It’s Not the Equipment, It’s the Eye

In these shots, using the curve of the staircase as the focal point adds much more visual interest than the first shot, whose focal point is a blank wall.

One can spend a great deal of money for the “best” photography equipment and still produce very mediocre images. Not everyone is a photographer, even though a camera is one of the most accessible pieces of equipment today – everyone with a smart phone owns one.

In looking at many images of real estate photography on the web and in print, I think it’s not about the technical parts of photography, it’s really about the eye of the photographer and how one frames an image and sees the space.  One can read every book on photography techniques, but if one does not have a good eye, the photos will still be mediocre.

A good eye also means looking for the “stuff” that is in a room which detracts from presenting the space. i.e. magnets on the fridge, trash cans, tissue boxes, paper towels, a curtain that is askew, a crooked painting, the toilet lid which is up, etc.

I have never been a “technical” photographer. In art school we shot with SLR film cameras, developed our own film and printed our own images. Learning all the parts of the process was important, but the big focus was learning how to frame an image.

Fast forward to 2005, when starting in real estate photography, I was less concerned about the equipment than with capturing the space of a home. Granted, over time improved equipment has made a difference in capturing the nuances of light and space. I have also learned much more by following the Photography for Real Estate Flickr group, when it comes to the more technical parts of photography.

Our job, as real estate photographers, is to present a home in such a way that potential buyers understand the space of the home. It is not about art, it is not about the furnishings, it is about presenting the space.

In these shots, the first just captures the corner of the room, where as the second shot shows the whole space.

So, can a good eye be learned or is it a case of - you have it or you don’t? What do you think?

by Carol Grape, Current TourBuzz Fellow

Views: 470

Comment by alphie hyorth on June 14, 2013 at 9:26pm

I think you can learn to see what makes a good photo. A lot of times it's a matter of seeing what does not belong in the picture... a hose in the front yard, dishwashing liquid in the kitchen and so forth. I agree completely that you can't just buy expensive equipment. The camera doesn't take the picture by itself.

Comment by Sarah Vander Heide on June 25, 2013 at 2:54pm

I think it is definitely eye and the knowledge of how to maximize your cameras ability.

Comment by Linda Cooper on June 26, 2013 at 3:32pm

As a technical photographer, as well as an artist, I can see the lack of formal training in the photos of many who consider themselves "real estate photographers."   Yes, one must have an "eye" for details--and this shows in the results.  I don't mean to be overly critical--just helpful, but in the photos above of the staircase, the second is too "busy" and the angles of the walls do not let my eyes focus on what is important. i.e. the staircase.  In the first photo, I see half a staircase, and half a window a couch and some plants--these are not things potential buyers are looking for.

Comment by Rene Scott on June 28, 2013 at 9:35am

I think it's good combination of both; 50/50.  We've all had realtors that follow us around looking at what equipment you're using etc; some go out and invest in the equipment only to find it was a lot harder than they thought.  Takes experience and talent to use a ultra wide lens.  Not to mention post processing; proper lighting etc.  I consider myself a good photographer; however could I do the same work with a low end camera and lens? No.  I also think many real estate photographers get caught up in the "art" too much; artsy photos don't help sell homes.  People aren't buying the stuff in the homes; keeping it functional and showing the space; passage ways to other rooms is what works.  Sometimes it's not the most beautiful photo but it is what our customers need to show the property correctly.  Just my opinion.  When I started out I framed things a lot differently than I do today.


Comment by Carol Grape on July 29, 2013 at 3:30pm

Linda, The purpose of the first staircase shot, was to show an unsuccessful image. 

Rene, I agree that showing the space is most important and room relationships really are very helpful to the potential buyer.


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