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Avoiding Unnecessary Shots

Published: 26/10/2018
By: larry

Dave in Perth, Australia sent me this article on Avoiding Real Estate Photo Blunders. He said:

The paragraph entitled "Unnecessary Shots” piqued my interest. The paragraph is as follows:

Unnecessary Shots
A close-up of the water heater, a snapshot of a ceiling fan, or a picture of the garage like these are typically wasteful and won’t do much to entice buyers. And that antique lamp and vase full of flowers look beautiful on your end table, but if they don’t come with the house, there’s no sense in highlighting them.

I agree but wonder what other real estate photographers think?

This subject reminds me of the online marketing for the home I live in now when my wife and I bought it in 2006. The distinctive feature of the home was the stunning millwork. The listing agents marketed it with many photos like the one above that were close-up shots of the millwork rather than wider room shots that showed both the space layout and the millwork. It came across online very badly. So bad, that I didn't even want to go look at it. My wife finally convinced me to walk through it and soon as I walked in the front door I was blown away. This is a case where, for me, all the detail shots were an unnecessary distraction and in my view, made a mess of the marketing. Sure, we ended up buying it but for me, the marketing didn't work to get me into the home. It was my wife that got me into the home; not the marketing.

What do you think?


10 comments on “Avoiding Unnecessary Shots”

  1. I think that when it comes to sales too much information isn't a good thing. And effective RE marketing photos certainly aren't about documenting. Images that spark emotion are what matter. If fact, that's all that matters.

  2. I have had real estate agents request the I shoot close up pictures of the molding and millwork in a few houses. I guess that they are nice to have, but I agree that seeing a nice shot of the whole room shows off the millwork enough and too many pictures will make the potential buyer lose interest.

  3. I sometimes include a few "accent" shots, usually using a 35mm f/1.8 lens, but not in lieu of pics showing the full room. A few of these images often help spark the emotion that David mentions. And actually, I believe I picked up the idea here from some of you. Most agents like these and will mix a few in either to show off something, such as the backsplash, or to evoke warm feelings. For me, a great photo makes me wish I was there (or wish I'd taken it). With the use of social media and our MLS allowing more and more photos there's room for an accent shot or two artfully taken and carefully placed between traditional images.

    I also have a couple of agents who want pics of things like the water heater and furnace but they do not use them in the listing; they want them to send out if they get questions about such things, especially from out of town buyers. That said, I've never taken a picture of a ceiling fan or a garage corner.

  4. I have folders full of bad images I use to illustrate what not to do when I make presentations. Water heaters, pool equipment, outside AC unit(s), laundry hookups, ceiling fans, under the kitchen sink, etc, ad nauseum. There are also the lesser sins of fireplace closeups, the top of the hob (range top), inside small closets, etc.

    Even high end millwork can be horrible in a home where it's just been tacked on and not part of a whole look. A couple of detail shots might be in order, but capturing how the entire installation looks with a note in the description that reads "Premium millwork that you have to see in person to appreciate fully" is a better tack to take.

    The funniest galleries I come across are from paranoid agents that go out of their way to document every fault and blemish of a home. Maybe the sellers were riding them or something and they are taking revenge or have another listing where they'll make more commission so they don't want to confuse buyers looking in that area.

    Most agents don't have marketing experience. To get their license they have to know the laws regarding homes sales and they need to know how to handle the paperwork, but there isn't anything that requires them to be good marketeers.

  5. I leave it to my clients, if they want "detail" shots, then they get them for an added $. Anyone who has photographed a 100 year home that has been maintained, knows that the detail and features out class most homes that are built today. A lot was lost over the years in the craftsmanship of homes.

  6. You know the funny thing is in my part of Australia is that the agents have only just got gone nuts for detail images in the last year or so. Maybe over in Perth it just hasn't caught on yet?

    I've done them for years for the more upmarket agents who have always wanted to sell the "sizzle" rather than the "steak," but only now have some of the lower tiers have cottoned on to how well they can work in a marketing campaign.

    They are very effective in printed material (which is very important in Australian marketing) but even on the internet it is a nice counterpoint to all the wide shots to mix it up with some tighter angles.

    In fact I had a call from an agent just today who commented how much he like that I included some details shot in the photos for his latest listing.

    He mentioned that it is good that I am learning some new tricks, I kept my tongue firmly in my cheek when it is in fact the agents that are maturing in their tastes and are now showing some more sophistication in their marketing tastes rather than just wide, wider and can you make it even more wider!

  7. I believe the ideal formula is pretty simple.That does not mean you can get your client to buy into it by the way.

    Show "establishing shots" is what I will call them. These are the most difficult to light and make look like they are not distorted, but they are important to show how the home connects and what it looks like from the curb.

    Next, you get in tighter. This stuff is not rocket science. Think of anything.... ANYTHING you are interested in and lookimg at photos of. You want to see it, and you want to see a bit more detail.

    Next, continuing on that last point, get even closer. Because we want to see things we are interested in closely, closer yet can't hurt.

    You have now told a story that should flow reasonably well, broken up you f8 every single pixel in focus shots with a few that throw out the background to maintain interest. And, most importantly, you have given the proverbial housewife something to go gaga over, because who isn't going gaga seeing a photo of sun dripping through a kitchen window and scraping across a vase of flowers?

    Lastly, you have also made your job easier because quite honestly details could not be easier to shoot. It is win win.

  8. While taking an exterior shot of a garage, the realtor wanted to highlight a certain feature in that garage. Instead of using a single, close-up shot of that feature, I included it as an inset in that garage's photo, without eclipsing other, essential features. The final result provided a forest-and-one-tree perspective of the garage, in a single image--satisfying the realtor's request.

  9. Andrew brings up a good point about the "establishing shot". That is almost standard fare in video - close up detail and expanding out, or visa versa. Likewise with a tour and sequence progression. In both cases, you have control creating the final product. The problem with photos is that they are handed to the client/realtor who appears to lack the concept of storyline and their upload to MLS appears to be a well shuffled deck of cards. That said, I rarely take detail shots, garages, or laundry rooms unless exemplary at which point I ask if not requested as I usually store my gear in the laundry room and take it first. My detail shots are probably better referred to as lifestyle shots. Some staged, like a glass of wine while sitting at a patio table or lounge chair with side table while looking out at the pool, or walking out on the golf course on the green with the hole and flag in the foreground looking back at the house which also gives a secondary message that in a 'safe' place on the course from errant golf balls. Then sometimes things will stand out in the home, like the wine rack built into the lower portion of the stair rise, and include a couple steps to demonstrate location. The other time it comes up is the result of the two questions I ask when introduced to the homeowner - "Anything you DON'T want me to take (that I already wouldn't take - like safes and guns/inventory)" and "Anything you specifically want me to take." One replied the view from the breakfast nook is what originally sold him the house, so yes, special detail to that area. Another was an avid Disney collector displayed all through the house, didn't want the collection displayed - so obviously no closeups and strategic positioning however, they did assist with moving some for the photo where possible, then replace as move on to next room.

  10. @Andrew, you make a good point. It's worth adding that if you are thinking about your detail shots when you light your establishing images, you don't have to re-light anything. Just zoom in (walk in) open up the aperture and compose.

    @Larry, I export my images from lightroom with sequential numbering. ie, 123MainSt-001.jpg, 123MainSt-002.jpg etc after I have put them in the order I want them to display. I don't care about the MLS. It isn't publicly accessible and I recommend to my clients that they upload images directly to Zillow, Trulia, Realtor, etc not only to help preserve the sequencing, but to get the best quality possible. Images that have gone through syndication just get mangled. Sequencing is important to me, I want buyers to see the most important images first so they don't move on and never get to them. I have a local agent I'm working on trying to get work from and he's posting 50+ HDR images from the photographer he's using now. To get him thinking, I had to ask him whether he wanted 3 of Kia's cheapest cars or just one BMW 5 series. More is better, right?

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