How Can You Maintain Ethics in Photo Editing in Real Estate?

Making money is the absolute goal for most businesses and organizations. The reason for existence is to provide goods and services in return for cash profits. Most businesses cater to what the general public needs or wants. Sometimes it’s a business partner who procures your services. But in both cases, it is always important to exhibit 100% honesty and transparency when doing business. This results into a short-term earning and invests in a long-term partnership for future longevity.

In the real estate business, there are trust relationships that need to be maintained. These are photographer and real estate agent or company, and the latter to the buying public. The relationship between photographer and real estate agent company is heavily reliant on how the public sees the real estate company. If the public shows distrust over the real estate company over dishonest photos, then that can ripple to the reputation of the photographer who edited the photos.

The power that comes with an editing software is limitless to tell the truth. The technology and tools available are now able to create seamless, realistic, and flawless photos coming from raw images that are not as attractive. Having said this, photo editing in real estate needs to be bound by certain rules whether written or unwritten in order to maintain the honesty and integrity of both people and organizations.

What is Ethics?

Ethics is defined as the set of moral values that let an individual distinguish between what is right and wrong. It can be a single person’s perception, or it can be the perception of a collective group. There are different rights and wrongs in different situations, and real estate photo enhancement in itself requires its own set of ethics. However, the differences will still apply depending on the situation. For instance, grabbing the photo of another professional and claiming it your own is considered stealing. On the other hand, if there is consent to use the photo and replicate it with the proper citation, then it can be considered acceptable. There are bounds to which actions can be called unethical, but surely both action with intent drives the situation to go in either direction.

Ethical and Unethical Practices in Photo Editing in Real Estate

To distinguish between what is ethical and what is not, there needs to be a sense of realism in the pictures. Photos convey what the person cannot see physically that is why they are available through real estate listings. Photo editing in real estate must add a touch of attractiveness without total manipulation that would otherwise lead to deception. So how can you maintain ethics in photo editing in real estate?

  1. Work originally

Working on the photos you took or have a consent from someone who took them is the way to start because you may be a real estate photo enhancement service rather than an independent photographer-realty editor. It is alright to get inspiration from other people with their styles and try to replicate those for as long as the process of real estate photo enhancement is performed by yourself.

  1. Be mindful of object removals

With the intent to show the façade of the home clearly and fully, object removal must be part of your editing arsenal. However, there are boundaries on what can and cannot be removed. Consider anything temporary in the photo such as birds, cars, pedestrians, or dogs in the photo. These can be removed because they are not permanently part of the property. They may disappear within minutes. What photo editing in real estate does not allow to be removed are permanent fixtures and these include posts, mailboxes, fire hydrants, or the neighbor’s house. These will likely disappoint the buyer and lead to distrust with the real estate company. For staging, it is considered ethical because normally houses may or may not come with furniture. There must be ample notice in the listing that staged furniture or edited furniture are not included in the purchase and are only meant to help visualize the space.

  1. Changing colors for large-scale fixtures

Think about interiors. The floor may be currently covered in wood and seem less attractive. In order to gain more people to look at it, you have performed real estate image enhancement to make it look like a marbled floor and more expensive. This in itself is already misleading and will cause the buyer to wonder if the representation is accurate.

  1. Stick to the concept of enhancement

When real estate photo enhancement comes into play, it must adhere to the concept of making the photo more attractive, not manipulative. This means that as we do the editing, we must think of how human eyes view the property both inside and out. This is what we aim to do in photo editing in real estate and that is to bring those two worlds together because the reality is, even if our cameras are way advanced, they cannot capture the accurate adjustment our eyes have. Another thought is when enhancing a photo, think of the things that do not manipulate the monetary value of the home, but instead add eye-catching and non-monetary changes. These may include changing how the sky looks to make it sunny coming from a gloomy day.


In this business, the line drawn between ethicality and unethicality is very thin. Once that line is crossed, trustworthiness, integrity, and honesty may be put in jeopardy. Knowing these by heart and not by mere memorization can help discern between rights and wrongs in different situations in future endeavors. This is the true nature of ethical practices being tricky, but always think of how the photos will impact the customer and real estate company. Furthermore, always consider the reputation you want to preserve as the longevity and survival of the business relies on the biggest pieces of the puzzle, the end customer. No matter how tempting it is to add more flare to the photo, if the action will dictate the unethicality by misleading the customer and disappointing them when they have seen the property in person then the intent will never justify it. Remember that it has to work both ways.


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