What Stanley Kubrick can teach you about property photos

This house looks crooked, right?


Providing good photos is a big part of effectively marketing a house, and for the newest generation of home buyers, online photo galleries and high-quality printed marketing pieces are the rule rather than the exception. So, it's important that REALTORS give these photos the attention they deserve. Whether you're hiring a professional photographer or shooting the pictures with your phone, it's crucial to know the rule of straight lines.


The key to straight lines is to make sure every horizontal or vertical line in the photograph is parallel with the frame of the photo. When the human eye looks at photography, we find vertical and horizontal lines pleasing, while converging lines appear unnatural and throw us off. This is due to the way the brain is hardwired  when looking at the real world, our brain compensates for lines that are skewed when we turn our head left or right. But this doesn't work when we're looking at pictures.


This photo makes good use of vertical lines with most of them running parallel to the frame of the photo.

This photo does not make good use of the vertical line and looks unstable.

If you need proof, look at the work of cinematographer Stanley Kubrick. He understood this and followed the rule to the letter. The best example is his movie The Shining, which starts out with clean, straight shots where all the vertical elements are parallel to the edges of the camera frame. This creates a warm, inviting and comforting look to the movie. But then, as Jack Nicholson's character starts to become more and more mentally unstable, you'll notice the vertical lines in the movie start to skew. The result is subtle but effective. The viewing audience begins to find these scenes unsettling because objects aren’t behaving the way our brain tells us they should.


While this is effective at making the hair on your neck stand up during a horror movie, it's the last effect you want to get from property photos. If a house photo has lines that are converging, it sends the message that the house is somehow faulty and not inviting or welcoming  definitely not the message you want to send to a potential buyer. On the flip side, straight vertical lines create a feeling of safety, strength and stability.


So, next time you're shooting a house, make sure you're keeping your vertical lines vertical. Pay special attention to things like doors and windows, plus tall appliances such as refrigerators. This attention to detail will set you above the rest and mark you as a professional who knows what you're doing.