What Does It Take to Make Good Property Photographs? :: Bloomington, Illinois, Real Estate Photographer

Interior real estate photograph :: Illinois Home Photography, Michael Gowin, Lincoln, IL

Interior real estate photograph :: Illinois Home Photography, Michael Gowin, Lincoln, IL

Maybe you've heard this (possibly apocryphal) story about Pablo Picasso:

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

"It's you -- Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist."

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

"It's perfect!" she gushed. "You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?"

"Five thousand dollars," the artist replied.

"B-b-but, what?" the woman sputtered. "How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!"

To which Picasso responded, "Madame, it took me my entire life."

I recently shared a real estate-related posts on the steps to prepare a home for listing photos.


Because I'd like you to think differently about property photography.

If you look through a few listings in your area, you may notice that many of the photographs are average--at best. They typically suffer from the same problems: unnatural color casts, odd compositions, bad lighting, cluttered rooms, walls that tilt up (or down or list to the side). You'll find plenty of examples here or here.

I think agents (as well as builders and developers) are missing a huge business opportunity by promoting their clients' properties with these kinds of images.

What if the photographs you posted in your listings looked like they could be presented in a magazine? As buyers and sellers browsed through listings, they'd notice the huge difference in your photographs. They'd associate that quality difference with your brand. Is it possible that you might win more listings, simply because you featured higher quality photography?

And think about referrals. The agents I've worked with have told me that their clients feel honored to have their homes professionally photographed. Is it possible these happier clients would be more likely to recommend you to their friends?

If you want to grow your business with better photography, you have two choices:

  • Learn to do it yourself
  • Hire a professional real estate photographer

If you're the DIY type, get a copy of Larry Lohrman's free real estate photography guide. This will introduce you to the basic principles of real estate photography: effective staging, lighting interiors, keeping the verticals vertical, eliminating distracting color casts, and more. It's not a how-to guide but it will give you the concepts and vocabulary to better understand what's involved with property photography.

From that point you could buy Larry's Photography for Real Estate ebook, John McBay's guide Image Editing for Real Estate Photography, or Scott Hargis' ebook Lighting Interiors. These are all available in the Photography for Real Estate store. Scott also has an outstanding video course on interior lighting as well.

Of course, all of this will probably require an investment in some equipment that you may not have. In the video below, you can take a look inside my gear bag and see what I use.

Does that sound like it's going to involve a lot of time, effort, learning, and money?

It does. It will.


Because photography is not about owning a "really nice camera" and some lights. It's knowing where to place the camera and the lights. Remember how long it took Picasso to make that drawing?

That's why the second option--hiring a professional--may be a better choice. They've got the gear, knowledge, and experience to do great work for you--today.

The PFRE Directory will help you find a photographer in your area who specializes in real estate. Or, if you're in central Illinois, I'm happy to help you.

Of all the things you could do to improve your marketing and build your brand, this may be the simplest and the quickest.

A version of this post first appeared at GowinPhotography.com.

Posted on January 30, 2015 and filed under Advice.