Last Updated on January 17, 2021 by Jose Barrios
Whether it’s houses or weddings, to run a successful photography business you need to master some basic skills first. Some are tedious and others take practice to master, but all are crucial for making it in the photography business.
6 basic photography skills you need to learn for real estate photography:
- Learn basic photography concepts
- Know your camera and your flash
- Learn to use Lightroom
- Learn to use Photoshop
- Understand color temperature and white balance
- Make and follow a plan
If you learn these skills and apply them to your real estate photography business you can start to build a successful career in photography.
1. Learn basic photography concepts
This is the most basic of all things to learn, and it should be the first. In order to take professional real estate photos or any professional photo at all, you need to understand the fundamentals of photography.
Basic things like lens aperture, ISO, noise, etc., are essential for taking professional photos. Without this basic information, it will be almost impossible for you to deliver a quality photo in a consistent manner.
These basic concepts will allow you to understand why a $99 70-300mm F/4.5-6.3 kit lens is garbage and a 70-200mm F/2.8 cost $2K or more.
Without an understanding of these concepts, you will be doomed to buying useless equipment and to committing huge mistakes that will cost you money and time.
2. Know your camera and your flash
This one is simple: just RTFM (Read The F……g Manual) that came with your camera and your flash. Don’t want to read? watch Youtube, there must hundreds of guides for your specific camera.
Buying a nice camera was the easy part, learning to use it takes dedication and a lot of practice.
When I bought my first pro-level camera I used only about 10% of what it was capable of. I had no idea of what all the buttons and dials were for, and god forbid I had to access the settings menu, then I was really lost.
The flash was another black hole of which I had no clue as to what was going on with all those buttons and settings. I relied on TTL (Through the lens metering) for just about all my photos, and most of them never came out quite right.
Pro-level cameras are like race cars: they all have manual transmissions, and driving an automatic car, while convenient, will not win you any races. Your camera is the same, in order to unlock its full potential, you must get out of the automatic mode and start using aperture priority and manual if you want that perfect shot.
The same thing applies to your flash, TTL does not work very well for real estate photography, you need to put that flash into manual mode and learn to do your settings manually.
3. Learn to use Lightroom
You will never learn to take proper photos if you do not edit them yourself.
Taking the photo is only half the battle, the real magic happens in post. Lightroom is where you tweak your images, apply lens corrections, eliminate noise, level the horizon, and more.
Lightroom allows you to modify your images without doing any actual changes to them. All modifications are virtual and can be easily undone at any moment.
It is also not just a photo editing software; it is a cataloging software. Lightroom allows you to index and sort your images, add ratings, places, geotag, face recognition, add Copywrite information, deliver your images in a size and format that your clients can use, and you can do all these things in batches.
I know some of you reading this are saying that is other software out there can do this, but Lightroom is the industry standard, it is more than likely that wherever your photography takes you, lightroom will be involved.
4. Learn to use Photoshop
Photoshop is the standard in photo editing software. Photoshop allows you to create composite images like window pulls or flambients, it can fill in missing parts, you can clone, color correct, swap out grey skies, and much, much more.
But as daunting a task that it would be to master Photoshop, for your everyday real estate photographer, you only need to master a few things, such as layers, masks, curves, and blend modes. No need to become a Photoshop god, like PiXimperfect host Unmesh Dinda (if you have never seen his YouTube channel, go there now, any and all Photoshop questions are answered.).
Just like with Lightroom, there are plenty of options out there for photo editing, but none as well documented or with as many tutorials as Photoshop.
5. Understand color temperature and white balance
Image By Bhutajata, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
Color temperature is the bane of real-estate photographers. Nothing makes your photos look bad as a blue window or an orange glow from a lamp.
If you do not know what I’m talking about, then you have a lot of reading and photographing to do. Just take your camera turn on all the lights in a room and take a picture that has a window in it in the daytime.
By having a working knowledge of white balance and color temperature you can mitigate or altogether avoid these problems, saving you from countless hours on your computer trying to correct these mistakes.
6. Make and follow a plan
Finally, you need to learn to make and follow a plan. In all professional photography, be it landscape, weddings, or houses, you need a plan. Showing up with a camera and a good attitude is not enough.
A good plan will help you avoid mistakes and ensure that you deliver a great product.
When I started photographing houses, I would miss rooms, show up with too little or too much equipment, not know how to access the property, not have gate codes, it would rain, I even showed up the wrong day once.
Most of these mistakes could have been avoided if I had a plan and I had stuck to it. So go and get one now.
If you are not willing to invest the time and effort that is involved in learning these skills, then maybe professional real estate photography is not for you, or any other type of photography you wish to a living from. It is not as simple as point and shoot.
You cannot wait to master all of the things before you begin, the best way to learn is to get out there and do it.
Every bad photo you take, every image you must spend an hour fixing in Photoshop, will make you challenge yourself.
Your mistakes will make you better.
“What can I say? I love taking photos of houses.”
Based in Orlando Florida, Jose is a real estate photographer specializing in vacation homes, working for realtors and property managers to make their properties look great. You can visit his site at JoseBarriosPhoto.com.