Real Estate Retouching
Some Peculiarities of Real Estate Retouching
Most of the original photography work that we do involves photo retouching of some kind. In real estate retouching there is an interesting paradox that sometimes emerges. The photographs should be accurate to the property and should not create false expectations or misrepresent it, but they also must do the property justice. Photographs do not easily fulfill the expectation of serving as a proxy for the experience of walking a property. So sometimes a great deal of work needs to be done in order to make the photograph more accurate to the experience. And this paradoxically requires a lot of manipulation.
If done right real estate retouching can enable you to tell a story of the property that accurately previews the experience of seeing it or living in it. But to get the photographs to that point is sometimes a journey.
Here is an example from the archives that is relevant because it involves a very heavy retouching hand, but is also, in the end, a highly accurate depiction of the property. In this case the limits of the physical situation while shooting the original photographs required a good deal of after the fact manipulation in order to make the photographs a perceptually accurate preview of what was like to stand in front of the building.
As you can see, the original photograph is not representative of the any kind of real experience you might have looking at the building from the street. It is a collection of photographic peculiarities. It is also a solid foundation for the work needed to show the property in its true and best light.
1. This primary shot of the front of the building had to be taken from ground level across a relatively narrow street. To do this while also squaring the buildings’ perspective we had to use a large format camera and and extreme adjustment of the lens resulting in severe vignetting at the top. This also created an optical situation in which the trees overhead create a confusing mass of leaves and branches at the top of the shot.
2. There were tulips blooming in front of the building, but half of these were obscured by a parked car. We took separate shots of the tulips for use in the final composite.
3. The trees and vignette were also blocking out the sky, so we took a separate photograph of just the sky, from the same perspective as the original shot, but from the balcony behind the building.
In cleaning up and putting these shots together we were able to create a photograph of the building that is accurate in the sense that it is a true reflection of what it is like to stand in front of the building, and is also visually appealing. This final shot went on the website and served as the cover for the marketing brochure. The building sold even as the real estate market fell at the beginning of the Great Recession.