The nationwide trend of using professional photographers for real estate continues to take hold in El Paso. This time, Lane Harris Real Estate asked me to photograph a model home built by local builder, Palo Verde Homes.
My Approach as a Real Estate Photographer
I found this project interesting because it allowed me to see if I could apply my architectural photography techniques in a real estate setting. As I’ve written before, there are many differences between photography for architecture and photography for real estate. The most obvious challenge is getting the shoot done in a reasonable amount of time. This means that each shot won’t get the same attention to detail in lighting and composition that is usually performed.
My goal was to complete this shoot in 2 hours including interior and exterior photos. At the same time I wanted the resulting images to be something that I would be willing to include in my portfolio – as is always my goal.
My approach on the exterior photographs for this project didn’t deviate much from my usual architectural approach. I used some of the tricks available on my perspective control lens to maintain sight of the front door maintaining centering of the structure.
This is where things were really challenging. Normally, I would use between 2 and 5 off-camera flashes to illuminate the interior spaces. This is done from both a practical and artistic perspective in an attempt to brighten dark areas and also control the areas that the viewer pays attention to.
For this project, I limited myself to only one flash without any other light modifiers.
For the photo above, the flash was behind the camera – aimed at the ceiling so that the light would bounce and evenly light the foreground. With the large amount of light coming from the open door and the windows, using the flash was the best way to balance the exposure and create a realistic looking photo.
The next five photos were created without the use of any flashes.
HDR to the Rescue
High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is a polarizing subject among real estate photographers. Some use it for every shot and some think it’s the worst thing ever. I use it only when necessary – not because I dislike it, but because I find it time consuming in post processing and sometimes it is difficult to get accurate colors in the final image.
(HDR involves the merging of various photos captured at different exposure values in an attempt to compress the dynamic range of the image so both the brightest and darkest areas can be seen in the final image)
This bathroom is a good example where HDR is almost the only solution. The room is too small to hide any flashes and the mirror would reveal the bloom of light that the flash produces. As an added challenge, the hallway beyond the door was flooded with natural light coming through several large windows.
Simple Bedroom Photographs
The following photos of the bedrooms were created without any special lighting. The only difference from my usual technique is I closed the blinds a bit to block some of the sunlight.
The Master Bathroom
Second to the kitchen, the master bathroom is a very important room in any real estate or residential architectural photography project. I usually try to capture multiple angles in the master bathroom.