Real Estate Photography - The difference two years can make

Recently I had the opportunity to photograph a home I had previously shot a few years earlier. This time around I would photograph the home using off camera lighting instead of using HDR, a process that 99% of real estate photographers use. 

Would there be a difference? Had I learned anything in the last two years? Lets take a look!


Front Porch

There's a tendency in real estate photography to shoot everything at an angle, but a quick look at interior imagery in magazines and you'll soon realize those photographers often shoot straight on, also known as a 1 point composition. Why? Because it always looks better and it also eliminates distortion from the use of wide angle lenses.

Looking back at my first shot of this front porch, I did the opposite. Shooting at an angle made the window on the right look huge, and the the windows reflections didn't do anything for anyone. What was I thinking!

Second time around I cut the near window off completely by shooting straight on allowing the viewer to see more of those cool columns. Lighting the inside of the porch helped balance it with the bright sunlight whilst helping to draw your attention though the space. 

Living Room

As with the front porch, my first shot of this living room was at an angle from the doorway. At this angle, and with a 16mm wide angle lens, the staircase on the left is distorted. This time, I shot everything straight on and made use of the natural placement of windows, firing lights through them to create natural looking shadows that add a bit of interest and depth.

Dining Room

Looking back at my original shot, I'm not sure why I opted to include the window on the right as its more of a distraction that anything. The overhead lights are all blown out and the rear room is dark and uninviting. 

Using off camera lighting I was able to light up all the separate rooms and add some natural shadows via the windows.


Being a small kitchen I thought I had to make this space look as big as possible, hence why I opted to shoot the space at an angle. What I didn't realize at the time was the problems that this caused. By being at an angle the eye has nothing to focus on, plus it also captures a good portion of the cooktop which is a distraction. Shooting straight on eliminates those issues and makes for a cleaner image. Lesson learned.

As with the previous photos, this space was lit with off camera lighting, take a look at the before and afters. If this space had been photographed using HDR it would have looked flat and boring. Instead the use of lights gave this space a different look and added depth and interest to the workspace and cabinets.

When I look at this second photo of the kitchen, I cringe. Why? Well firstly it has all the hallmarks of HDR. The colors look all weird, particularly on the cabinets on the left. The lights are all blown out with no detail and the camera was to low as you can see the underside of the cabinet.

The new and improved me shot this nearly straight on and added light through the small window camera left. It  added the flick of sunlight on the wooden countertop and helped light up the sink area.


Just like my original living room and kitchen photos, I thought I needed to show everything in this small bathroom in a single shot, after all thats what you do in real estate photography right? 


I spent way to much time originally trying to find a way of capturing the main elements of this space as well as including a little bit of the shower. By doing so the photo and objects in it are all distorted, I mean, look how stretched the toilet is in the original photo!

Experience has taught me its better to split rooms like this up in to multiple shots. 

As for lighting, this was a one shot deal with the light placed high just behind the door. The light provides clean colors and its an accurate representation of the space.

Time Flies!

Jumping from using HDR (like everyone else) to lighting interiors was hard and intimidating at first but comparing these images show me it was the right decision. 

If your a realtor, home builder or interior designer hopefully these photos illustrate how different a space can look when approached with a bit more time and experience.

What do you think?



Shane McKenzieComment