Decoding Real Estate Photography: Top 3 Agent Complaints

Starting a real estate photography business? Avoid common mistakes: use wide-angle lenses wisely, declutter photos, and always provide high-res images.

After many hours spent researching common complaints put forward by real estate agents regarding the work of real estate photographers, I have compiled the three most common complaints and provided an explanation on how to avoid these issues with your own work.

You and/or I may not necessarily agree with all the following, but it is always good to understand what the market is thinking. If your existing clients are already in love with your work, you obviously do not need to make any adjustments, however if you are struggling to get repeat clients, it may be worth investigating the following three complaints, as some agents will not provide you with feedback on your work.

Potential tenants (and buyers) are complaining that the room looks smaller in real life

This is the most common complaint from agents, and even when talking to friends and family and people in the property game this will come up time and time again. I have also heard of real estate photographers being referred to as ‘those people that makes rooms look larger than they are in real life.’

The issue with rooms looking larger than they really are comes down to the wide-angle lens. Although essential for shooting interiors it can be a blessing and a curse. Just like Uncle Ben from Spiderman once said, “With great power there must also come great responsibility”. You need to understand that you do not need to use the wide-angle lens to its full capacity in every interior shot. Using the lens at its widest focal length can be particularly useful in tight spaces (i.e., ensuite bathrooms and walk-in robes), but if you go as wide as possible for a medium to large sized living room, you’re going to make it look much bigger in most cases. This can cause issues for the agent when it comes time to conduct open homes for the property.

To avoid this, simply zoom in just a few millimetres when shooting large bedrooms and living spaces within a home. You might even be able to compose a nicer composition by coming in tighter depending on when you are shooting from and the furniture within the room.

best tips for real estate photography
A living room photographed at the widest zoom setting – 15mm. The camera used was a Nikon D750 with Tamron 15-30mm.
best tips for realestate photography
The same living room photographed at 19mm to provide a more realistic representation of the room size. The camera used was a Nikon D750 with Tamron 15-30mm.

Keep in mind that some agents prefer the room to look as large as possible and do not care if they receive complaints – they are just happy to have potential buyers and renters through the door at each open home. It is best to discuss your clients preferences at your next shoot, especially if you have just started working with them.

There are too many distractions in the photos (i.e. TV cords, clutter, etc).

Many agents found that little distractions were a common issue in the photos they received from their real estate photographers. These distractions included all electrical cords, TV antenna, fridge magnets, leaves on the driveway (that do not enhance the ‘feel’ of the image), and small items of clutter such as kid’s toys, toiletries, etc.

Many agents these days expect you to edit out these items, with some expecting you to do it for free and others being happy to pay for the extra decluttering required to get the images to a level of finish they are happy with. If many of your clients are expecting you to do it for free, consider incorporating a ‘buffer’ into your real estate photography pricing. For example, add $10 (or more) to your standard pricing to cover the outsourced editing costs of a couple of images that need to be digitally decluttered.

best tips for real estate photography
This image contains distractions – including the remote, electrical chords, and a grey object appearing in the left-hand corner.
This is the same image with the distractions digitally removed.

Note: There is an enormous difference between removing a few fridge magnets and removing an entire rug and sofa set. If your client’s request advanced digital decluttering jobs such as this, you should provide them with a quote to do so.

Depending on how much time you have and what your COVID-safe policy is, you may like to move some of these items (i.e., tuck away visible electrical cords, remove fridge magnets and hide unnecessary clutter out of view of your image). This can save you (or your editors) time in post-processing the image/s. Just remember to ask permission from the tenant or owner before doing so. They may even move the items for you.

Where are the High-Res images?

Most real estate photographers will send through the images in both web and print size files to their clients, however it appears from this research that some are just sending through the web sized images (typically 500kb – 1.5mb). Unless you have chosen to withhold the high-resolution files due to your terms of use/terms and conditions – i.e., “payment is required prior to the high-res images being released”, or an extra (licencing) fee is required to be paid for print-ready files to be provided, you should provide the web and high-res images as part of your real estate photography photo-shoots and packages. The agent will need the high-res images for the printed collateral as a part of the marketing campaign for the subject property. Not including both file sizes will just cause the agent frustration and put unnecessary friction between your business relationship with the entire agency.

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