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  • James Maile

A Guide to Good Commercial Real Estate Photography for Better Marketing

Property photography is an integral part of commercial real estate marketing and most people are getting it wrong. Learn how to upgrade your listings and stand out from your competitors.

A Guide to Good Commercial Real Estate Photography for Better Marketing

Photography is an incredibly important aspect of your commercial real estate marketing.

Having high-quality images on your website and social media pages is the best way to grab the attention of potential tenants, investors, brokers, or anyone else you’re trying to target.

Property photos are not just for listings. Good images can be used for many different marketing channels such as your social media, website, emails, print media, and various advertisement formats. It will ultimately help you stand out from your competitors, which is essential in the competitive commercial real estate market.

A lot of property photos are incredibly dull and leave a lot to be desired. How do we expect anyone to take an interest in a property when the photos are as exciting as a mashed-potato sandwich?

You may not be dealing with the Bellagio, but the right photography techniques can make even the ugliest of buildings entice some interest.

Different Types of Photography for Commercial Real Estate Properties

Depending on your budget, some types of photography might personally suit you better than others. If you are suffering from short arms and long pockets, don’t worry, there are options for you!

a DJI drone, a camera, and a cell phone on a table to show the different options for commercial real estate photography

1. Drone Photography If You Want to Stand Out

Drone footage allows potential buyers to better understand what a property looks like, its dimensions, and its relationship to the surrounding area.

Buyers can assess factors like the size of the available parking space to the size of the property, how far the property is from transport routes and the placement of other amenities that are often difficult to show off.

An aerial photograph of a commercial warehouse property with a large parking space and logistics fascilities

The best part is that prospects can make these assessments before they take an in-person tour. Which saves both you and the prospect – precious time.

Drone photographs work very well alongside regular personal point-of-view images to provide a holistic perspective of the property.

A common listing practice is to include an aerial map of a property. In most cases, these are cluttered, illegible, and don’t do the property any justice. An aerial drone image can provide all of that and much much more.

The main drawback of using drone footage is the cost. We recommend that you seek the services of professional drone operators to take your images.

Besides the cost of the drone, you have to jump over many legal hurdles just to fly the thing.

This includes registering the drone with the FAA, getting your drone license, having insurance, and understanding your local drone laws.

Make your life easier and pay someone who already has the equipment, the licensing, and the legal understanding. They most likely have the skills to take better-quality photos too.

Lastly, drone images are especially beneficial for large properties with their ability to show off expansive areas.

2. Virtual Walkthroughs of the Future

So, we know that drones can give a good exterior perspective, now you want to do the same for the interior.

There are a few ways of doing this; virtual reality and simple video footage.

Virtual Reality Property Walkthroughs

Virtual reality walkthroughs are similar to Google Street Views in that they make people feel like they are actually on the property.

This method is a cut above the rest and will gain some serious attention for your property.

Imagine the amount of attention your office spaces would get if you could offer your prospects this:

Like drone footage, professionals will have to do it for you. A great service is Matterport by Hometrack, which creates 3D digital versions of a property that users can navigate through.

Of course, this will cost a pretty penny but if it leads to a sale of a high-value property, the investment is worth it.

Video Walkthroughs

This option is more accessible, and you can do it yourself!

Next time you go to a property, take a video of the property as if you are taking a prospect on a viewing. The video can be edited and cut to include the best aspects of the house, like an MTV Cribs episode but for CRE.

The only equipment you would need is a decent camera or your smartphone (which generally has very good cameras).

You can take it a step further and include aerial drone footage, like the example below.

It’s simple and effective.

3. Regular Camera Photography

The most common form of property photography is expectedly standard digital images. It’s easy to see why, it’s the most accessible and the easiest to pull off.

But where most get it wrong is that they don’t have to be stock standard. You strike gold by using flattering angles, clever editing, and high-resolution cameras.

When considering using a professional or DIY, it is important to consider what the images are intended for.

If the photos are for a high-value listing or areas that could directly bring in sizeable income, think about bringing in a professional. In this instance, It’s worth investing in the property by getting the highest-quality photos possible.

If they are intended for social media alone, there isn’t as much pressure to use a professional photographer but your focus should still be on taking the best possible photos. Something as simple as shooting on a sunny day versus a cloudy one makes a huge difference to the appeal of your image.

For the DIY route, using a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera is great for producing high-resolution images in any lighting condition.

Now if you are dead set on going the DIY route, we completely understand. Knowing how to take your top-notch property photos is a very useful skill to have.

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Tips for Commercial Real Estate Photography

1. Use HDR Photography

We all know the feeling of seeing a beautiful sunset and taking a photo that comes out a bit flat and disappointing. This is because the human eye can see much more contrast than a single shot from your camera.

High dynamic range (HDR) photography is a technique that mitigates these limitations to present images closer to how you see them with your own eyes.

Two images of a beach sunset comparing the difference between SDR and HDR photography

To achieve HDR photos, follow these steps:

1. Set your camera to “auto-bracketing mode”, “auto-exposure mode” or “exposure bracketing” (they’re all the same). Additionally, set your camera to shoot in RAW format, it makes it easier to edit your photos.

2. Take multiple photos of the same scene, ideally 3 photos, one under-exposed, one over-exposed, and the last normally exposed.

To achieve this, look for the letters “BTK” (for bracketing) on your camera and set the three exposure ranges at -2, 0, and +2.

A tripod is recommended so you can take identical photos.

3. Upload your photos to an HDR software to merge the photos, a good free tool is Fotor. Download the merged HDR images and Bob’s your uncle!

There are a few more considerations but this is the basic explanation and I’m sure you will be taking the photos in daylight.

2. Clean up the Scene

Remember, you aren’t trying to sell the stuff inside the space but the property itself.

If you can, clear out as many things as you can without making the room look empty. The things in a room help show its proportions but too many will make it seem small.

You also need to ensure that the space is clean. Remove any grime and scuff marks, clean the windows, trim the hedges, and any other necessary improvements.

3. Remember the 6 P’s

Proper planning prevents piss-poor performance.

Having a plan laid out for the shoot will make the process run smoothly.

Before you show up to take your photos, check with the building owners and the tenants to see which days suit them best. Give everyone involved enough time to get the building ready and avoid impeding anyone’s day-to-day activities.

Plan which parts of the property you will photograph and get all of the right permissions in advance. Use a checklist so you don’t miss any important parts of the building and avoid any unforeseen problems like broken lightbulbs, tripped breakers, or any other maintenance issues.

It helps to know which days have the ideal weather conditions for good natural light. A clear sunny day will always show the best version of a building’s interior and exterior.

4. Show Off the Location

We all know the saying, “Location, Location, Location”.

If the property is located near a strategic point, that is a very important aspect to show your prospects.

After all, location is the most important contributor to a commercial property’s value.

Pro tip: if you’re shooting an open air retail property, for example, pick a relatively busy time to shoot so the parking lot is full, signaling to prospects that your property is a popular local destination.

5. Make Sure Your Photos are Straight and In Focus

the inside of an office building with various rooms separated by glass sliding doors and modern furniture

6. Let One Person Cross All of the “T’s” and Dot the “I’s”

There can be a lot of moving parts for commercial real estate photography.

Very often those involved include building owners, managers and engineers, a broker, the photographer, and a marketing team.

With so many people to be kept in the loop, effective communication is essential.

Ideally, one person should be responsible for contacting, communicating, and coordinating the entire process. It just keeps it simpler and avoids miscommunication.

This person needs to understand the needs of the client and the marketing team, effectively communicate that to the photographer and organize it with the building owner or manager.

Lastly, the organizer needs to make sure that model releases are obtained from anyone that will appear in the photos (just so you don’t get sued).

Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?

The short answer: YES.

Although there are many factors and considerations, the main point is that good photography sells properties.

Your property photos are the first thing that potential buyers see, so make them see something good.

Better photos = more clicks = more viewings = faster and easier sales.

Do you know what is also worth it? – subscribing to our YouTube channel. It’ll turn you into a commercial real estate marketing guru in no time.

As always,



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