Before & After - Post-Processing in Real Estate Photography...

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605

LR - 1 Franklin - Edited3 - Small:After

Very often I run into real estate agents who just can't wrap their heads around why good photography has to "cost so much".  After all, you just show up and take a bunch of pictures, download them, throw them into email or dropbox and you are done!  Zip, dang, do!

I wont go into the weeds about the expenses incurred by going to a site.  That's a different topic.  However, as in most things, its more complicated than you think until you take a close look.  A lot more goes on after the shoot than most agents and brokers imagine.

What is Post-Processing?

Post-processing is what comes AFTER the photograph is taken and downloaded.  Most agents do not do much in the post-processing department because wrapping them heads around programs such as Photoshop, LightRoom and Photomatrix goes way above and beyond the range to which any agent should need to apply themselves.  Some agents, like yours truly, get caught up in such things and end up in a new business, but that is (and should) be the exception.  You can be a great agent AND not be a near-pro photographer.  The trick is understanding the limits of your abilities, and knowing when to outsource.

In order to understand all that, I think its important to see where the actual photography ends and the processing begins.  So I'm doing a series of before and after shots to show what goes on after I download the photos I took of your listing...

Before & After....

The photo above is an example of what I would submit after processing.  But to understand what was done, you need to look at where it all started.  The original, unprocessed photo is below.  Its actually not a "bad" photo.  But I would never submit it to an agent in that condition.

1. Color correction - As is typical of an interior photograph, the incandescent lights have made the interior a bit too yellow.  Although the room is yellow, it appears more yellow in the photo than it did when I was in the home.  Our eyes tend to compensate for the incandescent yellow, but the camera lens is not so discriminating.  So one of the first things I did was to correct the light balance.

2. "Painting" the Ceiling - A white ceiling suffers the most from hot spots of yellow incandescent light. Once again our eyes correct for this, but the camera lens does not.  I gently "paint" the ceiling with a light white paint overlay to smooth this out.

3. Lightening - The original photo was a bit too dark.  Lightening has to be done with care, since not all computer screens are set the same way.  But this was too dark, so I lightened the photo and then upped the midtone contrast.  I also did some light burning and dodging to add to make a couple of features pop a bit more.

4. Straighten those walls! - Wide angle lenses are a blessing in that they let you see the whole room. But they tend to create some barrel distortion that can give a room a "funhouse" look.  One of my pet peeves is photographers who don't take the time to straighten the walls. The photo looks distorted and its disorienting to potential buyers.

5. Carefully Crop - This is a charming living room, but it is a room with a good deal going on, so less is more.  The original was cropped to remove some distracting features and allow potential buyers to focus on the room.

LR - 1 Franklin - Unedited - Small:Before


The bottom line here is that rarely is a photo "ready" after shooting.  Processing is a must not a formality.   Let me make this clear.  I am not misrepresenting the room!  I am correcting  the image so that it is as close to what the eye sees as is possible.  Sure, I can work to minimize the post-processing while onsite.  Since I took this photo, I have added more lighting that has reduced the need for some of the color correction. You still need to tweak it, but perhaps a bit less.

Sorry this was such a long post.  If people like this insight, there will be more of this in the future.

© 2013 - RGHicks - - All rights reserved.


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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Excellent commentary. I saw some of what you have done, but not all, and I loved this step by step tour.

Nov 24, 2013 03:25 PM #1
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Super job, Ruthmarie, and you're right, most people don't get the spend after the picture is taken. Oh, and I have a customer in that same building.

Nov 24, 2013 05:58 PM #2
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Ruthmarie,  I am impressed.  I do a great deal of amateur photography and use Photoshop.  But as you say it must be done with care.  If not done correctly it can even look artificial.

Your top picture is a great improvement and thanks for the tips.  I'll use them.

Nov 24, 2013 08:26 PM #3
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Hi Jon - Glad you liked it.  The changes are not overwhelming but collectively it creates a big difference. 

Hi Debbie - GREAT building.  Glad you liked the demonstration.

Hi Grant - Thanks.  Overdoing it never works and the job here is NOT to create an unrealistic image.  It is to create a cohesive picture for the buyer, bearing in mind that MLS photos are really small!

Nov 25, 2013 03:01 PM #4
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