Things do not look the same through your eyes as they do through the lens of a camera. When a photo is taken with the camera tilted upwards or downwards (in other words, not perfectly straight ahead), the vertical lines of the walls are also angled, rather than parallel with the edge of the frame, an effect called “converging verticals“.
In Real Estate photography verticals MUST be vertical, which means parallel to the vertical edge of the photo, because vertical walls are an assumed environmental fact. Why? It’s a brain thing. We may not realize it, but we all have this built-in hyper-sensitivity to verticals. We all live in a world where the walls are vertical 99.99% of the time. We are all so conditioned to this that when the eye/brain encounters a photo like the one on the left where the walls are even slightly out of vertical, the brain has a hard time letting go of this visual distraction. That is, you have a hard time seeing this as a lovely, bright kitchen because you can’t visually get past the wacky wall angles, and there is a corresponding psychological response. It’s an unconscious warning in your head that says, “something is wrong here”. As Real Estate photographers, our job is to keep verticals perfectly parallel with the edge of the photo so this tension and psychological distraction doesn’t exist.
On a psychological level, converging verticals in Real Estate photographs have been shown to make viewers feel they are not welcome, that the house is not stable. Straight vertical lines create feelings of stability and strength in the viewer, and houses shot with straight verticals are seen as solid and stable. Interesting, right? These seemingly small details can have huge effects. Most photographers never think about verticals, and many never figure out the importance of having verticals parallel with the left and right edge of the frame. Understanding the vertical issue is sort of an rite of initiation in interior photography. Once you get your verticals vertical, you can start charging money to shoot interiors!
Getting perfectly vertical lines is the most basic principle by which a real estate photograph can be judged, because this type of shot creates the best response in potential buyers. True professional photographers are aware of the emotional impact of converging vertical lines. They will place the camera at a perfectly level position when shooting and then will use advanced post-processing computer programs to ensure the vertical lines are perfectly straight.
So next time you are looking at Real Estate photos you’ll know which photos were taken by the true experts!