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Importance of Good Photography in Real Estate Marketing

Decades of images in television, magazines and online media have conditioned real estate buyers and sellers to expect and respond to strong visual images. Sellers want good photos of their home while buyers naturally pay more attention to homes marketed with strong visual images. The advent of real estate sites that allow many images of all properties has made photography THE most effective tool a Realtor has to catch a buyer’s interest.

In the February 11, 2007 issue of the New York Times Vivian Toy wrote a significant article titled “Making Every Pixel Count“. In this article Vivian lays out a strong case for Realtors to do what ever it takes to present the property they are listing with quality photography. In addition to the printed article Vivian created a multi-media presentation. The following is a summary of some of the main points of this article:

  • The first and sometimes the only impression a buyer gets of a home is online photos.
  • Good photos generate initial interest in buyers.
  • According to a study by the National Association of Realtors 80% of people that purchased a home last year used the Internet while house hunting.
  • Real estate agents who represent large, expensive homes say that virtual tours, which provide 360-degree views of rooms allow buyers to focus on homes they are interested and not-interested in without being there.
  • When you look at the difference between professional photos and the ones taken by brokers it’s not hard to see that you get what you pay for.

The decision each listing Realtor needs to make is can they be effective shooting marketing photos themselves or are they better off hiring a professional real estate photographer. If you are going to even come close to creating the marketing images that a professional will you have to be willing to spend around $2,000 for equipment (low-end DSLR, wide-angle lens, external flash unit and photo editing and software and be willing to spend the time it takes to learn how to use the equipment and software.

Creating good marketing photos is not difficult if you have the ability to learn to use a digital camera and you put some effort into understanding what it takes make real estate marketing photos effective. In the process of doing a blog on this subject the last couple of years, I’ve compiled a list of 10 essentials of real estate photography. This is a list of principles that, if followed, will insure your real estate images are effective. As a Realtor using photography to market your listings you should understand these 10 essentials and recognize when they are being used. If you are shooting real estate marketing photos, you should be able to follow the principles.

In future posts I’ll be talking more about how to decide what equipment you need to do real estate photography and more about the 10 essentials of real estate photography.

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  • Larry,

    Another great post – I read your primary Real Estate Photography blog daily.

    This article is right on the money. When it comes down to it, real estate photography is about quality over quantity (not that the number of property listing photos should be lacking).

    Realtor agents in the Nashville metro-area are still coming around to the concept of paying for high quality real estate photos and virtual tours, but the transition process for many is slow. People will pay lots of money to have their hair cut right (my girlfriend pays $40) and an equally large amount of money on pedicures, coffee at Starbucks, etc. – but have issues paying a professional photographer money to take outstanding photos of their real estate property listings.

    The “slide-show” virtual tours are somewhat to blame for this; at $30 per month, the price is enticing. However – garbage in, garbage out – very few of the realtors who use these know enough about photography to take nice photos to begin with.

    Nashville Virtual Tours & Photography offers full-screen high definition virtual tours with property websites, and every one of the realtors who use my services love the quality. One sold a property listed over $1.3M to a couple from Arizona due to the virtual tour.

    The real estate housing market is very slow, and inventories are building – its amazing how long it takes for people to realize the benefits of a QUALITY virtual tour vs. a cheesy slide-show version with small, blurry pictures that move in and out.


    Jason Bennett – Nashville Virtual Tours & Photography –

  • An excellent post. I’m still amazed at how many people put horrible, amateurish pictures up for their listings – even for more expensive homes! I can’t believe the sellers stand for it.

    I don’t think you have to go as far as hiring a professional photographer in the median home price ranges personally, but hey, at least get a decent digital camera and put some thought into how to best compose the shot!


  • jp,

    Agreed. There are over 3,500 Realtors in the Nashville Middle Tennessee metro area, and the majority only have 1-3 property listings at any point in time. Anything and everything that can be done to effectively market these properties should be investigated. HIGH QUALITY virtual tours and real estate photography can assist with this.

    Homeowners are somewhat to blame though – they are either unaware of the differences between a GOOD virtual tour vs. a POOR virtual tour, and/or they are simply not insisting that their realtor agent hire a professional to take the photos and/or virtual tours.

    Here’s an interesting example to ponder – a homeowner will spend $40 every other month getting her hair cut and colored at a hair salon; she wants to look good and is ‘marketing’ herself to others. However, how many homeowners do an internet search to find a virtual tour provider or professional real estate photographer to provide them with QUALITY results when trying to sell a $500K+ home?

    – Jason Bennett, Nashville Virtual Tours & Photography –

  • Jason,
    In situations other than FSBOs it’s the Realtors that are making the marketing decisions typically, not the home owners. All the home owners I meet are gung-ho for good photography since they don’t pay for it.

    Realtors want to keep the marketing $ under control but I think photography is one area of marketing where a couple hundred dollars can have a lot of leverage.

  • Larry,

    Agree with both your comments. The realtors are indeed paying for a professional real estate photographer or not. However, I have encountered a few instances wherein a home seller has hired me and paid me to photograph their property listing, due to the fact that the realtor wasn’t providing photos that in their mind were the best to showcase the property. In at least one instance, the home owner was reimbursed by the agent after seeing the quality of the virtual tour.

    Jason Bennett – Nashville Virtual Tours & Photography –

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