How real estate photos differ from generic photography, and what that means for your STR
Most guests search the web to look for captivating photos that fire up their excitement for their next trip. As noted by an airbnb host, browsing for a vacation rental “is like online dating...nobody reads the profile, it’s all about the photos”.
I don’t need to tell you the obvious importance of photos to attract more visitors to your listing. However, only optimizing for clicks could hurt the hosts if there is a mismatch between what is promised on images and what the actual space and experience ends up being for the guests.
It is a delicate balance to show your property in the most appealing way while making sure the space looks accurate and realistic. This balance is key to real estate photography and is the reason why you can’t rely on just ANY photographer to help you represent your property in the best possible way. Whether it is for a guiding discussion with your photographer before a professional shoot or quick checklist before you set out to shoot your images yourself, let’s look through what makes real estate images different from other photography subgenres, and what you can do to use these differences to your advantage.
Straight lines become especially important in real estate photography. In real life, the human eye naturally corrects for what it sees so that it perceives the horizon as horizontal and level when we observe a space. Recreating the same feel in images will make them look balanced and put together, while a slanted horizon line would make your image look like something is wrong with your space.
Vertical alignment have a huge impact on the final look of your photos, making your images look more accurate but also convey a more secure, dependable feel to your potential guests. Guests expect to see orthogonal lines, reflecting reality, in a house they would consider staying in.
Achieving perfect angles can be difficult in raw images, which is why real estate photography usually involves careful editing. There are many tools readily available for image enhancement to achieve a realistic look, but doing your best while taking photos will make your job so much easier afterwards.
Correct lighting is another critical element in real estate images. Rule of thumb here is to do the shooting in daylight on a sunny day, ideally at sunset or sundown so that the light is softer, creating a more cozy feel. However, there is much more to achieving an evenly lit, balanced look as the lighting level and intensity vary largely across properties. Depending on where your property is facing and how much sunlight it gets, you might have to turn on the lights or add other light sources to capture a clean look in your images. You would like to convey a warmer, welcoming feel without affecting the white balance in your photos.
Good exposure is difficult to achieve in raw images, even with professional cameras. Auto-enhancement tools or manual editing tools are very helpful for quick exposure and lighting touch ups which make significant difference. When using such editing tools, try to avoid using single filters applied to the entire image, as they tend to fix one place while causing overexposure in other parts of the image. Smart enhancement tools that use AI-based object detection technologies can help you avoid such mistakes.
Interior lighting, outside weather, window tint, camera settings, and a plethora of other factors can affect how colors appear in your property images. Colors that look too saturated, or harsh shadows hiding details of your place can take away from your property’s allure and hide its true potential, hurting your bookings. Color correction can fix these problems, but moderation is key to prevent extreme adjustments to the point that makes your property looks completely different from the reality.
If you are working with a photographer, make sure to discuss the color theme you have in mind, and how you might address different weather conditions depending on the shooting day. If you will do the editing manually, try to make things more accurate and closer to what they look like to the naked eye.
Post-processing has become an integral part of real estate photography with the evolving taste of guests who would like to see attractive yet accurate images of where they are likely to visit. To make sure you can meet and exceed the expectations of your online visitors, do your research and identify the best specialized resources available to you in your area and online. Staying up to date on new technologies can help you save time with image enhancements, while achieving a professional-level look on a lower budget. Editing real estate images should never be excessive: make sure what stands out is the property itself, and not the image editing tricks. Erring on the natural side will make sure that you achieve a natural look and help your visitors imagine themselves staying at your property.