Guide to Great Real Estate Photography with a Smartphone in 2020

When it comes to real estate, the photos and videos used in a listing can make or break a sale. So, is it possible to do real estate photography with a smartphone? Or is this type of photography best left to photographers with traditional cameras?

With the right tools and techniques, it is entirely possible to take photos good enough for real estate marketing.

Smartphone Real Estate Photography

real estate photography on a phone
SLR Lounge (Travis Mark)

Real estate agents typically work on commission, so they’re always looking to cut costs to squeeze a bit more profit out of a sale.  Providing them with those professional-level photos and videos at a discount can give you more freelance work than you know with which to do. The realtors will appreciate the budget photos and videos because they’re high-quality without cutting into their bottom line too much.

Event planners may also want to cut costs a little. Learn about smartphone event photography for some extra freelance work.

Moreover, what if you’re selling your house yourself? Taking high-quality photos and videos of your home sounds complicated, and hiring a professional sounds expensive.

Don’t worry. We’ve put the smartphone real estate photography idea in your head, now let’s get you the gear and know-how to make the dream a reality.

What Should Be In Your Camera Bag

What’s the best camera for real estate photography? Won’t argue with this one – a traditional camera. At the same time, can a new phone camera capture content that you wouldn’t be able to pick out of a DSLR versus mirrorless versus smartphone photo line-up? Yes.

Which is the easiest to use? Smartphone. Which costs the least to own and operate? Smartphone. See what I’m getting at here? Check out this guide to see if your phone is new enough to do mobile phone real estate photography.

The best lens for real estate photography by far is the wide-angle lens. Wide angle lenses are ideal for both internal and external shots, as they allow you to capture as much of the scene as possible. This wide view gives you an image that more closely resembles what your viewers will see if they were to visit the home in person.

A professional quality lens, such as Moment’s Wide 18mm M-Series Lens, captures twice the scene that your average phone lens would. Your photos will be crisp and gorgeous, including the edges, with no fish-eye distortion to distract potential real estate buyers.

To keep your images as clear as possible, you’ll also want to use a tripod to eliminate camera shake. For more information on phone tripods, read this. Depending on what type of real estate you’re shooting, you might consider a portable and adjustable tripod like the Mefoto Backpacker S Carbon Fiber Tripod. At the same time, you’re inside and won’t have to worry about wind, so any old tripod will do the trick provided it has a universal smartphone mount.

You’ll be able to use your tripod both indoors and outdoors to help you capture the perfect shot, but don’t waste the stability of your tripod by tapping your phone’s shutter button. Instead, invest in a Bluetooth remote so you can completely eliminate any camera shake. In need of a little more convincing? Check out this full post about phone camera remotes.

Gear for Interior Real Estate Photography

indoor real estate photography on a phone
Upward Studio

Since smartphones have a poor history of working well in low light environments, taking interior shots of a property can be a bit of a challenge depending on the type of phone you have. Some phones have cameras with improved low light capabilities, which will help in dim buildings with few windows.

You can introduce more light into a room by opening the shades, but you risk areas of overexposure in your photo if it’s particularly bright outside. Unfortunately, there is no single method of capturing perfect interior shots, so you may need to play around until you get it right. A great place to start is to move the natural light to a 45-degree angle from the subject. This lighting perspective change should alleviate some of the harsh light while casting beautiful well-exposed shadows in your image.

You can also try using an LED light attached to your smartphone to add a bit of fill light to particularly dim rooms. Avoid using your smartphone’s flash at all costs, as this will distort the colors in your photo and appear unprofessional.

As previously mentioned, using a wide-angle lens for interior shots is perfect for showing off more of a specific room. This is especially helpful with smaller rooms that would otherwise be difficult to photograph with the lenses that come on most smartphones. You can also use a tele lens, otherwise known as a telephoto or zoom, to capture certain aspects of a larger room. Here are some of our favorite smartphone tele lenses of 2020.

Avoid using a fish-eye lens for interior real estate shots. Fish-eye lenses tend to distort the shot, and it becomes evident that you’re trying to make the room look bigger than it really is. The look of a wide-angle lens is much more subtle.

Gear for Exterior Real Estate Photography

drone exterior real estate photography
Photography Talk

It’s crucial that your exterior real estate photos are just as good as your interior shots, so don’t take any shortcuts outside. Do note, though, that the majority of the gear used outdoors versus indoors is the same.

One of the challenges of outdoor photoshoots is getting the perfect lighting. You’ll need to be aware of the sun’s position at all times and avoid shooting into the sun. You’ll also need to be conscious of any reflections off windows or metal surfaces. 

If you can’t seem to get the sun to cooperate with you, you might also try using reflectors to add a bit of fill light to help reduce harsh or unflattering shadows. Shooting on overcast days will also help reduce harsh shadows, but any photos including the sky might be a bit underwhelming. You can always edit in the perfect sky in post-production!

With outdoor real estate photography, it’s important to admit to the limits of your smartphone camera. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon your mobile phone, though. It’s becoming increasingly popular to shoot properties from higher angles or directly above using a drone. 

Many types of drones used for real estate photography can be controlled using your smartphone. Drones are expensive but are an item that would be worth looking into if you’re serious about getting the shots that sell.

Mobile Real Estate Photography Tips and Techniques

smartphone real estate photography tips
Sky Advertising

How to be a Real Estate Photographer Tip #1 – Pre-Plan Your Photoshoot

If possible, try to do a walk-through of the property before your photoshoot. This recon will give you a chance to scope the place out and find the perfect angles for each room. You’ll be able to decide what areas of the property you want to highlight and which areas you need to downplay.

A walk-through will also give you the chance to look out for any unsightly distractions that can be fixed prior to the photoshoot. Out of place trashcans, hoses, gardening tools, or dishes are easy to fix if you can spot them before they leave their mark on your otherwise perfect pictures.

How to be a Real Estate Photographer Tip #2 – NEVER Zoom

When shooting real estate photos with your phone, do not use the zoom feature. It will reduce the quality of your photos and look incredibly unprofessional. Instead, if you need an up-close and personal shot of a specific feature of the house, simply move closer to the subject.

Don’t believe me? Check out this whole post dedicated to phone camera zoom – digital versus optical zoom – to see why zooming is the death of great mobile content.

Depending on the type of phone you have, you might want to consider using a third-party camera app rather than the one that comes on your phone. Most smartphones do not allow you much control over your camera’s settings in the native app, which can make it difficult to get the perfect shot. Read on to learn about some third-party apps that’ll give you manual control over your phone’s camera.

How to be a Real Estate Photographer Tip #3 – Photo Editing is the Most Important Part of the Process

Third-party apps get designed with control in mind, so you can adjust your camera’s exposure, depth of field, and more. In fact, there are even specific apps available for smartphone real estate photographers.

Finally, don’t forget to edit your photos! As a skilled smartphone photographer, your real estate photos are already close to perfect, but editing allows you to add that final touch that will attract potential buyers.

If you want more tips on real estate photography that aren’t specific to smartphones, check out our friends over at Pixpa.

Whether you’re editing out a drab sky or enhancing the colors of a beautiful home, this is your chance to take your photos from great to stunning. Remember, the images in a real estate listing are the buyers’ first impression of a property, so don’t miss this opportunity to catch their eye.

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