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Digital tools for real estate photography

Digital tools for real estate photography

12 min read
Digital tools for real estate photography

We are used to the amazing quality of images - both online and in print because this is the overall standard. That’s why your role as a real estate photographer (or agent) does not end with the click of the shutter. Even if you have a solid tripod, a great camera, and the best lens for the job, you still need to know how to edit the images you take! Your editing workflow can be as basic as adjusting contrast or color saturation; nevertheless, it is part and parcel of your daily work.

What is real estate photo editing?

We can think of three types of editing: adjusting to improve the quality of the taken image, removing or adding items.


All the alterations to your photos that improve the quality fall under this category. There are some main features of adjusting a real estate image: exposure correction (making your photos darker or brighter), color adjustment (correcting tones can turn a dull image into an eye-catching picture that entices home buyers), noise reduction (having a blurry photo for listing is worse than having none), straightening lines (distortion while shooting real estate is a popular problem, especially when using wide-angle lenses, so fixing the lines’ alignment in post-production is a solution), HDR processing (due to the lighting challenges using bracketing option is very popular; the processing part means that photos with different exposures are merged in post-production).


This part of the editing process deals with things that weren’t supposed to be in your shot but were captured inevitably: shadows and highlights (they can ruin your shots, so it is only with editing that you can eliminate them thoroughly), unwanted objects (personal items, an ugly couch, and dry leaves; various items act as an eye-sour in your shot and must be removed). 


The image has to stop you scrolling and generate a click on the listing. That is why a portion of real estate image editing includes adding items or features like a beautiful sky (replacing dull and gray clouds with bright sunshine), lights (you should shoot with lights on, but sometimes, because of too strong shadows, you may have to turn them off; editing allows you to turn them back on virtually), ambiance (warmer or cooler tones). 

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Free photo editing software for IOS and Android

Learning how to edit photos can give your work a professional look and help hide some mistakes that can occur due to your lack of experience or practice. Of course, aiming at a “perfect shot” right from the beginning is better, but sometimes, an app can help you save the day. 

Native photo editors

In your Android/IOS camera app, you can do many of the basics your photos might need. That could be cropping images, adjusting contrast and colors, changing their size, etc. Your camera app will normally offer you a limited range of presets, but be careful while applying some of them, as the effect might not be natural.  


Snapseed is a free Google photo editing app for Android and iOS mobile devices. It is one of the best apps for taking pictures on the go. Applying Snapseed's filters and sharing results will be a piece of cake. 

Snapseed loads quickly, and users have many basic and advanced tools once inside. Before you even get started on the more manual adjustments, you can use a selection of ‘Looks.’ These are basically preset filters you can apply with one click. You can stop there if you like or continue with more edits: adjust brightness and contrast, white balance, shadows and highlights, sharpness, and grain. You can play with tone curves, crop your images, flip and rotate them, and, especially useful if you’re photographing architecture, adjust horizontal and vertical perspectives to get those lines straight. A healing brush also magically removes distracting elements from your images. There’s a lens blur and a selective editing tool for basic masking. Snapseed has many one-click solutions, too, that allow you to easily change the looks of your picture from grunge to black and white and others. It also has some special effects, such as double exposure and HDR. Suffice to say, this is a light, extremely powerful, and feature-packed app.


Pixlr is free, with minimal ads, and has many features (such as that cool option to see with each edit what the image looked like just before you applied an effect). You can share your edited image on social media and save it back to your phone or tablet in various sizes like small, medium, max, or custom size. Some of the tools included in this free photo editor app include the standard ones like crop and rotate, but it also has an auto fix, adjustment, blur, splash, smooth, sharpen, red eye, double exposure, and spot healing brush tool. 

Pixlr has a set of brush tools to paint various things on the image. There’s one for brightness, darkening, and pixelating. They’re instrumental with an image-wide option because instead of darkening the whole image, you can apply darkened spots to specific problem areas. What makes this app vastly different from some other ones is that you get to really customize the level that an effect can take on your photo. For example, if you pick a glaze overlay to apply to your image, you can use the scroll bar to lessen the effect or the eraser tool to remove the effect on only parts of the image. You can do this to multiple effects, overlays, and styles to really personalize it how you wish. If you lack experience editing pictures, you can benefit from the program’s auto image correction features, filters, and creative overlays.


This is a popular online real estate photo editing software accessible from most browsers. Thus, you can take advantage of the platform using your PC, laptop, or tablet. It is great for beginners with a huge collection similar to Instagram filters. You can pick the effect that suits your photo more and apply it with a single click. The toolset comprises instruments for spot removal and color correction. All changes are made instantly, and there are also real-time previews.

Adobe Photoshop Express

This free photo editing app is available for mobile, web, and desktop platforms, and it is a simplified version of the company’s flagship Photoshop application. The first stop is a range of over sixty presets you can apply to your images. You might be happy with that and ready to export, but you can go further with the apps’ other editing tools. There’s a healing brush, a denoise tool, color correction sliders, and a red eye remover, to name a few. You can add text to your images and make simple collages. Photoshop Express is typically used for collages, blemish removal, text overlays, masks, and compositing rather than photo correction and enhancement. You do get all those tools in the app, but what is really great is that Photoshop Express supports raw camera files. Also, cropping is well done in the app: you can choose among preset aspect ratios for common social network applications like Facebook profiles and cover images, Instagram squares, and Twitter posts, or crop freely. You can straighten a photo to line up with the horizon, and the mobile apps have an Automatic option. The most recent update added skin smoothing, content-aware healing, face-aware liquify, and a caricature filter to join the app's plentiful selection of effect filters.


Lightroom Mobile is a great photo app, even if you don’t use the desktop version of Lightroom. It offers deep post-shot editing, as well as a camera feature that lets you shoot in raw format on the iPhone, which gives you more possibilities in correcting exposure, white balance, and other aspects of your images. Android can shoot raw with its native camera, and for some Samsung Galaxy phones, Lightroom is the default app for editing raw files. You can shoot with filters enabled, like black-and-white. Free users get a decent selection of editing tools and filters with an Amount slider to increase or decrease the effect's strength. Paid users get cloud storage for photos and a lot more effects, such as masking, healing, and suggested presets. The app is full of help and tips for producing great photos.

Photo editing software 

Your editing proficiency level also determines the choice between mobile or online editing apps or desktop photo editing software. If you are willing to learn there are almost unlimited uses for photo editing, including removing unwanted clutter, swapping cloudy skies with bright blue ones, and even making a rough lawn look even, lush, and green.

Regarding more advanced photo editing, real estate photographers should always shoot RAW. In contrast to JPEG, the RAW file format records every bit of image data that the sensor can record. Contrarily, JPEG uses compressed information that may lower the image quality when editing. But with RAW, you can fix issues you might not be able to do with JPEG without affecting the original data. That’s where more advanced photo editing software comes in handy/ 

Adobe Lightroom

Image source:

This is a powerful and versatile photo editing software for color correction, exposure adjustments, and more. Compared to its mobile cousin, it offers a more complex interface and features. It allows merging several exposures of the same picture into an HDR photo in a trouble-free way. You just need to pick images, right-click, go to the Photo Merge menu, and select “HDR.” Slide the Highlights bar to the left to remove the exposure hotspots and adjust the shadows and highlights in the image. You can also adjust the contrast to add a little punch to your image and then move on to color temperature, saturation, noise reduction, sharpening, or clarity improvements. There are options for lens correction to get rid of aberrations and vignetting. 

Adobe Photoshop

One of the most popular and best photo editing tools for real estate, ideal for more advanced retouching and image manipulation. Due to the obvious broad variety of editing tools it provides, Photoshop was designed specifically with photographers in mind. Adjusting brightness, saturation, color, perspective, and many more is just the beginning. Photoshop functionality is incredibly diverse and includes tools for retouching, layering, adding effects, and removing items and backgrounds from photos. It is available on a desktop or mobile device, but one of the drawbacks is its intricacy. It requires a lot of practice before one can become proficient. As a result, realtors who take their own property photographs are unlikely to utilize Photoshop as an editing tool because of too many features. However, Photoshop is by far the most versatile software in terms of retouching software. 



It offers virtual staging, decluttering, floor plan redraws, item removal, and image enhancement services for real estate photos. Services are priced per photo, and image enhancements, exterior day-to-dusk improvements, and background or item removal services are incredibly affordable. BoxBrownie also provides complex real estate services like floor plans, virtual renovations, 360-degree photo editing, 360-degree virtual tours, and interior and exterior renders.

HDR Processing Software

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is beneficial for capturing the intricate details of interior spaces during the day-to-dusk transition or merging images of exteriors in optimal lighting conditions and high-contrast environments. It means that you take a series of bracketed shots (shoot 3, 5, 7, or more frames with various brightness) and then merge them to create a striking effect. Most digital cameras nowadays support auto-bracketing, so when you turn on this feature, your camera will automatically take pictures in a bracketed sequence. Once you have your photos ready, it’s time to get on with post-processing. That’s when the HDR processing software comes (of course, you can do it in most advanced programs such as Adobe Photoshop, but sometimes you don’t need additional features apart from HRD composite).

Picturenaut 3

This free HDR software is a great choice for a beginner but has some advanced features, too. It works for Windows and Mac, providing basic parameters of automatic alignment, cropping, and de-ghosting. All settings for tone and editing are determined before creating an HDR composite. Among other settings are familiar automatic and manual exposure correction and noise compensation. Working with photos is greatly facilitated by a wide range of plug-ins, such as Gaussian Motion Blur, Diffuse SH, etc. 

Photomatix Pro

Photomatix Pro specializes in creating HDR images, it can be used as a plug-in for Lightroom/Photoshop or on its own. By combining the images, you can adjust the saturation and the level of the curve range. In addition, you can fix image distortion and depth perception or do some more complex work on readjusting the photo. Comprehensive alignment and de-ghosting options also exist, plus the possibility to apply lens correction, noise reduction, and chromatic aberration is also provided while you’re importing the photo. You get enough control over your tonal display and nine predefined categories of styles, including natural, realistic, picturesque, and architectural.

It’s worth mentioning that Photomatix also has a beginner version: Photomatix Real Estate Camera, which is a perfect mobile application for realtors and amateur photographers who are starting their careers. It allows you to fix perspective errors and lighting with just a click, as well as enhance colors. There are default sizes with 3:2 and 4:3 aspect ratios for better photo listing on MLS.  

Aurora HDR


This is user-friendly HDR software for enhancing dynamic range in photos. It comes with all sorts of tools designed specifically for HDR editing, for example, you can use HDR Smart Structure, Microstructure, Clarity, and Denoise tools to raise sharpness without compromising the picture quality. There is a function of combining bracketed photos taken with a difference in exposure or making a tonal map for one shot taken in RAW. Plus, the photo editor has such instruments as layers, masks, and overlays in Photoshop mode. Besides, Aurora HDR can soften and smooth some details to avoid over-processing results. There are also layers, masking, and transform tools. You can use Aurora HDR as a full-featured app or a plug-in. Highly satisfying is the program’s non-destructive photo editing capability. You can easily cancel any setting, return to your rough copy, and start all over again.

Cloud storage and backup

Cloud storage and backup are indispensable tools when we talk about digital tools for real estate photography. They provide data security, accessibility, and peace of mind, ensuring that your valuable photos are safe, accessible, and protected from data loss. You can use, i.e. Google Drive to Dropbox store and securely access your real estate photos and documents in the cloud. 

Don’t overdo it

While editing photos and videos can help improve their quality, excessive retouching can mislead potential clients. Today, it is recommended to showcase properties as they are. Why? It will save time for clients by eliminating those who won't like such a style right from the start. Try to maintain a realistic appearance of the property and avoid excessive color corrections or the removal of significant details. Even NAR commented on not using excessive retouching to enhance your listings. No matter how tempted you may be by photo processing software or AI don’t go too far. Adding a bit of contrast and clarity is enough, and it’s better to put your creative juices aside leaving your listing photos as realistic as possible. 

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