Using a Painter’s Pole for Elevated Real Estate Photography

In Gear by Jim Harmer


A lot of photographers have been interested in getting into real estate photography lately, and for good reason.  I've written several posts on the topic, and I've mentioned a few times that I often get much better results by using a painter's pole instead of flying my DJI Phantom drone to get the exterior photos of the home.

When photographing real estate, shooting from an angle slightly higher than normal standing height almost always presents a more compelling shot.  If you look at professional real estate photography, you'll see that most of the exterior shots are done from about 15-20 feet (5 – 7 meters) in the air.

No tripod is that tall, so you'll have to get creative.  I've used my DJI Phantom Drone (costs about $1,000) for many of my real estate shoots, but I haven't been happy with the quality of the camera on the DJI Phantom 3.

So another option, which is faster and much less expensive, is to simply attach your regular camera to the end of a long painter's pole.  That's the technique I want to show you in this post.

The photos below are of the front of my home.  You can see how much of a difference the elevated perspective makes (in addition to a little Lightroom love).


Recommended Materials (Under $40)

  • Painter's pole (link goes to Amazon for the painter's pole length I like) – You can decide how high you need your painter's pole to extend.  For me, I got the longest one (6-12 feet, which is 1.5 to 3.6 meters), but you may not need one that tall.  Remember that you'll be holding this up, so you can add your height to the length of the pole, plus another couple inches for the camera and adapter.
  • Camera adapter (link goes to Amazon's listing page for the right adapter) – The end of a painter's pole is a weird blunt screw that won't hook onto your camera's tripod socket without an adapter.  Amazon has everything… including a painter's pole to camera screw adapter.  Awesome!  This adapter will make ANY painter's pole fit in ANY camera.  Doesn't matter what camera brand you shoot.
  • Any camera you want to shoot with

Once you have those materials, this becomes a very simple project.  You just screw the adapter on the end of the painter's pole and then attach your camera to the adapter by screwing it in the tripod socket on the bottom of your camera.  Done!


A Few Tips

  • The first time you photograph the front elevation of a home, I guarantee you'll be tempted to lift the camera too high.  I made that mistake a bunch of times before I got the height just right.  If you go too high, it puts more emphasis on the roof than the siding of the house.
  • This probably goes without saying, but be sure to increase your shutter speed.  You won't be holding the camera very steadily, so you probably need a shutter speed of around 1/100 or 1/200.  This really isn't a problem even when shooting in the evening hours since you can always just increase your ISO.  Real estate photos are typically viewed quite small on an MLS, so a little noise in the picture doesn't hurt anything.
  • Be sure the adapter is screwed in very tight before each shoot.  You obviously want to avoid the nightmare of a camera coming crashing down from 15′ in the air.  The tripod socket is unlikely to work its way lose, but the end of the painter's pole has a loose screw-type connection that could wiggle loose over time.  The reason I recommend this particular adapter is that it has an extra allen wrench screw on the side of the adapter that you can use to affirmatively lock the adapter onto the pole.  It's quite well made.
  • If you're interested in earning a little side income from real estate photography, check out my post about how much to charge for real estate photography.


About the Author

Jim Harmer

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Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, and host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast. More than a million photographers follow him on social media, and he has been listed at #35 in rankings of the most popular photographers in the world. He blogs about how to start an internet business on