A Guide to Take Powerful Aerial Photography and Videos for Real Estate

A Guide to Take Powerful Aerial Photography and Videos for Real Estate

A Guide to Take Powerful Aerial Photography and Videos for Real Estate

Drones are excellent tools for independent real estate photographers. Before consumer drones were invented, real estate photography aerial work was extremely expensive for vendors and difficult to execute. Property owners would need to cover the cost of a helicopter to fly over the property for capturing aerial images, often costing thousands of dollars. After flying over 100 RC aircraft models in the past 10 years, here is my guide to take powerful aerial photography and video for real estate.  


These days, you can hire a qualified independent real estate photographer who’s also a drone pilot for a fraction of the cost and get a wider variety of shots at the same time. Since drones offer a unique way to capture real estate photography,  I’ve distilled the process down to three main components:

  1. Choosing the right drone
  2. Deciding which shots to take
  3. Editing your shots

These three steps will produce powerful shots for you or your clients. Let’s break them down:

Choosing The Right Drone

Your drone is your most important piece of equipment. If it isn’t high enough quality, it doesn’t matter how good a pilot you are, your shots will be lackluster.

There are many aspects to pay attention to when choosing the right drone, especially for professional purposes.


You need a drone that can fly in windy conditions and can hold its position for you to get the right shots. You also need one that flies as smoothly as possible while filming.

First, make sure the drone comes with Altitude Hold mode. Most higher-end drones come with GPS hold. This is the best option for still images.

For video, you’ll need to read reviews and see what people say about its flight stability.

First Person View (FPV) Capability

FPV capability allows you to see what your drone’s camera is seeing in real time. This is essential for taking real estate photography and videography.

You can find FPV drones in every price range these days, but you’ll want to make sure you can use either an LCD monitor or FPV goggles.

Autopilot Capability

Autopilot capability, or autonomous flight modes, isn’t essential. You can get by with manual flight if your skills are good enough. But autonomous flight makes getting high quality shots a lot easier and more consistent.

Look for drones that come with these types of flight modes:

  • Point of Interest
  • Waypoints
  • Orbit
  • Follow Me
  • Cable Cam

Flight Time/Battery Life

The longer your flight time, the fewer times you will need to land in order to switch batteries. Look for drones with a flight time of at least 20 minutes but preferably closer to 25 minutes or more.


Range, or control distance, is the distance between the remote control and the drone before it loses connection. Range is an important feature for drones in general, but it isn’t as important for real estate photography. You should be standing close enough to the property to not lose signal. However, if you are doing other types of photography with your drone, range should still be considered.

Camera Quality

Camera quality directly affects how your shots come out.  Look for a drone that either allows you to attach a camera of your choice or one that comes with 12-14 megapixels, 1080p to 4K video quality, and powerful enough zoom.

Media Transfer

Make sure the drone comes with a MicroSD card slot or some other way of easily transferring media to your computer where you can edit it.

Drone Model Suggestions

The models below are excellent for independent real estate photographers, and they come with all of the features described above.

DJI Phantom 4 — An extremely powerful quadcopter that’s one of the most well-rounded drones on the market. You can do pretty much anything with this model.

DJI Inspire — Similar to the Phantom 4 in capability, but often comes with more powerful camera options.

DJI Mavic — DJI’s compact model. Excellent for traveling while still getting high-quality shots.

Yuneec — Yuneec has some excellent models that compete directly with DJI.

Deciding Which Shots To Take

Next, you need to plan out which shots you want to take of the property. Luckily, drone photography offers many options in this respect.

The cardinal directions — This involves getting still images and videos of the property from the front, sides, and back, as well as all of the diagonal directions.

Varying heights and zoom — When taking shots from each angle, vary your heights and level of zoom to give your clients lots of options to choose from.

Orbit shot — Get a 360-degree video of the property. If your drone has autopilot capability, use the Point of Interest or Orbit mode to get this shot quickly and easily.

Rise and reverse — Start off close to the property and at a lower altitude. Then rise and reverse your drone. This is a cinematic shot that property owners love. You can also do the reverse (start from high and far away and get closer).

Overhead Shot — This could either be a still image or a video, but it’s a shot of the property from directly above. This is a great shot for people to see the quality of the roof and the overall layout of the property.

Neighborhood — This is a great shot for showing prospective residents what the neighborhood looks like and the different shops and amenities close by.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of shots, but it’s a great starting point.

Editing Your Shots

I do most of my editing in Adobe Lightroom. It’s professional quality software that’s packed with a ton of tools. My favorite part is the cataloging system. It helps you organize your photos for quick and easy access. It also comes with integrated RAW processing (many drone videos are shot in RAW) and lens correction tools. Next, you could use the ever-popular Adobe Photoshop. It isn’t as good for organizing photos, but it’s still powerful for editing them. And if you’re on a budget, I’m a big fan of Pixlr for editing photos as well.

Increasing Your Productivity 

With the quick turnaround demanded in Real Estate photography, many independent real estate photography professionals use online workflow solutions, such as imagecloud.tv.

Cloud service providers, such as Imagecloud, assist independent real estate photographers to shoot all day and deliver consistently the next day, every day. Integrated with dozens of quality retouching suppliers, your UAV work can be professionally retouched and ready to deliver without you needing to lift a finger.

To Wrap It Up

Real estate photography is one of the most exciting and widespread drone applications. Drones have truly made it so much more accessible to property owners everywhere. And taking powerful aerial imagery of real estate can be quite straightforward, making it one of the best markets for a drone pilot to get into.

About the Author

Mark Sheehan has flown over 100 RC aircraft models over the last 10 years. He started My Drone Authority to help people get the most out of this amazing hobby and profession.


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