Real Estate Photo Editing in Lightroom 4 – By Jon Miller

August 15th, 2012

My goal here is helping everyone in the real estate photography industry be successful. To that end when long time PFRE reader Jon Miller told me about his situation and his Architectural photo editing business I added a link to his site on the right side-bar under “Real Estate Photography Post Processing Services”. Jon is in Utah. Jon also offered to do a screencast of how he does his edits and I accepted his offer.

I think Jon’s 15 minute screencast not only is an ad for his real estate photo-editing business and an example of his skill with Lightroom, but it is a wonderful demonstration of the capabilities of Lightroom. I have to say that Jon uses the Lightroom Gradient filter, spot removal brush and adjustment brush better than I’ve seen them used before. I tend to go out to Photoshop for these kind of edits but Jon has inspired me to practice more with the adjustment brush, gradient filter and spot removal brush features.

Jon may be able to help you raise the bar in the work you deliver. Check out his services.

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18 Responses to “Real Estate Photo Editing in Lightroom 4 – By Jon Miller”

  • Jon,

    Great screencast, love the before and after on the services page on your site.

  • Great job Jon. We also use Lightroom for just about everything these days – that adjustment brush is the best. Good luck with your work.

  • Jon – I shared the link with my Lightroom Workflow for Real Estate Photograhers group on Facebook since you have a share button on the blog.

    Larry – I shared the link again with my group for your blog.

    Thank you both for providing such good material to help our businesses move forward.

  • Great video! I use LR4 for all my initial post work, but not to the extent that Jon Does. I’ll need to work on this. Watching this also makes me question whether I’m too anal about personal items in photos. I noticed toothbrushes, trash dumpsters, fans, etc. in his photos. I am meticulous about removing these items before the shoot, and airbrushing power cords, etc. in post. I’d be curious to hear other opinions. Great work, Jon!

  • @Mark: Jon offers photo editing services, so these would be other people’s photos he’s working with. I don’t see “object removal” in his services list.

  • What a great presentation, Jon! I really like the befores and afters: I am pretty sure it would be very hard/ time consuming to get the sort of results you are achieving with local and graduated adjustments, using lighting alone. Given the time constraints in place with a RE shoot, I think Lightroom can be the other half of the act: someone described the adjustment brush as like having a third flashgun! I am sure you will find clients eager to take their work to a new level.

  • As soon as I hit Submit I realized you hadn’t meant your reply in that way. 🙂

    Yes, I think most of us strive to get the scene as cleaned up possible before the shoot, as time permits. But for the type of photographer (as in Jon’s first sample picture) who needs his verticals straightened, personal objects are probably the least of his worries.

  • I like the concept of using LR for all my editing and the screencast is inspiring, but the reality is PS w/actions is still faster for my workflow and the look I want in my photography. I agree w/Mark M, the trash cans, fans, cheap soap bottles on counters, and especially the cover on the bbq have got to go. I also move dog beds, half burned candles, remote controls etc, I always do a quick 10min walk through to move all of that stuff and pre-stage the shots, I know what angles I need to get and where to hide things, it will save time later.

    Thanks for sharing your work.

  • Ooops! Just realize Jon is the photo editor and not the photographer. The physical ‘cleaning up’ a shot prior to shooting is a good business practice though. Thanks.

  • OK. I actually finished entire video after being interupted many times and think that if anyone doesn’t use lightroom rather than photoshop for 90% of their workflow, is just a photoshop addict and that is fine.

    What is the most important thing about this video – to me it is the time and effort that goes into posting a great picture. Even at speeded up for video speeds, this is a 15 minute process on only a few rooms.

    Most of the real estate photographers I see in my market and in most major cities in the states, according to their websites take at least 25 pictures. So, if they are only charging $99-$150 even $199, my take from reviewing their sites, is not that they are priced low, not that they are not good enough, but rather – how much time they spend for the dollars they earn.

    To provide a great product takes time to get to the location and return, takes time to take great images and even more time to process. Yes, some photographers can take great pictures and move through a house quickly and some processors can post up 25 pictures quickly, but the average real estate photographer (and that is most of us – not in quality but in how we go about things), takes a lot of time to put a great product out for his/her customer.

    So. Get really good at taking pictures – use the right equipment – a 24 tilt shift will save time and create more accurate straight lines. Get good with lightroom and upgrade to 4.1 if you can. It is a real time saver and actually quite fun to use and play with. Any time you save is more money in your own pocket. Any improvement in your images mean more clients will refer more business because you do such a great job.

    I know I said thank you before to Jon, but this is really a great video for making a commitment to Lightroom as a workflow processor.

  • Jon, that is a great presentation and a good lesson for any person who wants to learn how to stand out of the crowd.
    I myself just got the new PhotoFXlabs and their plugins of Topazlabs and have no experience with lightroom.

  • Thank you, everyone! Especially Larry. 🙂

    I’m glad this has been so inspirational. I really love Lightroom. I’ve been using it since the first public beta 6 or 7 years ago. Even then I could tell that Adobe was making what I had been dreaming of. It has only improved over time, and the updates in version 4 were phenomenal. Honestly you can not get the quality I’m showing here from version 3. If you haven’t upgraded you really should. (Or you could just have me edit for you… 😉

    I do want to put one thing in perspective for everyone: I am a stay-at-home-father roughly 70% of the time. My availability to get out and shoot is largely limited to the other 30%. This is a choice to be with my children, and it has been a wonderful experience, particularly for the sake of helping them after a traumatic custody dispute in which their mother kept them from me for two years.

    My editing work then serves multiple purposes: it allows me to be with my children while still providing for them, it inspires me by giving me insight into ways to approach shooting challenging spaces (I have edited over 6,000 real estate photos so far), and it allows me to help other photographers build their businesses.

    Dave M Davis (the photographer whose images I used for the screencast – has been able to shoot more, increase his prices, and reach a higher clientele than he previously could, and he credits me with helping him make that happen. Obviously he did the hard part by actually getting out there and developing the relationship with his clients and photographing the properties (in Alaska, where he sometimes has to drive for hours to get to a property). But the time spent editing was the limiting factor for his business. I helped him remove that constraint and now his business has grown to the point that he has hired a full time assistant / office manager and purchased new equipment and everything.

    It just goes to show how much can be done when you treat business as a team sport, and you have an abundance mentality. Trying to do everything yourself is generally a losing proposition. Do what you are good at and enjoy, and outsource the rest. 🙂

    Sadly (for me) I have largely worked myself out of that work with Dave, as his assistant now does most of his editing, but he still comes to me when he’s doing a property that will be published. 😉

  • Oh, I wanted to also add that when I’m shooting I do take the time to clean up the scene. It’s hard to appreciate the lines of the architecture and the color schemes from a great interior designer when the space is cluttered with little things. You’ll note in the video that there are a couple of times I crop Dave’s images to remove something distracting, like a table lamp that is on the floor for some reason.

    In Dave’s defense, this was shot and edited in a hurry. The realtor was really pressed for time, so we knocked it out as quickly as we could. Considering that, I’d say it looks great. But don’t judge Dave on this shoot; he does great work and either he usually does clean up the scenes more, or he just typically shoots homes without items that need to be cleaned up, because I don’t usually see that stuff. He also does a great “photo of the day” post on his facebook page. Check him out!

  • Great video and techniques, Jon. What software are you using for your screencast? I’ve tried a few and have had trouble getting good results.

  • I think I need to develop a cocaine habit just to keep up – any chance of a real time version ?

  • Thanks, Joshua! I’m just using Quicktime right out of the box from Apple. Just open it and go to the File menu and select “New Screen Recording”. It walks you through the rest of the process. 🙂

    The Cooler – Yes, I’m working on more videos. This was just an overview. The real time version was over an hour long.

  • Really enjoyed this video. It inspired me to pick up a copy of LR4. I would love a real time version of the video (or even of you just editing a couple photos). I couldn’t keep up with what you were doing at all.

  • Any chance of a real time video or suggestions for someone as good with a real time video. This was excellent. I love challenging myself to improve on each new shoot and edit. Thanks for showing me some new tricks even though it’s difficult to keep up with lol.

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