Onsite Workflow for Beginner Real Estate Photographers

Discover essential steps for Beginner Real Estate Photographers. Elevate your photography with our onsite workflow guide, including property photography tips.

If you are brand new to real estate photography and are about to head to your first shoot, it is normal to feel a bit anxious. Not only do you have to concentrate on your shooting technique and setting up compositions, but you also want to interact professionally with your new client (and the homeowners), to leave a great first impression and make them feel as though you have done this many times before.

The following are the eight steps that I go through from the moment I arrive at a photo-shoot to the time I leave the property, assuming no unexpected challenges appear (i.e. nosy neighbours, access issues, etc). After several photo-shoots you should be able to execute this process automatically without having to think about it, freeing up more ‘head space’ for you to focus on taking great photos!

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A lot of these steps may seem like common sense and should come naturally to you when you are at a photo-shoot, but if you are unsure about how to carry out a real estate photo-shoot, simply refer to the following steps to help you get through your first few shoots before you start to get the hang of things.

Arrive at the property

Prior to the shoot, confirm with the agent who will be providing access to the property when you arrive onsite. If you are meeting the agent, owner, or tenant onsite, ensure that you arrive on time (ideally five to ten minutes early if meeting the agent as they are usually early).

If the real estate agent is attending the shoot with you, do not enter the home without the agent unless they have asked you to (or the tenant or homeowner has invited you in). Tenants (and homeowners) may feel uncomfortable if you start the photo-shoot without the real estate agent there if they are expecting them to be present.

Beginner Real Estate Photographers
Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

In some cases, you may be meeting the homeowner or tenant at the photo-shoot, and they will provide you with access to the property. In this situation, simply knock on the door at the booked time.

Occasionally you may be asked to access the property alone and will be required to find a key onsite (i.e. in a lockbox) or collect a key from the real estate agent’s office.

Check the shoe policy before you enter

Before entering the home, ask the owner or tenant if they would like you to remove your shoes. Many people may find it rude for you to wear shoes in their home and others couldn’t care less, however you should always ask before entering.

beginner real estate photographer tips - worflow onsite
Photo by David Lezcano on Unsplash

Introduce yourself and discuss the plan of attack

Introduce yourself to the agent (and homeowner/tenants), and provide an overview of how you will carry out the shoot – i.e. where you will start first, how long you expect the photo-shoot to take, etc. This is also a great time to ask if it’s ok to turn on lights, and open blinds yourself throughout the photo-shoot.

The owner or tenant may even offer to give you a tour of the home which can assist in planning your shoot before you begin. A lot of tenants and homeowners can get quite stressed tidying up in the days leading up to your arrival at their home, so reassure them that they have done a good job of preparing for the shoot.

Finally, make sure to ask the owner or agent if there are any specific shots that they may like taken of the property. This helps to avoid the issue of the client asking for specific shots after you provide the photos the next day!

Let there be light! (and hopefully not too much mess)

Switch on all lights and open curtains/blinds to let in as much natural light as possible into each of the rooms you will be photographing but be sure to ask the owner or tenant for permission first. Be very careful when opening blinds and curtains these are the most common item to be accidently broken by a real estate photographer.

real estate photography tips
Photo by Pierre Châtel-Innocenti on Unsplash

If required, remove large items of clutter (i.e., bins, ironing boards, etc.) to stage the room lightly, but be sure to ask for permission from the owner or tenant again.

If the room is heavily cluttered, only remove items that are blocking important features of the room (i.e., the view out the window, items covering taps, handles, etc.). You should discuss a decluttering fee with the agent before requesting your editor remove the items from the heavily cluttered room. 

Setup your gear and start the photo-shoot

If the homeowner has pets or children, make sure you leave your bag/unused gear in a safe spot out of their reach. It is too easy for a child or dog to knock over a tripod or roll a lens off a coffee table.

Begin the photo-shoot in a space that is easier to shoot such as a bedroom or home office. This will give you more time to ‘warm-up’ in a less technical space before moving on to the kitchen, living rooms, etc.

real estate agent photo tips
Photo by Steven Ungermann on Unsplash

Photograph each room using your preferred real estate photography technique (i.e. HDR photography technique for real estate), referring to the case studies here for composition inspiration.

Take some extra shots for ‘Insurance’.

Don’t be afraid to capture a few extra compositions for ‘insurance’ just to stay on the safe side. The client or homeowner may ask for a certain angle after the shoot (as frustrating as that is), and if you have an extra shot, it will save you a lot of trouble.

real estate photographer workflow
Photo by Steven Ungermann on Unsplash

Capturing a few additional ‘insurance images’ will only take you an extra 5 minutes and you don’t need to edit these images. Just keep them in a spare folder on your Hard Drive with the other RAW files for at least a few weeks after the photo-shoot.

Carry out additional services (if required)

If you are already offering floor plans, aerial photography, real estate video or any other services, don’t forgot to complete to capture this content while you are onsite if the client has requested them.

real estate photographe beginner tips
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

It is up to you whether you take the photos first, but shooting the still images first is a great way to familiarise yourself with the property before you start filming or measuring a real estate floor plan.

Wrap up the photo-shoot

After the shoot, spend 30 seconds going through the photos you have captured to ensure that you have photographed every room required. These 30 seconds spent double checking can save you a lot of time if you miss an important room (like the kitchen) and need to organise another property shoot with the agent or homeowner to take the one important photo that you missed. I have had to do this at least two or three times in my career and it is very embarrassing!

Do a quick walk around the home to check that you have turned off all the lights (that you switched on originally), draw the curtains and blinds. Ensure any items that you have moved have been put back into the correct place. 

Thank the agent or homeowner for the opportunity to photograph their listing and inform them on what happens next in regard to the delivery of the images, floor plans, etc., before leaving.

If the property is empty/vacant, ensure that you have locked the property correctly and return the key to the lockbox or real estate office.

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Looking for new clients?

Connect with real estate agents at HauzPhotographers.com (United States) or HauzPhotographers.com.au (Australia).

Do you need equipment for real estate photography?

Visit our Amazon storefront here.

Want more real estate photography resources?

Check out the books and online courses here.

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