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The Case for Delivering Diptychs to Our Clients

Published: 25/07/2019

Author: Tony Colangelo

In a recent article here on PFRE, my friend, Pierre Galant made the case for the increased use of vertical images in real estate photography (e.g., captured in portrait orientation). He noted that many agents are reticent to do this because MLS portals are programmed to show images in landscape/horizontal orientation. In my own real estate photography career, I've only had a handful of clients who accepted vertical compositions. All the rest were absolutely dead-set against it. In fact, they weren’t even open to having a conversation about it; and despite my presenting a good case for certain shots in the house being captured in a vertical orientation, their trump card was always the MLS horizontal requirement.

In the comments section, at the end of Pierre’s article, Scott Hargis pointed out that one way to insert vertically oriented images in a landscape-driven MLS system was to create "a diptych out of two (preferably related) vertical compositions" and that doing so was "a simple way around the horizontal MLS issue." I think this is a great idea and in fact, I recently presented this concept in a composition webinar hosted by our friends at Shooting Spaces, Rich Baum and Brian Berkowitz.

Indeed, I think there is great potential for using diptychs in real estate photography because leveraging two-photos-in-one contributes to a better "story" about the house. It helps our agent clients to show off things they can easily “sell” as part of their listing, such as expensive appliances, distinctive finishes, quality workmanship and functional living space, all of which help to communicate the home's value. Taken collectively, these items can also serve to intrigue the prospective buyer by giving indication of the home's character, which allows them to infer a sense of the "lifestyle" they might have while living in the house.

To show you what I mean, the diptych on the right is one that I delivered to my longest-standing architect client, a couple of years ago. The homeowners wanted to renovate this lakeside cottage. However, given the zoning restrictions in the area, the cottage could not be built out. So, my client built up, producing that really funky "pyramid" looking room on the second level, with multiple, "mini-vaulted" ceilings! The images within this diptych, which were taken at similar camera angles, allow the viewer to see context between spaces (both zoomed-in and wider) and, in doing so, shows off highly functional living spaces, even in a relatively small home. If I were shooting this home for a RE agent, the next photo that I would've delivered would have been one taken from that upstairs space. Doing so contributes to the "flow" that I want to achieve in the images that I'd end up delivering to the agent ... almost as if I were taking the prospective buyers on a tour, via my photos.

While I'm pleased to say that my client really loved this diptych, the more important point I want to make is that I would also enthusiastically deliver this diptych to any real estate agent who might be selling this house; and I'm particularly pleased to say that this diptych is in a 3x2 aspect ratio, which aligns with my local MLS system.

So, what do you think? Do you offer diptychs when delivering images? If not, is this something that you would consider utilizing with your real estate agent clients?

Tony Colangelo is a residential and commercial photographer, as well as a photography coach, based in Victoria, BC, Canada. He is a long-time contributor to PFRE and is the creator of The Art & Science of Great Composition tutorial series.

13 comments on “The Case for Delivering Diptychs to Our Clients”

  1. I think it is a brilliant idea.
    The challenge for me is overcoming the impulse to shoot wide because the agent wants a 195 degree AOV.
    Shooting that narrow would have to be a very deliberate and really an exercise in seeing for artistic vignettes as opposed to the maximal real estate vistas the clients scream for.

  2. Scott's suggestion is a very good one. It can even be taken one step further with a tryptic consisting of a vertically composed image on one side with two small, almost square, detail images on the other.

    I am planning to spend the time to create a template or action in PS the next time I do one so it's fast and easy to whip one out.

  3. Great article Tony! Yes, I have been doing this for years and even though the vertical issue is at least in my circles, gone with the wind... due to most syndicated sites being able to handle almost any photo size and orientation... and no one shops for a home on mls ... only through the syndicated sites so Im not sure why it would matter for mls anyway... as they could just not use those images in mls and no one would know ... but I may be missing something there... Im not a realtor... =)

    Anyway, I have had the opposite of Tony... only maybe 2 or 3 in over ten years that have requested landscape only... lol! But I always think about it... and will offer diptychs if the images are key images that will most certainly be used in the main marketing... and now sometimes I will just do it if I think it will tie things together creatively.. so i will create the diptych and also include singles in the file downloads for their convenience... but I have even gone so far as to offer triptychs and quadriptychs (is that a word??) ... with small slices showing the details I want to combine and fitting them into a 3:2 (this works great for small rooms that need several shots and has to be broken up for effective compositions, as well as rooms that you would have to shoot super wide due to camera placement limitations)

    I agree that it really can be creative in combining room shots with a detail shot like tonys example above... especially in large spaces like living areas that have frescos in a dome ceiling... I will shoot a vertical of the room including as much of the ceiling and then snap or even crop a vertical into a detail of the fresco and place it with the wide shot... so all at once, two things can be communicated in one glance and they are paired

    Charging wise -- If I shoot both images and edit both images, I will charge per image not for two in one... if I crop, it will just count as one...

    Anyway... wish I had thought of this when I started and had a couple of those "landscape only" clients... this would have been the perfect solution to that issue

  4. Great idea. Thanks for posting it although I have not had problems in my market with verticals I did don’t use them but often usually for small bathrooms or atrium ceilings.

  5. I use a few verticals in my shoots. I look for a good vertical look. Sometimes a vertical is the only way to shoot it. Its my way to mix up the presentation, kinda playing with the viewers eye. Sometimes I squeeze it down, more square than vertical or horizontal. I've never had an agent tell me they didn't like it.

  6. @ Kare Mooney ... Hi Kare, I've got a post coming out tomorrow with a video on how I put diptychs together, as a few people have reached out, asking the same question you have. I hope you'll get value from it 🙂

  7. We actually tried to do this several years ago for agents using the NWMLS (Western Washington) and the MLS would not allow it. They wanted each photo full size for viewing I don't know if that is still true, but be sure to check with the MLS regulations.

  8. @Julie Armstrong, If you are only delivering 2 galleries, one big and one small, you are stuck complying with MLS rules. Using Lightroom, I can output many galleries of different resolutions optimized for each destination. I recommend to my clients they upload images to the MLS, Trulia, Zillow and Realtor individually so they aren't getting degradation from the syndication process. All of my outputs are presets so it only takes me a couple of minutes of my time to do the work and I'm adding a ton of value for the client. A couple of clients also have me output a size for their website and when I shoot HUD homes, I have an output that meets their unique requirements.

    It's a little more time, but I can change the image roster of any output. Diptych's will have more impact on the consumer facing websites than they will for the MLS. There's more "wow" factor that will likely get lost on the MLS which is more about agent to agent than agent to potential buyer so if the MLS won't allow them, fine, output a gallery specifically for the MLS that doesn't include them. I see it as one of the things that makes your service unique as most other photographers won't be doing it. Since it doesn't take much more time if you have a workflow set up for it with templates/presets, it's a cheap way to hold on to customers and set yourself apart when marketing to new ones.

    @Tony, I'm looking forward to your follow up video. Being able to do these images quickly will make them a much more valuable item to provide.

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