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Through The Lens: Capturing the Look of Luxury

8825 Hollywood Blvd. Represented by Stuart Vetterick. Photo Credit: Simon Berlyn

Estate photography is an art form that demands a discerning eye, a profound comprehension of architecture styles, and the mastery of photography techniques. In a world where first impressions are crafted online, the role of high-quality imagery is paramount in enticing potential buyers and effectively conveying the grandeur of exceptional properties. “Successful photography captures the essence of a home by conveying its character,” said Ben Kruger, Estates Director at Hilton & Hyland. Photographers utilize visual storytelling techniques to display the ambiance, giving into the sights, sounds, and sensations in order to capture the setting completely. “


The choreography of staging is foundational to showcasing the estate’s unique narrative. It involves orchestrating furnishings and decor to accentuate a property’s qualities and create an atmosphere that brings the Buyer. “Preparation is everything,” said Simon Berlyn of Berlyn Media (contact: @berlynphoto or @berylnmedia), one of the most talented and well-respected luxury property photographers in Los Angeles. “Without good preparation, it comes down to luck for whether the shoot day is perfect,” said Berlyn. A well-staged luxury estate can artfully articulate the style of the estate and the prescribed way of life. “I tend to enjoy mid-century and modern the most,” said Berlyn. “The linearity of modern and deep soul and history of the mid-century are always exciting to photograph.” 


Simon Berlyn (left) and Leonard Rabinowitz (right).

The setting is crucial in conveying the individuality of each luxury estate. The exterior of the property, as integral as its interior, deserves precision and care. The design, architecture, landscaping, and overall aesthetic guide each shot. To that, aerial photography using drones displays breathtaking angles, revealing the full expanse and ambiance of the estate. Capturing the geography that envelops a luxury estate using both standard and aerial photography has a strong influence on the desirability of an address. Whether sited on a serene LA hillside, perfectly placed on the Malibu waterfront, or poised within a vibrant urban enclave, the settings and surroundings deserve the spotlight.


Anthony Barcelo. Photo Credit: Barcelo Photography

Lighting stands as arguably the most pivotal element within real estate photography. Proper lighting can transform a space, creating a more inviting, elegant, and whole picture of the home. “A good day with good lighting, and everything works your way,” said Berlyn. The embrace of natural light can be a transformative force when photographing, in general. Expansive windows, glass doors, and celestial skylights usher a steady stream of natural light, helping display warm tones and inviting scenes. The strategic selection of the “golden hours” for photography magically showcases the first and last rays of sunlight and enhances visual aesthetics. Built-in lighting, such as embedded lighting fixtures and chandeliers, can be used judiciously to illuminate key features of the homes. “Follow the light,” said Anthony Barcelo of Barcelo Photography (contact: @mrbarcelo), an internationally recognized photo and media expert. “Excellent natural light or consistent lighting temperatures throughout make for a picturesque photo.” Precise placement and thoughtful adjustment of the lights around the properties unveil architectural moments and amplify ambiance. Photographers who capture a property at various times throughout the day can toy with natural light as it drapes across landscapes, gardens, architecture, and outdoor amenities.

Attention To Detail

When photographing luxury estates, the devil is in the details. Every facet of a property should be meticulously displayed, with an emphasis on craftsmanship and rarely-found moments. Elements such as grand staircases, intricate moldings, bespoke cabinetry, and state-of-the-art appliances should be captured with finesse, attesting to the quality of each estate. “Clean lines, symmetry, and an understanding of the home” are some of the most important aspects to pay attention to when photographing homes, said Barcelo. A picture-perfect perspective, from the pools and spas to the wine cellars and sumptuous home theaters, serves as a precursor to an actual showing and finding the Buyer.

The Equipment

Photographing luxury estates requires professional-grade equipment and techniques. After the images are meticulously and professionally captured, post-processing lends the finishing touch. Editing software facilitates the correction of exposure, color balance, and the removal of minor imperfections.

Creating compelling property photos transcends ordinary marketing; it conjures a lifestyle and fosters a profound sense of aspiration. Through meticulous dedication to craft, photographers deliver heartfelt stories through each photo, speaking to the intricacies and charm of the estates. By using professional equipment, mastering the techniques, and having the creativity to tell a story without words, photographers forge a portfolio that not only meets the discerning standards of buyers, sellers, and agents alike, but surpasses them. In an industry where visual storytelling is often the first impression for many buyers, the photos taken of a property serve as the cornerstone of successful marketing, elevating the dreams of potential buyers to reality.

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