Real estate agents engage their suppliers on trust, that they will behave professionally when in the home sellers home.
I know that I have shot many homes over the years where I recognised the owner as having been in the public eye, for both good and bad reasons!
I recently witnessed one of my industry peers overstep the mark and reveal clues about the owner of a property being sold.
It was a bit like a celebrity listing. In this case, the owner was prominent in business. I don't know if the owner became aware of it, but the listing agent certainly did, and was very unhappy. Essentially, items in the home (family portraits and certificates on the office wall ) identified the owner.
I've run into this similar issues with listing clients that have expensive art objects that they didn't want photographed. I think in general a good solution to the issue of confidentiality and privacy is good communication with the agent you are shooting for. The listing agent should know if there is any special confidentiality or privacy issues with the home owner. The agent should not assume the photographer is going to figure out these issues unless they are told about it.
One great way of insuring good communication with the agent is walking through the property, discussing what you are going to shoot and asking questions about what the client wants and doesn't want and what's special about this listing. This doesn't have to take a long time but the photographer and the agent need to spend some time communicating about the property. This is where it's likely to come up that the identity of this home owner needs to be confidential or that the home owner has items that should not appear in listing photos.
One could argue that it's the agent's responsibility to make these special circumstances known to the photographer up front but I think it is good practice for photographers to go over what they intend to shoot asking what the agent thinks is important and special, or unusual about this listing.
In situations where the agent doesn't show up at the shoot for whatever reason it's even more important for this communication to take place. Don't wait for the agent to tell you, always ask and discuss what, if anything, is special about this listing.
Anyone have problems in this area?