I’m trying to stay upbeat in my blog and suggest positive things to agents to increase their sales and brand image, but sometimes highlighting the negative can be more instructive.

A big difference between professional and amateur photographers is what is kept and what gets thrown away. I find it extremely common to see blurry and out of focus pictures posted. Some listings will have the photos straight out of the camera and then a set that have been over sharpened followed by another set of the same photos with the color saturation set to 11. Toss out the rejects right away. If something didn’t come out right, go back and reshoot the photo or, better yet, get a pro to do it for you. Also, don’t mix professional and lesser quality images on a listing, it’s like somebody in an orchestra playing a discordant note, it ruins the whole thing even when 99.9% of the musicians are playing the correct note.

Camera manufacturers have been building in useless gimmicks for ages. When camcorders became popular, they had all sorts of cheesy effects that you could apply to your home movies. Some people played with them at first and gave up shortly thereafter. Smartphone camera software has gone the same route with all sorts of automatic processing and effects. Unfortunately, these effects are like having a single knob that people crank way up. Professional software like Photoshop is akin to having over a thousand knobs on the control panel to adjust. Daunting for most people, but it gives the flexibility to dial in just the proper amount of change to an image. A professional’s goal is to edit images so they are as close to real life as it’s possible to get with modern equipment. A desaturated low contrast image (Instasomething) or an over-saturated, clownish photo (Tone-mapped HDR) are two results that don’t work well with marketing real estate. Turning on the orange date stamp is detracting. If you need images date/time stamped for documentation to send to banks or other parties, take a second set with them off for your marketing images.

There is a fascination with toilets. Secondary bathrooms don’t make good visuals for marketing unless they are large and upgraded. The problem is that they are very difficult to photograph and the standard agent shot is from a high angle looking directly at the toilet with the lid up. The photo is also in portrait orientation (tall and skinny) which doesn’t present well on listing sites. The best advice is to skip the secondary bathrooms unless they are special. The person/people footing the bill for the home are getting the master bedroom! Pictures of the master bath are a requirement. Make sure the occupants clear off the counters and remove bottles and accessories from the shower/bathtub. Having samples from the entire Revlon and Amway catalogs looks a bit messy. And, close the lid on the toilet.

Wrong way up. MLS’s and commercial listing sites are geared for photos in “landscape” orientation (short and wide) not “portrait” (tall and skinny). Going vertical throws away a bunch of “real estate” in a photo gallery. Always compose photos in landscape mode unless you are planning on combining two or three images into one. Always make sure that images show the right way up when they are posted. Photos that appear online upside down or sideways are big negatives.

Alien ceiling fans and cameos of the floor. Nice ceiling fans can be a good selling point. Posting a detail shot of one might be useless. A properly composed photo of a room will show the ceiling fan or enough of it so it’s obvious that it’s there. When taking pictures, fans should be stopped. I often see attempts to take a detail picture of a ceiling fan while it’s on along with its lights. The result is a whirling blur in a dark room and three or four blown out (over exposed) light bulbs. Looking down, some agents try to take a detail image of the flooring. The same composition advice holds here. If the overall room photo is composed correctly, the flooring will show. Keep in mind that the objective with the photos is to “highlight” and not “document”. Fancy tile work and ceiling fans can be pointed out in a showing where they will be appreciated more. If it doesn’t come out well in an image, buyers may think that it’s needs to be ripped out at an extra cost and delay being able to move in.

Even if your office provides somebody to take pictures of your listings, insist on using your own photographer if the images are less than stunning. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL) and bad images that you use just because they are free might be losing you opportunities. With over 800 active listing agents in the Antelope Valley and many more agents from out of the area representing homes in the AV, your marketing needs to stand out if you plan to make a living in real estate.

©2015, Kenneth Brown. All rights reserved.