A guide to real estate photography – technical review

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Photoshoots

Scandinavian apartment for sale

This is a photo essay based on the sale of a lovely apartment located in the centre of Oslo, Norway. Within two days of these photographs being published by the real estate agent the property was sold.
I would like to draw your attention to the technical aspects of these images in order to give an insight into the shooting and post production work that goes into producing such a portfolio. 

Correcting verticals

As with all architecture work the basic correction of verticals and any lens distortion needs to be corrected, especially when working with a widish angle lens.

Colour contamination is always an issue with internal images, yellows, blues, greens etc from the walls will be picked up in the white ceilings and doors etc. This contamination needs to be corrected by individually selecting the affected areas and removing the offending colours in Photoshop.

Styling and composition

Careful composition and styling of the rooms play a big part in creating a professional feel to the images but the eyes can be drawn to certain areas of an image by adjusting brightness levels in the areas of interest.
I will add comments to the images below to help explain the details of each shot from a technical point of view.

Stylish kitchen

With any kitchen image it is important to ensure that the surfaces are tidy but not devoid of all of the normal things one would expect to see in a working kitchen. Here we have retained the warmth of the natural light around the working area but removed the colour contamination in the ceiling and walls.

Cosy bedroom

Colour correction

Here you will notice the careful styling of the bed with any unwanted creases in the bedding removed in Photoshop. One challenge with this room was how the light from the window behind the camera and the fill in flash caused a variation in the wall colour with hot spots and shadow areas having different hues and saturation levels. This was carefully corrected in Photoshop by clipping out the wall areas and recolouring them with exactly the colour of the paint used in the bedroom. This was something that the owners wanted to be 100% correct as a poor rendition of this colour would have looked unattractive.

Straightened verticals

Again careful styling in this shot of the entrance hall was used to create a modern clean feeling. Notice the clean whites in the doors and ceiling and how all the verticals are straight. The yellow child’s dress and the flowers added a subtle dash of colour to this otherwise neutral image.

Snowy exterior

Subtle exterior views

Here you see modern styling and clean lines. The wall colours retain their consistency of hue across all areas and the ceiling is free of colour contamination. Notice how the exterior has been subtly allowed to show through the window to add further depth to the image. The one point perspective leads the eye naturally to the centre of the room.

Storage areas

Images of storage areas are generally quite unattractive, but they are an important selling point so the photographer has to work hard to make them look spacious and practical whilst still achieving the high image standards. Tidy shelves, straight verticals, clean whites.

Shower area

Challenging bathroom reflections

Bathrooms are always challenging as there are many reflective surfaces which need to be cleaned up in Photoshop. Here we see that even in a small space with a wide angle lens it is possible to get straight verticals and limited distortion using the correction features in Photoshop. Note the subtle addition of the yellow towels to add a flash of colour.

Mirrored wardrobes

One point perspective

Here we see the use of a one point perspective to lead the eye right through the room, past the well styled bed, past the mirrored wardrobe doors through to the exterior of the property outside the window, this gives real depth to the image and shows off the size of the room.

Shower head

Product photography

Small details are important in these shoots to add touches of interest. This shower head and fitting was treated as if it was a product shot with careful graduated lighting to add the nice shiny new look to the dark areas. All of the chrome areas were cleaned in Photoshop to remove any small water drying marks that are almost always present.

Tulips to add colour

Close detail shots add interest to the portfolio. Here the red tulips add a touch of colour and give a homely feel to the apartment.

Walk through image creates scale

Composite images

Showing the size of a property can be a challenge. Here we have identified a nice shoot through of three rooms to achieve this. In this image the three rooms were all lit independently and combined into one image in Photoshop. It was important to get the blues walls correct in term of the colour and all the white areas free of colour contamination. This image took the longest in post production because of all the work needed but the resulting image was commented on very favourably by the vendors and the real estate agent.

Wood burner

Another detail shot adding interest. This one was quite straightforward with just some darkening and lighting of the shadows and highlights to enhance the overall appearance.

Creating lifestyle

Another kitchen image but this time taken through the dining / living room to add depth and to show the scale of the apartment. The lit candle added a touch of luxury and homeliness.

Scandinavian style lounge

Hero image

This was the main image used by the agent to promote the apartment. Note the clean white ceiling with all the blue contamination removed. The double aspect windows with subtle views of the exterior show how the apartment benefits from lovely natural light. Fill in flash was used extensively in the image, in fact the final image consists of eight individual images combined into one in Photoshop.

Scandi design

Another image showing the scale of the apartment with a shoot through to the kitchen and exterior view.

Funky angles

Sometimes some funky angles can break up the portfolio for the viewer allowing the eyes to switch from the normal horizontal aspect. Note the careful styling of the coffee cups, wine bottle and books to add a human touch.

Styling with colour

Subtle use of colour

Note the use of perspective and mirrors here to maximise what can be seen in what was a relatively small area. Clean whites and accurate colour rendition can be seen again. The subtle use of colour on the floor, in the mirror, the wall and the foreground help lead the eye around the image.

Framing the kitchen

The use of walls to frame the key area of the image push the eyes exactly where they need to be, exploring the kitchen.

Lifestyle luxury

Lifestyle images

Such detailed shots showing luxury products are so important in conveying the lifestyle of the apartment, helping prospective buyers envision themselves living there.

New chapter

This image is included in this essay as a kind of introduction to the next phase in the lives of the vendors, it is their new home under construction.

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