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I’m no expert

@tboard Yeah I said it – I’m no expert … when it comes to photography. Besides a home’s asking price, good marketing will help set your listing apart from the pack. And there’s nothing better than having professional photos to show it off.

Another photo article?

I know this topic has been discussed again and again, but I’ve seen listings with 10 crappy images and sometimes it seems to do more harm than good.

My point and shoot camera does gets a daily workout. But usually it’s taking comp photos at 5 MPH so you can just imagine the high quality shots I capture. Last week I had a new condo listing hit the MLS and wanted to get photos up right away. Within about 1/2 a millisecond after seeing them online I realized it was time to call in the pro. Here’s why:


living room

living room2

dining area


back yard




The last photo is the most pathetic – me trying to stitch photos together vs. a wide angle lens.

Before you criticize, I’m fully aware that having professional photos taken for every listing isn’t realistic. Nobody wants to see high quality images of a $5,000 mold infested foreclosure. Just consider it when marketing your listings, it’s another way to really stand out.

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Written By

As the son of two music teachers, Ben spent his first 21 years trying to make a living with his slightly above average trumpet playing. After no return calls from Dizzy Gillespie and then a failed attempt at becoming a fly girl on "In Living Color," he switched gears and finally found his nichè in real estate. He's a Minnesota appraiser and also a Realtor with his better half, Stacia. Labeled “one to watch” from an anonymous source (thanks mom), Ben is smart, good looking, athletic and a rock star inside his own head. He also never passes up a chance to write his own bio. Find him online at twitter or selling Stillwater Real Estate.



  1. Judy Peterson

    July 23, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Good idea to show the difference. I use a sigma 10-20mm wide angle to shoot my own listings and photoshoots for my agents. The results are exciting and SO much better for marketing! Forget those ugly vertical photos and the porcelain throne ;-).

  2. Laurent Perrier

    July 23, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Nice article but I disagree with the last paragraph. I think you should ALWAYS hire a photographer. You can get a set of professional pictures for $50 to $100 depending on the area. It won’t win you any award in a home interior magazine but the pictures will be bright, straight and taken with a wide angle. Not to mention you will save yourself a lot of time and trouble. You can get an exterior picture taken for less than $15 if you don’t want to show the interior of the home. Having professional pictures on all your listings will improve your overall image and help you attract more buyers. It can also become part of your sales pitch when you’re trying to win a new listing.

  3. John Kalinowski

    July 23, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Hi Ben! – I’m no expert either, but I do have few suggestions, even for the professional pics. I think it’s important to never show more than two walls in a photo, as it can make a room look much smaller than it actually is. A good example is the photo above with the kitchen table. Your angle was actually pretty good, you just needed to step back a little. The straight-in kitchen shot should have been two separate photos. One showing one row of cabinets, and another showing the other row.

    Also, using a lens with too wide an angle can also make the photos look a little funny. Some of the professional shots above look like they were taken from a dog’s perspective. Too low to the floor, and a little too much ceiling.

    I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit, as yours aren’t that bad, you just need a few tricks. For one, buy a cheap tripod and never hold the camera in your hand. The tripod allows you to back the camera all the way into a corner to get the widest shot possible. It also guarantees a steady shot.

    You can use an inexpensive camera, just make sure it allows you to manually set the shutter speed and aperture. Most do (I use a FujiFilm FinePix E510). Then, for each room, take about 8 shots of each angle, all with different shutter speeds, and you’ll always have a shot with the right lighting when you get back to your PC.

    Also, never take pictures at night, and use natural light whenever possible. If you slow down the shutter speed and use a tripod, you don’t need to have the 1000 watt kitchen florescent light on to get a nice shot.

    Lastly – use a photo editing program to make a final adjustment of the brightness and contrast on each photo. Most can use a little more contrast. I’ve found that our pictures come out very well, and we’ve never had to hire a professional. Thanks!

  4. Lori Luza

    July 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    …and I’m no expert in Real Estate…

    As photographers, we battle this in our marketing efforts (proving our worth when budgets are tight) and internally (send work to a lab vs. printing it myself). Whenever possible, I use a professional with expertise, skill, equipment, and talent in their respective field.

    If you are a Realtor photographing your own listings, here are some things to consider:
    * You’re probably using a point-and-shoot instead of a professional quality camera. While there are some great p&s cameras out there, you may have purchased the one that was easiest to use or one a friend recommended. It might not get the best shots.
    * Even on a p&s camera, there are manual settings that will render a better image. Do you know what they are and how to use them?
    * Do you study composition? Do you know the most flattering angles to use to make the rooms look bigger and more flexible to potential buyers? (certainly a huge difference in the before/after images above!)
    * Do you know how to light a room for quality images? Do you know what time of day is best for photographing the inside of a listing or the outside of a home? Do you consider the direction the home faces so the image can be shot in the best light for the best “curb appeal” view?
    * Do you know what to look for in the images that might need to be cropped out?
    * Do you take the time to pre-touch and re-touch the images before uploading them into the listing? Do you even have the software, skill, or desire for this task?

    And if you don’t already know how to do all these things, do you have time to learn?

    Shop around for a Professional Photographer. The prices will seem steep, but like most things, you get what you pay for. The money you invest in good photography will come back to you in more showings and increased interest in the property. Furthermore, after you have done just a little bit of research, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you can afford to save yourself just one more errand/task.

    One caution: many markets are saturated with new photographers. You can locate bona fide Professionals in your area via the Professional Photographers of America: Regardless of who you hire, be sure you ask about their credentials, see their portfolio of work, and secure a contract for the shoot. You will also need a license for commercial use of the images; the photographer will retain the actual Copyright to the images.

  5. Nathan Strauch

    July 23, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    In most areas of the country, one could find a decent “Local” Virtual Tour Provider that can provide high quality stills for your listing photos for 10-20 dollars per image.

    Professional Photography is very important for a listing, and is supposed to get the prospective buyer excited. When you can create excitement about a property before they see it in person, you are essentially eliminating allot of objections.

    Not only does professional photography attract prospective buyers, but most of my agents use my company brochure in their Listing Presentations to Sellers. The ones who do this seem to be way ahead of the pack in terms of sales and listings. The tools are there, but they only work if they are used.

    Furthermore, with WEB 2.0 out in full force, the local companies (not corporate) in many cases can provide additional exposure for your actual listing on not only a national level but also the local level. (i.e. Social Networking, Bookmarking, and Blog Services) The more local resources that you use, the better off your marketing efforts can be when done correctly.

  6. Fred Romano

    July 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    There are some great inexpensive cameras out there which will help Realtors take fabulous photos. I use the Kodak V570 which has a 35mm and 23mm. It takes amazing photos (like the samples above). Here is a link

  7. teresa boardman

    July 26, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Fred trust me it isn’t about the camera.

  8. Chris Kimball

    August 26, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Great article. Now if we as photographer’s could just get the masses to understand that we are specialist and can make a difference. I promise I won’t try and sell homes, please call a photographer to shoot them.

  9. Thompson Touch

    August 26, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Great Article. We design a lot of brochure for hotels, so I get to shoot the hotel’s interior and exteriors. My wife is the designer and I am the photographer, we have to beg some of the hotels to let us in their rooms to reshoot the photos that they send us. We always tell them the one thing you don’t want to do is make your rooms look uninviting.

  10. Louis Blass

    February 21, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Nice photos! Our real estate photos are definitely not as good as these, but I can see how it would make a difference…

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