Can you take decent real estate photos with your phone?


Written by Bryce Hepburn, Head of Orms Cape Town School of Photography.

Ask any two photographers what constitutes a ‘good’ photo, and you will receive two different answers. In real estate photography, a good photograph won’t ensure an immediate sale. Still, a lousy, ill-conceived image guarantees that the buyer will keep looking elsewhere.

The short answer is that yes, you can take decent photos with your smartphone. Your phone must have at least 10 megapixels, some adjustment control in exposure, HDR and be able to shoot in the RAW format. (iPhones don’t have this function built-in, and you need to invest in a paid app that allows for RAW files). These minimum requirements would remove some of the barriers to a better image.

You also don’t need a lot of new toys, but you need to control light in photography.  It is worth investing in a mobile phone tripod and a reflector to control light better. The tripod will allow for longer, steadier exposure and the reflector will allow you to redirect light into dark areas or create enticing highlights.

The benefit of a phone over a DSLR camera is that it is quicker to set up yet the price that you pay is less control over your image.  If you use a phone in a dark venue, it will try to compensate for the lack of light by activating the flash. The flash on the phone can make a room appear artificial with hard shadows and odd, bright reflections; the last thing a buyer seeks.

The above tips are moot if the photographer does not have compositional knowledge of how to frame and style an image. There is no expensive camera currently out there that immediately ensures a “good” photo; at best, they remove the barriers that stop the photographer from taking better images.

A good photo in real estate is one that not only gives the viewer a clear sense of the space but draws them in by creating depth. The image entices them by highlighting the essential features that agents know are important for buyers. Compositional knowledge will help the agent translate these features into images that look editorial and not the real estate version of a police mug shot.

We run practical weekend workshops on Real Estate Photography. These are also available as a corporate service to agencies. For more information, please CLICK HERE.


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