Lately, I’ve come to the uncomfortable reality that perhaps my obsession with delivering clarity and definition in the digital photographs is much more important to me than it is to many in the Internet (and even print) publishing community. From the opinions I’ve heard recently, it would seem that people really just don’t care. Could that be true?
I recently decided to investigate high-end (1.5-14 million dollar) real estate listing photos to see how the Real Estate Master Salesmen represent their clients’ properties. What I discovered was a bit disturbing. While most of the multiple (sometimes up to twenty-five) scenes presented in these listings were very well captured by the photographer, the post production preparation; delivering what I think of as “The Big 3″ imaging issues (tonality, color, and clarity) was glaringly absent.
Images are the visual vehicles that whisk viewers away on an emotional journey. If you want your viewer to take this ride, you must make your vehicle attractive and easy to enter. Look at the images below, and see if you get what I mean. The image on the left is the current listing image, the one on the right, my attempt to correct the screen capture of the Internet image. I only wish I’d had access to the original images!
My question (to anyone who would like to comment) is “if you were representing a client’s home and had a choice of how that image would be viewed by potential buyers, why would you not choose to optimize these image(s) before you listed them?” Question number two must follow: “don’t you not think that your prospects would benefit from the difference?”
Put yourself in the place of a potential buyer. Would the optimized version of each scene not make it easier to picture yourself in that room? Would the level of visual appeal feed your prospect’s desire, or would this attention to detail make no difference at all?
To keep this issue in perspective, keep in mind that I spent the first seven years of my young career running very large and very noisy printing presses. I got worn out trying to make the color pictures look better by tweaking the controls on the press. Realizing that this was not the answer to great images in print, I refocused my career path back into the image preparation side of the shop. I apprenticed and learn the secret to producing great images on press was to prepare them properly before they made their way into the pressroom. I actually spent a three year stint shooting my own litho films, plating them myself, and then running the press that printed them. Wow, what a difference it made.
Like most journeys in life, I learned to begin with the end in mind. I knew the press’ appetite and I started feeding it what it could digest. That started a very long romance with producing stellar images, whether they are destined for the press or the Internet. Here’s a big hint… one image doesn’t satisfy all needs. Each output needs unique preparation. This is a generally ignored concept, but an absolutely true one.
Now I find myself a member of a group of ex-photoengravers who know the secrets of image preparation but are somewhat disillusioned by the fact that visual quality might not mean that much anymore. What a shame. What a loss.
Let me know what you think about this.
For those who want to produce the very best results from digital images, I suggest you learn about the key issues of color and light as it affects digital photography. A good place to start might be to watch my online Gotta-Know Video series. It will fill in a lot of the blanks and disclose many of the mysteries left by the departure of the color separators and photoengravers. Whether you learn this from me or from somewhere else, please learn how to shape your images before you unleash them on the public. You’ll see a difference.
Watch this free introduction to my video series on light and color. http://www.gottaknowvideos.com/keyfactor.html
See you next time,