Does Your Listing Need Professional Photos?

As a real estate agent, a partnership with the right photographer can make a huge difference in the marketing of a listing.  I work with Thea Menagh whenever possible, and I'd like to credit her for taking the professional "after" photographs in this post. 

I recently listed my condo for sale and many people have been really interested to know how someone in the business lists their own place.  I've had many questions about pricing, my own expectations, whether I post the listing under my own name or if I hire a colleague, and many others that I can't think of at the moment.  While I'll address most of the questions in a subsequent post, the short answer is that I treat my own listing the way I would treat a client's.  This is includes, hiring my favourite photographer, which is the topic of this post.

I met Thea early in my career although I wish now that I had known her from the start.  I like to see a listing with bright photographs and my biggest pet peeve is the notorious fish-eye lense which, when used in a listing can make even the nicest house look unattractive.  Instead of making a room look large through digital trickery, Thea uses a classic wide-angle lense and moves around (sometimes performing some impressive acrobatics) to find the best shot which will make a room appear as large as it is.  Not larger.  I find it heartbreaking to see the look on a client's face when they arrive at a home only to be disappointed that the house did not live up to the photos.

Thea always reminds me that something that looks nice in person, may not show well in a photograph.  For this reason, she insists on undertaking some pre-photoshoot staging specifically for the camera.  I know from experience that this can make all the difference so I tucked my ego aside and helped her move some of my favourite items (including my fabulous retro orange chair) and I told myself that in this area of the listing, she was the boss!  Below, I'll show some of the actual photographs from my listing along with some others I took on my own.  It will be obvious, but I'll mention anyway that the photographs on the left or top are mine and Thea's professional shots are on the right or bottom.  Think of is as a before and after.  Also, I'm excluding exterior photos as well as bathrooms and my second bedroom/office. 

I know, I know, the "before" is just awful, right?  Well, unless you're a professional, black cabinets are not easy to capture.  Thea cleared away some items from the counter, adjusted the angle to show the opposite side of the kitchen, and made proper use of her lighting.  Her photograph gives a much more accurate portrayal of my modern yet warm kitchen.

Next, we look at the dining room.  With an entire wall of floor to ceiling windows, I don't know how I managed to make my picture look so dark.  It's also a little embarrassing that I managed to make my large dining room (which has room for an entire church pew along one wall) look cramped.  Thea moved some of my art as well as my little butler table and replaced it with a vintage kidney shaped stool in a light colour.  Essentially, she removed anything that would photograph as clutter while maintaining visual interest.

She also managed to capture the light and space in the room in the second picture.  She stood back and wasn't afraid to show the walls and ceiling.  In the second picture, you see the windows as well as the floorspace.  A buyer would be able to see this and decide whether there was space for their own table or buffet.  I was also amazed that Thea was able to capture subtle details like the wood grain in the floor and the reflective top of my buffet.

When we moved into the living room, I had to bite my tongue.  I knew Thea was right to move my orange chair but even my fabulous piggy bank wasn't safe on the mantle.  It was nice to consult with a professional who could remind me gently that my quirky taste does not always have mass appeal.  Pros need reminders too and while I love my living room in person, I can't argue with the fact that some editing produces cleaner listing photos.

Thea's use of HDR not only exposes the hallway properly, allowing a buyer to see even space but it also allows my lamp to be on while allowing my walls to still appear as a true light grey.  Even my flokati rug looks more plush and cozy!

Finally, the master bedroom photographs show perhaps the best example of how a pro can show the actual size of a room.  The photograph I took was only really able to capture the bed.  Considering the fact that my bedroom is quite large, the effect was underwhelming.  Thea chose an angle which captured significantly more floor space and furniture.

I believe the results speak for themselves. I would not list a home without the assistance of a professional photographer. Remember, the main objective of listing photographs is to show buyers a true picture of the home. While some pros brag that they can make rooms look "bigger and better" this could also backfire by leading to more showings with disappointed buyers. I prefer to choose a professional who captures the nature of the home instead. I want buyers to be interested enough to visit, but also pleased when they see the home in person. Wish me luck with my listing!


I'd love to hear what you think. Please visit me again soon because I make an effort to respond to all comments here.

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