Often when viewing homes, you will encounter different types of professional and at times, very amateur photography. While amateur photography is a problem in that it poorly represents the home by not showing enough of a room or by having exposures that are out of focus or too washed out, it is also true that advanced photographic techniques can create a somewhat distorted view of a home before you have a chance to view it in person. Just remember that at the end of the day it is your responsibility to see the house either in person or to hire a trusted professional to take independent photographs on your behalf, so you know what it is you are about ready to purchase. And, be sure your home inspector takes pictures during their inspection to property document any faults they find during the process.
While I like to not think of myself as an amateur, this picture I took was an amateur photograph in that the color saturation was off, the subject matter is hard to understand, and in almost every way it poorly represents the house. Shots like these are more often than not shot on budget equipment and do a disservice to the client when they are included in the listing as they confuse the potential buyer.
While not literally shot at 24mm this room is pretty close to the most common perspective of a place that you will find in listing photographs. These photos show a good portion of the room but limit the view to two walls and draw the frame into a tight corner of the room. It’s often hard to understand the complete look of the room without multiple pictures, and even then if the Realtor does not do complex stitching effects, the buyer is left to try and imagine what the room will look like as an entire feature may be left off. When filming videos, this perspective is prevalent and gives a proper perspective as if the person was walking the home themselves though admittedly with blinders on either side of their face.
For those Realtors who have the money to purchase additional equipment or the ones who realize the cost of a wide angle lens is not as much as people often think, there is an option to capture the entire room in one photograph. This perspective gives an excellent view to see all four walls and a complete understanding of the place. The downside to this perspective is what has become known as the fisheye effect were towards the edges of the frame; there is a severe spherical distortion from the lens. For those people who can look past this distortion, these perspectives can provide a large amount of information.
When drawn to their full extent, these wide-angle cameras can film in what has become known as 360 photos or video where the camera captures everything in its surrounding. Complicated computer programs (though easy to use) allow the buyer to use their phone as a window into the room to look around as if they were standing there and see everything in the place.
And so we enter the photoshopped room. Here is where the computer of the Realtor comes into play, and we have to start being careful of what we are looking at, so we understand what is in the picture. As we can see, this photograph shows all four walls — the same as we can see in the wide angle shot. But what’s different is there is no longer any spherical distortion from the lens. These photos create the illusion that the perspective of the shot was a natural perspective when, in fact, it was a wide angle shot. By doing this, several things have happened. Some of the lines have become extended, including the far back wall, and walls that should be parallel are no longer parallel. Looking the wall close to the far left of the frame and the far right of the frame are vertical walls, but as they appear in this shot, they are parallel.
These adjusted photos are beneficial in providing a large amount of information about the space of a room and how features of the room are put together. What they are not good at doing is giving the viewer a point of reference for size. When viewing places like this one, it is essential to refer back to the overall dimensions of the home to be sure the house is large enough to meet your needs, and the age of the house matches construction dates when bedrooms were of sizes you are looking.
My closing remarks to all of this is pictures are not worth a thousand words. Photos are art, they give feelings and impressions of the beauty of a home, but they do not replace the words, facts, and figures of a home. Use the photographs to understand if the layout of the house is what you are looking for if the artistic nature of the home is something you will enjoy. But when it comes to things like size, form, and function go back and refer to the words that come along with the rest of the listing.