What's the Best Height for Shooting Real Estate Interiors?

In real estate photography, the height of your camera can have a significant impact on the final image.

You might assume that eye level was the best option, but most professional photographers agree that shooting interiors from a lower height produces more pleasing results.

So, how low should you go? Here is a definitive guide.

Choose a good starting point

Although opinions vary among professionals, most recommend placing your camera between four and five feet above the ground.

In a Q&A with HDRsoft, architecture photographer Rob Moroto from Calgary Photos gave a far more memorable guideline: "Shoot from the heart".

While this phrase is partly "a marketing thing", Moroto believes this height "works for 90% of all the properties."

There are several benefits to shooting interiors from chest height. Placing the camera below your head offers a more pleasing perspective, rather than a top-down view. From this position, the viewer can admire the furniture and floors rather than cupboard doors and pictures on the wall.

On the flip side, keeping your camera at heart level or above ensures a strong link with reality. This perspective mimics the viewpoint of someone walking around the property.

To ensure that viewers get this feeling, you need to make sure that the top surface of tables and countertops is fully in view, rather than the underside.

"Shoot from your heart" isn't the only mental cue used by real estate photographers. Others prefer to place their camera exactly halfway between the floor and the ceiling.

In most rooms, this would mean shooting from well below five feet, and sometimes even slightly below four feet.

Make Adjustments in Every Room

No matter which mental cue you choose, be aware that this will be just your starting point.

Every property and every room has different dimensions, different features, and a unique layout. As you look through the viewfinder, you may soon realize that a slightly higher or lower perspective would work better.

Take the idea of shooting from halfway between the floor and the ceiling. In spaces with a very high ceiling, this rule isn’t going to work well.

While a room can be anything between eight feet and 20 feet tall, the height of chairs, tables, and kitchen counters won't change. As such, the height you shoot from shouldn't change too much either.

So with tall ceilings for example, you may need to estimate the right height for your camera using a different mental cue, such as the one mentioned above.

Vertical lines within your shot provide a good reference point; if they are leaning inwards or outwards noticeably after you have framed your shot, then your camera is probably at the wrong elevation. 

To avoid sloping lines, make sure you always point your camera straight ahead, not angled up or down.

Think About the Viewer

Putting yourself in the shoes of the viewer is very important. If real estate photography is about helping buyers to imagine themselves in the property, then you need to think about how each room is used.

This means you might want to shoot from higher in a kitchen, where people are often standing to prepare food, and go lower in a dining room where people are usually seated.

What about the bedroom? Obviously, shooting from the height of a reclining person is not an option. But if that room has a large window, buyers may want some feel for the view that would greet them each morning.

A key reason you may wish to increase the height of your camera is to accommodate large furniture, key features, or details that are meant to be hidden.

For instance, countertops and stools are often quite high. Because the aim is always to capture the top side of surfaces, you might need to raise your tripod.

Likewise, you may wish to avoid pointing your lens directly at underlighting or unfinished undersides.

What is the Best Height for Shooting 360° Panoramas?

Many professionals in the real estate niche use 360° photography to create immersive virtual tours.

Just as with regular shots, height is a factor here. In most cases, the principles mentioned above can be applied.

That said, it is generally advisable to lower your camera closer to four feet. This is because 360° images are usually presented as virtual tours, where the viewer controls what they see.

By reducing the height you shoot from, you ensure that viewers do not need to pan down constantly to see key elements of the room.

If you are going to go low, just make sure to set up your tripod in an open area. This will ensure that furniture doesn't block the view, and the underside of cabinets is not easily visible.

The Best Height for Real Estate Photography

As with any kind of photography, there are no fixed answers about the height of your camera in real estate. That said, we hope this guide has pointed out a few things to think about. To sum up:

  • Start from somewhere below your eyes and above your midriff
  • Check whether vertical elements are straight; adjust as required
  • Try to capture the top of tables and counters
  • Think about how each room will be used