The difference between real estate, architecture and interior design photography

May 28, 2021

While scrolling through our AIR Design website you might ask yourself, what’s the difference between Real Estate Photography, Architecture Photography and Interior Design Photography? Simply put, there are differences on so many levels — starting with the clientele — to how we approach the project. See our summary below. We hope this gives you a better understanding of each photography category and what fits your needs best.



Real Estate Photography

Our Real Estate Photography focuses on commercial purposes. Selling a home, estate or commercial spaces like an office workspace is the main goal.


Who is our customer for Real estate Photography?

Our customers are Realtors or Real Estate Agencies who have been tasked with selling an estate and are looking for options to boost their marketing.


What is the product?

The product in Real Estate Photography can be an entire house or apartment or all kinds of commercial spaces. Depending on the estate, this might include off-site amenities like a community pool, gym, common areas or productions areas etc.


Once the property is sold, the photographs don’t serve a purpose any longer and are therefore products with the least longevity – given the qualities of the realtor and market of course. For example, vacation rentals or Airbnb have longer usefulness. However, the product ‘sold’ is still the property, so all sorts of rentals kind of fall under this category.


What are we representing in the photographs?

The goal is showcasing the product. Therefore, Real Estate Photography is about the estate and to form an impression of the house, apartment or commercial space while showing it in its best possible light. Our photographs give the buyer an unadulterated, but perfectly captured impression of the entire object.

To represent that, every area or room should be included which  also means laundry rooms and/or guest restrooms — usually not the most photogenic rooms. All rooms are presented as clean and functional. After looking at those photographs you should have a good idea about the space and its functionality and, in the best case, call your realtor to schedule a viewing.


How does our project approach support the subject matter?

As Real Estate Photographers, we support the ultimate goal of selling the house by choosing wide angle shots that are actually pleasing and informative. There are so many ways to photograph a single room, but as experienced Real Estate Photographers, we usually know what to do immediately.

Overall Real Estate Photography is one of the most functional photography categories. Our customers want to maximize profit and we offer packages to support that. Usually shooting time, as well as the post production process, don’t take as much time as interior design or architecture photography.



Interior Design Photography

Our Interior Design Photography packages are used for advertising, marketing and publications (e.g., magazines, social media or websites). The photographs are way more artistic and are composed to grab the viewer’s attention and draw them in.


Who is our customer for Interior Design Photography?

Our customers are Interior Designers, decorators, interior stagers and subcontractors such as kitchen companies etc. (See the differences between interior designers and decorators in this great article of the Charleston Magazine) that have or are going to create a new aesthetic and/or practical new space.


What is the product?

Interior designers and decorators use our services to primarily advertise for their services and consultation. Interior designers and decorators make (mainly) indoor spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by defining a room and selecting essential and decorative items. Their objective is to highlight their expertise beyond what is actually shown in the photographs. They usually use the photographs over a longer time period for marketing campaigns, websites and social media posts.


What are we representing in the photographs?

Our Interior Design Photography approach shows the individual style of a designer or, perhaps a lifestyle someone wants to make desirable. Our photographs capture samples of the previous creative and functional work. The focus is less on single items (furniture) but to show style and created atmosphere by highlighting the designer’s composition while choosing different angles, compositions and lighting.


How does our project approach support the subject matter?

Each new interior design photography project starts with us consulting with the interior designer. We start by gaining insights and information about the project and focusing on what is most important to our client. (Read more about our Interior Design Photography process here)

Photographing a service requires us to understand the intention and thoughts of our client. It is important to take our time for interior design photography. The economical factor is less prioritized than in Real Estate Photography.



Architecture Photography

Our clients use Architecture Photography for publications or as framed pictures. The photographs usually show a piece of art. Of course, architects employ Architecture Photography to advertise their services — bringing the actual focus and approach closer to our interior design photography.


Who is our customer for Architecture Photography?

Our customers are architects or owners that have created or obtained a special architectural object.


What is the product?

With Architecture Photography there might not even be a product or anything for sale at that time. The subject matter of the photograph is an extraordinary part of a building’s exterior (or interior) or the entire construct, to be captured to almost just celebrate its pure existence. Unlike fine art photographers we don’t consider Architecture Photography as creating art, we photograph the actual artwork and preserve it.


What are we representing in the photographs?

Our Architecture Photography captures the essence of buildings and the details that make the building’s design unique. These Architecture Photographs are supposed to be accurate representations of the subject and captured as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as possible.


How does our project approach support the subject matter?

Like our interior design photography projects, we reach out to the architect to gain insights and information about the object (project) and determine what is most important to our client. During our personal walk-throughs, we get ideas about what features are most important to someone, and it is not infrequently the most obvious.


Excluding all distractions out of the photograph is one of the most challenging aspects for an Architecture Photographer. You might have read in other articles something like “architectural photography requires some special techniques to minimize distortion”. While this statement has merit, we don’t see it as an exclusive argument for Architecture Photography. Photographers minimize distortion by using the right equipment. We appreciate straight distortion free vertical and horizontal lines with all our photographs (if not intentionally done different).


Fun fact on Architecture Photography:

The world’s oldest surviving photograph is an architectural photograph taken in 1826 or 1827, making the genre one of the first genres of established photography. Want to learn more, here are links to additional facts about the first photograph and the overall history of photography.

We hope our descriptions of real estate, architecture and interior design photography showed you the differences between them. Of course, there will always be similarities and overlaps in purpose and approach to achieve the client’s objectives.