Many MLS’s are getting stricter on image editing and some agents I talk to ask me how much rework I do on the images I send out. My main approach is to do as much of an image “in camera” as possible. I enjoy the process of shooting the photos more than sitting in front of a computer for hours. This is why I like to book a couple of hours on site for each job and even more for larger properties.
There are technological limitations with the photographic process so there will always be some editing and corrections that are done to an image. Our eyes and our brains are continuously adjusting our view of the world in ways that a camera may never be able to do. I always try to finish an image so it looks the way I remember. Sometimes I’ll bump it so it looks like it would if there were better lighting available at the time or I was able to come on a day with better weather.
I will often clone out security sensors/keypads, cctv cameras, safes and any items of exceptional value that I can’t shoot around. A little clean up of stray cords is often done since unplugging things without permission might anger people. I’ve had trash cans where the tile contractor dumped all of their leftovers and there was no safe way to roll it out of sight. It’s much faster to move the trash can before making the photo than to edit it out later if possible. The same might go for a project car/rv/boat that would be difficult to move.
The ethical line gets crossed when it comes to removing things in a photo that are permanent. Power lines can be a big no-no to remove. Re-landscaping a whole yard is naughty, but fixing a couple of dead patches is a little white lie. It’s borderline to green up the lawn on a foreclosure where the water has been turned off and the grass has gone brown. I use the ‘two week rule”. If it’s something that’s going to be there two weeks from now, it should probably be left in. I can do lots of things to a photo if you want, but I’ll not hesitate to warn you if I think the edits will cross the line.
What you have done to photos is an issue when they are being used to advertise a property that is formally on the market. If you have a listing being renovated before it’s put on the market, there’s a lot of leeway. A few of my customers have me photograph a front exterior and spruce it up with a new lawn and landscaping, remove utility boxes, power lines and install an interesting sky to use as a tease on their website as a coming soon property. We discuss what they are planning to do so the image is close and I’ll return when it’s ready to officially go on market to make images of how it looks after the refresh.
It has to be kept in mind that Photoshop isn’t magic. It’s a very complex program that takes lots of learning to use well. Some seemingly simple edits can take an enormous amount of time to do so they look right. It can also take far more time than just moving a few things during a photo shoot. Some edits need some planning and photos exposed a certain way before post production.
If the property is styled, staged and looking it’s best, it’s easy to come away with great photos that are very quick to turn around and post online. If there was a miss somewhere, it can sometimes be faster to return to the property to make a new image than to rescue one in Photoshop.