I have more than a passing interest in photography. It is a serious hobby and a big part of my life. I take my own property shots, which is something I don’t recommend for other agents unless they have more than a passing interest. Most of my clients have seen my work and they expect me to take the photos.
With my last two listings I thought I would try something different to really make the photos stand out. I used a process called high dynamic range, or HDR for short. The process involves combining three to five photos of the same scene with different light values into one photo.
Most any camera can be used for the photographs, and I use a software program called Photomatix that cost about $100 to combine the images in the HDR process. There are other software programs available, too.
The end result is a photo with a tonal range that goes beyond what appears in a normal photo. The process can enhance images to show the view outside of a home’s windows, for example, instead of the world beyond the window appearing as a white blob. And the technique hides nothing: Specks of dirt and dust can show up vividly in the photos, too.
I definitely would not recommend this if you are not experienced in photography — unless you are prepared to learn a lot about photography. Check with the photographer you usually work with about familiarity with the HDR process.
I was a little nervous about showing HDR photos to my clients. They liked them, and after I made the first batch another client called and asked that I do the same with his home. I ended up reprocessing his listing photos and taking some more. He is delighted with the new photos.
It will be awhile before I know if these photos will help sell the listing. Judging from the number of showings I have had on one of them, I think the photos might be helping. The sellers are convinced that it will, and the buyers seem to like them, but I am a fact-and-figures kind of gal and need more data.
There is an issue with property photos that I have always found interesting. When I represent the seller, I do anything and everything to make the listing look as appealing as possible.
We’ve all heard buyer complaints about property photos they see on the Internet. Sometimes buyers say that the images are not an accurate representation of the home. Sometimes the listing looks better in the photos than it does in person, and sometimes it just looks different. Rooms become distorted when photographed poorly with wide-angle lenses, for example. A small room can look huge.
It is a given that homes do not look the same in a photo as they do during a visit, and there are no substitutes for an in-person visit to a home. Buyers are looking for an accurate representation and sellers are looking for photos that make their homes look gorgeous.
I have explained to the buyers that it is the job of a good agent to make sure that the home looks wonderful on the Internet. It’s called marketing and it’s what we do. Just like with the written marketing materials, we emphasize the home’s positive qualities.
There is some discussion about the HDR photos going too far and presenting an unrealistic image. I have toned mine down a bit from the more artistic photos that I use on my blog, but they still make almost any room look wonderful.
Some of the photos that I find on the MLS are so bad that I can’t tell for sure what they are photos of. Both buyers and sellers are in total agreement that many of the photos we use on the Internet are not nearly good enough. I would rather err on the side of photos that make the home look better.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.