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Every so often you will hear about a real estate photo that becomes controversial or appears to have been Photoshopped.
I have heard of photographers being sued for using flash lighting to illuminate the exterior of a home at sunset. Recently a photographer is under fire for using a wide angle lens on the exterior of a home making the driveway look larger than normal. As a real estate photographer I have heard a few times over my career that the home looked “different” than the pictures. Depending on the reason for that comment it is not the worst thing that can be said about a picture.
For instance, at twilight or night it becomes more difficult to correct white balance for yellows and blues, but becomes easier to control glare from light sources such as windows. Using multiple exposures as I do and enfusing them is a far different process than photoshopping objects in or out. Our eyes are designed to compensate for glare, cameras are not. Also, I can see far more out of two eyes than my 11mm lens can capture. Yet, the only comment I have had said once in 700 home shoots is that the room looks smaller than the photo reflects.
More opportunity exists with virtual staging to start messing with items that convey with the house such as flooring, landscaping and window coverings. Virtual Staging is a great way to stage an empty home on a budget. But some buyers will spend a great deal of money and even fly into a city to see a property. If it looks drastically different with fireplaces, fresh sod or other added items that can be a real problem and should be avoided at all costs. Also a disclaimer in the comments section saying that virtual staging has been added is a helpful disclaimer.
If on the other hand a photographer is combining multiple exposures to control lighting issues as is commonly accepted in the real estate industry it should not pose a problem. Color balance is a real problem because of different lighting conditions. Buyers should generally expect to not see the exact right colors on a wall as would be the case when they walk in and look at a room under various times of the day. As far as the size of a room, typically when an agent uses their cell phone in a bedroom you often see just the bed. To me that is a bigger problem than being able to see 75% of the room in a photo. Fish eye lenses should be avoided in real estate due to the amount of distortion that needs to be corrected. But showing more of the room is helpful. In general, unless the house is extremely long a non-wide angle lense works better for front exterior shots; however elevated shots can be helpful and showing the back yard or a birds eye view such as is available in Google maps.