Merging Knowledge with Technology: The New Real Estate Photographer


One great thing about shooting real estate photography is that the house never complains. It never says things like, “my shingles look weird in that one,” or “ewww, my blinds were half-closed – can we shoot again?” Therefore, it’s left largely up to the photographer to know what shots work, and what do not.  In most cases, it’s the world around the house that makes all the difference. The time of day, the season, the weather – all of these things can make or break a photograph. Of course, the photographer needs to have the skill and ingenuity required to take control of the situation, and properly make use of the surrounding elements.

Paul Freeman Photography

Photographers who have taken the time to fully understand their gear are always investigating new ways of pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.  Photographic technology is growing exponentially, but the best in the business know that new technology means nothing without the core knowledge of light, timing, and framing.  In the examples above, photographer, Paul Freeman captures not just a time and a place, but an atmosphere and mood.  In the world of real estate, he introduces onlookers to envelop themselves in the photographs which evoke a comforting emotional state.  Here, a strong understanding of visual aesthetics, natural and artificial light, cropping/framing, and how to make use of the environment all combine to produce extremely compelling photos.

Moving beyond these skills, new technological advancements allow photographers to grow in a number of different directions.  In previous posts, I wrote about pole aerial photography (PAP), and radio-controlled aerial photography as a means of capturing images that go beyond the capabilities of a traditional, camera-in-hand setup.  In addition to those methods, balloon-aerial photography is also gaining popularity as an affordable alternative to hiring a personal aircraft to fly over large acreages and commercial lots.

Balloon Aerial SampleThe samples above were taken by Jay Groccia, via traditional aircraft.* Groccia is innovative photographer who offers both pole aerial (mast) and balloon aerial photos, as well as panoramic, VR tours.  He uses equipment produced by the appropriately named, Aerial Products Corporation – a company who makes balloons, blimps, and masts for aerial imaging purposes.  The setup for balloon/blimp aerial is pretty advanced stuff involving a motorized camera dock, remote camera control, and a specialized balloon – and these are no birthday party balloons. Aerial Products

The balloons are designed specifically for imaging specialists, and are engineered to accommodate for wind and weight to increase stability.  Their products can elevate cameras up to 1000 feet in the air.

Another great example of high quality photography being merged with new technology is the Australian company, Pixelcase.  They provide some of the sharpest looking 360-degree, virtual tours I have ever seen.  On top of that, they’ve also effectively merged pole aerial photography with equirectangular-based, VR tours.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about check out this sample – the initial shot introduces viewers to the surrounding neighborhood, while the collapsible floorplan allows users to navigate inside the house.  The images themselves are clean, bright, and sharp.


Other samples from their portfolio, like this one from JHY Realty, also incorporate slick-looking .pdf links that provide additional listing information.  I like.  Lastly, the VR tour of New York city taken from a helicopter has to be my favorite.

The amount of time, science, engineering, and development that goes into concepts like these is astounding.  None of these technologies are “overnighters” – many take years to fully develop.  Furthermore, once built, the products are relatively useless unless you have someone on board who has a wealth of photographic knowledge, and the ability to produce high-quality, raw visuals.  Although these instruments are used for an array of purposes, real estate continues to be one of the driving factors that fuels production.  Where can we possibly go next?


*This sentence was edited to clarify the method of photography used.


  • I’ve always thought that balloon w/camera idea was a terrific one. I am an admirer of terrific listing photos. They can make the average look spectacular.

    Cameron Novak
    Corona Real Estate Agents

  • Jay Groccia says:

    I just saw this article and need to correct something. Both images attributed to me in this article were shot from a traditional aircraft. I do own a mast and balloon, but they weren’t used for either of those images.

    • Elizabeth Cutright says:

      Hi Jay,
      Thanks so much for letting us know about this issue. We’ve lightly edited the text to clarify how the type of equipment used to take the photos.

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