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The Camera VS The Real Estate Agent.... Who Will Win?

This morning I read a great post by Michael Thornton, RadnorLake Photography & Video. Michael talks about setting yourself apart, Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary...  It is a great post, Michael doesn't disappoint. Not in his thoughts, not in his photography!

I was perusing the MLS yesterday afternoon and ran across 3 listings that really stood out in my mind. All three had 2 things in common. The photos were bad, and they had the same photo inserted more than one time in the listing. One used the same shot 4 times! And it was a bad shot! I will not post the photos here as they are not mine, but I know you all have seen it.

I poured through my own photos and found some I could use as illustration. Before I got the camera I have now, I used a Pentax Optio Si, a great little point and shoot, but as you can see, not great enough. Now I use a Pentax K200D. There is a world of difference between the two cameras! And a big difference is made when you crouch a bit!


Bedroom K200Bedroom Optio

The biggest complaint I hear from my buyers when they are online searching for homes is that the photos are HORRIBLE! I wonder if home owners notice? Do they look at the listings once they go on the multiple listing service? Or are they so awe-struck with the fact their home is in "print" that they don't notice?


Dining K200Dining Optio
A few very simple tips for taking photos that I have learned along the way.

  • Use a wide angle lens
  • Get down lower to take the photos
  • Take the room from all angles
  • Try something different!

Great Room K200Great Room Optio

When you get the photos on to your computer, take the time to adjust the contrast, etc. I use a FREE program for that, Picasa. Once click, Picasa decides on the best contrast for the photo. Sometimes I have to make more adjustments, but not often.

Study K200

Study Optio
And whatever you do, don't post the same photo multiple times on the MLS!

Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County Real Estate

2017 President, Greater New Milford Board of Realtors

2017 Connecticut Magazine 5 Star Realtor


 Search homes for sale in Litchfield County, CT.


Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Litchfield County Regional Office,375 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776


© Andrea Swiedler 2009 - 2017

 Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. - Mark Twain

Comment balloon 20 commentsAndrea Swiedler • August 27 2011 08:22AM


Andrea-I just traded in my nice Sony V570 w/a decent wide angle lens for a new Panasonic FZ40.  I'm already seeing the difference in my photos and fortunately my knees still allow me to crouch to get a better angle on room photos.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 7 years ago

Hi Andrea, this is so on target.  Leslie and I constantly bemoan the fact that so many agents are LAZY when it comes to taking multiple photos, do not declutter for shooting, post duplicates of the same shot, take no interior photos...YIKES. 

Posted by Mona Gersky, GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate. (MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC) about 7 years ago

Cindy, good deal! My knees are not the best, but I still can manage. I have been known to use a tripod... but don't tell anyone, LOL.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) about 7 years ago

I use the Sony Cybershot more than my fancy Canon and Nikon cameras - the LIGHTING in the rooms is KEY

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) about 7 years ago

Blame it on the agent! There is no excuse-when I take my photos I always stage it(express style at least). Another thing I will never understand is why take a pic of a toilet with the seat up? Pics of a sink full of dishes or counter tops loaded and cluttered with junk or school books. The laziness is unbelieveable to me. Ditch those panarama shots too! They are so distorting and bad!!!!!!

Posted by Marco Giancola, Realtor (305)608-1922, Miami Beach Florida (Beachfront Realty) about 7 years ago

Mona, I have a listing right now that has no interior shots. I am going to go right now and get the shots, the house was in the process of being cleaned and I just wasn't happy with it. Now I can get them. They will not be great, but they will tell the story. What I can promise is there will be no shots of door frames, they will not be crooked and they will give a true representation of the home.

And... when you click on the photo to get a better look at it, you won't see a blurry photo!!!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) about 7 years ago

Wallace, whatever camera works is great, but it needs to work well! Lighting is very important, I have been known to come back, and my flash helps a great deal. Sometimes I even have to use extra lighting.

Marco, I hate that, the room looks so much bigger, and it curves in! So distorted! Toilet seats and clutter, yes indeed, those are big pet peeves too.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) about 7 years ago

Andrea so true, photo's of your listings can make or break a sale.  The better the camera and operator, the better.  I have just upgraded my camera and found the photo quality has improved 100%.  Great post!

Posted by Stephen Proski, Scottsdale Homes For Sale (RE/MAX Scottsdale, AZ Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Hi Andrea--I am so glad someone is writing about this subject.  I refer to many MLS photos I see as "click off", because as soon as the buyer sees them they click off of that listing to another one.  I know, I did the same thing when I was looking for my house on Maui the last two years.  In the market presentation is everything--unless the seller is content to sell just on price. 

Posted by Janet Jones, Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii (Just Your Style Interiors, LLC) about 7 years ago

Great advice and it shows in your photos...I have had so so luck with Picassa though...I need to get a wide angle lens too!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) about 7 years ago

A couple of years ago I sold my house in Vista, CA using a great agent, Harry Joseph, who took care of everything, including dealing with my cranky tenant. I had moved to Newton, MA, and I didn't have to go back to CA for the sale. I looked at the photos he took, and they were good, except for one. He took a photo from a little rise at the back of the house to show the enclosed stone garden area and other landscaping. It was a great shot except for one thing. The photo showed the trash cans at the back of the house. I pointed this out to him, and he went right out, moved the trash cans and retook the photo, and replaced it on then MLS. How is that for a great agent.


Posted by Melissa Ostrom & Melville Capps Newton MA - The Mel and Mel Team ((617) 388-3151 | Century 21 Commonwealth) about 7 years ago

Andrea this has been something that I've kept track of for some time now.  It still makes me shake my head when I see such bad photos of home - even more so in mid to upper end homes.  What are they thinking? It doesn't take that much to to take excellent shots and if they're not right go back an shoot them again.  You've given some great tips - thanks.  One that I haven't used is simply getting down a little lower - I'll try that on the next one and share the results!

Featured in BananaTude

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) about 7 years ago

What about using a professional photographer?  The camera is a tool.  If you are a photographer, the tool can be used to make to home look great.  As a professional who knows how to get a property sold, I would never hand the seller a sign and say, "Good luck!"  I use the tools I have available to me with the skills I have.  Just owning a camera doesn't make me a photographer.

The tips you provide are good, but there's a lot more to getting great maketing photos.  A person with a passion for photography will eventually be able to produce great photos.  An agent who knows a few tips will not consistantly produce great marketing photos.  So my suggestion is if you have the passion, learn the trade.  If not, hire someone who does have a passion for great photography.

Posted by Lee Jinks (Jinks Realty) about 7 years ago

Andrea  Your pictures are always amazing . I think it is a matter of taking pride in what we do . I have seen agents take pictures of untidy rooms .Where all they had to do was move things around abit and make it look nice . I also know agents who still do not know how to use a digital camera .Do you believe it !

Helpfulhannah your friend in Philadelphia

Posted by Hannah Williams, Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818 (Re/Max Eastern inc.) about 7 years ago

Given the choice, I would choose a professional photographer with a 5 year old point and shoot camera over an amateur with the latest and greatest DSLR.  Don't get me wrong, the camera can make a big difference but, as Lee pointed out, its just a tool.  So often the things that make the biggest difference in a photo cost nothing in terms of money, but rather years and years of experience and trial and error.

I think its awesome you are stumbling upon some of these techniques and methods that while not really secrets, usually have to be learned through the process of doing it.  So the more you do it, and pay attention to the results, the more likely you are to uncover even more knowledge.

As far as the multiple like images posted on the MLS, my best guess is that the agent is trying to maximize their allowable shots for sites like that return search results based on the number of images...

Posted by Iran Watson, Marietta Real Estate Agent - Photographer (Georgia Elite Realty) about 7 years ago

Andrea, we are visual people, so it is important to present the best possible pictures.  It could be the difference between a Buyer wanting to look at a house or not.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) about 7 years ago

Andrea, yes!  I'm so close!  Stay safe, and stay dry!  This is such an adventure.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Andrea, with Canon 5D Mark II I am practically at the high end line. Of course, it is a great camera. I was thinking thhat now I would have no problem listing a million dollar property.

Well, what can i say. Now I know  that if I attempt t get a million dollar listing, I will hire a professional photographer to take pictures

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) about 7 years ago

Andrea- Very good pointers.  One of the first things I had to learn when taking photos of my stagings was to make myself disappear from the mirrors!   I do wish they'd learn to put the toilet seat down in the MLS photos!

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) about 7 years ago

Many real estate professionals need to upgrade their marketing photographs.  Prospective home buyers remove homes from their list when the photos are bad.

Kentlands Flowers.  Photograph by Roy Kelley.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) about 7 years ago