Real Actual GOOD Listing Photos

I’ve posted in the past about the importance of having good listing photos, and our monthly “Real Actual Listing Photos” series regularly pokes fun of listing agents that aren’t willing to put in the effort to market their listings well online.

Today I’m going to mix it up a bit. Instead of mocking lousy photos, let’s spotlight some examples of good photos for a change. Since it’s usually a given that expensive homes will have nice photos, all of the listings I’ll be highlighting here are priced under $300,000.

Enough explanation. Let’s get to the photos! Click the photo to view the Real Actual Listing.

313 Earlington Ave SW Renton, WA 98057No phony skies. No over-saturated colors. Just nice clean shots with great natural lighting.
2018 Rockefeller Ave Everett, WA 98201Great use of lighting. Note the important touch of having every light in the house turned on throughout the shoot. It’s a minor detail that most non-professional listing photographers overlook.
1127 24th Ave S Unit A Seattle, WA 98144The photographer did a great job here of highlighting the vibrant colors throughout the house, without making the photos appear super-saturated.
1823 Rockefeller Ave Everett, WA 98201This photographer loses a few points for the fake sky (same in photos #1 and #9), but at least you probably couldn’t tell that it’s fake unless you noticed the duplication, since the sky doesn’t look entirely unlike one you might actually see over Everett.
17004 72nd Ave NE Kenmore, WA 98028Despite what appears to have been a pretty cloudy, wet day, the photographer here did a nice job of bringing out the natural colors of the well-landscaped yard. They also followed the “all lights on” rule for their interior shots, even turning on the oven hood light in the kitchen.
1820 Oakes Ave Everett, WA 98201It’s tough to take a nice twilight shot, but they really pulled this one off. I also like the touch in photo #13, where they’ve opened the unique swiveling drawers in the kitchen to highlight them.

Let me know if this is something you’d be interested in seeing on a more regular basis to balance out the lousy listing photos.

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1
    dancingeek says:

    I really like this as a compliment to the lousy listing photo entries.

  2. 2
    Mike says:

    The first house in Renton might also qualify for “significantly deceptive listing photos”. That wonderful porch looks out on what appears to be the destroyed remains of the foundation of 311 Earlington Ave SW. Google maps and street view seem to confirm the photographer was standing on the edge of the rubble.

  3. 3

    I Beg to Differ on the Red Barn House

    Before I listed that gaudy colored baby, I’d repaint it another PC color….LOL

  4. 4
    Mike M says:

    I subscribed to this blog when my wife and I were considering moving to Seattle. We were very impressed at how much more professional MLS photos are in Seattle and esp Bainbridge Island than here in Dallas. I learned allot looking at all those photos and, it definitely influenced the photos I took for my home in Dallas, esp the whole “put your lights on even if it is daytime thing.” But I’d still love feedback. My photos are linked to in my name.

    Someone asked me for advice on taking MLS photos and this is what I sent them:

    • Tripod
    • DSLR. Does not have to be an expensive one. Mine is 4 years old. A
    4/3 system camera would also be fine I would think.
    • Wide angle lens
    • Level on camera to make sure horiz and vertically level (or electronic equivalent); this avoids photos looking all skewed. But I did de-skew the exterior shots since I could not get higher to take the photos.
    • Take photos in tethering mode so you can review every single shot in real time. Kind of like a “model” shoot on a TV show. I frequently realized I left something on the counter or a cabinet ajar this way.
    • Don’t have camera be so high; low == dramatic
    • Shoot RAW
    • Time of day is important; never shoot at night for interiors if you can avoid it.
    • Turn on lights anyway: drama
    • Adobe Lightroom is awesome; it really streamlines capture, adjustments, then export for MLS/Web/etc
    • Export to for MLS by setting max filesize to 200K and try to get 4:3 aspect ratio. I used max target resolution of 850×640. On and the photos came through untouched and were exactly my exports. You always want to downsize on your end to avoid the MLS system doing it in batch using some crappy tool. This is with the North Texas REIS. Not sure how Seattle area works.

    I’m no pro though. Just some notes on what I did, so big IMHO.

    My home doesn’t have much in the way of a view so I did not worry too much about showing the outside through interior windows. I’m not a big fan of HDR but that is really needed I suppose for Seattle and anyplace else you have a nice view. That can be tricky to do without having it look so funky.

    I am rather annoyed that recently changed their look/feel. The listing for my house used to have a great 2×2 photo layout and then you could click and get the full sized photos. The new layout is terrible and the photos are smaller.

  5. 5
    David S says:

    These are all very well taken photos done with proper staging. The production house has also done some very respectable treatment of the images as well. I would say the stove in the kitchen of example two looks a little out of whack and there is some well done window blurring of views through some in your face neighbor sight lines of another.

    Overall I would agree. The listing agents and clients are getting their money’s worth from these shoots and the post production processing that has been applied to them.

  6. 6
    Mike M says:

    RE: Mike M @ 4

    One more suggestion: don’t use a flash! Tripod + long exposure is much more pleasing to the eye than a flash.

  7. 7
    EconE says:

    RE: Mike M @ 4

    Nice place, really nice photos!

    For all the time you took aligning the towels in the bathroom, I’m surprised you didn’t notice that the fitted sheet is coming off the bed in one picture. ;^)

  8. 8
    Fran Tarkenton says:

    Maybe I’m being picky, but the first photo could benefit from being shot at a time when it wasn’t cast in shadow. The last one is a little Photochoppy – it no longer looks realistic.

  9. 9
    Belshazzar says:

    Actually, a bunch of these appear to be HDR. Lots of halos on roof lines and over sharpened photos. The style similarity makes me think that many of the pictures are taken by the same photographer. Much better than an average listing however.

  10. 10
    Belshazzar says:

    RE: Mike M @ 6 – Depends entirely on how you light the scene.

  11. 11
    Mike M says:

    RE: EconE @ 7

    For all the time you took aligning the towels in the bathroom, I’m surprised you didn’t notice that the fitted sheet is coming off the bed in one picture. ;^)

    He he. Even picky me eventually says “good enough!” Gosh I hope to not have to sell a house again for 10 years.


  12. 12
    WestSideBilly says:

    Tim, I like the feature. It’s a nice change of pace from looking at listing after listing for $500k houses with pictures taken on a cell phone.

    RE: Belshazzar @ 9 – HDR probably should be used. Does it misrepresent the house? Maybe a bit. But unless the photographer is very good and very patient, it’s hard to capture what a house actually looks like.

  13. 13
    Peter Witting says:

    Great feature! Nice to see houses in this price range treated with respect.

  14. 14
    Joe says:

    My wife and I are the ones selling the “gaudy” red house. Thanks for featuring it! We already have an offer that’s pending inspection after only 3 weeks on the market, so the photos must have helped.

  15. 15
    David S says:

    RE: Joe @ 14 – Hey big congratulations to you Joe! I hope the transaction goes as planned.

    How did you find out your house was blogged on SB?

  16. 16
    SeattleJo says:

    RE: Joe @ 14

    I actually like the color. I think it looks a ton better than the original color seen when looking in redfin’s “streetview”. Congrats!

  17. 17
    Shoe Guy says:

    RE: Joe @ 14

    That red house is $330 a square foot on a lot the size of most homes and you sold after three weeks?

    Kudos to you, sir.

  18. 18
    sallybuttons says:

    great photos great value great house great performance great time to buy… flimsy marketing and the mind does a big stretch to consider it worthy.

  19. 19

    By Shoe Guy @ 17:

    RE: Joe @ 14

    That red house is $330 a square foot on a lot the size of most homes and you sold after three weeks?

    Kudos to you, sir.

    Imagine how much better he would have done with a fake sky! :-D

  20. 20
    Urban Artist says:

    Nice photos but no matter how nice the photos it does not change their locations. I wouldn’t want to live in any of those areas. Good photos will get me to take a look but location means more than photos.

  21. 21
    Marc says:

    RE: Mike M @ 4


    I think you did a great job especially for a homeowner. If I were you I would re-order them so it more closely approximates walking into and through the house. Plus it gets some of your money shots closer to the beginning. the order I’d go in would probably be exterior, living room, living/dining room, kitchen, master bedoom, master bath, office, spare bedrooms.

  22. 22
    neverabrogatedcommunity says:

    RE: SeattleJo @ 16 – Agreed. Bold and beautiful in red.

  23. 23
    Mike M says:

    By Marc @ 21:

    RE: Mike M @ 4

    If I were you I would re-order them so it more closely approximates walking into and through the house. Plus it gets some of your money shots closer to the beginning.

    RE: Marc @ 21

    Thanks for the suggestion Marc. My MLS photos have 4 “money shots” at the top: exterior, dining/living, kitchen, the master. The old showed these really nicely in a 2×2 grid. I also thinned down the photos for my MLS export.

    I tried to go for more of a flow on the “virtual tour” flash site I linked to, starting 1st floor and going up to the 3rd floor. Unfortunately the master is up on the 3rd floor so it takes some time to get there.

    I think in general dedicated home Websites are good for folks who really dig your house, and of course somehow find the site. They can go home and review the house again on the Web and keep thinking about it. I know in the past we have favored homes that we could more easily remember the positives by going back to a Website., redfin, etc are OK. But I find them really slow. Again, in Seattle I was impressed at how some brokers actually tried to earn their commissions by creating nice marketing Websites. At least on Bainbridge Island where we were looking heavily.

  24. 24
    Joe says:

    RE: David S @ 15 – Thanks, David! I’m a regular SB reader (though very infrequent commenter).

  25. 25
    Joe says:

    RE: SeattleJo @ 16 – Thanks! It’s the original color as we bought it. We’re pretty fond of the color too.

  26. 26
    Joe says:

    RE: Shoe Guy @ 17 – Haven’t closed yet! It’s pending inspection, so still need to knock on wood and all that jazz. But I gotta give the credit to my agent, Sheley Bressler, for the quick turn-around time.

  27. 27
    sambone says:

    More, please! Despite the considerable schadenfreude I get from the lousy picture sets, I find these much more useful and constructive!

  28. 28
    Christina says:

    I enjoyed seeing photos that are well-done as compared to those that were not. They give a nice comparison and contrast to each other.

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