.

Be mindful of the time you’re spending on each shoot, as it can pay dividends in the long run. Don’t forget the time involved in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom post-processing.


“It’s how you arrive at a home and operate with the agent or the client. That’s a big part of what your style is as a business and as a real estate photographer.” 

Photographer Gregory Boone


Tips and tricks from Adobe’s partners.

We asked our experts for their top tip to master property photography as a professional – and here’s what they told us:


Photographer Gregory Boone says don’t try and trick the buyer: “If you’re in a kitchen, and your camera is up high pointing down, it feels like you’re trying to make that kitchen look bigger than it is.”


Interior and estate agent photographer Crosby Dove warns of overly wide lenses: “It’s easy to accidentally get some barrel distortion, where the ends of the photos start to round or curve.”


Experienced property photographer Jillian Lancaster advises that you “value your time, value your money, create a business plan, and don’t give away your work for free.”


She also recommends learning to adjust your photography style to changing home trends: “When I first started, the colour palettes [in houses] were rich reds and dark blues and greens. Now everything is just painted white.” 


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