Why you don’t need HDR

Not too long ago I wrote an article about this subject and before I posted it, I decided to ditch it all together. I felt it was more of a rant than I wanted. Why a rant? Well I felt there needed to be some response to all this hype I still hear about HDR photography, especially in regards to real estate and architecture photography. I’m not alone and certainly not the first photographer to have a strong distaste for the use of HDR, so it’s not like my opinion is a new one. Let’s just say I’m adding my 2 cents.

If you don’t know or are unclear about what HDR is, it stands for High Dynamic Range. The idea is to combine multiple different exposures into one image using software. This is an attempt to balance the tonal range where it would be otherwise difficult, attempting to create a high dynamic range throughout the image. Sounds nice and almost convenient doesn’t it? Well the thing is, there are far better ways to do this that look better and result in a higher quality image that looks real and natural.


The alternative to HDR is to manipulate the scene using lighting and/or filters to do much of it in camera. This takes more skill, more time and more equipment. There is still processing to be done, but very minimal. In my opinion it is absolutely worth it. Other professional photographers who are at the top of their game shoot this way. This is also the way I do it. If you want to make a comparison google HDR and take a good look at the images that show up. The resulting images are not very pretty, usually hard to look at and some are so bad they look like they were done with crayon.

Now to be fair, I’m sure there are cases where this method of using HDR software might be useful or fun to use. I have to say though that there certainly seems to be an agenda out there by some “professional” photographers to convince potential clients that this is high tech or the high end option. That simply is not the case. Your cell phone has an HDR option on it, why pay a professional to do that for you? What I want to do with this post is to help inform those that are curious or may be looking for a real estate photographer. There are other options to HDR photography and in my opinion better ones.