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A picture is worth $116,000

Buying or selling a home is perhaps one of the biggest financial transaction of your life. When it comes to selling you should utilize every tool available. Ask any Real Estate Agent and they will tell you after having a knowledgable Broker in your corner that having high end and authentic photographs of your listing is key. Think back to the time when you were in the process of purchasing your first home, how many listings did you pass up solely based on the photography? 

According to The Wall Street Journal potential buyers spend on average 60% of their time looking at listing photos but only 20% each looking at the listing description and agent description. You have such a short window to grab their attention that you have to put everything you got to make sure you catch it. 


In this day and age almost everyone with an iPhone is now a "photographer." I wouldn't hesitate to ask any of these "photographers" to grab a quick picture of me but I would be very cautious of using them to help sell my house. Unfortunately, there are some Real Estate Agents who subscribe to this belief system. Thinking that with how hot today's market is there is no reason to spend the marketing money if the house is going to sell quickly. Again according to The Wall Street Journal listings that feature high-quality photos can gain as much as $116,000 more on the market. Comparing the cost of high-quality listing photos (around $150 on average in our market) with the opportunity of selling your house over asking is a no brainer. 

All these facts and figures are great but being that I am a photographer I wanted to show you what a professional photographer can do! I used my own house as a model and have three examples of the front exterior, guest bedroom and living room. I should mention that in Real Estate Photography there are a couple schools of thought that can also make or break your sale. HDR (high dynamic range) and flambient (flash blended with ambient). HDR is done by taking multiple exposures

Master bedroom

of the same scene then using a program to combine all the images to create a single image of "proper" exposure. The problem with HDR is that it can easily display an image that does not truly represent the actual scene. Flambient is done by first taking an ambient only image of the scene then an image using a flash. Loading all of these exposures into Photoshop then blending in the ambient shadows to get a color correct and accurate image. 

First up is the exterior. From left to right is cell phone, HDR, proper exposure with sky replacement.

There are two main problems with the cell phone picture here:

  1.  The image is underexposed on the house

  2. The colors are not accurate for the light

Overall in the HDR photo its an okay image but its not as eye catching as it could be. And having the sky be gloomy and overcast will leave the viewer feeling just as gloomy. You want the images to be happy and inviting. This is what you get on the proper exposure and sky replaced image. The exposure is correct, the colors accurate and its very eye catching. 

Next is the guest bedroom. Just like before we have three images, cell phone, HDR and Flambient. This time I included two different angles. 

One of the biggest things you will notice from the cell phone pictures is the big difference in exposure values. Also I have taken the photo like you see many cell phone real estate photos, from up high and angled down. While this angle shows a large amount of the room its deceiving to the viewer and doesn't accurately represent the room. 

For the HDR images I did two separate edits both don't show the image as best as the flambient image could. In the first angle the colors are off and the exposure is too low. In the second angle I went a little aggressive but I didn't go anymore then what I have actually seen on listings. I call this the dreamy edit. Its just way to over cooked. 

In the flambient though you have a bright, color correct and inviting image. Whats also nice about this method is you can light multiple parts of the room or other rooms to showcase all aspects as best as possible. 

Last but not least is the living room. This room along with the kitchen and master bedroom are what sells houses. Same setup as the guest room.

All of the same issues as before apply to this room as well. Cell phone image is to high and underexposed. HDR is surreal. Flambient is just right. If you are currently getting ready sell your house or if you are an agent I hope this post helps explain a little about why hiring a Professional Real Estate Photographer is well worth the investment!

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