HOME: The Glamour Shot

Elegance and refinement on view at Sol y Sombra.

Let True Character Come Through

We asked longtime Santa Fe real estate broker Paul Duran of Keller Williams Realty about the nuances of photographing a home to show potential buyers its true character and best points.

Q. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. How true is this for selling a home?

In today’s world, internet shopping is the first step buyers take when considering purchasing real estate. I expect buyers to have spent a great deal of time viewing photographs online before we meet. The images we, as realtors, use to introduce our listings to the marketplace are critical to the success of selling a property. Every image tells a story. A thousand words is the goal.

Q. How has the internet changed the way buyers and sellers approach looking for and listing homes? 

Prior to contacting a realtor, buyers spend hours scouring the internet in search of the perfect property. Real estate search websites such as Zillow, plus many others, have made our job a lot easier. Most buyers are proficient in navigating through the various real estate sites, and by the time they reach out to us, they have a relatively good understanding of our market. What an online photograph cannot do, usually, is give the buyer a sense of the peace and tranquility many of the homes in Santa Fe have.

Q. What are some of the most distinctive homes you have managed photo shoots for and what features made them stand out as unique?  

These come to mind immediately: The Joe Pytka Estate on Cerro Gordo, which was a journey back in time; Sol y Sombra, the storied jewel of our city, on Old Santa Fe Trail; and The White Building on McKenzie Street, another journey into Santa Fe’s  past, with an exciting renovation chapter. I remember trying to capture one of the most phenomenal sequoia trees I have ever seen at Sol y Sombra — Georgia O’Keeffe’s last home—the seeds of which were brought to Santa Fe by Bishop Lamy.

I have been doing this so long, sometimes I feel as though I have been in every house in Santa Fe. But it always gives me a sense of pleasure to photograph a property more than once and see its changes and the loving care that has been taken over time. 

Q. On a scale from 1 to 10, how important is it to have more, not fewer, quality photos of your home in online listings? 

It all depends on the story you are telling. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 represents the complete story.

Q. Is showing details, such as the carving on an elegant mantlepiece, a good idea?  

Space and finishes tell a lot about a home and its ambiance. The relationship of an elegant mantlepiece, for example, to the overall space in which it is located gives the buyer a sense of the home’s personality and atmosphere, and conveys the message to the buyer that many treasures are to be found in the home.

Q. What advice do you have for homeowners getting ready to put their homes on the market? 

Get rid of clutter — let the house tell its story.


Paul Duran is a lifelong resident of Santa Fe and Los Alamos. He has been a Licensed New Mexico Real Estate Broker since 1976 and served two terms as Santa Fe County Commissioner. He also served as a photographer in the United States Navy. His areas of expertise in real estate include residential, commercial, investment and development. According to Paul, “Land use issues are where the fun is.” He can be reached at paul@paulduran.com.

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