Don’t Charge for Real Estate Photography until Your Verticals Are Vertical

December 5th, 2017

Recently, my wife Levi (a Realtor for 26 years) erupted in laughter at her computer and showed me these photos on an email flyer she had for a listing in Tacoma, WA. What my wife was laughing about was the row of little photos along the bottom that all have wacky verticals. When you line them up together, you get a particularly strange effect. It makes my stomach queasy!

The fact is, photographers skilled in other types of photography that have never shot interiors with a wide angle lens, never think about verticals. And most never figure out by themselves that it’s important to have verticals parallel with the left and right edge of the frame. They have to be told. And some will even argue that it’s not important. There is a very accomplished and successful real estate photographer in Australia (that will remain unnamed) that it took me several months in 2007 to convince that verticals should always be rendered vertical. It’s just a concept beginners have a struggle with but once they become believers, they end up spreading the gospel.

Understanding the vertical issue is sort of rite of initiation for interior photography. Once you get your verticals vertical, you can start charging money to shoot interiors!

If you are one of the newbies who still needs to know why and how, here are some older posts on the subject:

  1. To be a real estate photographer you need to get some things straight
  2. PTlens: Correct Verticals, Barrel Distortion, Vignetting, Chromatic Aberration
  3. Straightening Verticals and Horizontals with Photoshop Elements
  4. Correcting Verticals -Redux (by Scott Hargis)
  5. Let’s Get This Straight (By Scott Hargis)
  6. What Everybody Ought to Know About Verticals
  7. My Mission: To Straighten All Walls in the Realm!
  8. More on Straightening Walls
  9. Another Way to Keep the Walls Straight

Wow, I didn’t realize I’d written so much on this subject!

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7 Responses to “Don’t Charge for Real Estate Photography until Your Verticals Are Vertical”

  • Amen, this makes me crazy when I see images like this that are technically not bad but are so whacky. When I started 10 years ago I thought my verticals very straight. Used the level in the cam but that only does so much. Software was not so great then as it is now. There is no excuse for a pro to do this consistently. I’ve gotten so bad with my obsession with this that a fraction of a degree of tilt or rotation bothers me.

    Now this is not a 100% rule. There are certain instances when trying to capture a scene it works, like looking down into the great room from an overlook. Even in those scenes you should do a little correction because a WA tend to exaggerate that view.

    I agree if you can’t get it straight don’t charge. Not much more to say about this except that LR makes it so easy to fix there are no excuses. Ps the same goes for barrel distortion. Use lens profiles.

  • What Larry and Franck said. I have found that my clients can’t identify what bothers than about a shot someone else has taken especially when it is otherwise technically acceptable. But if I show them what it would look like with horizontals and verticals (as appropriate) corrected the light bulb goes off. To me, it shows a photographer who never studied photography aimed at producing a professional but rather someone who picked up a camera, watched some tutorials, mastered exposure (not hard to do with today’s cameras) and plonked themselves out there marketing their wares. Even the new HDR apps provide perspective correction so there is no excuse.

  • Good Morning,

    We have just started photography classes (1/18) and between reading all we can here and on line and the class, we hope to get a firm grasp of this business.

    Thank You for this article.


  • How can that be, a photog here in Albuquerque is given 10 to 15 mins. to shoot a house with a flash on top of the camera and he runs from room to room all for 50 to 70 bucks. Agents DO NOT CARE what the photos look like! That’s why I gave up being a real estate photographer, it wasn’t worth the fight.

  • @Jerry, without straying too much from the topic of verticals (which are a fundamental necessity), I wanted to say that things aren’t that bad in Albuquerque. This year I shot 400+ homes here and while I lost 50% of my clientele to dozens of newbies charging $100, I stayed true to my higher price and have been adding tons of extra value to keep customers from moving. It is a CHEAP market and it’s also true that agents “do not care” what the photos look like, but it is possible to be a RE photographer here… just not very profitable. Getting back to straight pictures, I recommend my brokers show their potential listings examples of good and bad pictures along with NAR statistics during the listing appointment. Putting straight and crooked pictures side by side on the same screen is a great way to pick up new listings… and that IS something that brokers here care about.

  • @Jim, yes, even when I put a good photo and a bad photo side by side on the screen, none of them could tell the difference between them. But they could tell the difference between $1 and $2. Also I was told by many agents the home owner didn’t care how the photos looked. When I was left to photograph a home, nearly all the owners wanted to see what my images looked like. I showed them the images on the camera screen of the ones I had already made and the response all the time was big relief because they saw so many terrible photos on all the RE web sites. They loved my photos.

  • I am a real estate photographer in South Florida and it is a definite struggle. In this market you have under the table photographers offering low quality images for $90, they spend 15 minutes maximum in a home, then the agents are constantly heckling about prices and how this other guy charges $50. You have people taking aerial photos with no FAA remote pilot license while also flying in controlled airspace without permission and agents don’t know the difference. Despite all of these I’ve found it helpful to educate my customers, explain to them my equipment choices, the rules I follow, I share with them my airspace authorizations so they develop an expectation and hopefully when a low balling fly by night photographer comes around they will understand enough to pass on the offer.

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