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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Do You Have a Bad REALTOR? Clue #1: Phone Cameras


Do You Have a Bad REALTOR? Clue #1: Phone Cameras

If you know me then you know: I like good rants and I hate marketing photos taken by phones. With the affordability of high quality cameras (full set of gear, less than $500) and the prevalence of photographers (seriously, they are everywhere - like Realtors® and fast food employees. That will make more sense in a future rant.) there is no reason to be relying on your phone to take your marketing photos.

Let me preface the remainder of this rant by defining what I mean by marketing photos. I am talking about the photos that will end up on the MLS (and anywhere that the MLS might take them - like CirclePix, Zillow, Trulia, etc.), your personal website, your social media, printed media - anything that is intended to present the home to the general public. This does excludes some photos. For example, if you deal with relocation services the photos that they request are primarily intended to document facts about a location. They are less interested in 'feeling at home' and more interested in proving the state of the home. It is usually fine to take these photos with your phone.

So what is really so bad about using your camera phone? Here are a few things to think about before you reach for your phone.

Camera Phones are Unprofessional

Imagine that you have hired a contractor to add a room to your home. You have done several interviews, reviewed credentials and past work, maybe even performed a background/criminal check and gone on the internet to look for any sign that they may not work out. Imagine you have done all of that, signed the contractor on for the job, and when he shows up he doesn't bring any tools. Instead of having something as basic and critical as a hammer he uses a kinda flat rock that he found in your yard and begins banging away on your home. Right away you begin doubting your entire vetting process. You start questioning past work, client testimonials, that friend that referred him is removed from your Christmas card list...

Camera phones say, "Hey, now that I have you, I don't have to try anymore. Expect to see me doing more things half-assed for you in the future."

Camera Phones make Homes Feel Smaller/Cramped

Every time I look at home photos I can tell when the images are taken by a phone. They are either tall and narrow or wide and short. I find myself reflexively ducking or pulling in my shoulders while viewing these images. I look at the home and feel cramped or caged - even in vacant, empty homes where I should be able to spread out. The full room never seems to fit in the shot.

There are a number of reasons for this. One is because the phone is taking a photo that is designed to utilize the full surface of the phone's screen. The phone is long and narrow so the pictures are as well. Another reason is because phones are designed to take pictures of people in groups or a person in front of a monument or scene. You can see this in the lack of features - you can zoom in but there is little you can do to zoom out and capture more of your surroundings - they are not designed to take photos of wide rooms. Even the flash is pointed forward (as opposed to being spread across a 180 degree arc in front of the camera) to take a photo of small subject instead of an entire field of view.

Camera Phones Lack Quality

I hear people debate this a lot. The issue is they are kinda right - but only because services like the MLS have not kept up with technology. The quality of images taken by phones can become a moot point when you realize that the MLS will be compressing your photos to the point that they lose much of their quality. Taking a 4MB image and then having it compressed down to 25KB (about 1/1600 of the size) destroys much of the image's quality. Phones, however, take photos that are designed to be shared across social media and texting services so they generate photos with small file sizes to begin with - they do this by lowering the quality of the image.

What phone users fail to understand is that these photos do not hold up well to alteration and enhancement. When you attempt improve lighting quality, change a photos temperature, remove unwanted objects from the image or just generally make it more appealing, you have limited pixel depth to work with. This means that changes tend to readily show up on your 'improved' image as obvious alterations.

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