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3 Trends in Real Estate Photography - And Why You Should Care

As 2016 comes to a close (where did that time go?!) and we look into 2017, I can’t help but think about real estate photography trends in 2017 as the real estate market heads into a (hopefully) banner year!

Having worked with many agents and brokerages in Chicagoland ranging from $50,000 condos to $1M+ mansions, here are some of most impactful trends in real estate photography trends that I see and most importantly - how they may impact you whether you’re a realtor, broker, builder or remodeler:

Trend #1: Online First

As cited in the report, “The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate,” buyers continue to go to the web first when looking for real estate, well before engaging with a real estate agent.

Why do you care? A strong online presence will continue to be imperative for your listings to be successful. In addition to high-quality photos, videos and virtual tours you need to make it easier for potential buyers to find you and your listings via social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and more.

From a photography perspective, even though smartphone cameras are more advanced than ever before the results still pale in comparison to a professional’s equipment, software editing abilities and aesthetic appeal.

Trend #2: Virtual Staging

Staging - or getting a listing ready for sale - used to mean a staging company came in with a truck full of furniture, replacing or eliminating furnishings to make the listing more appealing. The reality is that a fully-staged home is a real estate photographer’s dream as proper staging makes the house feel like a home, and makes their job much easier. However a recent trend has developed - virtual staging.

Why do you care? Increasingly, real estate photographers are using “virtual staging” - the process of staging photos with superimposed pieces of furniture, pictures and other furnishings - all done with the magic of software. The upside is that it is much less expensive than physical staging, while the downside is that if not done properly virtual staging can look fake. Know that virtual staging is an option, but it is not a wholesale replacement for physical staging. Want a good chuckle? Read this article for some examples of poor virtual staging.

Trend #3: Drones

Drones - those magical flying robots in the sky - offer unlimited possibilities in photography, home goods delivery, and much more. Naturally drones have been deployed in real estate listing photos as they can offer exterior shots that previous “camera-on-a-pole” perspectives simply cannot do. They’ve also been used for interior virtual tours, which sounds great - but requires a high degree of skill in flying a drone through a home in a natural way that represents how a potential homebuyer may walk through the home.

Why do you care? As with any new technology, drones have a “cool” factor - and can certainly offer new and exciting perspectives on how you present your listings virtually. Keep in mind that drone-based photography and videos don’t apply to every listing situation, and you should ask yourself the question - what am I trying to accomplish with drone-based photography? Have we considered virtual tours that can give much the same benefits as drone-based photography can, at a fraction of the cost.

What other trends are you seeing out there?


Leslie Lemons Photography provides high-quality residential real estate photography for realtor offices large and small throughout Chicagoland and the west suburbs of Chicago.

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