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Things You Should Not Do with Your Real Estate Photos

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

Professional retouching comes with the package of a professional photographer. However, there are somethings that cannot be done to images due to regulations and ethics.

“We all want to make our homes look amazing, and whilst it might be tempting to use some Photoshop magic to improve things there are some things you should definitely not do with your real estate photos.” –Darryl Stringer

What should you NOT do with your real estate images?

Remove Obstructions

“Some agents think this is something you can do because it’s not part of the house, but they’re wrong. Power lines are permanent features of the surrounding area, and cannot be removed from a photo legally”

Removing power lines, lights, telephone poles, etc from a listing photo can misrepresent the property because they hide undesirable permanent property features. By removing any of these fixtures from an image, you deceive the viewer into believing that there are no obstructions, resulting in false advertisement. In some cases legal action has been taken against the listing agent, because representation of the property is their legal responsibility.

Unfortunately, if something permanent is not appealing in an image it cannot just be edited out. Additionally, tricking the viewer into believing something is not there by play of camera angle can also cause an issue.

Earlier this year, a photograph of a house with a water tower behind it went viral. The advertised listing image showed a typical home with nothing out of the ordinary, however a Google street view proved otherwise. By the play of angle, the photographer was able to “hide” what was truly behind the house; a large and ugly water tower.

Here is a screen capture from Petapixel’s article showing the advertised image and the Google Street view:


Some argue, that because the water tower was not Photoshopped, than no harm was done. However, by removing such a key permanent feature from the image entirely is where the issue was.

So, what can you do with your real estate images?

Sky Replacement

Depending on the weather the sky can be blue and inviting or it can be overcast and ominous. None the less, the sky is not a permanent feature of a home. In the Pacific Northwest, near Seattle and Tacoma, there are many days when the sky is overcast. A professional real estate photographer will generally do a ‘sky replacement’ and replace the sky with a nicer and brighter looking sky.

As you may be able to tell, the image with the replaced sky looks more inviting and appealing.

Make the grass green

During the summer with little rain the lawn can start to brown and lose some of it’s vibrancy. This is, typically, not permanent and can be brought back with a few good rainy days or some watering. Thus, another photo enhancement which is generally acceptable.

The goal is to make the grass more appealing and healthy, rather than changing the grass completely. What you don’t want to do is green the grass if it is dead or a dirt patch, this could misinterpret the yard which can be frowned upon.

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