This is easily one of the biggest issues I see when looking at real estate photos online. But here’s the good news: this is one of the easiest problems to fix! The results will make a profound impact on your images, and best of all, this fix won’t cost you any money to implement.
Let’s take a look at the problem. Suppose that Real Estate Agent Bob is taking pictures of his latest listing. Agent Bob is 6 feet tall, and he is holding his camera at about eye level. He is about to take the shot when he realizes that there’s too much ceiling in the photo and not enough floor. What does Agent Bob do to fix this? He points the camera down. Unfortunately, now Agent Bob has made all of the straight lines in his photo slanted.
“Why is this a big deal?” you might ask. Take a look at the photo below:
The red vertical lines were added to show how slanted the windows, wall art, fireplace, and other vertical lines are. Anytime you point your camera left, right, up, or down, the lines that were straight in person become slanted in your photo. If you’re a buyer shopping for homes online and you come across a picture like this, your brain is likely to respond with, “Huh? Something isn’t right here.” Others may even think that there is something structurally wrong with the house, even if they can’t put their finger on why.
The Solution: Actually, there are many solutions. You could use any one of these and find success, but I’d recommend a combination of all of them.
Don’t take photos from eye level while standing. If you do, you’ll be tempted to point the camera down to show more floor than ceiling. If you’re shooting handheld, try kneeling down and then take the photo at eye level. I’ve found the 3-4 foot mark to be about right for most rooms. If you’re in a kitchen or bathroom, you may need to go a little higher so that your camera is high enough above the countertops to showcase them. This rule should also be followed in all of the solutions laid out below.
Use a tripod. Then put your camera in a mode that displays grid lines on the display and dial in your horizontal and vertical axes so that the grid lines on the display line up with known straight lines in the house like corners, windows frames, door frames, etc. Click here to read more about tripods.
Use a DSLR. You can buy a three-way bubble that mounts to the hot shoe (the mount at the top of your camera) to ensure all of your axes are nice and straight. Click here to read more about DSLR cameras.
Fix it in post. There are a number of tools available in the various photo editing software packages (such as Photoshop and Lightroom) that can help you fix leveling issues. There is a caveat, though: If you’re trying to correct an image that’s way off level, the software may have to compensate for that by stretching or squishing the image, or by cropping it. That can introduce a whole new set of issues, so it’s best to have your lines as straight as possible before you take the photo. If you use a photo editing service (like RealEstatePhotoFix.com), we’ll handle the straightening for you.
All of the above. The absolute best method is to do everything listed above. Use a tripod-mounted DSLR with a three-way bubble mounted to the hot shoe. Make sure the tripod is set to an appropriate height. Try and get your image as straight as possible on site and then clean up any imperfections in post—or let your friends over at RealEstatePhotoFix.com do it for you!