Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

$20 Million Home Deserves a Breath Taking Photo

Posted by larrylohrman on July 31, 2006

I was talking to a blog reader last week about the fact that most Realtors need some visual education so the can see what is a good marketing photograph and what images are lacking. This week’s Wall Street Journal’s home of the week is a $20 Million home in Honolulu.

I think the lead front photograph on a listing should take your breath away much like the lead front photograph on a home featured in a Architectural Digest article. I don’t feel this lead image does a good job of marketing a $20 Million home.

Here’s why:

  1. If I had only the four images of the home that are shown in the article I use the second or third image instead of the one used. They appear to be done with a polarizer and are far more interesting than the front shot.
  2. The front shot appears to be done without a polarizer and consequently is very washed out and dull. Some photoshop work could help this image out but it would be difficult to compensate for not using a polarizer. Shooting with a polarizer would make the clouds more defined and sky bluer and improve the over all color contrast.
  3. The composition is lacking although I do like the clouds. The clouds need to be more dramatic which is what a polarizer would do. The composition looks a little like a drive-by shooting done without stopping. I don’t like all the driveway in the shot. Franky, a shot of this kind of home needs to give some feeling of why it’s priced at $20 Million or it’s not going to generate interest.
  4. I want to see what this home looks like from the beach or water. That’s what home like this is all about… living on the beach! I don’t care what the driveway and garages look like. It would be different if the home was grand or architecturally stunning from the front but it’s not. The front of the house is rather boring… so don’t even show it.

This article happens to be formatted so you can see all 4 images by only scrolling but that’s unusual for a listing most of the time the single lead image must generate the interest to motivate people to click/look futher so you ideally want to take people’s breath away with the lead image. This one doesn’t do that for me. This feels to me like a $200,000 photo on a $20 Million listing.


5 Responses to “$20 Million Home Deserves a Breath Taking Photo”

  1. The bad quality produced by my concurence is a blessing 🙂

    Seriously, I’m floored by their low ambition. Good photo is gaining ground, but I more often see houses cropped between 1st and 2d floor windows by a 38mm lens, interiors tilted downwards, flash reflections everywhere, uninteresting subject, and so on.

    I saw a publicity two months ago, saying “we have the property for you!”, showing an interior plant in front of a window. I said “wow, they’re selling plants”.

    But I didn’t make a difference between a very high-priced and low-cost one, I know everytime is important. If it’s smaller, it takes less time to shot, but it deserve to be shown in the maximum of its possibilities. If we sell, we care. (I should trademark this one 🙂 )

  2. I’ve photographed several homes that sold for under $500,00 so it’s funny to see a home of this value with anything less the best in photography. Someone should call the realtor and ask her if she had a professional photographer do her listing. I agree that the primary image is less than inspiring and that a shot from the rear with the beach included with have probably nailed it. The image of the house looks like all garages and driveway with a small structure on the left attached.

  3. Getting in here late, but. The cost of REP (Real Estate Photogrpahy) should be based upon the value of the home. The crtieria for the photographer should be evaluating the best shots to illustrate the home within a budget. As a rule photographs are sold on the basis of usage. In real estate usage translates into list price. Hopefully photographers are able to calculate how many hours are involved in a job and give a rate that would apply to a $400,000.00 home or a $30,000,000.00 home that would entail several days of shooting with more than several large strobes, reflectors and flags to present the home to it’s finest. That means that the real estate market and it’s values will dictate your photographic revenues. That said – shoot in a more affluent section of the world to get the most bang for your click.

    M. James

  4. The marketing for this $20M home is a classic case where the primary photo for the home does not present the home well. The Realtor is paying for exposure yet the primary photo used is uninspiring.

    If one looks at the article on for this home there are actual better looking photos of this home.

    If I were marketing this home I’d spend several thousand dollars on hiring a helicopter to get a stunning shot that showed the beach and the layout of this 1.86 acre compound to use as a primary photo. It would easily be worth the cost.

    The primary photo used for this home looks like a motel 6, not something anyone would pay $20M for.

  5. The truth is, though, that $20M homes are not sold via MLS. People who can afford those places are not settling down in their bunny slippers and perusing web listings, printing off flyers. It’s all by networking.
    J-Lo calls Madonna who tells her agent who whispers to Nicholas Cage that Brad Pitt’s house is coming on the market next month. And then the assistant to the personal assistant flies out to look at it.

    From $10M and up, it’s a different universe!

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