HDR vs Flash vs DRE: Is Your Real Estate Photography Truly Professional?

When it comes to real estate photography, different photographers take different approaches.

And (unsurprisingly) these different approaches create different results.

But do you know what these different styles of photography are? And do you know which styles result in the most professional images?

What Makes a Professional Real Estate Photo?

Of course, before we explore the different forms of real estate photography, it’s important to consider what the characteristics of a truly professional real estate photo actually are.

When selecting the right images for marketing a property, you want photos that include the following elements:

  • Accurate portrayal of the property
  • Clear, sharp, unblemished images
  • Warm, inviting, natural-looking tone (without shadows)
  • Evidence of the view from the windows

From a practical perspective, you’ll also want photos that you can’t simply DIY (what would be the point of hiring a professional for that?), and that don’t take too long to set up and take (because that’s inconvenient for your clients, and costly for you).

So, keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at the key options on the market.

HDR Photos

HDR real estate photography

HDR stands for high dynamic range (try saying that 10 times fast), and is a style of photography editing that involves using software to blend multiple exposures into a single image.

These exposures are taken at different light levels – generally including high exposure, low exposure, and one or more shots using exposure that’s set somewhere in between. The editing process is largely automated.

HDR is a very simple way to process your real estate photos. Unfortunately, this can be seen in the resulting images. These generally have unwanted tints or “colour casts”, fuzzy edges from the image blending process, uneven lightingshiny areas or “hot spots” from the uneven lighting conditions, and limited or utterly obscured views through the windows.

Which means that it doesn’t really meet any of the elements of professional real estate photos we discussed above.

If you’re going to use HDR photos for your property marketing, you may as well save yourself some money and do it yourself. With a regular DSLR camera and the right software, you’ll get almost the same result, because the software does most of the work for you.

Flash Photography

Flash Real Estate Photography

When it comes to shooting real estate photos, single flash photography is a definite no.

Photography using a single flash creates harsh shadows, mutes subtlety of tone by flattening or washing out colours, and creates stark “hot spots” (shiny areas). If your photographer is only using the built-in flash or a flash mounted on the camera, they’re most definitely not a professional real estate photographer.

On the other hand, flash photography using a separate flash (or several) is a definite step up from HDR images.

The main challenge with this form of flash photography is time. When capturing large spaces, your photographer may need to position several flashes. For rooms where the rooms that come off them are visible, they’ll have to set up a flash in every single room. This means more time onsite for the photographer (and you) – time you’ll be paying for.

While the images you’ll get are certainly superior to their HDR counterparts, flash photography still doesn’t produce ideal real estate photos. Flashes create uneven tones, colours, and lighting, and because they reflect off anything shiny, they also create those “hot spots” we mentioned before. That said, they’re still more natural-looking, more inviting, and warmer than HDR images.

DRE Photography

Digital Real Estate Photography

At Digital Real Estate, we’ve spent countless hours considering the challenges of creating professional images for marketing properties. After all – real estate photography is all we do. It’s our niche.

Over time, we’ve developed a unique editing process that combines multiple ambient-lit and flash exposures to create a single image.

The result: natural-looking, razor sharp, high quality images that retain the natural colour of the rooms to present an accurate, clean, crisp depiction of the property. Best of all, the process only takes 45 minutes on site for 14 photos, which can be delivered the next business day.

Compare For Yourself

So there you have it – an in-depth comparison of the professional quality of HDR images, flash photography, and our unique real estate photography process.

Rather than take our word for it, however, we invite you to see for yourself. Just take a look at the comparison images above, and make your own judgement about the professional quality of each photography style.

Which do you prefer?

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