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Lafayette CA Real Estate — The “Look” of Real Estate Marketing

With all of the potentially conflicting economic information that has been circulating throughout the media in recent days… stock market up, earnings up, Amazon.com sales down, housing markets slow…., it would have been easy to write another financial post. As one of my business school professors once said, “If you lined up all of the world’s economists, they’d all be pointing in different directions.”  So, rather than add my finger to all of those economists already filling up the economic space, let’s talk about something a bit more whimsical for a Friday, but really with a bit of seriousness, too.

The inspiration for this post comes from today’s Wall Street Journal article, “Awful Real Estate Listing Photos:  How Not To Take Them.” The headline, alone, made me chuckle. This has been a bit of a pet peeve of mine for years.  Perhaps a bit of background is in order.

I’m probably a bit more sensitive to this subject since I grew up around photography. My father was once a professional photographer, and I owned my first camera at about age six.  A full professional darkroom was located adjacent to our garage, and I learned to develop and print by about age 12.  I purchased my first Nikon 35mm camera at age 17 with money I had earned working part-time at a photography store for professionals in San Francisco, and I’ve had the good fortune to shoot alongside some very well known photographers.  Although I didn’t understand the significance of it at the time, I even attended a weekend workshop in Yosemite with the late Ansel Adams as a teenager.   Exiting my teenage years, I moved into doing portraiture and fashion shoots, learning how to “paint with light” and work with the varying personalities and egos involved in the creation of these types of images. Bottom line, if it hadn’t been for my parents pushing me down the academic route, I would have probably opted to try my hand in the world of commercial photography.  Today, it’s still a passion for me… something that occupies a fair amount of my limited “leisure” time, and a significant amount of my discretionary “toys” budget!

Back to the Wall St. Journal article… I am often amazed at how poor the quality of photography is in many online listing presentations… poorly lit dark rooms, “blown out” windows, heavy shadows, extraordinarily poor compositions, etc.  Perhaps agents can “get away” with it in some markets, but not in the Lafayette real estate market.  We live in a world where people make judgments about things based upon first impressions. Poorly photographed and presented properties get less buyer attention and invariably will take longer to sell — at a lower price.

Ninety percent of the time, I use a world-class real estate/architectural photographer to shoot our listings.  His work is superb… rich even lighting, proper light balancing so that you can see the views from inside the house, and compositions that properly showcase our listings.  He has even taught his craft internationally.  If he’s not available, I’ll shoot the home myself.  I’ve got all of the professional lighting gear, professional camera bodies & lenses to do the job right, but I usually prefer to pay someone else to labor over the photography, and spend my time on the core aspects of real estate.  Either way, it will be done right.

I had a well-respected local agent pay me the ultimate real estate photography compliment about a year ago with a home that I shot myself.  He told me that the home looked “amazing” online, but was “extremely disappointing” when he arrived with his client. “Bravo!” I mumbled to myself, cracking a wry smile.  I had successfully made the home look MUCH better than it really was in-person.  There was no photographic, digital “trickery” involved… just the use of the proper lenses, lighting and shot angles. Mission accomplished! 🙂


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