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Real Estate Photography: Guide to Taking Photos for Instagram

Yes, it’s important for all brands to curate content that will captivate and engage their audience, but in an industry where things such as curb appeal and modern aesthetics are essential, having high quality, stunning property photos is not optional. Property photos represent not only the structure itself but the agent’s business as well and can make the difference between just browsing and closing. Let’s open the door on how to create great real estate Instagram content right from your phone. 

Let’s begin with the fundamentals - determining the main subject of the photo, selecting the appropriate photo size and orientation and capturing it in the highest quality. 

The Rule of Thirds

Walkthrough the property before taking photos and see where your eyes land. What about the room really speaks to the character of the home and would be inviting to viewers? Once you have your subject identified, if it makes sense for the particular photo, snap several shots using the rule of thirds to see what looks the best. 

The rule of thirds is a composition guideline that places the subject of a photo just beyond the center which is where the eyes naturally tend to focus. An easy trick to work with this is to use the Grid feature on your phone’s camera. Don’t focus too much on this “rule” as it is a breakable one and more of a “guideline” that won’t apply to every photo. Take several shots and settle on the one you like best. 

Photo Size and Orientation

When taking photos with the intention of sharing them on Instagram, you’ll want to ensure the photos are the right size and the focal point of the photos are in the frame. 

Photos posted to Instagram can be square, landscape, or vertical and should have the recommended aspect ratio for each size. Aspect ratio is the relation of the photo’s width to height. It’s important to understand image size and aspect ratio because if they are not uploaded to Instagram correctly, they will be automatically cropped. Imagine posting a photo of a house with amazing landscaping and all that shows up in the feed is the roof. To ensure the photo posts exactly as you want, follow these guidelines:

Square posts should have a 1:1 aspect ratio

Landscape posts should have a 1.91:1 aspect ratio

Vertical posts should have a 4:5 aspect ratio

Image Quality

Another factor to consider is image quality. While you can take good photos with most smartphones, having one with a powerful camera is best. When you start with a clear photo that has the optimal resolution, when it’s compressed by Instagram, it won’t lose its quality. Avoid using the zoom feature on the camera and instead, use the crop editing feature to help preserve the image quality. 

Lights, Props, Edit – Taking a Quality Photo

We talk a lot about being prepared with your social media content and planning ahead – the same is true for real estate photos. If you are planning on taking your own photos in lieu of hiring a professional, here are some things you must know:

  1. Plan to take the photos when the lighting is optimal. Having as much natural light as possible will reduce the amount of editing needed. Take a few photos of the home at different times of day as well as with room lights on and off to see which lighting looks best. You’ll want to be prepared to take many photos before capturing that perfect shot. 
  2. Prepare the room or area before you take the photo. Clear up any clutter and make sure it looks clean and inviting. Sure, the decorations are nice but in a photo, too many will distract from the room. Strategically place a few props and clear out the rest of the clutter. Bonus tip: When photographing bathrooms, always have the toilet seat down! 
  3. When editing your photos, use filters and image correctors for brightness and contrast. You don’t want to overdo it here. If your lighting and staging is good, you shouldn’t need to fuss with the photo too much. 

Think Outside of the Box for Real Estate Content Ideas

One of the greatest things about real estate photos is that one property can provide tons of content. With Instagram, you can not only post photos to your grid, you can create a collage of photos for a Story and even record a fun Reel prepping for an open house. Here are a few ideas to get the creativity flowing.

  • Before and after photos — When working with clients who have renovated a house for sale, ask them for the before photos and then create a post showing the upgrades. 
  • Get in front of the camera — Real estate is a relationship business and people want to work with people they trust. Make sure to work posts about yourself displaying your unique personality into your content calendar so clients can start to build relationships with you. 
  • Bring in the season — Whether it’s summer or winter, sprinkle some of the season or holiday into your posts. Think about a photo having a feeling and then create it. Without going overboard, find one or two things that represent the season such as a lit fireplace or beach towels neatly folded and subtly get them into the photo. 
  • Make it local — When staging the room, you can connect the home to the neighborhood with something like a pillow that has the zip code screen printed on it. 
  • Involve the audience — Ask questions on your posts. In Stories, use the poll or question features to bring the photo to life and then share the responses. Social media is well, social, so have a little fun!
  • #thiscouldbeyourhome — And before we go, we can’t forget to talk about hashtags. Once you have researched popular, but not overused, hashtags that work well for your content, create a new hashtag group in PLANOLY and effortlessly insert them into your posts. Some popular ones are #househunting #forrent #justsold #justlisted. And be sure to add your location to the mix such as #austinhomeforsale which will help attract local buyers. 

Even with professional photos, understanding how they are cropped and adjusted when uploaded to Instagram is important. Once you have your collection of photos for each property, visually plan and arrange them in PLANOLY so you can take your audience to a virtual open house. 

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Allie Teegardin

Allie Teegardin is a contributing writer at PLANOLY. As a writer, adjunct professor, and baker, she makes sure to add value to whatever she creates.

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