July 12th, 2009
Marketing is all about getting attention. The front shot of your real estate marketing photos are much like a fishing lure. Fishing lures are iridescent, bright and shiny so they stand out in a background where everything looks that same. Giving your marketing photos, especially your front shot, some punch is a good way to make it stand out.
Adding punch is quick and easy if you are a Lightroom user. Here are the steps:
- Increase Clarity – Lightroom has a slider called Clarity (Aperture calls it Definition). Clarity adds mid-tone contrast to an image and has the effect of looking like the mid-tones of your image are sharpened. Just drag the clarity slider to the right to add clarity. In my example to the right I added +100 on the clarity slider (maximum) to the bottom image to increase the punch.
- Increase Vibrance – Lightroom has another slider called Vibrance (Aperture calls it Vibrancy). Vibrance increases the saturation of only the dullest colors whereas the saturation slider increases the saturation of all colors the same amount. So vibrance is exactly what you want to remove the dullness of an image. I added +50 to the vibrance in the example above.
- Add contrast with the Tone Curve – Lightroom has a great feature in the bottom of the tone curve section of the develop module where you can select either a linear tone curve, a medium tone curve or a strong tone curve. In my example above I used medium tone curve. These three selections give you a quick way to add overall contrast with the Tone Curve with out having to take the time to actually tweak the curve.
- Create a Preset– If you are using Lightroom once you have punch added to a photo the way you want, you can create a preset that will apply those same settings to any other photo(s) automatically. When you are finished making adjustment to the image in the Develop module, while the adjusted photo is selected click on the + to the right of Preset in the left side-bar, choose a name, select the check boxes for the attributes you want your preset to change and click Create. Now, to add punch to one photo or a group of photos just select the photos you want to add punch and click on the preset.
Note that even if you don’t use Lightroom or Aperture you can you can still adjust vibrance in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements but to change clarity you need to use Adobe Camera RAW (ACR). You don’t need to have a RAW file to use ACR. ACR will open JPG files.
The amount of punch you give an image is a matter of taste (yours and your clients). My example above may on the extreme side (particularly when you view the full size image). The grass is starting to look radioactive! What looks good to one person may look extreme to someone else. You’ll see this same technique used on TV commercials and in print media. In some TV ads the color is so saturated you can feel the radiation coming off the screen!
While putting together the example above It was really apparent how much impact or punch an image looses as it is reduced in size. The bottom image above feels outrageous when viewed in Lightroom on a 25″ monitor yet when viewed above only 150 pixels wide it just gets your attention.
Remember, in marketing the goal is to get more clicks on your photos so punch is not so much about what looks good to you or is the color accurate, as it is about what attracts more attention and traffic. You can get a feel for how getting attention with thumbnails work by looking over a large group of thumbnails (like the PFRE flickr group) and notice how your attention is drawn to bright, high contrast, vibrant thumbnails. It’s apparently from our hunter-gatherer DNA.