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Why Hire a Professional Photographer for Listing Photos?

Image of formal dining room taken by a professional photographer

Most real estate agents advise their home sellers to get a professional photographer for the house listing photos. In many areas, the listing agent pays for this expense. Most experienced real estate agents know the value of professionally photographed listing photos.

It is ludicrous to think that an amateur photographer can get the best photos of your house. Great real estate photos will always attract more buyers. A few hundred dollars for this service could increase the price of your home, so is it worth it? Read on!

Professionally Photographed Homes Will Attract More Buyers

The National Association of Realtors has shown that homes for sale utilizing professionally-photographed images attract a lot more buyers and sell for more money.

High-quality photos attract more people. It’s not rocket science. These days almost everyone initially goes to the internet to look for a home to buy.

Professionally photographed real estate photo by Ken Fine Photography.

Some homes are sold sight-unseen and go by the videos and photos posted on websites. When buyers look at the various real estate websites, those first few photos must get their attention, or they will quickly move on to the next listing. You only have seconds to attract a buyer on the internet.

Looks Do Count

If you are a listing agent, it makes sense that you want as many serious buyers as possible to call for a showing. Why would you use amateur photos to save a few hundred dollars and take the risk of not getting enough serious buyers to contact you?

Just because you have the latest iPhone doesn’t mean you are a professional photographer.

Many websites on the internet are devoted to “Bad Real Estate Photos,” which can make you cringe looking at what some agents post on the MLS and other websites such as Zillow or Trulia. As a professional photographer, it’s embarrassing and bad business to see that horror show. Here's a list of websites devoted to posting unprofessional real estate listing photos:

Photo of an unprofessional real estate listing

Why would any listing agent want to post those lopsided, yellowish, out of focus, and cluttered images on the MLS or other websites? I have seen listing photos with toilet seats up, underwear on the floor, toothpaste and shampoo in the bathroom, pets everywhere, and believe it or not, a reflection of the listing agent in the mirror. Yikes! Why would anyone want to call you for a showing of a house that looks like it was a meth lab?

What Does a Pro Real Estate Photographer Have That You Probably Don’t?

1. Experience: Many Real Estate photographers have shot 100’s, if not thousands, of all different types of properties. I am coming up on my 1,000th property and still learning! If you’re not a serious Real Estate photographer, you will have no idea how to take photos that draw in buyers.

Even wedding, outdoor, food, or portrait photographers usually do not have the specialized skills needed or the techniques to create outstanding real estate photos.

2. Equipment: I may have emphasized this in other articles, but just because you have a high-end smartphone doesn’t mean anything if you have no idea how to take good photos. They cannot compete with professional photo equipment, including a professional camera, specialized wide-angle lens, remote shutter releases, tripods, off-camera pro flash units, and a nice camera bag! It took me months to learn the editing software needed to perfect the photos.

Photo of a professional DSL Camera

3. Patience: Some homeowners, and listing agents, simply run around the house with their smartphone and can shoot all the rooms and exterior in 15 or 20 minutes. Sure, they are ugly photos, but they will save you a few hundred bucks.

The National Association of Realtors has shown you will make lots more using a professional photographer. If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will. It takes me on average 2 – 2.5 hours to shoot a 2,000 sq. ft. house. Some bigger homes take me 3+ hours. Then 3-5 hours editing, but I’ll get more into that later.

I take my time setting up the shot. I usually have to straighten up the room to look its best, adjust lights and window coverings, make sure the bed comforters are not all wrinkled up, and remove objectionable objects that the seller or listing agent didn’t think about. I can go on and on. Also, many times I shoot multiple angles of each room.

Professional image editing software for photographers.

Without professional editing software it is next to impossible to achieve the desired results of capturing accurate lighting, details, texture, color, etc. The image above is a screenshot of Adobe Lightroom which is what I use to create images for my clients.

Difficult Lighting Challenges

OK, picture this: You have a lovely house with darker walls and furniture, and large windows with a nice view. However, it’s a bright sunny day, and the blinding sun is beaming into the room.

Most people would think that’s great, it will light up the room, and you won’t even need a flash. Well, that’s not the case. If an amateur photographer were to take a photo, the outside would be blown out (just a big white blob in the window), and the darker colored walls and furniture would be so dark that you wouldn’t see any detail.

Turning on all the lights will usually create a gross yellowish/orange color cast on everything. A pro would use techniques that would allow for the outside view to be crystal clear and all the details inside the room. We know how to do this as that’s what we do!

Below are 3 bracketed frames and the final photo which was processed using Photoshop and Lightroom.

Bracket-1 of a real estate interior photo shoot.
Bracket-1 of a real estate interior photo shoot.
Bracket-3 of a real estate interior photo shoot.
Final Image of real Estate Bracketing
Final Image

The idea is to make the home as pretty as a picture. And it works. Professional real estate photos will get your home sold quicker and, in many cases, for more money. By the way, a smartphone cannot get that shot. Maybe someday, though. I won’t hold my breath. Look up “dynamic range,” and you will understand the lighting challenges in real estate photography and why smartphones can’t usually pull it off.

What Does the Real Estate Listing Agent Get Out of Hiring a Pro Photographer?

Well, first off, their client (the seller) would know that the agent is serious about selling their home. Also, they are being a responsible professional by insisting on professionally photographed listing photos.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a low-end home or an executive mansion worth 10+ million dollars. The same goes for home staging, cleaning, and other services. Finally, sellers want their listing agents to work for their money and help make their home look amazing for potential buyers.

Many experienced real estate agents have their own websites. When sellers are shopping for a listing agent to help sell their home, they want to see photos of past home sales. If those images look ugly, guess what? They will move on to the next agent or real estate agency. Why would they utilize the services of an agent who doesn’t do what’s best for their client? I wouldn’t.

Real Estate Sold Sign


When selling your, or your client's house, it is wise to have it cleaned, staged, de-cluttered, and professionally photographed to attract more qualified buyers who will call for a live showing. The research has proven that professional photos will help the house sell quickly and usually for more money, even in a seller’s market.

So the images more than pay for themselves, and you will get more qualified buyers. So before you grab your cellphone to save a few dollars, find a skilled real estate photographer in your area that has shot at least 500 homes. And as they used to say in old TV commercials, “You’ll be glad you did”!


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