The History of Real Estate Photography: From Film to Drones

Michael • March 10, 2023 • 4 min read

History of Real Estate Photography

Real estate photography has become an integral part of the industry, serving as a powerful tool for selling properties. With advancements in technology, real estate photography has come a long way since its early days, where photographers had to rely on black and white film and limited equipment.

In this article, we’ll dive into the fascinating history of real estate photography and explore how it has evolved into the sophisticated and dynamic field it is today.


Early Days of Real Estate Photography

Real estate photography has been around for over a century, dating back to the early 1900s. The first real estate photographs were in black and white and were used to showcase properties in newspaper listings. Do you like to dive deeper into photography history? Read our photography history timeline here.

The introduction of black and white photography in real estate listings was a game-changer. It allowed potential buyers to see the property’s features and get a feel for the layout of the space without having to visit the property physically.

However, early real estate photographers faced numerous challenges in capturing images of properties. They had to use bulky and expensive equipment and work with a limited amount of natural light. Photographers had to be creative in finding ways to showcase the property’s best features despite these limitations.

The Rise of Color Photography

In the 1940s, color photography was introduced to the world, and it wasn’t long before it made its way into the real estate industry. The use of color in real estate photography had a significant impact on the industry, allowing photographers to showcase a property’s features in vivid detail.

The introduction of Polaroid instant film in the 1970s revolutionized the real estate photography industry. It allowed photographers to take pictures and develop them on the spot, eliminating the need for film processing time.

The use of 35mm film also became popular, providing photographers with a more affordable and portable option.

The Digital Revolution

The introduction of digital cameras in the 1990s changed the game for real estate photography. Digital photography offered many advantages over film photography, including the ability to take and view images instantly, unlimited storage capacity, and the ability to edit and manipulate images easily.

The rise of the internet and online listings further changed the way properties were marketed. Real estate agents could now showcase their listings online, giving potential buyers the ability to view properties from anywhere in the world.

This led to the rise of virtual tours, allowing buyers to explore properties from the comfort of their homes.

Current Trends in Real Estate Photography

The evolution of real estate photography has continued into the present day, with the use of drones becoming increasingly popular. Drones offer a unique perspective and allow photographers to capture stunning aerial images of properties, showcasing a property’s features in a way that was once impossible.

Professional photography has become increasingly important in online listings, with studies showing that listings with professional photographs sell faster and for more money than those with amateur photographs.

Real estate agents recognize the importance of high-quality photography in marketing and branding, and many invest in professional photography services to showcase their properties in the best possible light.

The Future of Real Estate Photography

The future of real estate photography is exciting, with advancements in technology continuing to shape the industry. One of the most exciting developments is the use of virtual reality and 3D imaging.

This technology allows potential buyers to take a virtual tour of a property, giving them a more immersive experience and a better sense of the space.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also being incorporated into real estate photography, with the ability to automatically enhance images and remove unwanted elements. This technology could save photographers time and improve the overall quality of images.

Staying current with the latest trends in real estate photography is critical for real estate agents and photographers looking to stay competitive in the industry. The ability to adapt to new technologies and provide high-quality images that showcase a property’s features will be essential for success in the future of real estate photography.

One of the biggest challenges for real estate photographers and agents is staying up-to-date with the latest trends and advancements in technology. The real estate industry is constantly evolving, and new technologies are emerging all the time.

As such, it’s crucial for photographers and agents to invest in professional development, attend industry events and workshops, and keep up with the latest news and developments in the field.

Readers are also interested in:
What is a Real Estate Photographer
Advantages of hiring a Real Estate Photographer
How to Start a Real Estate Photography Business
Are Real Estate photos copyrighted
Real Estate Photography Pricing
Real Estate Photography Los Angeles
Who pays for Real Estate Photography

Frequently Asked Question

How have smartphone cameras impacted the real estate photography industry?

Smartphone cameras have had a significant impact on the real estate photography industry, allowing agents and photographers to take high-quality images on the go.

This has made it easier to capture images of properties quickly and efficiently, while also making it possible to edit and share images directly from the phone.

What are the challenges of shooting real estate photography in rural or remote areas?

Shooting real estate photography in rural or remote areas can present several challenges, including difficulty accessing the property, limited internet connectivity for uploading images, and lack of electricity for charging camera equipment. Photographers may need to adapt their techniques and equipment to overcome these challenges.

How has social media influenced the real estate industry and real estate photography?

Social media has become an essential tool for real estate agents and photographers, allowing them to reach potential buyers on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. As such, social media has influenced the way properties are marketed and has led to an increased focus on creating visually stunning images.

What are some of the ethical considerations that real estate photographers need to take into account?

Real estate photographers need to take several ethical considerations into account when shooting images of properties, including obtaining permission to shoot, accurately representing the property in the images, and respecting the privacy of any people or pets in the property.

How can real estate photography help buyers make informed decisions when purchasing property?

Real estate photography is essential for helping buyers make informed decisions when purchasing property, allowing them to view properties before visiting in person, and providing a more detailed view of the property’s features.

High-quality images can help buyers visualize themselves living in the property and make more informed purchasing decisions.


Real estate photography has come a long way since its early days in the early 20th century. From black and white film to drones and 3D imaging, the evolution of technology has transformed the industry, making it easier than ever for agents to market and sell properties.

Staying current with the latest trends in real estate photography is critical for success in the industry, and the ability to adapt to new technologies and provide high-quality images will be essential for photographers and agents looking to stay competitive in the future.

So, if you’re looking to sell your property or market it online, investing in professional real estate photography services is a wise decision that could help you achieve your goals and stand out in a crowded market.

Further readings:
Polaroid Corporation
Digital Cameras
What is the Digital Revolution?
What is an Immersive Experience?
What is virtual reality?


What do you think about the History of Real Estate Photography? Let us know in the comments.

By Furoore team member Michael
Furoore Team is here to assist you in capturing the most significant moments in your life. To create exciting photographs, discover photography guides, find unique photo ideas, and limitless image inspiration.


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Your thoughts and questions

1 thoughts on “The History of Real Estate Photography: From Film to Drones

  1. Elijah James says:

    Yo, as a New Yorker in my 20s looking to buy my first apartment, I gotta say I found this article pretty fascinating! I never realized how much real estate photography has evolved over the years.

    It’s wild to see how they used to just snap a few boring shots in the ’60s – now it’s all about those wide-angle drone shots and 3D virtual tours! Really cool to learn how digital photography and the internet changed the game. Makes total sense that better photos help sell properties faster.

    I’m gonna be way more aware checking out listings now, looking for crisp images, great lighting, the works. Don’t just show me a cramped corner, help a brother imagine the space! And yeah, definitely wanna see those rooftop views. Heard some companies even stage the place with fancy furniture now? Next level. Gotta say, after reading this history lesson, I’ll definitely be paying more attention to the photos to find my perfect NYC starter pad.

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