New York City-based Paler, 42, is a top high-end real estate photographer. See more of his work at www.davidpaler.com. Melanie Einzig

How did you get started?
I was a location scout for Law & Order for nine months, then I worked for IN New York magazine shooting restaurants. The magazine got calls for my interior shots, and I started cold-calling interior designers and got referrals.

Who do you work for now?
I’m an approved vendor for several high-end residential real estate companies and developers, and for commercial real estate companies. You develop a relationship with brokers. Only pro interior photographers at my level work with expensive properties—there are 8 to 10 of us in the city.

How many apartments do you shoot a month?
About 60—I try not to shoot more than three or four a day. Some photographers use a wide-angle lens, stand in the corner, and are out in 15 minutes. But I’ll spend an hour or more.

How is real estate different from other interior photography?
As with good interior photography, you need to understand angles and light, how to shoot in mixed lighting, and when to shoot wide or narrow. But you also have to know what buyers are interested in and how to show it—what counters are made of, or any high-end appliances. You need to know which way the apartment faces to know what time of day and how to capture a window view.

How do you prepare the space?
I have to move chairs around and pull the blinds to hide scaffolding. I’ll ask beforehand about the apartment’s size and direction it faces, but each is still a challenge.

How has your work changed?
Photography has become more important with the switch from print classifieds to internet ads. The housing downturn hasn’t affected my work—in Manhattan, people are always moving.

What gear do you use?
I use a Nikon D3X. My main lens is a 14–24mm f/2.8 Nikkor set at around 24mm, or else a 24–70mm f/2.8 Nikkor. I use a Nikon SB-900 Speedlight and four SB-800s with diffusers on stands throughout the room, and a Quantum T5D flash. But it’s best to use a mix of flash and available light.

What about postproduction?
I don’t use a tilt-shift lens, so I control perspective in Adobe Photoshop CS5. I shoot RAW to combine natural and artificial light or bracketed exposures. I’ll make fixes such as digitally finish a half-painted wall. But you can’t create false advertising—you don’t want the buyers to feel disappointed when they arrive.

What’s the best part of the job?
I see amazing apartments. And art—I’ve seen a lot of Picassos.

Building Remnant Tattoo
A demolished older building leaves a ghostly imprint on its glass neighbor. David Paler
Central Park South Bedroom
A big bedroom, with a fireplace, overlooking Central Park is about as luxurious as it gets. David Paler
Church Courtyard from Above
The 162-year-old Little Church Around the Corner underwent a renovation a few years ago, making for an interesting overhead shot. David Paler
Fifth Avenue Foyer
It was important to capture the flow of this charming and gracious apartment. David Paler
Flatiron Kitchen
The verticals and horizontals here really work together, giving another example of how subdued taste elevates. David Paler
Gold Coast Mansion
This enormous Nassau County mansion had an amazing 3-story spiral staircase. David Paler
Kips Bay Bathroom
Elegant twin sinks and a glass shower in this bathroom are complemented by a cool, almost impressionist midtown view. David Paler
Lobby of the Osborne
One of New York City’s original Great Apartment Buildings has a palatial lobby that informs the visitor he or she has arrived somewhere important. David Paler
London Terrace Courtyard
Stretching an entire block, most view of the London Terrace are from the street; this glimpse affords a rarer inside look. David Paler
Looking Downtown from Soho
A bishop’s crook light post hovers above colorful Canal St walkups and the skyscrapers that rise beyond them. David Paler
Lower East Side Kitchen
This expansive breakfast area has a fairly uncommon view of the Williamsburg Bridge and the low-rise buildings of the Lower East Side. David Paler
Met Life Aglow
The setting winter sun illuminates what at one time was the tallest building in the world. David Paler
Tribeca Dining Room
Clean lines seem to give this area a classic balance. David Paler
Upper Eastside Living Room
West End Ave Family Room David Paler