How to Get Great Listing Photos

An online real estate listing serves as an ad for your property. Well lit, tastefully taken photographs make buyers want to learn more about the property and are one of the best ways to get potential buyers in the door. 

Dark, cropped, or blurry photographs will have them hitting that back button and heading on to the next listing. 

So, how can you make sure you get great listing photos? There are two options — hire a professional real estate photographer or try to take them yourself.  

Which is more likely to help your listing sell? There are pros and cons of each approach, which we'll cover below. 

Use a Professional Real Estate Photographer 

Sometimes it's best to leave it to the professionals. Like a trained real estate agent, a real estate photographer has the tools and expertise to show your property in the best light.

"Hiring a professional real estate photographer takes a lot of stress out of the process," said licensed real estate broker Andria Hernandez, with RELUX International in Chicago. "They know the best angles, what rooms to focus on, and have the right equipment for quality high-definition images. Oftentimes, they will create a floor plan too, which further helps buyers visualize the space."

However, a professional real estate photographer can be pricey — some charge several hundred dollars. They may also not be available on short notice, which can be a drag if you are trying to get your home listed fast. On the other hand, professional photographs can make it much easier to sell a property, especially during COVID, when open houses may be limited. 

Still, the cost can be prohibitive. This is why many real estate agents and sellers turn to taking their own photos. The good news is you can take great photos yourself if you take the time to learn a few tips.

Learn How to Take Your Own Listing Photographs 

The right photos can help your property sell faster and may even increase the sale price. If you don't have the budget to invest in a professional photographer, don't worry.

"When taking home photos, remember that lighting, decluttering, and staging are key," said Hernandez. "For example, we all keep our coffee maker on the kitchen counter, but for the sake of photos, put it away. If you use your dining room as your office, clean it up, and set a proper dinner table. Always keep your blinds closed for privacy? Open them up and take advantage of that gorgeous natural light. All of these things present your home in the best way possible and make people focus on your home rather than your things."

Here are a few more tips that will help even non-professional photographers take great real estate photos. 

  1. Invest in a camera: Cell phone cameras have come a long way, but a phone camera isn't going to cut it here. Invest a few hundred dollars in a DSLR camera — or rent one if you'll only need it for a few weeks. 

  2. Get a wide-angle lens: Wide angle lenses allow you to take photos that mimic what the human eye sees. Rather than cropping out the beautifully redone hardwood floors or the eclectic light fixture, you'll be able to show prospective buyers more of the room. 

  3. Use a tripod: This will prevent blurry photos and allow you to easily move the camera from room to room. 

  4. Clean up and put away: Remove clutter and personal decorations — like photos — so buyers can imagine making the property their own. Less is more. 

  5. Be careful with lighting: Try to take photos on a sunny day and open windows and blinds to let in as much natural light as possible. Try taking photos with overhead lights on and off to see which looks best. If you are using the pre-set camera settings, try a few different ones to see which ones look the best. 

  6. Take multiple angles of key areas like the kitchen, master bedroom, and living room: These are areas buyers want to see the most, so make sure to take multiple pictures and make sure to highlight storage, decorative features, and appliances.

Real estate listing photos are the first thing prospective buyers will see when looking for a home. Take the time to take great photos, and don't forget to edit them! Adjusting light balance and careful cropping will help your listing make a great first impression.

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