Birgo photographer and videographer Brett Hammon answers some of the most pressing real estate photography questions to help anyone looking to get started in the field. Everything from how to book a job to what time of day is best for shooting is discussed. Be sure to read our other real estate photography article for further tips and tricks!
How did you get into real estate photography?
Brett: When the pandemic hit, I was looking for ways to make extra money. And I was surprised to find out that the pandemic actually opened up new opportunities for someone with a camera. So I watched a few YouTube videos on how to shoot real estate, I rented a wide-angle lens and gave it a go. I began shooting my own apartment and asked my friend if I could photograph her house as well. Once I did so, I brought the photos into my computer to try my hand at editing them, and the initial results were terrible. So I went back and tried again. The results were better this time, but still unusable. I decided to go back for my third attempt, but before I did so, I really studied a few real estate photographers that I liked. And I picked up a few simple tactics that seemed to really work for them. And on this third attempt, I implemented those tactics and the results were great.
What are some tips or advice you would give to people who are looking to freelance or start real estate photography as a side job?
Brett: My biggest piece of advice would be to hop onto YouTube and watch a few tutorials. Then get out your camera (if you don’t have a camera just use your phone) and practice taking pictures of your apartment or your house. Take lots of pictures, then bring them into your computer and try doing some simple edits: Straighten and brighten up the image. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you recognize which photos work and which ones don’t.
What are the angles that you make sure to get at every location?
Brett: The angle that I focus on getting in every location is the angle where you have your back firmly planted against the wall of the room you are in, with the lens of your camera pointed toward the middle of the room. Take a photo, and then move your way around the wall of the room with your back against the wall and your camera lens still angled towards the center of the room. Take a picture, move a few more feet along the wall, and repeat. The reason this works so well is that you want the room to feel as big as possible, and you want to give a fair representation of its size and feel. The best way to do that is to back up as much as you can against the wall, angling your camera towards the center of the room, and then taking a photo.
Is it necessary to visit the location prior to photographing it?
Brett: When you are first starting out, visiting the location prior to shooting can be a lifesaver. This way, you can create a game plan before you show up. But as you become more and more experienced, you’ll find that you can show up at a property without having ever seen it before and capture exactly what you need.
Does it matter what time of day the space is photographed?
Brett: Absolutely. Shooting during the day when the sun is coming through the windows can make a room feel bright and cheery while shooting during the evening as the sun is going down can give you that golden hour look as the sun is setting (if you’re lucky enough to get a good sunset). If you do get a beautiful sunset, go outside and take some photos of the property with that sunset as the backdrop. The results will be stunning. As the sun continues to go down, this Golden Hour briefly turns into Blue Hour. This gives a beautiful blue tint outside, which can be really pleasant when contrasted against the warm lights or fireplaces inside. so keep snapping photos as the sun goes down!
What is one mistake that you made when you first started out in real estate photography (or photography in general) that you would advise others to watch out for?
Brett: The biggest mistake I made in the beginning was not realizing just how important light is. If you shoot a property in darkness or at night, or if the space is poorly lit, then the rooms and closets and hallways look very dark and uninviting. That is exactly what you don’t want. I made this mistake early on and tried to make the photos passable by brightening them up in Photoshop, but it just didn’t look very good. So I learned the hard way that good light makes all the difference.
What is one piece of equipment you never fail to bring to a shoot, besides your camera?
Brett: Without a doubt, my 15mm wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens will make the property you’re shooting feel bigger, and it will give the viewer a better and more accurate feel for what the property looks and feels like. If you don't have a camera and thus the option to attach a wide-angle lens to it, then check your phone's camera options. Some newer phones have a wide-angle option that works great as a substitute for this.
In terms of booking a job, where is a good place to start?
Brett: A good place to start is right at home. Start by photographing where you live, inside and outside. Or you can simply ask a friend or family member to let you photograph their house. Once you’ve done this, you now have photos that you can use as examples of your work. Then go to Facebook or Instagram and post them. And when you do, explain that you are new to real estate photography and looking to build your portfolio, and will therefore offer free or highly discounted work. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll start picking up work!
We hope this Q&A offered you new and expert advice to start your journey to become a real estate photographer! Now go out and start photographing!