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How to Capture Stunning Real Estate Photos in 2023

CEO Khai Intela
You already understand the importance of high-quality photography in real estate listings. But what exactly makes a real estate photo add value to your luxury listing? In this comprehensive guide, we will break down everything...

You already understand the importance of high-quality photography in real estate listings. But what exactly makes a real estate photo add value to your luxury listing? In this comprehensive guide, we will break down everything you need to know to capture the best features of your real estate listing and ignite the imagination of potential buyers. We'll also give you tips on what to look for in the portfolios of photographers you work with.

Key Elements of Effective Real Estate Photos

When browsing through the portfolios of your favorite real estate photographers, you'll likely notice some common elements that make their photos so engaging. These professionals pay attention to key components such as:

  1. Composition and framing: They arrange elements within the frame to create balanced and visually appealing images.
  2. Lighting and mood: They use both natural and artificial light to set the mood and ambiance of the images, making them dynamic and interesting.
  3. Attention to detail: They capture close-ups of a home's intricate craftsmanship and unique architectural elements.
  4. Styling and staging: They use furniture and decorations to tell a visual story of what it's like to live in the space.
  5. Emotional connection: They engage potential homebuyers' imaginations and help them envision the life they could build in the home.

What You Need to Take Luxury Real Estate Photos Yourself

If you want to be the one capturing top-quality visuals of your listings, having the right gear can make a big difference. Here are the basics of what you'll need:

  1. Professional-grade cameras: While the iPhone 14's camera is excellent, professional and mirrorless cameras like DSLRs offer better image quality, higher resolution, and advanced features that are ideal for showcasing luxury properties.
  2. High-quality interchangeable lenses: You'll likely need to change lenses multiple times while photographing a house. Wide-angle lenses capture the exterior grandeur of luxury properties, while lenses with low distortion and high optical quality maintain accurate proportions.
  3. Tripods: These provide stability and eliminate camera shakes for sharper images, especially in low-light conditions or during long exposures.
  4. Drones: Drones are increasingly popular for marketing luxury real estate, as they can capture unique aerial perspectives and stunning exterior shots. Aerial shots provide a glimpse of the roof and surrounding area that can't be attained during an open house or personal showing.

Camera Picture: A professional-grade camera

How to Make Your Real Estate Photos Dynamic

Whether you're taking the photos yourself or selecting images from your photographer, it's important to showcase the home in both daylight and nighttime. Natural daylight highlights the home's major features, such as the exterior facade and the amount of natural light that enters through the windows. Night photography, on the other hand, allows you to showcase the home's ambient lighting and create a warm and cozy atmosphere.

Daytime Photography:

  • Natural light: Emphasize how large windows, skylights, and glass doors provide ample light. Soft, diffused natural light enhances textures, colors, and architectural details.
  • Fill light: Use artificial lighting, such as lamps or sconces, to fill in harsh shadows and prevent overly bright or dark spots in photos.
  • Accent lighting: Selectively use accent lighting, such as spotlights, to draw attention to stylish fixtures like recessed shelves or staged art.

Night Photography:

Playing with lighting in your night photography can bring an element of storytelling to your listing. Night photography can make a home appear warm and cozy, romantic, dramatic, or showcase any other mood you want to emphasize.

  • Exterior lighting: Use outdoor lighting, such as pathway lights and uplights, to showcase the property's appearance at night. Include well-lit nighttime photos of the pool or any water features.
  • Interior lighting: Use warm and dimmed lights to create an intimate and cozy atmosphere in areas like living spaces, dining areas, and bedrooms.

Pro tip: Don't forget to capture a photo at twilight. The golden-hour lighting is flattering for houses too!

How to Frame Real Estate Photos

While people may have different aesthetic tastes, certain visual compositions tend to be universally appealing. You don't need a photography degree to learn basic composition techniques to your advantage.

The Golden Ratio

The golden ratio is a mathematical concept used in composition for balanced images. You see it everywhere, even if you don't realize it. Many famous pieces of artwork follow the golden ratio. To use it, divide the frame into thirds using vertical and horizontal lines to create a grid of nine sections. Place key elements along these lines or intersections to guide the viewer's eye and create harmony.

Leading Lines

Leading lines guide the viewer's gaze to specific parts of the image, creating a sense of visual flow. They can be natural, like a stream or large tree branch, or manufactured, like roads, pathways, staircases, or architectural lines. Use leading lines to lead the viewer's eye into the frame and towards the focal point.

Strategic Framing

Use elements within a home, such as doorways, arches, or windows, to create a frame within the photograph. This draws attention to the main subject and adds depth to the image. Get creative and experiment as you highlight your real estate listing's best features.

Photographer capturing real estate photos with agent in frame Picture: Collaborating with a photographer

How to Stage Luxury Real Estate Photos

Like lighting, staging is an area where you can be creative and tell a story that captures potential buyers' attention. Depending on your level of design experience, collaborating with interior designers or professional stagers might be a good idea. They bring expertise in design principles, furniture selection, and market trends to ensure the property is presented in the best possible way.

Professional-level staging can:

  1. Enhance a property's potential: Buyers can envision the space's potential and imagine how they would decorate it themselves.
  2. Create an emotional connection: Potential buyers can visualize their day-to-day lives in the property.
  3. Highlight key features: Strategically positioned furniture and tasteful decorations create a three-dimensional image that demonstrates the size and scale of rooms, staircases, and windows.
  4. Create consistency and cohesion: A careful selection of furniture, artwork, and accessories provides a seamless visual experience for potential buyers. The rooms need to appear distinct from one another but should not feel disjointed.
  5. Broaden market appeal: Professional staging makes a property appealing to a broad range of buyers by avoiding anything too trendy or niche.

Photographer capturing real estate photos with agent in frame Picture: Collaborating with a photographer

A Room-by-Room Guide to Capturing Luxury Real Estate Photos

Here, we present a room-by-room guide to help you capture stunning photos that showcase each space's unique features. Each room should speak for itself and answer the question: what can people do in this space? Whether it's relaxing, hosting guests, or cooking a family meal, let your photos be the answers.

Entrance and Exterior:

  • Take wide shots that capture the full breadth of the property.
  • Showcase the architecture of the home.
  • Include any landscape features, such as a well-maintained garden.

Living Room:

  • Highlight unique features like fireplaces, columns, or views.
  • Showcase the dimensions of the space using wide-angle shots.
  • Offer various perspectives by taking photos from the doorway, corners, and center of the room.


  • Feature high-end appliances and the quality of materials, like granite countertops and craftsman cabinetry.
  • Consider a panoramic shot to showcase all the details, from counter space to lighting fixtures.
  • Capture close-ups of designer fixtures or high-tech appliances included with the house.

Dining Room:

  • Use a wide shot to capture the size of the dining area and its relationship to other parts of the house.
  • Take close-ups of detailed fixtures, such as chandeliers or intricate door frames.
  • Stage the room with a fully set table, allowing potential buyers to visualize themselves hosting a dinner party.


  • Capture the entire room from the corner to show the size and space.
  • Stage the room tastefully, showcasing features like walk-in closets or en-suite bathrooms.
  • Include the view from the bedroom window if it's impressive.


  • Ensure the bathroom is spotless and the fixtures are gleaming.
  • Highlight spa tubs, rain showers, marble tiles, or custom vanities.
  • Use lighting and mirrors to make the rooms appear large and airy.

Home Office:

  • Include detailed photos of built-in custom shelving or desk spaces.
  • Arrange the office neatly and ensure any cables or equipment are hidden.
  • Capture the view from the office window if it's impressive.

Gym/Spa/Swimming Pool:

  • Emphasize any professional gym equipment, spa features, or pool design.
  • Show the space as ready to use: a rolled-out yoga mat, towels by the spa, etc.
  • Include any adjoining locker rooms or relaxation areas.

Outdoor Spaces:

  • Take wide shots of the backyard, garden, patio, or balcony, emphasizing the space and layout.
  • Highlight luxury outdoor features like an outdoor bar, fire pits, water features, or unique garden installations.
  • For the best natural lighting, photograph these areas during the golden hour-just after sunrise or before sunset.

Unique Features:

  • Focus on what makes the property stand out, such as a home theater or wine cellar.
  • Sometimes, unique features aren't fixtures. For instance, a stunning cityscape view from the back patio is worth including.
  • Use both close-ups and wide shots to provide different perspectives.

Bonus Tips:

In all rooms, remember to:

  • Use a tripod for steady and precise shots.
  • Take shots from multiple angles and select the best ones.
  • Use natural light whenever possible.
  • Pay attention to details; everything should be in place, clean, and tastefully staged.
  • Enhance photos in post-processing, but avoid over-editing.

How to Edit Your Real Estate Photos to Perfection

Sometimes, what makes a professional photographer's portfolio look so incredible is post-production editing. You can balance color, adjust contrast, crop images, and refine other details "in post." Here are some software and editing tools that are perfect for editing real estate photos:

  • Adobe Lightroom: Loved by professionals, it offers easy-use features for color correction, light adjustments, and batch processing.
  • Adobe Photoshop: Great for complex edits, like removing objects, blending exposures, and advanced retouching.
  • Photomatix Pro: Creates HDR images, ideal for real estate photography to balance lighting.
  • DxO PhotoLab: Provides high-quality denoising and optical corrections.
  • Luminar AI: Automates editing tasks like sky replacements, detail enhancement, and light adjustments.
  • PTGui: Stitches together panoramic images for virtual tours and 360-degree views.
  • Canva: Useful for creating collages, adding text overlays, or designing social media posts.
  • PicMonkey: Offers quick edits and many template designs.
  • Skylum AirMagic: Specifically designed for drone photographers to simplify editing aerial photographs.

Remember, post-production editing should enhance your photos' quality rather than completely altering them. Start with high-quality images and use editing as the final touch.

How to Choose a Professional Real Estate Photographer

While you may be a good photographer, it's worth considering hiring a professional real estate photographer for peace of mind and to save time. However, choosing the right photographer is an art in itself. Keep these points in mind:

  1. Portfolio and experience: Find someone whose photography resonates with you. Their portfolio should leave you impressed. Make sure they have experience in real estate photography.
  2. Understanding of luxury real estate: Ensure the photographer knows how to appropriately highlight aspects of luxury listings, such as upscale amenities and fine details.
  3. Equipment and technical expertise: A professional photographer should have top-notch equipment and technical skills to capture shots in any lighting condition. Inquire about their post-production process and the number of revisions included in their package.
  4. Attention to detail and composition: The photos should look good at a glance and under closer inspection. They should capture the attention to detail required to make listings interesting to potential buyers.
  5. Professionalism and communication: Choose a professional, reliable, and responsive photographer who understands your creative vision for the listing.
  6. Reviews and recommendations: Positive testimonials and referrals provide valuable insights into their professionalism, reliability, and the quality of their work.
  7. Pricing: Remember, you get what you pay for. The price should reflect the quality of work and the potential return on investment from professionally-shot photos.

Level Up Your Marketing Strategy with Luxury Presence

Photography can make or break your luxury real estate listing. By following these expert tips, your listings will stand out in the best way possible. Exceptional real estate photography tells a visual story that allows potential buyers to envision their lives in the property and also reflects your professionalism and brand.

Luckily, Luxury Presence is here to help you create the best luxury real estate listings every step of the way. Reach out to our team of experts for more helpful advice on marketing your listings.