Drones are breaking new ground in the world of real estate photography. Realtors are suddenly able to exhibit properties in ways that budgets and technology wouldn’t have allowed for a few years ago. And they’re winning more listings as a result.
For drone pilots, there’s no doubt that a huge market exists for real estate photography, whether you’re targeting residential or commercial sectors. But it isn’t as simple as getting your drone in the air and snapping away.
Our real estate clients look for images and videos that convey quality. They need to show off properties in context and provide the viewer with an idea of size, space and location. To help you get the shots right on the first time around, we’re sharing a few shot types and techniques to ensure you don’t waste any time behind the controls.
There are several go-to shots in real estate aerial photography. The creative possibilities are endless and depend on the size and structure of the property in question, but you can’t go wrong with any of the following classics.
1. Cardinal Direction Stills
This type of shot goes by many different names, but the concept is simple: If you imagine a compass with your property at the center, cardinal images require that you take your drone to different points on the compass and shoot the property from those different angles.
When you next shoot a commercial or residential property, try treating the front of the property as ‘North’. That way you can orbit around at equal increments and capture 8 easy cardinal photos (N, NW, W, SW, S, SE, E, NE).
There are two important factors to consider when shooting this type of image with your drone. First of all, never forget the horizon. It’s your reference point for every property shot and is crucial for showing a building in context to its surroundings. Second, and perhaps more obviously, it’s always important to feature the full property in frame.
Aerial video often only makes up part of a media package for any given property, and is best used for setting the scene. If you don’t set that scene by giving some context to your shots, you won’t be giving realtors the extra value that we know drones can provide.
With that in mind, the first thing you need to do is tilt your camera to ensure the horizon is in frame at all times. Second, you’ll need to maintain a consistent altitude while you do this. The altitude should give you enough room to keep the whole subject in frame without losing sight of that horizon.
The altitude you go with will depend on the property in question and any obstacles around its perimeter. Our clients prefer shots to be relatively close while still keeping the horizon in frame.
2. The Orbit
One of the most popular and valuable video shots from above is the orbit. Many professional drones have modes that allow you to fly this kind of path autonomously, but you’ll still need to decide your drone’s altitude and adjust the angle of the camera as you send it up.
The key to a good orbit shot is to have the point of focus at the center of the property and keep the flight as smooth as possible. Jerky movements or flying at too high a speed can lead to unwatchable footage, so, if possible, keep a slow speed in mind and consider lowering the sensitivity of your yaw control.
Again, it’s vital that the horizon is in shot at all times. With residential properties, it’s likely that there will be obstacles in the way of your natural flight path. That’s fine, just be sure to adjust your path without making it patently obvious that you’re doing so. Be subtle.
For large commercial real estate, such as office buildings or shopping centers, it might take several minutes to complete a whole orbit. It goes without saying that you should carry spare batteries in case you need to go for a second run. Our experience with clients in real estate suggests this shot epitomizes how valuable aerial videos can be; it’s worth the wait.
3. The Rise and Reverse Away
A shot that many real estate clients appreciate is a slow reveal leading into a flyover. This kind of sweeping shot usually starts by keeping the focus wide, taking in the point of interest and its surroundings while slowly moving toward the property.
You can then transition into a direct flyover of the property, highlighting the landscape all around and behind as you do so.
As a great way to finish an aerial photography package, this shot can also be done in reverse. A slow fade away, if you like. Start with a close up of the property before fading out to show as much of the surrounding landscape as possible.
4. The Cable Slide Pan
This is arguably one of the toughest shots for professional pilots to pull off smoothly. It will also vary depending on the setting of the property you are shooting.
This shot actually involves two separate elements. First, you’ll need to plot a straight path that slides along the longest side of the property. At the same time, pan the camera so that’s it focused on the center at all times.
This shot is notoriously tough to get right first time, but with a bit of practice you’ll get the hang of it. The key is to pan gently with no stutters or sharp movements. If you can set the drone to autonomously fly the cable path, getting a professional-grade shot will be that much easier.
5. The Upward Reveal
If you’re lucky enough to be shooting in a spectacular location, getting the view in relation to the property is imperative. An easy way to do this is with an upward reveal. It’s fairly simple and shouldn’t take more than a few seconds. Start the shot low with a focus on the property, before gently increasing your altitude while very slowly panning down. The key is to keep the property in the shot while you reveal the landscape beyond.
6. Inside to Outside
Really keen to get creative with your real estate shots? With the permission of the owner, of course, you might want to try some inside to outside maneuvers.
This is a great way to show off extravagant properties and provide a truly unique perspective for potential buyers.
We’re convinced that with enough patience and practice, skilled pilots can consistently produce aerial photography that will appeal to realtors selling commercial and residential property. Sign up as a DroneBase pilot today, join our community and get started on your career in the drone industry.