April 5th, 2007
Earlier today I was talking to a Realtor about where the line is for how much photo-editing it’s OK to do on a marketing image. I’ve done a post on this subject before over a year ago but I think it is worth re-visiting. The composite image above shows an image that I modified to market one of our listings. I sharpened up the edge of the grass and changed the foreground perspective somewhat.
How much editing on a marketing image is OK? Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed?
My take on this question is as follows: Marketing photography is different than photojournalism or documentary photography where accurate photographic recording is assumed by the viewer. The purpose of marketing photography is to make a product (in this context a home) look good. So I feel it is ethical to replace skies, remove power lines or what ever you can do to make the home look good? Some of these “modifications” are done before the photo is taken like controlling the light, moving furniture, adding attractive furniture removing clutter and generally styling the space to look attractive. Other modifications are easier done after the photo is taken in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
You frequently see architectural drawings used to market new homes. Architectural drawings are very stylized, have dramatic skies and don’t show power lines or other ugly, realistic details so why not think of your interior/exterior photographs of a home as architectural drawings?
John Dvorak over at www.pcmag.com did an article on this general subject that’s worth looking at. John’s bottom line is:
“Photos are representations, nothing more and nothing less. Sure, taking a head from one picture, dropping it into a porn photo, and saying that it’s real is obviously wrong. But enhancing and interpreting photographic data has its place and is an important communications tool. Just stop believing everything you see.”