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Real estate photography editing ethics debate rages on

Real estate photography

Last week, we asked what you, the readers think about the ethical nature of photographers using HDR editing in real estate photography and it was widely discussed with most people agreeing with us that if done within reason and not done to mislead or remove existing objects, it was perfectly ethical despite a preference for or against the editing software.

In the video above, photographer Dom Bower shows in great detail the methodology of a photographer’s decision to use HDR editing software or internal flash. For Realtors who hire out photography without an understanding of how it works, all you want is a quality product and maybe somewhere online, you read that HDR is the best way for a property to be presented. For real estate photographers, the challenge is in explaining deeply technical methods to a lay person.

Regardless of a persons technical knowledge or chosen profession, it is clear that there are a variety of methods that a professional can take and Realtors that do their own photography can learn quite a bit from Dom Bower and Realtors that don’t can take away from this continuing ethics debate and from the video above that real estate photography is so much more than just point and click and a quality photographer will have preferred methods and a portfolio to back it up.

Bower’s photos

From the video above, here are larger versions of Dom Bower’s photography examples:

HDR edited photograph


Slow shutter 20th


1/250th and flash


1/5th and flash

Weigh in

Now that you’ve seen more methods than just HDR that achieve a realistic look to photographs, tell us in the comments what you think of the methods and options available. Realtors, do you still prefer HDR or are you now open to internal flash methods?

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Lucas

    June 9, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Found this page while looking for something totally different. I'm a professional photographer who specializes in Real Estate photography and a few thoughts came to mind as I viewed the video and followed the previous articles about on AG about photography.

    There are a ton of problems with this video and the photo. These are just my opinions but if a professional real estate photographer shows up without a tripod don’t use them, period!!! Second, the photographer should attempt to have straight vertical walls when possible. This photograph is terrible with the walls moving in every direction. I understand sometimes is isn’t possible to make the room completely “straight” (trust me, it happens often when you just can’t straighten every wall to make the photo look right). However, this room could have been shot level. There’s a bunch of other problems that make me think Dom Bower doesn’t concentrate on real estate but I’ve already criticized his photography beyond what I’m comfortable with.

    Some general thoughts:

    1) All still photographs represent a "moment in time" and are inherently only truthful at the moment the photo was taken.

    2) For most houses architectural photographers will use an ultra wide angle lens. This allows the photographer to show the layout and represent the house in fewer photographs. How about the use of panoramas? Is this a distortion of the truth? Probably to some viewers.

    3) No technique is perfect for every situation. A photographer may use multiple techniques, HDR, Flash, or neither, when photographing a property. However, neither shows the property "honestly". It is a representation. Whatever the technique used the photographer needs to be an expert at making it work. Poor HDR creates a bad photograph. Poor use of flash creates a bad photograph. Saying one is better is just wrong. Photography is a representation of the property and regardless of the technique used we will ighten the dark areas and darken the over bright areas. This is why you hire a professional so we can make the photo look closer to what your eyes see.

    4) With monitors ranging from high end desktops to low end phones it is impossible to correctly represent the colors of a property. All you need to do is pull up the same photo on two or three computers and you will see a major difference.

    5) I personally do not like to remove wires or other permanent structures from photos. However, I will compose photographs to minimize them in the photos. I photographed houses with holes in the floor, no grass in the back yard, and a million other problems. Shooting from angles to minimize or not show the problems is standard. Distortion of the truth by omission? Probably. Some agents want to show the flaws, most don’t.

    The truth is photographers are in the marketplace to make your listings look as interesting as possible so potential buyers will either arrange a visit or request more information from you. We aren’t in the business of presenting the house with warts and all unless it is a “fixer upper” and the agent wants the warts.

    Again, just my two cents.

  2. Sarah Baker

    July 10, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    I think that the 1/250th and Flash is the best of the selection.

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