As I worked with the owner of a Queens real estate agency to photograph an image library of Jackson Heights building exteriors (see my previous post), she realized we were near a recent listing that one of her agents had already photographed with his point-and-shoot camera. While the original photos were passable and would have sold the home, she thought it was worth having professional shots, so we took a break from shooting building exteriors to photograph this charming house.

Below I pair the agent’s photos with mine to demonstrate what can be achieved with professional photography. Real estate photography should be about more than a matter-of-fact capture of the rooms of a home. To sell the property, the photos should give a sense of the character of the rooms in images that are as intimate as they are accessible.


EXTERIOR: In the agent’s photo, the front door isn’t visible. I include the front door as a way of saying “welcome.” In addition, the angle in my shot creates diagonal lines which add more interest than in the agent’s more straight-on shot.


LIVING ROOM VIEW 1: The agent’s photo is a formal shot of the fireplace that doesn’t give a sense of the space of the room. The open door covers the book shelves, which are a major feature. I chose to shoot the angle that opened up a great deal of visual space, featured the fireplace as well as the book shelves, and included the windows which are a major feature of any room.


LIVING ROOM VIEW 2: My decision to include the fireplace in the second view of the living room puts it in context with the previous view, so the buyer can make the connection between photos and get a sense of both sides of the room. In the agent’s photo, you see the archway into another part of the house, but in my shot you see all the way through, giving a greater sense of depth. You also see up the beginning of the stairway to the second floor, so this one shot includes three spaces.


DINING ROOM: Not only is the angle in my shot more interesting, but I include a peek into the kitchen which adds more depth and shows the functionality of the dining room which needs to be next to the kitchen. In the agent’s photo, the ceiling fixture is illuminated, and the interior tungsten light causes the daylight to turn blue where it reflects on the floor. My simple fix is to turn off the light.


KITCHEN: I made my shot from a more oblique angle to feature the sink and range, which are the focal points of this galley kitchen. I also shot from a higher angle to highlight the beautiful marble countertops and backsplash. And you can’t see the chandelier behind the camera. It’s turned on in the agent’s shot, and so the sides of the cabinets glow red.


BATHROOM: The extremely high angle of the agent’s photo gives a floating feeling that makes me feel disconnected to the room. My lower angle is much more approachable.


MASTER BEDROOM: The agent’s photo is not much different, but I was able to get a wider angle, correct the perspective, and get a great shot without the ceiling fixture turned on causing a color cast in the middle of the room.


BACK YARD: My shot not only has a feeling of intimacy, but at the same time it shows the yard in the larger context of the surrounding neighborhood.


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