Real Estate vs Architectural Photography: What’s the difference?

Home » Real Estate vs Architectural Photography: What’s the difference?

As professionals in real estate marketing, we tend to photograph most listings using the same guidelines and standards that make MOST agents happy- wide shots, angled from corners of the room, with lots of light. Rooms look spacious and show everything wall to wall, edge to edge, and everything is lit bright, should God descend and stroll the rooms for inspection. Everyone’s happy, right? Well, not always. In fact, a lot of sellers and especially architects and interior designers prefer architectural photography style. It’s really a whole different ball game. So, how are the two styles different? Let us count the ways…

 Space vs Perspective

As aforementioned, real estate photography tends to expand, maximize and glorify the abundant space in each and every room (even if the room is small) using a combination of a super-wide lens (standard 14-16mm) combined with editing to straighten lines. This is a major selling tactic and it tends to work rather successfully. This super-wide view, however, can result in distorted and unrealistic angles of furniture in the foreground, massive refrigerators on the sides of kitchen images, and some objects that are farther away in the distance become smaller. This is not ideal for interior designers- at all.

Enter architectural photography. 24 mm might be an ideal focal length (wide angle) to shoot the same room with, but at this more conservative width, we eliminate much of that distortion. This allows spaces to interact with each other and creates layers that can be seen from a perspective, rather than an all-encompassing overview shot.

Well-lit vs. Shadow play

No matter which style you prefer, lighting is unarguably crucial to photography. Light is the very essence of photography itself and never ceases to amaze in how it can create and change the look and feel of any room. This is where representation can become an impression. In real estate photography, we tend to turn on every light possible and open all the windows in order to flood every nook and cranny with light, and in post-production, we’ll eliminate shadows because the objective is to represent in the “best” light. With architectural photography, the shooting style is different. Natural lighting is the name of the game, and although interior lights are important, the focus may be on the beauty of the natural light coming in through the windows and the shadow play that it creates, as it dances in harmony with the structural and interior design elements. Again, it’s a choice of style and impressing vs. impression, and the uses of the two differ tremendously.

Telling a story

While photography geared towards selling a property gives a proper tour of every room, architectural photography tends to tell a story in a different way. As we talked about above, we’re not shooting as wide as possible, or allowing a wide overview of every room – instead we are leaving open questions and keeping the viewer guessing, while giving them an accurate representation of the space. How does the light come in through the skylights? Where does this hallway lead to? Questions that are answered only by the storyteller which leads them on. Perhaps the only ending to this colorful tale is a visit to the property itself.

So the question is, which do you prefer for your project? Perhaps you’re a traditionalist when it comes to showing off your homes, but if you are looking to leave an impression and showcase the style of the home and its interior elements, graced with natural beauty, than maybe our architectural style may be right for you!

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