Throughout my own photography journey, I've noticed many exceptionally talented photographers struggle to achieve success. On the contrary, I've also seen many less talented photographers become very successful. This can be a puzzling phenomenon, until you realise that the average consumer / client has little to no knowledge of how a well executed photograph should look.
In order to help you understand what to look for in the genre of real estate photography, I've put together this simple image comparison slider below.

Click and drag the line in the center either left or right

In the example above, the image on the left is the result of a single exposure. The image on the right takes a little more effort. It is achieved by blending three or more different natural and flash exposures together. By using this technique, called 'flash ambient' or 'flambient', we're able to combine the natural light in a room with an artificial light source. Often this is as simple as 'bouncing' a bare flash off the ceiling, but in certain situations additional equipment like light stands, umbrellas and soft boxes are needed to achieve the desired look.
The first thing you'll notice in the left image is the colour cast (please note, colours will vary depending on your screen's calibration). The walls appear more magenta and yellow (warmer) than they actually are. By using flash, we're able to get rid of this cast and create a more colour accurate image that resembles what our eyes see in the room.
The next thing you'll most likely notice in the left image are the blown-out highlights and lack of details within the window frames. Our eyes are able to observe a larger dynamic range than the camera sensor. This means that when we stand in a room, we can easily see what's going on outside. Unfortunately the average modern camera is not able to achieve this in a single exposure. By using the 'window pull' technique, we can combine a flash exposure measured for the outside with other exposures measured for the interior. This is not necessarily required in every circumstance. There are times when we'd rather hide the outside if the scenery is less than desirable - then by slightly blowing out the highlights, the outside can remain partly hidden.
Another important aspect of real estate photography is vertical lines. It is essential to always keep your lines, especially those towards the edges of the frame as close to vertical as possible. In the example above, the wooden strips on the (viewer's left) side of the couch and the aluminium frame of the sliding door on the right act as good indicators.
Details: A burning fire and warm glow is added in photoshop to create mood in the image.

Details: A gradient is placed over the television to get rid of unwanted reflections and create a more professional look.

There are of course many more qualities that make up a good real estate image. Attention to detail, showing a wide, but accurate view of the room and making sure everything is sharp and in focus are, among other things, imperative. On the other hand, hard unrealistic shadows, distortion, chromatic aberration / colour fringing, and noise are among the things to steer clear of.

I hope these few examples above enable you to get a better grasp of what to look for when deciding on which images to use and which should best be avoided.

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