Confessions of A Photoshop Sinner

March 30th, 2008

I need to confess. I’ve committed grievous sins. I’ve used Photoshop to modify the physical appearance of the exterior of a home we are going to put on the market this week. Not just once but twice. The evidence is in the comparison photo to the right.

This all started when my wife Levi (the listing agent) wanted to convince the sellers that the front of their home below the porch railing needs to be painted white so it doesn’t look garish (it really needs more than that but there just isn’t time to paint the whole house). The sellers were having trouble visualizing how that would change the look of the home so I volunteered to make a Photoshop image that would help them visualize what it would look like if they painted it. After seeing the modified version the sellers liked the idea and have a painter scheduled to make the modification. It snowed yesterday so the painters isn’t going to get it painted for a while so we’re forced to go the the Photoshop version because that’s how it’s going to look.

Next while doing the brochure and writing the listing copy Levi decides that the homes on either side of this home “don’t look good” in my photo (“sorry love, this is what the place looks like!”). She really wanted the front photo shot more from the left hand front with the photo cropped close so the left hand home isn’t as obvious. I couldn’t re-shoot the front so what I did is reduce the opacity of the background around the home so the surrounding homes are less obvious. I’ve done this kind of thing before just on the flyer or brochure for emphasis and it was always been well received by sellers and buyers. However, this is the first time I’ve dropped the background opacity on the front photo that is going on the NWMLS.

This feels good to get this off my chest. I feel like I’m an accomplice to a serious crime. Its always like this, she talks me into doing these radical things with Photoshop that I know are over the edge.

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14 Responses to “Confessions of A Photoshop Sinner”

  • […] of A Photoshop Sinner Jim Kimmons, Broker/Owner wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI need to confess. I’ve committed […]

  • I think you should feel that way. I think as real estate photographers, we have a responsibility to the public to portray the home as it is. I think dulling the surrounding homes is okay to emphisize the home, but the white was wrong. It is a bummer the paint couldn’t be up for the first marketing run. I deny my clients modification rights any time they interfear with what is there. I think the hardest ones are when there are light poles or power lines in front of the houses. I really with I didn’t have that ethical wall up some times.

    To each his own. I’m pretty sure that every MLS in the country has a disclaimer as the the validity of the photography and script. So I think we are all safe no matter what we do.

    Later Gator,


  • […] larry ’s site is fantastic! I thought I’d share the latest post on the site which grabbed my attention: Confessions of A Photoshop Sinner […]

  • Hmmm…you may want to push the idea of painting more. I suggest painting the entire house the top gray colour and having white as the trim and accents. The green is the problem.
    With the bottom white now, it looks very chopped up…too many colours goin on. I’d either do all or none.
    As for doing the photoshop work, I personally wouldn’t make any changes like that…I’d be too afraid the plans would change or something bad would happen. I’m a big chicken.

  • I have to agree with Paul. What do you say to customers, when they come to see the house? If you want to suggest changes, you should present both pictures, original and “tuning” (or did you?). I think the loss of customers confidence can be worse than garish look of the house. I don’t think I would ever do something like that!Ok, it’s no big crime or cheating, but anyway…
    Greeting’s from West Toronto realtor

  • I think it’s over the top. It does not represent the home as it is, and you don’t know what the painter will do or perhaps the owner will change their mind. It shouldn’t be put on the MLS this way, totally mis-leading in my opinion. Everyone has their own ethics standards, and they need to follow that, and as a former photojournalist I still follow what we did in the newsroom. It works for me.


  • It might work if the modified picture clearly states “rendition”. It’s work in progress… while listing agent is stating and disclaiming it, I see no problem…

    Larry… hihihi, you are living with the customer 🙂 hihihi

  • […] Source and Read More: […]

  • Many of the comments seem to be focused on the paint… As a member of the same MLS as your wife, I think the remaked photo is acceptable as long as it comes with the full disclaimer (public remarks would be best) that is how the home will look when painting is complete. That way you minimize the chance that you break trust with the buyer and/or agent.

    What is more interesting to me is the use of opacity. Ideally this would be done with a more blended look, but I think this is acceptable. Just like you would isolate a subject with a wide open aperture, the opacity serves to draw your eye to the home, while still representing accurately the fact that it is in a sea of other homes.

  • Tony,
    Yes, you are right on. The low opacity background is actually the main point I wanted to get across with this post. I got a little carried away talking about the paint. I’m not to concerned about the paint.. the painting is being done as we speak and I’ll replace the photo about the time it goes on the market.

    Dropping the opacity of the background is a great way to make a home stand out in some of todays developments where homes are close together.

  • I would think you could even use the opacity when isolating a townhome in a row of others. I think I would like it best with a softer edge.

    Since getting Lightroom (love it!), I have not relied on photoshop as much. I’ll have to sharpen my skills and play with this.

  • @Tony,
    Yes, you could easily fuzz the edge between the background and the house.

  • Actually, I liked the house as-is. I don’t like the white/green/gray as much.

    That said, I’ll bet you PO some people if they see the photo was modified. That’s pretty close to lying about the house. I wonder if the agent will lose the customer confidence. I know I’d be distrustful of anything said after that. I think you’ve gone slightly over the line on this.

  • Any modifications made to a photo representation of real property without proper public disclosure is a misrepresentation and therefore fraudulent in my opinion. On the other hand if disclosure is public and notorious the usage of such an image, if not governed by a local MLS, nor the Realtor Code of Ethics, boils down to the individual’s ethical barometer. And my approach would be to only use such a photo, with full disclosure, if a genuine image could be visible from the same medium (MLS Listing,, agent or broker website etc); under most circumstances I would avoid it altogether. Additionally, with specific regard to unless the listing broker (or office) is a Showcase or Featured Listings subscriber, the website will only pull the first image from the local MLS board listing via IDX; eliminating the “before” and “after” effect of using two images.

    On the other hand I can appreciate the concept of “diffusing” a background of adjacent homes to highlight the subject property while also accurately representing the density of the neighborhood.

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