Taking Pictures To Sell Your Home - Pitfalls to Avoid

The real estate market has been transformed by the Internet, with Web sites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and others commanding billions of visits by home shoppers.  For more and more homebuyers, Web shopping has supplanted the time-honored tradition of cruising residential neighborhoods for yard signs.  

The net result of the shift to virtual home-shopping has significantly amplified the importance of pictures as potential buyers make their first review of homes, because at this critical early stage in the process, buyers aren't comparing homes - They're comparing PICTURES of homes. 

Take a look at any of the popular real estate Web sites.  You'll typically find twenty to thirty pictures of each house listed.  While you cruise through the listings, you'll see a dramatic disparity in the quality of the pictures that are used to represent the homes.  Some pictures enhance the perceived value of the home, some detract from it.  Truth is, it's hard to take really good interior pictures of real estate, and it won't take you long to become a skilled critic.  

Here are some of the problems and weaknesses you're likely to see:

  • DARK, underexposed interiors; BRIGHT, overexposed windows - The lighting is tricky, especially when you want to show BOTH the detail inside and the pretty view outside.  
  • Converging parallel lines - Interior walls are vertical lines, but the camera can turn those verticals into lines that appear to converge - They're not parallel as they should be.
  • Colors that aren't quite right - The camera tends to see inside lights as yellow/orange; outside light is bluish white.  But that's not what our eyes see; it's not what we expect. 
  • Focus, sharpness, and detail aren't quite right - Tripod, lights, lenses, and other technical aspects of photography need to be handled quite precisely to get ideal images.
  • Flat, unflattering light from on-camera flash - Lots of cameras have built-in flashes that work fine for snapshots of family and friends.  But they're not suited for your home.  The on-camera flash is especially bright in the foreground, but the light falls off quickly in the background.  
  • Out-of-place reflections - Camera - and photographer - and that ugly on-camera flash showing up in mirrors, appliances, windows and other reflecting surfaces.   
  • The wrong pictures - Too many shots of some rooms, no shots of others; angles and views that don't make sense - And don't add value to your home. 
  • The "Selfie" look - Pictures taken with a cell phone; tall instead of wide - That's seldom the right choice for an interior space.  

It's not hard to find the photographic pitfalls that separate the strong, well-illustrated listings from the weaker ones. At the same time, it's not hard to find top quality professional images that capture the value, beauty, convenience, and individual charm of homes.  

It's a simple fact that attractive pictures can enhance the perceived value of a home.  It's also a fact that you are competing in this marketplace where you simply can't afford to be overlooked in favor of homes that simply have better pictures.  You need the best. 

I'll have more to say about how you can get the best-possible pictures of your home in my next post.  


"Turn around, look at me..."

It's a line from an old song by The Association (early 60's).  But it applies to my photography too often to be ignored.  My picture "Portrait of John Deere" is a good example.  Just before I took this shot (not great, but interesting), I was in the ditch across the street, trying to get my definitive "healthy Indiana corn crop" shot.  I had envisioned a tall stand of corn lit by the early morning sun, with nothing but blue sky behind it.  I was using a real low angle - very dramatic!  

I had my location all picked out, just off CR 30 and CR 9.  The corn is at least 9 feet tall, and glows emerald green in the early sun.  With luck and the right angle I'd have nothing but blue sky and clouds behind the towering corn.   

I showed up but the sun didn't - Lost in early morning mist.  Blue sky was missing too - too much haze - No shot! (Maybe another day...)   

Fortunately, something told me to "Turn around, look at me..."  It was the John Deere tractor parked in front of the barn right across the road.  For some illogical reason, 'turning around' has often uncovered an unexpected photo opportunity that's every bit as good as the one I had come looking for.     

You might want to try the same simple step - After you get the shot you came for (or not, like me), turn around and see if there isn't another shot worth squeezing the shutter for right behind you.  

I'm the type of person that plans my photos - sometimes days in advance.  But I have to admit that some of the best photos I find show up without planning.  I use "Turn around, look at me..." to help me remember to keep my creative eye exploring.  

If you like what you see . . .

The images I upload and showcase online are relatively large by Web standards (typically 16" x 10" at 72 dpi), but can't reproduce the level of detail preserved in the original photographs, which often contain 20 to 30 times as much information.  

You'll be able to enjoy the rich color and explore the detail of the original images if you purchase a print to hang on the wall of your home, office, or place of business.   

Of course the images you see here online are all copyrighted and are offered here for your personal enjoyment.  The ideal way to share the images you like best is to invite others to visit this site.  Downloading, printing, and distributing the copyrighted materials without the permission of the photographer is prohibited.     

A bit about my aesthetic sense

A bit about my aesthetic sense

My sense of visual aesthetics relating to photography is relatively simple:  The camera gives me the ability to arrange and capture line, shape, color, and light.   While you could use other words to describe the elements of a photograph, my "line, shape, color and light" do the job for me. . . .

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The gear I use

My wife gifted me at Christmas 2012 with the camera used in virtually all of the shots you see here, a Nikon D5100 Digital SLR.  The capabilities of this camera, along with the power of the software available for processing digital photography have provided me with an inspiring set of creative tools.

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