How Much Creativity Can a Real Estate Photo Take?

Oliver M. Zielinski Oliver M. Zielinski - 25. November 2014 - in: English

How much creativity can a real estate photo take?Real estate photos are walking a fine line between documentation and artwork, with limits for creativity.

But a real estate image also has a purpose – it is supposed to advertise for a property. At the same time it has to follow a policy of truth. Any potential client should not be provided with a wrong optical impression. But Photoshop could make this so easy for us. If a property is beautified afterwords it may be seen as an offense of misdirection and causes disappointment on the client’s side.

At the same time the seller or presenter of the property gets into discredit, as soon as the story is revealed after an on-site appointment. To gain back a good reputation the seller needs to make enormous efforts. This may concern the current but also many further sales projects.

Ofcourse a limited number of photographs cannot show every detail of a property. Thus not every flaw could be published. There is needed some sure sensitivity on the seller’s side.

A professional real estate photographer knows the art to present a property as true as possible. At the same time he has to show it as advantageous as possible, even with visible minor flaws. For this he has several creativity tools at his disposal. He can

  • highlight the best views by choosing appropriate vantage points,
  • flatter the property by a sensible lighting technique or choosing the right time of the day,
  • stress the advantages of a house by using the vegetation around or interior objects.

To make such a plan reality you need a good amout of experience in different scenarios. And it is worth to invest into more time on site to study the property in detail, make the right decisions and to take action with the appropriate means.

Small Dose of Creativity

Except to this there are some minor flaws which can also be a task for post production, if this flaw:

  • is just of a small scale,
  • can be corrected with little efforts,
  • will be corrected before the owner of the property changes.

Thus recently the caretaker of a Berlin City appartment building asked me to remove some small graffiti from photographs I gave him for a preview. They already had a contract with a special firm and it would take them only half an hour to remove it from the walls. Thus we switched on the Photoshop engine and did the in-advance-removal in digital.

Any disturbing items that are not permanently connected to the property or its environment can be removed from an image, too – according to our oppinion. This applies to foliage on the ground and dead branches peeking in as well as dog poop and cigarette ends on a board walk. Or when it is about to swop skies (okay we are very carefully with this, because it may be too obvious when the lighting condtions don’t match). Or when it comes to retouch traces on the ground or puddles or about some reflections in windows or about birds flying by or about extension power cords …

It is the opposite with things that are fixed to a house or its environment. This applies to power lines, mountains, arial antennas, street lamps, street signs, roof windows or chimneys. Here we advise our clients not to have these retouched. Their existence may influence the decision of the prospective buyer in one direction or the other.

Finally it is all about truth. Excessive creativity is out of place.