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The Editing Process

by Zap Jax Photography, LLC

A lot of our friends and family and even our clients often ask, "What is it that you do?" They understand that we photograph and take video of properties, provide 3D virtual tours and that we can even virtually-stage homes, but they do not really understand why the editing process takes so much time. Most people take a picture with their smart phone, maybe apply a filter, then upload it to social media and go about their business. They do not really get into the weeds of the editing process or understand why we even have to edit our photos. This post will walk you through the process so that you can see what it is we actually do, after the photo session.

Out of Camera

First, the camera is positioned and set to the best possible exposure settings, which is to say that the majority of the room in the camera's view finder looks like what you see with the naked eye. This is called the "ambient" photo, meaning that this photo represents the ambient light in the room.


Next, we take a series of flash images to ensure that the entire image is lit correctly. Each image is taken at a lower exposure, reducing the ambient light in the photo and focusing on the light from the flash. This helps ensure that the colors in the image are accurate.

These are just a few of the roughly 10 flash images taken.


All of the flash images are layered on top of each other in Photoshop and then manually blended together, capturing the proper exposure from each flash shot. Once blended together, the ambient photo is placed on top of the blended flash image and is used to soften and apply a more naturally-lighted look to the overall image. The result is something like this:

After some minor corrections including color, straightening, adding fire to the fire place, etc. we produce the following image which is delivered to the client:

You can see from the side-by-side comparisons of the images below, why pictures taken straight out of camera should not be used in real estate listings, and how important it is to have not only a good photographer, but a good editor as well. In our case, we handle both the photography and the editing instead of out-sourcing the editing piece like many others in our profession.

From the images above, you can see how the pictures on the left are not terrible, but that they fail to showcase the rooms in the proper ways, unlike the images on the right. Our eyes can adjust to see various levels of lights and colors and depths, then send that information to our brains which process it as a complete picture. Unfortunately, cameras can typically focus on one light source and depth of field. For instance, the camera may only see what it is in the room, but not what is through the window. This is where editing comes into play. Good real estate photographers do not make the properties they photograph look better than they do in person, we just make sure that images used in the listings accurately represent the properties.

Hopefully you found this interesting and it answers a few questions about how we photograph, light and edit our images, and why there is so much time and care put into our jobs after the photo session is completed.

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