Before you study this photo to see what's wrong ask yourself where your eye is drawn to immediately at first glance.
If you said the picture on the TV set you have correctly answered the question to what's wrong with the photo.
As a professional photographer I have shot over a thousand homes in the last 10 years. Something I've noticed in the past few years is the number of photos with beautiful scenic images Photoshopped on TV sets in the MLS. I've had agents and sellers ask me to put a nice photo on the TV. Of course if they insist I will do it. After all, they are the client and you have to give them what they want.
However, I usually try to discourage them simply because it distracts the viewer and potential buyer from what really matters in the photo; and that is the home.
According to various studies you have anywhere from 5- 8 seconds to capture someone's attention with a photo. Do you really want to waste those precious few seconds on viewing a beach scene on the TV set at the risk of them not noticing the fireplace or some other beautiful feature in the home?
We never know what ultimately motivates a buyer to request a showing of a home. So in those few precious seconds we don't want to distract them from what really matters.
Now isn't that better?
I’ve been photographing homes for real estate and commercial use for well over 10 years.
When I first started out, my most difficult challenge was shooting the interiors of homes. Even today’s best camera sensors are not great at balancing the extreme bright light coming in from windows and dark interiors. If you expose for the window your interior is underexposed and if you expose for the interior your exterior is overexposed with flaring around window edges.
Over the years, with the help of Photoshop and a 680w wireless strobe I can now successfully manage just about any interior lighting situation.
How do I do it? For one I try not to schedule a shoot when the sun is coming up directly behind the home. Shooting directly into bright sunlight causes lens flare, dark shadows on the face of the home, and an overall unimpressive view of the property. If there are dark shadows being cast by trees I will usually wait to see if I can grab a shot when the sun goes behind the clouds for a second or two.
Being a professional requires one to be able to produce great results all of the time, no matter what conditions you encounter.
CLEAR BRIGHT SUNNY DAYS ARE NOT ALWAYS A PHOTOGRAPHER'S BEST FRIEND
The other day I arrived at a job and the sun was coming up directly behind the home. It was 11:30 am in November and there was not a cloud in the sky. According to my app the home faced north, and the sun would be low in the sky behind the home for the entire day. I knew immediately this would be a challenge.
Due to the high dynamic range of this situation I set my camera to auto exposure bracketing (AEB) and captured 3 different exposures. One normal exposure, one two steps higher and one two steps below. I used a scrim (sometimes an umbrella) to block the sun which helps prevent as much lens flare as possible.
Here are the unedited RAW bracketed shots out of camera. As you can see, I don't think any buyer would look at this and say, "Oh my what a beautiful home!"
For a real estate shoot, the most important shot is the one everyone sees first and that’s usually the exterior front. Therefore, it must be good!
So, how do you deal with harsh direct lighting situations that you have no control over? Some photographers use HDR blending for this. However I've found HDR to be an inferior process especially when images are displayed in large format such as in slideshows/virtual tours. All of the imperfections of HDR (hazy, discolored, and an overall overprocessed, unnatural look) are magnified when displayed on a large screen monitor.
Fig 4 is the final image using luminosity masking, sky replacement and NO HDR processing.
Below is a screen capture of the entire editing process I used to produce the final image displayed above.
As you can see, professional photo editing is a very important part in making a home look it's very best; especially when lighting conditions are poor. You will also notice some images may look great on small mobile devices but look very unprofessional on a large screen monitor or print. Using the proper capture and editing processes can help give you that clean professional look no matter how the images are viewed. So, to answer the question, "when is the best time to photograph a home?" I say let a pro figure it out.
ARE YOU COMPARING APPLES TO APPLES WHEN HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER TO PHOTOGRAPH YOUR LISTINGS!
In the image above, notice how the lines are converging towards the center of the picture and not straight. The term we use to describe this is "converging verticals". The proper way to shoot architecture is to have the camera attached to a tripod along with some sort of leveling device (preferably attached to the camera) to make sure the camera is totally level.
Now look at the second image and notice the lines on the walls and edges of the shot are straight. This allows the viewer to see the home as if they were seeing it with their own eyes and without distortion of the room.
Again look at image one. Notice the harsh shadows and the unbalanced light throughout the image. Lighting like this emits a cold harsh feeling for the viewer. Emotion is what sells homes; and pictures are where the emotion begins. You want your buyers to say WE MUST SEE THIS HOUSE NOW as opposed to LET'S PASS ON THIS ONE. IT LOOKS SO COLD AND DREARY!
© George Crudo Photography