June 26th, 2007
Proposed Real Estate Photography Guidelines for Image Modification
These guidelines for image modification are meant as a reference for discussion and synthesis of a number of posts on this blog as well as comments made by blog readers. I’m attempting to document a standard of practice that represents a large portion of photographers currently working in real estate photography.
Real Estate Photographers should not modify images of properties such that the images no longer truthfully and fairly represent that property. In particular permanent physical features of the property should not be modified. On the other hand real estate images are intended for marketing purposes and therefore present the property in the very best way possible. So image enhancements that do not materially change permanent physical characteristics of the house or surrounding environment are considered standard practice. The following is a list of what clarifying examples:
- Removing temporary objects like garbage cans, cars etc.
- Changing image saturation, brightness, contrast or color balance
- Fixing converging verticals, lens barrel distortion or color fringing
- Removing refrigerator clutter i.e, the photos, post-it’s etc sellers typically have on refrigerators or removing furniture that is not part of the house.
- Sky replacement or enhancement
- Use of ultra-wide-angle lenses
Considered Modification of Permanent Physical Characteristics
- Removing or modifying power lines, antennas or power poles
- modifying any part of the house or landscaping that would not naturally change within a few weeks
Use of Ultra-Wide-angle Lenses
Although some people find the use of ultra-wide angle lenses (below 24mm effective focal length) to visually overstate the size of rooms, use of ultra-wide-angle lenses is generally standard practice. It should be done with discretion.
Use of Telephoto Lenses to Enhance Views
This seems to be a borderline practice. That is, some do it and some don’t. There doesn’t seem to be any standard practice in this area.
Use High Dynamic Range (HDR)
Adjusting and expanding the tonal range is standard practice.
Modifying the grass
Some feel that grass is a temporary property feature and modify irregularities or bare spots as required. This seems to be a borderline practice. That is, it is not done widely enough to be considered standard practice but some photographers will add grass if it will be included in the sale of the home but not present at the time of the photo. At the same time some consider modifying any part of the landscaping.
Document the request for photo modifications
Real estate photographers should document any request by their clients requesting any modification of marketing photos.