Mike Kelley's Where Art Meets Architecture 1

How To Photograph Real Estate, Architecture and Interiors Tutorial with Mike Kelley

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.

mike kelley tutorial

*All refunds are outlined in our terms of service.

"‘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.

Download this 7 Hour Tutorial

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.

*No refunds allowed for bundle purchases.

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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Previous comments

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!

Jacques Prevert's picture

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!


Mike Kelley's picture

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?

Mike Kelley's picture

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.

Mike Kelley's picture

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.

Mike Kelley's picture

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.

Mike Kelley's picture

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.

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