Getting that Clean Kitchen Look in Real Estate Photography

Cleankitchenlook

If you want a clean kitchen in your real estate photos, there are several things that can be done.

Before the Shoot

With bedrooms, you want a calm, cozy look. A spinning ceiling fan, cat hair like islands on the blue duvet, and jeans posed on the floor as if waiting for the fireman all add to extra activity, add to excess movement in a room meant for sleep, which is usually a calm activity unless you sleepwalk on the regular. The point here is that the way a room is prepared, with furniture and objects, determines how people view it.

So, let’s look at kitchens. What is desirable in a kitchen? Cleanliness. It needs to be clean. I do not want to see last weeks tomato soup dribbles on the stove top or a greasy teapot nestled between a box of Cheerios and an empty milk carton. If those objects are there in a real estate photo, they become the only things visible in the photo. This is not Where’s Waldo. No matter how small the object, if it does not fit, it will become the primary subject of the photo.

Real estate photographers sometimes participate in a secret activity that might just become harder with the onset of 360-degree cameras. Picture the real estate photographer with their camera and tripod in the kitchen. From a finished kitchen photo, it might look like they got into a corner, set up the lens, and took the shot.

But, what remains unseen in the photo is that, just behind the photographer, and sometimes underneath the tripod itself, there exists a tempory pile of objects from around the kitchen. There is a stack of kids artwork, receipts, a magnetic calculator, and an oddly-large quantity of magnets from Connecticut-based takeout pizza restaurants. There is an extension cord with Christmas lights still attached. There are several mugs. A paper towel roll. An empty Swiffer Wet Jet container. There is that plastic bag stuffed full of plastic bags. A loose pair of scissors. A blender. A couple of lost lids from canned beans. A sponge. Some nails. And a koozie. It is all there on the floor just beyond the frame of the shot. And, it all moves when the photographer sets up the second shot on the other side of the kitchen.

Let’s take the loose scissors as an example. Say, in a kitchen photo on an MLS listing, there are a pair of scissors loitering on the counter. The viewer immediately goes from thinking, “Oh, wow, what a nice, clean kitchen,” to, “Oh, look, a pair of scissors on the counter.”

Objects that do not fit are a distraction.

It is the job of the photographer to send a preparation list to the client before the shoot. Without a list, the photographer may end up straddling an old microwave while taking the photo.

After the Shoot

1. Raise exposure and shadows

Show the nooks and crannies of a kitchen. Areas left in shadow tend to look dirty. On one end you have a candle-lit booth in a windowless restaurant that gets you to wonder what is hiding underneath the sticky table and on the other is the hospital operating room, the essence of sanitation with bright-white round lights, crisp paper, and polished metal. Rooms with bright light tend to look cleaner because they do not hide anything.

histogram

2. Reduce the yellow color cast

While yellow speaks optimism and happiness, it also cautions. Sometimes yellow is paired with sickness, nuclear activity, and grease. Plants that have too little water wilt from a green to a mushy yellow hue. To get the look of a clean kitchen, it helps to remove some of the yellow color cast from the lights. The kitchen will look like it had just been scrubbed clean with less yellow in it.

reduceyellow

3. Clear out blemishes

There are two ways to remove those leftover tomato soup dribbles on the stovetop. With Adobe Lightroom, you can mop up spots and small scratches with the Blemish Tool. This tool is great for removing dirt from shoes on the floor, and also those tomato soup spots. As a bonus, it hides pimples, though kitchens do not have pimples. The other method that a real estate photographer can use to remove those tomato soup dribbles is to grab a sheet from the paper roll sitting beneath the tripod.

blemish

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