Category Archives: technique

The benefits of virtual furniture for real estate sales and rentals on The Sunshine Coast.

It can often happen; you have a home, apartment or unit for sale or rent on The Sunshine Coast and the owners or previous tenants have moved on, leaving the dwelling completely empty of furniture. As a tempting marketing morsel, a photo of an empty room has far less appeal than one that is tastefully furnished. It used to be that, if the budget allowed, one might rent a house-lot of real furniture to dress up the place and impart a homey vibe so as to entice folk to visit. However, advances in 3D modelling have provided a second, cheaper solution: virtual furniture.

Virtual furniture:

“… has proven excellent results in us being able to achieve maximum interest levels and numbers attending our open-for-inspections, with the subsequent leasing of that property quickly, at the highest rental return possible.”

– Sarah Latham, owner and director of Latham Cusack Property Services’ North Shore office

The quote above was from a blog post at Residential Property Manager called “Turning to the virtual world for real life success“, and if you’re not familiar with it, virtual furniture is a service offered by many real estate photographers where they use Photoshop or 3D software to add furniture to an otherwise empty room.

As Sarah notes in her article, the use of virtual furniture in her rentals has helped to attract more tenants, meaning less time that a property is left vacant.

The presence of virtual furniture helps Sunshine Coast viewers gauge the size of a room, and can open their eyes to a space’s potential. If the VF is tastefully chosen it can add perceived value to the otherwise-empty dwelling, much in the way that garnishes artistically arranged around a meal can make it appear more appetising. This psychological appeal may help garner a higher asking price.

And as noted in the Daily Mail article, “The latest real estate trick to lure buyers“:

“Sellers are saving ‘thousands’ of dollars by paying photography companies to add virtual furniture to their photos instead of hiring the real thing…”

What about the buyers? Are they annoyed by seeing photos of a furnished home and arriving to find that it’s empty when they visit? According to real estate agent Graham Green that hasn’t been a problem for him, and he has used virtual furniture a lot:

‘At the end of the day the better looking it is the more people who will fall in love with it’.

Or as one virtual furniture service provider mentioned in this article, “Virtual reality technology transforms real estate“:

“We say it is for illustration only; if people come through and say, ‘where’s the furniture?’, be honest and tell them it is digitally staged.”

Most buyers are fairly understanding of that, so long as the actual features and presentation of the home they are thinking of buying isn’t changed. In other words, when it comes to digitally altering images for real estate sales, placing a dining table in a room that was actually empty when the photographer took the photo is fine, but repairing a large hole in a wall is not. In real estate marketing it all comes down to what’s permanent, and what’s temporary, and virtual furniture is very temporary.

Here are a few samples of virtual furniture so you can see what’s possible:

Do you think that the use of virtual furniture is in any way deceptive? Leave a comment below.

Knowledge of capture and processing techniques trumps how expensive your camera is.

Occasionally photographers hear the comment, “Gee, you must have a good camera!” It’s certainly meant as a compliment but I thought that I’d show you a situation (one of many) where a good camera alone could not cut the mustard, and where the photographer’s knowledge and technique were essential in producing an acceptable result.

Recently I photographed Noosa’s fabulous Ricky’s Restaurant, which has the most beautiful outlook of any on the coast IMO. You walk in and can’t tear your eyes off the river glittering just beyond the equally sparkling table settings.

I set up the camera, dialed in an exposure that favoured the interior and made the first shot below. Hmmm… underwhelming. The windows are too bright and the colours of the walls, door frames and floor are rather washed out. Now that’s a $3000 camera and lens and it still can’t always produce a photo that matches the human experience!

Unedited restaurant shot by Propertyshoot Sunshine Coast


In the second shot that gob-smacking view is clearly seen. The tablecloths are bright and white and the glassware and cutlery sparkles. To do that I lit the woodwork and floor and each individual table with flash, then made a separate shot for the view. It ended up requiring parts of 8 shots to form the completed photo. Is it a misrepresentation? I believe that I merely compensated for the inadequacies of the camera and made an image which closely captures how I saw the restaurant when I walked in.

Edited restaurant marketing photograph by Propertyshoot Photography Sunshine Coast

And which shot would prompt you to pick up the phone and make a booking? That reaction is what marketing photography should stimulate.

Would you like something similar for your marketing?