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How To Keep Home Sellers and Listing Agents With View Properties Happy

September 13th, 2011

I had a request last week to help an up and coming real estate photographer in the Seattle area learn how to make sure the views look great in his interior photos. He was lamenting that he had the opportunity to shoot homes with great views but he couldn’t pull the windows with his lighting and he couldn’t get Exposure Fusion to do the job either. Listing agents and sellers all insisted on having photos with ultra crisp and clear views out the windows!

I know the feeling! One of my first jobs when I started working with my wife in 1999 was to go photograph her $1M+ view property listing on Lake Sammamish. Mrs Seller was very proud of her newly remodeled kitchen that looked out over Lake Sammamish and the Cascades beyond. She was adamant that she had to have a photo of the interior of the kitchen that showed the dramatic view out the windows. I showed up with my trusty Nikon 6006 and SB-26 flash but didn’t have a clue how to do it! I gave it my best shot, but in the end Mrs. Seller was in tears. Luckily we sold her home quickly so she didn’t fire us.

Back in 2008 I did a post that explained how to mask widows but this is a really common problem that beginning real estate photographers run into all the time and deserves to have a tutorial that walks you through how to mask windows. This tutorial is my reparation to Mrs Seller on Lake Sammamish that never got the kitchen view photos she wanted. For this tutorial I used Photoshop Elements 9 for several reasons:

  1. PSE 9 is very available. $79 on Amazon. It’s really all beginning real estate photographers need.
  2. PSE 9 works on Windows or Mac.
  3. It works very much like PS CS5 and every other version of Photoshop.
I’m sure if I don’t mention it someone will surely raise one of these objections:
  1. Some will say this masking approach results in an unrealistic look. Perhaps, but my experience is that most home sellers and listing agents would rather have windows look unrealistic clear and punchy than any other way.
  2. You can do the same thing with lighting and you wouldn’t have to spend so much time in post. Yup, but many of us are better with Photoshop than we are with lighting.
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