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Presentation of Photos is as Important as the Photos

April 5th, 2009

This last week a Realtor ask me to look over his work that was presented on his web site. The photos were wonderful, but they were buried several clicks under a barrage of text and presented with a small, clumsy little slide show that I couldn’t figure out how to control.

There’s a lesson here for both Realtors and photographers wanting to promote themselves or their listings. Presentation of the photos is at least as important as photos themselves, maybe more important. My belief is if you are promoting photography then it should be “in your face”!

Art Wolfe’s site a great example. Art is a great photographer and a great at marketing. While Art is not a real estate photographer the principles are still the same. Too many photographer sites use more words than necessary and have non-photographic intros before you get to the images. Here are some basic principles for promoting either listings or yourself on the web:

  1. Size matters: Bigger photos “talk” louder! I think gallery photos or listing photos should be at least 800×600 and bigger if possible.
  2. Don’t make the viewer work to see the photos: Make the viewing automatic and easy to figure out. For listing photos, provide a way for the viewer to take control of photo selection. Viewers are typically in a hurry and don’t want to sit through a long slide show they can’t control. For a gallery control is less important but still a nice touch.
  3. Mixing portrait and landscape mode can be ugly: Tailor the aspect ratio of your photo for the medium or mechanism that will be use to present them if you can. Most slide shows look kind of clunky and awkward with mixed formats. Aaron Leitz has a nice solution in his galleries for mixing portrait and landscape photos. Realtors don’t have control of real estate site presentation but real estate sites are all designed to handle landscape mode photos.
  4. The first or primary photo is the marketing “hook”: Put your best shot so the viewer sees it first. This photo has to have the power to draw (hook) the viewer into looking a more photos. This is why, on a listing, the primary exterior photo needs to be the strongest image. Thomas Grubba’s site is a great example of this principle. The front page image is really strong and grabs your attention and invites you to look more.

To reiterate a point I brought up in yesterdays post, enhancing the presentation of a listing’s photos (or the photos from your shoot) is the single biggest reason to use a virtual tour or slide show. MLSs mangle photos and do a poor job of presentation. So if you have an enhanced presentation of the photos the listing will “stand out from the crowd”.

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8 Responses to “Presentation of Photos is as Important as the Photos”

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  • I agree, but we have to bear in mind that many are using laptops these days and there’s a major trend towards netbooks and mobile computing. Large images and Flash pose a problem in this area.

    I also get irritated at seeing images at 400kb= per image and rarely click through a whole image if I can see they are too big on the load times

  • Phil-

    What notebooks are you using that cant handle flash properly? Even on my old P3 laptop flash ran with no problems and that laptop is probably 8 years old.

    Any laptop in the last 5 yers will run flash with no problems at all and if it cant then its unfortunately a problem with that specific laptop…not the flash.

    I think that the average person uses a cable or DSL connection these days and that a 400kb image is fine with pretty quick load times. The very min I would use would be 200kb but that is even probably too low quality for a large image.

    The real estate boards around my area (Toronto) even allow much larger image sizes, 500kb+ these days ….which kinda tells you the trend of the connections people are using (5 years ago the same boards were only allowing 200kb max)

  • The only popular platform that can’t display Flash is the iPhone. Adobe, I think, have done a Flash implementation for the iPhone but Apple chooses not to use it due to “techno-religious” issues.

    I wish Apple would fix this problem but at this point I’m not ready to give up my Flash slide shows on my site just for iPhone users (of which I’m one). If iPhone usage continues to grow and continues Apple continues to refuse Flash I may have to reconsider.

  • Chris
    I was referring to the screen size of netbooks, often 800×600 in total and even the most popular normal screen res of 1024 x 768 would miss off the thumbnails below unless you scroll, so something for photographers to bear in mind.
    Flash is as an issue on portable devices like the iphone, etc. If I was looking through lots of properties, load times would be important for me. I think the medium size Lightroom gallery of 780 pixels at 70% quality is a good compromise and resizes for smaller screens, but for a lot of properties I’d probably use javascript.

  • I also agree 100%. Although I am relatively new to the real estate photography business, I use a photo gallery that has an automatic forward to a non flash page if it senses that the viewer’s computer or iphone doesn’t have flash. The feedback on that is great.
    Size matters when it comes to the mls photos and every realtor that I work for would agree.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more! Packaging matters – more than people realize. These philosophies – photo size, viewer tech., presentation design – are supremely important in making a positive lasting impression.

    The most challenging aspect is the balance of providing compelling effect while supporting the widest audience. This target wouldn’t be quite so difficult if it weren’t always in motion.

    It’s also very hard to be disciplined enough to minimize the clutter of ancillary functionality. A well designed presentation stays out of the way of the photos. After all, that’s what the people want. Give it to them.

  • Herb- Thanks for your comments. I think you guys do a great job of presentation in your premium tours.

    For those that haven’t seen the tourfactory.com premium tours this is what they look like:

    http://tours.tourfactory.com/tours/tour.asp?t=468861

    This has got to be a model of how to do it. Big photos that dominate the presentation yet tons of details for those who want it that stay out of the way in fly-out menus along the left site, plus Ken Burns panning. The most remarkable aspect is that this kind of tour is called a “video” tour by 90% of the world!

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