Real estate drone photography has been seeing consistent growing demand in recent years.
According to statistics, properties with aerial photos in their listings tend are 70% more likely to be sold than houses without drone imagery. So, if you wish to venture into the real estate photography market, then real estate drone photography is the way to go! Not only you’ll be able to provide images of listings from a brand new angle, but you will also be able to showcase the value of a property and its surroundings.
Adding drone photography services to your portfolio is a great way to land jobs in the field.
In this guide, I will show you how you can get started in the increasingly relevant field of real estate drone photography.
What is Real Estate Drone Photography?
Taking photographs of properties and their surroundings with the help of drones is popularly referred to as real estate drone photography. This type of photography is particularly helpful if you want to highlight the size of the property and the look and feel of its surroundings.
Aerial images make properties look more appealing to buyers and for this reason, real estate drone photography is used to show details that couldn’t be shown with images from other angles.
These include details of the roof and its conditions, the property surroundings, car spaces, driveways, and land layout.
How to Shoot Real Estate Drone Photography
What Gear You Need
The most critical requirement is a camera-equipped drone. Real estate drone photography was an expensive affair at first, but with the widespread availability of drones, its accessibility has increased. When looking for a drone, there are three key factors you need to consider:
- Camera quality and resolution: You should look for a high-resolution camera, ideally 12, 20 megapixels or higher. For video recording, 4k at 30fps is a good benchmark.
- Range: You won’t fly your drone too far, but at the same time you don’t want your drone to have a short-range. Look for drones that can go for at least half a mile to a mile away from where you stand.
- Dimensions: You don’t want to go around with a massive bag. Luckily enough, even professional drones today, are small enough that it’s easy to carry them around with a small bag.
- Flying time: the average flight time depends on battery life. It is around 20 to 30 minutes for professional drones, so set that as the benchmark.
Best Drones for Real Estate Drone Photography
These a three of my favorite drones for real estate photography. DJI has been dominating the drone scene for a while now and so far I haven’t seen the market offering better alternatives.
How to Get Into Real Estate Drone Photography
There are mainly two ways to get into real estate drone photography. The easiest but less lucrative way is to hire professional drone pilots. If you wish to hire a drone pilot, you should ensure that their reviews are good and look through the work they have done in the past. You should also ensure that they are licensed pilots, and they have insurance.
Another way to go about drone photography is to do it yourself. Before you begin, keep in mind that there are rules and regulations for flying, zonal restrictions, licensing requirements, and, most importantly, you should know how to fly a drone and take great photos with it.
You now know what to look for in a drone. The next step is to research and understand the rules of your country or area and learn how to operate a drone with respect to the law.
Laws and rules differ from country to country and from area to area. Here are some useful links to get all the info you need depending on where you live:
- US – FAA Federal Aviation Administration
- Australia – CASA Civil Aviation Safety Authority
- UK – CAA Civil Aviation Authority
- Canada – Aviation Authority
Make sure you know all you need and that you are aware of how to safely operate a drone before you take it out and especially for professional shoots. Obtaining a license and insurance are vitals steps before you start flying drones.
Get an Insurance
If you are serious about real estate drone photography, getting good insurance to be covered against potential damage, loss or theft is very important.
These are the best resources to get more info about your drone insurance:
How Much Can You Charge for Real Estate Drone Photography
Prices for real estate aerial photos can be different depending on where you live, the type of service requested, experience, and so on. First of all, take a quick look at prices that established commercial photographers are charging in your area.
If you are new do drone this field, try not to stay on the upper level when pricing your services, but don’t make the mistake to undersell yourself.
Tips for Shooting Real Estate Drone Photography
Tip 1. Shoot in RAW
Professional drones allow you to shoot in RAW the same way as your DSLR or mirrorless cameras do. Shooting in RAW you’ll have the benefit of a file with more color and light data.
This will make the file slightly heavier but it will be so much easier when it comes to post-processing your photos. In fact, containing more color contrast info, your image files will be more adapt to being edited and manipulated.
A jpeg file instead, will produce smaller but compressed files. Meaning, your photos will look a bit better straight out of the camera, but you won’t be able to edit them as well as you would with a RAW file.
- Jpeg = compressed file format
- RAW = uncompressed file format
Tip 2. Plan Your Shooting Day Properly
Drone photography also means that you should operate your “flying camera” in good weather to avoid any issues.
Always be aware of the weather conditions well in advance when you make an appointment with your clients to take aerial photos of their property. You definitely don’t want to get caught by rain when you are flying your drone.
Tip 3. Best Light for Real Estate Drone Photography
Like any photography genre, the right lighting conditions make for great pictures. Early morning and late afternoon light will provide you with long shadows and soft, orange/red light.
For these types of photos, you can charge a bit more, since you’ll be required to get up earlier or work extended afternoon hours, but you’ll get the best results.
You can use ND filters for your drone camera lens if you want to stop down the light in case you shoot in very bright conditions. Circular polarizer filters are also available if you need help reducing distracting reflections.
Tip 4. Composing Your Real Estate Aerial Shots
In drone photography, the principles of photography remain the same. However, there is an added element of height. You get to take shots from a completely different vantage point, so more objects come into the plane of view.
You should take shots from multiple angles to highlight the surroundings and to showcase the details of the property. If you want to save yourself some time in the post-processing phase, prepare the surrounding area of the property removing scattered objects that can be distracting in your composition.
Shooting from a low height will give you a very interesting angle and it’s a point of view that gets often overlooked by many photographers, so keep your drone low for very unique images.
Tip 5. Don’t Forget to Bring Extra Batteries
Drones can stay in the air for about 20-30 minutes. It’s possible that you will not be able to capture the best shots during that time, especially if you’re asked to produce a video.
Always pack your bag with multiple batteries for your drone so you can spend as much time as you need taking pictures and shooting videos without stressing about having to rush out your work.
Tip 6. Take Extra Shots
To get the best out of your drone, take as many shots as possible. Use different angles to be sure you get home with the photos you need. The last thing you want is to ask a client to go back to a property because you need to take more photos.
This will look unprofessional, so even if it means you will have to rifle through hundreds of pictures to get the perfect one, the effort will definitely pay off.
Tip 7. Always Edit Your Real Estate Drone Shots
Since you shoot in RAW, you have the perfect image files to work with and enhance colors, contrasts and make your photos look stunning. When shooting commercial real estate drone photography the aim is to provide your clients with the best aerial imagery to maximize sales.
So first of all you want to obtain aerial photos that don’t have weird shadows, overexposed or underexposed areas, and present natural colors. In fact, I highly recommend not overdo your editing and keep things as natural looking as possible
Real estate drone photography is a relatively new niche in photography. However, when combined with traditional methods, it can be a highly functional skill for beginner and more seasoned photographers alike.
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.