Getting that Clean Kitchen Look in Real Estate Photography


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.


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.


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.


Product Videography with the Godox TT350

Apple’s deep black close-ups that portray their MacBooks and iPhones like solar eclipses are as iconic as their commercials with white iPods and earphones on dancing silhouettes.

We associate the feelings that these iconic commercials create with Apple’s brand: a silent materialistic euphoria and a sense of trust about quality. It feels good to open a new Apple product. Their products, to the touch, feel like high-class pieces of engineering.

This is all to say that the way Apple shoot’s their products determines how customers perceive its brand. This is true for any company with a product that they are selling. How they shoot their products impacts how customers perceive the product.

I have not created product videography for any clients (yet). But, since I have the equipment to do it, I decided to practice. The following photos are raw frame-stills taken from the camera. The footage was later corrected to enhance the blacks and overall sharpness. This product setup uses 1 light, a bounce card, and a black background.

I began by setting up a black background behind a gray wood desk and positioning the camera 2 feet in front and at the height of the desk. There was a 1-foot gap between the back of the desk and the black background. This gap prevented a shadow at the meeting of the background and back of the desk, which resulted in a smooth transition from the table to the background.

I then placed a 1k Dracast light 2 feet above and 1 foot to the left of the product’s placement on the desk. I attached an egg crate to the Dracast light to direct light straight at the product, not the background. I also added a bounce to the right side of the desk to fill out the product using the single light.

The product for the test shots was a junky Nikon 70-300mm. I ended up using a Godox TT350 speedlight as the product in the video.

Attempt 1: Too much light and too soft

My arm is pure white. This is not a good look.

In this first try, I had used a 50mm prime at f/1.4. The light was somewhere around 60%, and at that percent, it had blown out my skin and created harsh shadows. Also, the focus was too soft. To fix the lighting, I raised the light by 1 foot. This softened the shadows. I then changed to f/4 on the lens. This lessened the light coming into the camera while also boosting the sharpness of the overall shot. The product was far enough from the black background that the change in f-stop did not noticeably alter the bokeh.

Attempt 2: Still too blown out

My fingers are blown out. The shine on the barrel of the lens is too strong.

The second try was much sharper. My skin was not blown out. But, I was not a fan of the blown-out ring of light on the lens. This, again, was caused by the light’s intensity. Rather than decrease the intensity, I raised the light by another foot. At this point, the light was almost touching the ceiling.

Attempt 3: Just about right

My arm is not blow out. The shadows are soft.
Notice how the highlights on the Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4 lens are not blown out. Also, this lens is great for real estate photography.

I reached a nice balance of softness and brightness by the third try. This is the setup that I used when creating the video with the Godox TT350 speedlight.

I noticed that in some of the close-ups, the focus was not completely sharp. The next time that I do this, I will raise the f-stop to f/5.6 and increase the intensity of the light.

The “TT350” logotype is out of focus. A f-stop of f/5.6 would increase the sharpness of this part.

If you have any comments or advice, please let me know! I am always open to learning.

So this is the Panasonic GH5S

The Panasonic GH5S is real. And here are the details.


Panasonic released a video 10 minutes before their conference at CES 2018, the International Consumer Electronics Show. The video shows off the new 10.2MP Digital Live MOS Sensor GH5S camera. Here are the key takeaways:

  1. New 10.2MP Digital Live MOS Sensor
  2. A maximum ISO of 51,200 and extended ISO of 204,800
  3. Dual Native ISO at 400 and 2500
  4. Cinema 4K 60/50p recording (4096 x 2160)
  5. 4K HDR with Hybrid Log Gamma
  6. Internal 4:2:2 10-bit 400Mbps recording at 4K and Cinema 4k
  7. Internal 4:2:2 10-bit 200Mbps Full HD
  8. Internal 4:2:0 8-bit Cinema 4K
  9. Full HD 240fps variable frame rate
  10. 14-bit raw photos at 11fps for AFS and 7fps for AFC
  11. Multi-aspect sensor (4:3, 17:9, 16:9, 3:2 aspect ratios)
  12. Timecode In/Out (Sets in and out points while recording so editors can see it in post)
  13. Optional SLR Microphone adaptor and battery grip
  14. Pre-installed V-Log
  15. IBIS is included in the menu system on the camera but it’s greyed out. Might be included in a software update?
  16. Unlimited recording time
  17. Live View Boost mode (makes the image brighter on the viewfinder than what is actually being recorded)
  18. Night mode (camera interface turns red for minimal light leaking)
  19. Priced at $2,499