This will be short and sharp!
Photographing property and real estate is a great way to expend your skill set, and learn how to manage your time as a creative very effectively. It's can also be good for a little bit of extra money! All you really need is a decent DSLR (full frame is preferable but I have successfully shot hundreds of properties a on cropped sensor for a long time), a wide angle lens that starts at either the 10mm or 12mm focal length, a tripod, an external flash and an ability to adapt! Editing software helps too for sure.
We can break this down in to a few stages. One is getting the gig. Another is actually completing the job. And the last one is learning and expanding.
1. Getting the gig is actually a lot simpler than you think. First of all, try and get in to any household or office space you can, and take as many photos as possible until you learn what to do, and what not to do. This is easy and really doesn't cost you anything. In it's simplest form, you set up your camera in the corner of a room, make sure you set your levels correctly to a point where the image is as crisp and well lit as possible (or as close as you think you are able to make look good in post production), and snap away, getting as much of the space in your photos as you can. Once you have a little bit of knowledge, reach out to as many local lettings and real estate agents as you can. I know it's frowned upon, but offer your services up for free. No matter how good you think you are, this "proof of concept" idea may just be what gets you the gig. Be open and honest. If you haven't done it before, send some of your test examples and say you'd like to take some photos of their properties, and if they like them, you can move in to the space of doing it for them on a full time paid basis. It really is as simple as that. Be prepared for 100 no responses, and maybe 3 people saying no, but all you need is one person to say yes and this will set you on a great track.
2. Completing the job is all about conveying the characteristics and style of the property. Keep in mind whenever you are taking pictures, the idea is to get people to see these images online or in a shop window, and want to visit the property. It's then in the hands of the agent to sell on the property, but your job is to get them there. Think about what people look for in a property. If it is space, think about getting as much of the room in as you can. Test different angles and different spaces! If the selling point is a beautiful kitchen, then get intricate detail pictures of the key features. Just like a salesman would chat to a customer about the best things about a product, you are doing the same thing through images.
3. As for your settings, you are going to want to keep as much of the room in focus, and as well lit as you can manage, without making the light areas blown out. Pay very close attention to windows when using long shutter speeds. They have a tendency to ruin your photos, so you really are better to slightly under expose and bring up in post, than to lose detail in a blown out light spot! Shoot in RAW if your camera supports it for the best possible image, and to help with your editing. Use your flash where it's needed, but try to use lights in the house and natural lighting as much as you can to avoid that nasty flash colour! Keep ISO as long as you can to avoid grain. The grain can be a real pain on blank walls, as there's no hiding from it. Remember this will cause you issues, and work around it with other camera settings to help speed up your process and get the best images. Using your tripod is the best way to allow for long shutter speeds, which will often offset the problems you will face with grain due to lighting indoors.
4. Learning and expanding is self explanatory. you can always get better and you can always learn. Stay loyal to the first agent that gave you the chance of course, but think about expanding once you have built up a bit of a portfolio. Use this array of work to approach other agents, and they are much more likely to give you the work. This does put you back to square one with the contacting and not getting responses, but just think back to how many you had to send the first time. And just because someone didn't respond to you back then when you had no clients, doesn't mean they won't respond this time when you have the proof that you're good at what you do!
Side note - What to charge. This was originally my biggest grumble as i couldn't see a straight up answer from anyone on the internet, that wasn't charging an absolutely ridiculously price. If you're an up and coming amateur, of course is would be stupid to charge £300 per property in my opinion if you really want the work. You can do per hour, or per property but I find per property works just perfect, and charging around the £30-£50 mark per property is more than reasonable. I get slated from other togs for this low price, but all I saw to that, is that I have the work and they don't. So I guess it depends on what is important to you as a creative!
I hope this has been slightly helpful for you. If you need any help or advice, please drop us an email and we will happily point you in the right direction.
Remember - Today, everything is visual!