Where Art Meets Architecture 1

How To Photograph Real Estate, Architecture and Interiors Tutorial

With Mike Kelley

In this photography tutorial, Mike will explain each and every technique he uses to produce his stunning images. The full photography tutorial is broken down into three chapters, each covering the tools necessary to succeed in the different niche markets within the field of interior photography. So no matter if you are an experienced photographer or have never taken your camera out of auto mode, Mike will teach you the most basic steps to get started as well as walk you through some of his most complicated photo edits.

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After years of perfecting his unique "light painting with speedlights" technique, Mike Kelley has quickly become one of the most sought after architecture and interior photographers around. Mixing artificial light, natural ambient light, and high powered strobe light, Mike's images create a hyper realistic mood that has become a staple in the commercial and advertising world. Unlike traditional techniques such as single long exposures or high dynamic range renders, Mike's light painting technique allows him to have the most amount of control over every light source seen in his images. It is only after you have seen Mike's before and after examples that you can really appreciate just how impressive his work truly is.

mike kelley real estate photography

Fstoppers.com has teamed up with Mike Kelley to produce Where Art Meets Architecture, a 7 hour long digital download on how to photograph real estate, architecture, and interiors. In this photography tutorial, Mike will explain each and every technique he uses to produce his stunning images. The full photography tutorial is broken down into three chapters, each covering the tools necessary to succeed in the different niche markets within the field of interior photography. So no matter if you are an experienced photographer or have never taken your camera out of auto mode, Mike will teach you the most basic steps to get started as well as walk you through some of his most complicated photo edits. From simple on-camera Real Estate photographs, to twilight exteriors with 20 layers of Photoshop, this tutorial will help you get on the fast track to making your photos of homes and architecture look as good as those seen in publications and commercials.

What is covered:

how to photograph real estate homes

Real Estate Photography: In the Real Estate section, Mike will teach you everything you need to know about this genre so you can kick start your career and start producing images for real estate agents, listing agents, and general property management. All of the basics will be covered in this chapter including:

  • How to get started with minimal gear
  • How to bounce flash effectively
  • Using natural light to your advantage
  • Properly composing your frame
  • Choosing the correct focal length
  • How to retain exterior window views
  • Two, three, and four light setups
  • Correcting pincushion and barrel distortion
  • Fixing converging lines in Photoshop
  • Creating a final image completely in camera

In addition to "building your foundation", Mike also talks candidly about how he found success in the real estate market, and how you too can build a money making business shooting properties for sale.

mike kelley photoshop
Architecture and Interior Photography: This chapter focuses on how to create photographs for higher paying clients like architects, home builders, interior designers, and magazine editorials. With the ground work already laid down, Mike focuses on streamlining your workflow and pushing your images into actual works of art. While on location at an actual architect's personal home, Mike walks you through eight flagship images from initial capture all the way through the final photoshop editing process. We have also included a full Photoshop PSD file of a twilight exterior images so you can follow along as Mike teaches every step in creating his signature look.

  • Mike's Twilight Exterior Technique
  • Advanced light painting and compositing
  • Tethering to an ipad/iphone
  • Using scrims to control reflections/specular highlights
  • The "Moody Interior Twilight Shot"
  • Faking warm sunlight
  • Staging furniture for strong compositions

mike kelley how to photograph interiors

Commercial and Advertising Photography: In this final section, Mike takes you on the set of two commercial spaces and demonstrates how to produce perfect images for restaurants, hotels, wedding venues, resorts, and other commercial clients. Emphasis will be placed on meeting your clients needs and lighting images according to the use of the space.

  • Creating twilight images while a restaurant is open for business
  • Incorporating people into your photography
  • Lighting multi room locations
  • Replacing details in Photoshop
  • Lighting large banquet halls
  • How to create an inviting atmosphere

Additionally, Mike will also cover the business of commercial and advertising photography including how to market yourself, how to build residual income through image licensing, finding and maintaining clients, and pricing your work.

"‘Where Art Meets Architecture’ is the definitive workshop on shooting Real Estate, Architecture, or Interior images. What you learn in this 7 hour workshop is what many photographers dream about...By the time you are finished with this workshop, you will feel as if you have the tools you need to complete any job in this niche of photography."

-Anthony Thurston, SLR Lounge (read full 5-Star review here)

Not familiar with Mike's work? Check out this short Fstoppers Original we did with Mike as he photographs an exterior twilight shot in Arizona. Read the full original post here.

Two Additional Tutorials!  

Since the release of Where Art Meets Architecture 1, Fstoppers has produced two new tutorials with Mike Kelley (WAMA II and III). These tutorials are MUCH more advanced and focus on very specific elements of the architecture photography market. If you are just getting started with real estate photography, lighting, and post production, we highly recommend watching WAMA 1 first, but we have also bundled all of the tutorials in this series at a discount if you want to learn everything Mike has to teach.  

View the sales page for WAMA 2 Here.

View the sales page for WAMA 3 Here.

Below we ask for honest reviews from THOSE WHO HAVE PURCHASED THE TUTORIAL. Anything that is not a review of the product will be deleted.

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I bought the video and it's well worth the price. It's great! However, I wish you included the files so that I could practice the Photoshop stuff.

All the files from every house/room? You did get the exterior house files right?

I have only one file, Twilight Photoshop Document.psd, which does a great job of showing how Mike used layers to create an image. I was hoping there would be other files so that I could follow along as he does his Photoshop demonstrations.

I'd like to see a reply from FStoppers on this.

The next one will have all of the files

My girlfriend just purchased this for me. I was only able to download one chapter before the download screen disappeared. I have been emailing you guys for the last two days with no response. All I want is what she paid for please help.

Between this course and How To Photograph Real Estate and Vacation Rentals which would you suggest to get started.

$299 IS pretty steep, but then again, how much do you value YOUR time and effort to produce saleable material and artwork? I probably shouldn't be spending so much right before the holidays, but honestly, in this business, whether it's a lens, new body...tethering equipment, whatever, and I feel I need or could use it to make my job easier, or make better images...I get it and cut corners elsewhere. I've been waiting for this since it was announced (thought was to be a DVD) awhile ago, and will make those three bones back on my next shoot. If you want to learn to light paint like the pros...and produce all around exemplary polished images like Kelly, you got to learn from a pro like Kelly. just do it......IMHO....

Was looking at the price as I thought it was steep, but then decided to purchase it. All I can say is Wow!! Why did I hesitate at first? Mike you did a great job and I applaud to you and your work. Out side of my equipment, this was the best purchase so far!! Very Happy.

The reception is actually pretty amazing!

This series will help photographers raise their game, attract higher end clients, and is well worth the price. Mike explains basic and advanced techniques clearly and with examples. Great job!

I'm shocked to see how many people are upset at the price figure. Can you guys not stop to think for a moment, what it has taken him to produce this kind of work? Hundreds and hundreds of hours in the field and in post. And don't forget the production value of the team producing this DVD. Mike's knowledge, time producing this video, equipment involved, production crew and hours involved, post production, DVD mass production. Thousands and thousands of dollars. We are lucky this is even an option to buy. It's an invesment. You don't buy this DVD to casually watch, you watch it to become better at your craft and gain clients in the real estate/architecture business.

Where can I see how big is the the digital download file?

Chapter 1 1.9MB
Chapter 2 2.0MB
Chapter 3 1.8MB
Chapter 4 2.0MB

You're totally right! I went to a photography college overseas for 2 years and I spent well over $70K to study and pay my bills during those two years. When I see people complaining about paying $299 for a chunk of the best and tested information, that targets the very topic you may be interested in, I, like you, scratch my head.

Hey guys... I just finished the full thing and thought I'd say a few things about this video series.

First off. The price is fine. If anything it should be more expensive. With what you are going to learn from these videos you should be able to pick up a few real-estate clients in even a "lower tier" real-estate location that should pay the $299 with ease.

Second off. The quality of the video work is quite good. Wouldn't say it's the best I've seen, but it is quite good. Definitely good enough. It's great to see a well thought out, nicely paced tutorial that is also interesting to watch.

Third off. I really appreciate how the whole thing is approached. Mike carefully walks you through each bit of information and technique that you need to know, he tells you how to do it and why you should do it "his way."

Fourth off. If I had one request or critique it would be about the business section. While Mike covered a lot of the basics of how he rebuilt his business from the ground up, twice, I'd love to have seen/heard more details added in there. Maybe because I'm in the middle of trying to do it myself... :)

Finally I'd like to say thanks! This video may have changed my life forever. Time will tell, but I believe if I am willing to put in the time and work my tail off, this type of photography will expand my ability to create images that help my clients sell their homes more quickly. At any rate, the stuff I learned throughout this video won't hold me back!

Hi Eldon! Thanks for the great review and kind words. I am glad you found it so useful. I too wish that I could have packed more into it, but of course we had to find a balance. I also wish I could share some big business 'secret' with you, but like anything, it was just a lot of hard work, late nights, and endless emails. So glad that it helped you out - and best of luck with the business!

Yup... I'm figuring out the hard work, late nights and endless emails part of it... :)

Thanks too for taking the time to reply, you have no idea how much that means!

Hi Mike,
I'm big fan of you and want to buy the whole tutorials.
Does it work fine with PS2018?
Thanks in advance!


your work is amazing and I think that the price is absolutely worth it, although I haven't done it yet. After reading on fstoppers and your blog, i know that you don't like HDR much, but does this Tutorial show something about HDR? I live in a really low income area (but the good thing is, that there are NO real estate photographers) and people do not pay much for this service, so i cannot spend hours getting the perfect shots and only get payed $100. Don't get me wrong, I do not want to make quick and easy money! I want to deliver good quality for a reasonable price, but i cannot deliver top of the range quality for that. So that is a point which keeps me off from buying this tut at the moment, cause i don't know whether this is good for my situation. Can you help me with these concerns?

I cannot consider moving in the next few years, because finishing my Uni-Degree over here in Germany is the most important thing and I want to earn a few extra $, but still want to become better (hopefully as good as you are some day ;-))!

To come to the point: the trailer looks like you only do top of the range photography for top of the range products, but what about the average stuff? Does this get covered as well?

I hope you got my point and I would really appreciate an answer on that final question.

Keep up the good work, you are a legend!


Hi TJ, thanks for the kind words and feedback, we really appreciate it! As far as the HDR goes, I wouldn't sweat it - we provide plenty of information on how to create photos quickly that require very little post production. Of course you can do HDR (not that I'm saying my way is right or wrong, just different and more controllable) but I wouldn't be afraid of trying to light interiors for real estate instead of using HDR. With a little practice, you can light a house very quickly and efficiently and do minimal post to get them looking great.

So, in short: The tutorial doesn't really show any HDR techniques, but it does show plenty of techniques for shooting quickly and efficiently without post processing. If you want to delve into the more time consuming stuff when the chance arrives, the tutorial will have you covered as well.

Great, thank's a lot for the answer, I really do appreciate it!

Ok, I purchased the tutorial yesterday, and I have been glued to my computer monitor soaking everything in. I have been wanting to pursue this type of photography for a long time. My father was a builder and architect, so that's why I'm drawn to it. One thing that I didn't see in the videos is Mike Kelley travels all over the country and now he is going overseas. How does he travel with his equipment? I know how some photographers will rent or borrow, but Mike uses specific equipment? Maybe I'm over thinking it?

Hi Ben,

Thanks for the support and the great question! When I travel - I try to travel light, but it's still pretty heavy! If the location is anywhere within a 12 hour drive, I'll suck it up and load up my car and get to it. It helps to have an assistant to chat with on the drive. Just this week I drove six hours to Sacramento from LA with a full car for four shoots. A total pain - but easy to have my gear with me the whole time. When we filmed in Charleston, I brought nearly everything with me except light stands - and incurred some overweight baggage fees. The best thing you can do is get all of your luggage within the weight limits and be prepared to pay extra if necessary to check more than your allowed baggage. I recommend airlines such as Southwest for this - they let you check two free bags and then their extra bag fee isn't bad.

International travel isn't so bad to and from the states, but I'm not sure what it's like from, say, point to point in Europe where I know allowances are stricter. No matter how you slice it though, when traveling with this much gear, you'll probably be forced to pay some sort of fee for extra luggage.

I bought it, spent weekend to listen all parts. The first job which came next week, and where I applied this technique, paid off fully the DVD cost. Plus, the customer was so impressed with the result (I did photo of one small townhouse), they will order the whole series of their houses photos.

I'm intending to purchase this as well. Before I take a plunge, are all the PSD files for all the examples in the video provided or are you just providing one PSD file.

Hi O-Nev,

The PSD supplied contains the twilight exterior image, and all of the layers used to create it.

hi there, the videos look really interesting, do you spend a lot of time on metering, and the use of studio flash, or is the series confined to off camera strobes. Also is there a table of contents somewhere? the ability to buy single modules would also be great.

Hi Joe,

We spend time talking about larger studio heads and small off-camera speedlights as well. As of now, we don't have any plans to break this up into modules.

Mike Kelley's work is great, F-stoppers production of these videos are spectacular but I bought this and it is not quite what I expected. I bought the Headshot video with Peter Hurley and I was able to gain some insight from there that made the $300 worth it, it seemed geared more towards and advanced crowd. However, this architectural video is absolutely GREAT for beginners and absolute newbies who know how to work their camera but the tips here are not really things that are relevant to someone who knows a bit more. I shoot for Real Estate and I've employed all this techniques as a result of trial and error. At best it reinforces techniques I've employed but I haven't learned anything new.

What I would have liked to have seen is more information on the Tilt-Shift lens usage. I have one and I love it. There are some quirks that I don't like and this video never goes into any depth on how he uses his Tilt-Shift lens in his work, only that he DOES use it. I've scoured the web for Tilt-Shift lens techniques and found nothing sufficient enough and hoped this video would be the missing link. If I could get some more info on his Tilt Shift lens techniques I would be ok with the purchase. But as it stands, I wouldn't buy this again at $300 and I wouldn't quite be able to recommend this to anyone other than a newbie/beginner. Great video, just not enough content and in-depth detail for me to justify the price.

Hi 'Guest' ,

We did about a ten minute section on tilt shift use, how to use, and why to use it in the gear section I believe. For the most part, my usage of them isn't covered too in depth because it's pretty straightforward - level the camera, and shift up or down to change the field of view accordingly. If I want more ceiling, shift up, more floor, shift down, and so on. If you know which quirks off the top of your head, I would be happy to talk to you via email or on here to try and walk you through.

I do agree though that this video covers a lot of ground - as we tried to make it have a wide appeal for many people, so some people who've never shot real estate or architecture before could start and follow along. That being said, I do believe that some of these sections alone are worth $300 :) I hope that answers any questions you may have - feel free to get in touch if you'd like, and thanks for the honest feedback!

I'm also surprised that you find Tilt Shift lenses perplexing. I think the tilt is by far the more challenging adjustment, but I never use it for architecture. Keep camera level, shift up or down depending on the composition.

Yesterday I purchased Mike's architectural tutorial and wonder why he/fstoppers did not settle on a $797 or even a $997 price point. The techniques will generate many times the investment. So if anyone is concerned about the price, I would submit that nothing is more valuable than the investment in education, and this is real a bargain.

I've been fumbling around with real estate photography and realize now it's time to get serious with some serious tools he provides. I stayed up most of the night watching the entire series and have created a shopping list of some missing items. I can't wait to approach it from this new perspective. Fun stuff!

I note that good proficiency in Photoshop is needed. I am not very experienced with PS and have some work to do in that area. Just working through parts of the example took me way more time than it did for him. So if you're like me expect to sink some extra time in post-processing until it becomes second nature.

I also thought the video was very well produced, and it would be great to have info on what cameras were used to do the video, mic, lighting, editing software, etc.

Terrific work, guys! I'll be posting results on the FB page.

any tips on how to resize the videos for mobile devices?

I just finished watching the entire series and wow learned so much. I was very hesitant in spending $300, but well worth the money. I already use professional SLR with multiple strobes
and do most of my shots for real estate and most of my work is done in camera with little Post Processing(expose for the ambient Light and fill the rest). But occasionally I come across an incredible property, that I will use your techniques on the Architecture level photography
and raise my expertise to another level.

There has been many times where the interior of the house was challenging to hide my flash in the frame , or get the light in specific areas of the frame, but your technique just opened up a completely new opportunities. You have taught me so much in this video that I have been trying to figure out myself over the last several years. Your video explains step by step what you need to do, especially in Photoshop. This is the first video that explains to you step by step what you do on site and exactly what you do in Post Processing to tie it all together, thank you for sharing your secrets, you make it also so simple to understand and follow.

As a bonus in the video is what impressed me is your marketing ideas,, I am a real estate Broker that shoots my own homes that I sell and I take that extra time to create a breath taking images of my clients homes, because I have a passion for Photography, I know the money shots that sell homes and I do better photo’s than 95% of the real estate photographers in my area , because I don’t blame the photographers because of time vs Money. This gets me at least 10 new listings a year because of my marketing and photos. A lot of what you talk about marketing is what I use in my business but really added some incredible ideas that I am going to incorporate right away. Thank You

Hi Mike, many thanks for the video series, very good value and a great learning tool. Just one question. In the twilight tutorial, you hammer home the importance of bracketing, do you bracket your flash pops as you go around the property?

Hi Joe,

Thanks for the kind words, glad you found it beneficial! To answer your question, the only think I bracket is shutter speed - I don't bracket the flash exposures on exteriors.

Hi Mike!

Further question about the bracketing thing: On the twilight shot, you start with iso 200 f8 ss 1/5.
That's the exposure that you will be using during all the pictures taken with the flash? And every 5 minutes you take two brakets of 3 shots with just ambient, without flash? -2, 0, +2? After taking a bracket, do you return to your starting exposure to continue the flash thing?

thanks in advance!

First, let me say these videos are amazing! Mike is an engaging speaker and provides detailed information than anyone can follow. I am new to real estate photography so these tutorials were exactly what I needed to learn how to make my photos better. He takes you step by step through everything you need to know.

The down side of my experience has been that the zip files in Chapter 2 were empty! I've notified the email address that they were empty, but haven't heard back yet. The package was expensive so I'd really like to get the whole set of videos without having to repurchase the package. For those of you purchasing, you only have 120 hours to download the packages, so make sure you buy when you have time to download the files. After you download them, check every zip file to make sure you have all the files. Is it worth it....YES IT IS! Would I buy it again? Yes!

I sure hope this email helps me get the files in Chapter 2.

I would delete the empty Zip file and download again if you haven't already. Mine all came through just fine.

Update! Within hours of my post. Fstoppers came back with another Chapter 2 download. Good news for future purchases...customer service at FStoppers is alive and well.

Thanks Carolyn, the Fstoppers office is only 3 people so sometimes it takes a few days to respond especially if it's a weekend or holiday. I like to think we are pretty efficient for such a small staff.

some great hints and tips there for photographers!

This was one AMAZING course. I literally got chills of excitement and didn't sleep for days thinking of how excited I am to try these techniques. As far as the price, well to each their own, but I thought it was worth EVERY PENNY. I cannot say enough about how much is shared on this tutorial. Thank you Mike, so much.

Don't advertise that you will lose sleep after watching this ha. Glad you enjoyed it.

Thank you for producing such a great tutorial. As a novice i just have a question. Is it possible to achieve anything near these results using only Lightroom?

Unfortunately LR will not allow you to do what Mike does. Lightroom only lets you tweak a single file so you are left with a fake HDR process. You can pull out shadows, preserve highlights, etc, but you will not be able to layer multiple images like Mike does.

I'm just about 25 minutes into Chapter 3 and I have to say that the sky replacement technique alone is worth the $299! I've picked up a lot of great tips so far. I'm loving these videos.

This is very interesting......a question? How dependent is this on Photoshop CS? I'm quite satisfied with Aperture on my Mac for post-production adjustments. I may get latest Photoshop Elements for some added adjustment capability, but am not interested in CS cost or complexity. Welcome comments......

Where Art Meets Architecture is very interesting. A questions for those who've reviewed it, how dependent are Mike Kelly's techniques on use of Photoshop CS? I use Aperture(Mac) almost exclusively and am considering purchase of Photoshop Elements for some added adjustment functionality. But I'm not really interested in cost or time to master Photoshop CS.

Comments on this would be most welcome.........

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