Real Estate Photography Editing Ethics

The importance of real estate photography is increasing. Home buyers are seeking out real estate and rental listings online and image-based social media networks, such as Pinterest and Instagram, are being used for property promotion.

When hiring a real estate photographer, it’s important to discuss image editing and the range in which editing will occur. Real estate photography requires digital adjustments, and those tweaks can be an area of ethical concern. Real estate photographers are challenged to motivate home buyers or renters to visit a property in person, but not to disappoint those visitors on site. When home buyers are disappointed because the photographs were largely misleading, it reflects poorly on the listing agent or owner.

Unlike food marketing, there are no regulations regarding property photos so the discretion of the realtor or property owner and photographer are essential. Removing permanent structures such as power lines or neighboring houses is widely considered unethical. If you work with a skilled real estate photographer, they should work around visual obstacles in order to best present the property.

Enhancing the existing appeal of a property is my main goal for each photo shoot. Shooting rooms from pleasing perspectives, adjusting lighting, correcting white washed or blown out windows are examples of ways that the property photos can ethically be improved. If enhancing the existing appeal of a property means making adjustments on temporary or non-permanent aspects of the property, image editing is generally accepted.

For example, while shooting a beautiful all-season porch, I was bothered by a small white tag on the back of a green chair (highlighted by the red circle).Real Estate Photo Example

To a detail oriented person like myself, the white square bothered me and actually distracted me from the room (a little crazy, I know!). Since the tag is located on the chair, which is a temporary feature of the house, and does not affect the home buyer, I choose to remove it.



Here are the before and after photographs. This example highlights additional techniques used to enhance the existing character of the room and outdoor area.

Real Estate Photo Before and After

When initially engaging with a real estate photographer, be sure to discuss their approach to image editing.  Providing high quality, enticing photographs that are not misleading or disappointing is the primary responsibility of real estate photographers.

Have you encountered any too good to be true real estate photos? Or wished that you could adjust your listing photos to better represent a property?

  • Stephanie

    So what photo editing program do you recommend?

    • Ashlee

      Thanks for your question Stephanie! I primarily use Lightroom with PhotoShop once in a while.