Real Estate Photography by Michael Kojoori

 Commercial and residential real estate photography, serving the Clark county Las Vegas Nevada region.   

What the histogram on your camera is and isn’t.

What the histogram on your camera is and isn’t.


           The first thing I want to clarify is the difference between the terminology of prescriptive and descriptive.  Understanding this language will go a long way in comprehending the viewpoints I have proposed in this blog.  To prescribe something is to make a suggestion or advise on a mode of action.  If my doctor tells me to get more rest, then they are prescribing a mode of behavior, to improve my health.  Prescription is a neutral term, when it stands alone.  It is neither positive nor negative.  We assign value judgments to prescriptions, based on how they satisfy our needs.

            When we describe something, we are making observations about collective or selective traits of a subject.  For example, I see a rose, and observe that it is red, has sharp thorns and is partially blooming.  Or, I describe solely, the detail of the hue and tonality that the rose possesses. 

            I suggest that aesthetics is not an essential component of image fidelity.  What I mean is, that the beauty of an image is not contingent upon the, optical sharpness, contrast, lighting or any other quantifiable trait that we can think of, which we consider technical/mechanical performance of an instrument or individual.  Excellence of these traits does not equate to beauty.  I could take a well-lit photograph of a piece of poop.  And it will still be a piece of poop, albeit, very nicely lit. 

            Not so long ago, selective color was an attractive effect that many photographers used to make creative works.   If one were to look at the histogram, with a selective color adjustment, you’d find that things would be out of the norm.  The distribution of color and tonality would be quite different from a full color photograph.  Furthermore, this example can be extended to monochromatic and black and white photography.  The point is that we can’t quantify aesthetics in any significantly and consistently meaningful way.  Even the rule of thirds is relegated to a rule and not a law.  Because we realize that these rules do not produce absolute qualitative outcomes.  In essence, a rule is a recipe to make something, but that something can be made in another fashion.  For example, cookies are made similarly, but their ingredients can vary.  Does the difference between ingredients mean that they don’t qualify under the broad term of cookie?  Of course not!

            This leads me to the point of discussing the essence of the histogram.  A histogram is intended to function as a descriptive instrument, not a prescriptive one.  It describes what is sensed within the frame.  The only prescriptive devices built into a camera are, white balance, exposure and focus.  Some of these instruments are reliable for assessing objective characteristics.  They may even have implied aesthetic impact, but they are only guidelines.  And ultimately, the photographer is responsible for the aesthetic components.


The concept of Professionalism in photography


The concept of Professionalism in photography


               I know that this topic has been touched upon in the past, but I am going to delve deeper in this instance.  Perhaps having a serious dialog might lead us to some type of consensus.

               My observation of the modern iteration of the title of profession is as a compound description of a plurality of traits, with one component being the skill, and the other being the modality in which it is employed within a social context.

               Proficiency of a skill is an implied component of the title.  However, it is not contingent upon it. Even a low degree of competency can be assigned the title of professional, as long as it meets the criteria of fulfilling a public need through its exercise.

               It is important to make a distinction between the noun and the adjective.  The noun can convey pre/post-modern sensibilities, whereas the adjective is imbed with the modern m0dality of a practiced activity. Thus, to be a professional, is quite different from acting professionally.  One is descriptive, the other is prescriptive.

               Here is my humble observation of the idea of professional.  A professional is one who has attained a high degree of competence in a skill and exercises it regularly.  Furthermore, the skill is used to fulfill a need within a community.   A profession cannot exist outside of a utilitarian context, nor can it function without a recipient.   

               The meaning of professional has evolved over time to include a mode of ethical behavior, in conjunction with the exercise of the skill. Thus, a (Best Practices) methodology is attributed to the title of the skill.  The concept of (Best Practices) could be attributed to the western enlightenment period, which began in the mid-16th century.  Human rights, integrity and autonomy were being explored at this time. (Best Practices) implies a standard mode of expected performance, both in the skill-set and the execution of secondary executive tasks which facilitate the exercise of the skill-set in the public space.  For example, a fisherman, not selling spoiled fish to a consumer, when they are aware that it has gone bad. Furthermore, they may take additional steps to prevent it from happening, unknowingly.

               I could be onto something here, or I could just be full of crap.  Take what I have with a grain of salt. I’m a philosophy major, turned professional photographer.  PS, please forgive any grammatical mistakes.  Lastly, please forgive the Jargon that I use, my writing is a little dense because I didn’t want to make this letter to wordy. 


Photographic rights in the public space

Photographic rights in the public space


               I think that this subject is deceptively complex, but can be approached rationally. I think that the issue makes a great deal of sense, from a historical context.  I’m not going to site specific historical events, but I will allude to broad historical movements.  

               I think there is a general consensus, which suggests that our society has struggled with the idea of privacy.  This assertion for autonomy is deeply imbedded in the United States.  We live in a dichotomy, and straddle a line between government oversight and personal space. And this problem has yet to be reconciled.  Consider the recent events involving Edward Snowden.  Our fear of misuse of personal information permeates our lives.  Is it justified?  Perhaps, but I’m not in a position to make any dogmatic claims.

               I speculate that our society is suffering from privacy PTSD. We have a kneejerk reaction to any documentation that could negatively impact our lives.  This makes sense, in an age where economies use complex profiling systems to strategically target specific demographics; governments monitor its citizens and private parties use personal data with malicious intent.

               Given that individuals believe that they are entitled to a specific treatment in the public space, they react to volatility, when they observe a transgression of a (misunderstood pact).  I think that these individuals are analogous to (Trolls) of the internet space. Trolls sow seeds of discord by uncritically attacking ideas or peoples, with the pure intent of malice.

                 I’d like to propose that this type of behavior is not justifiable (at least within the public space).  I base this claim on the fact, that the public space is a shared one, and is navigated through the social contract of “Good Faith”.   When we become a part of an institution, we are implicitly agreeing to adopt its ideologies, for better or worse.   It would be ignorant of us as a citizen, to think that a society should and will conform to our beliefs’ and values. In fact, it borders on solipsism.  I’m afraid to say, but I think that a large part of our society functions on such a level. 

                              I believe that if we allow individuals to behave in these ways, they will set precedents on what society deems acceptable.  If unchecked, they will continue to erode the boundaries of the public space.  As a citizen of a society, it is our duty to adopt the code of conduct of the region.  As a society, we share the responsibility of matriculating immigrants into our culture.


               Years ago, I was on a pier and I photographed a bearded man, while he was fishing. He reacted violently to my photographic endeavor.  He swung his fishing pole, towards my face with Hook, line and sinker.  It whizzed by me at an uncomfortably close distance. I could have been seriously injured, all because of a digital representation of another person, in a public space. Because I found him to be a foreigner, I forgave his reaction and did not escalate the situation. But I find this to be unacceptable behavior.  When we enter the public space, we forfeit some of our rights, by virtue of being in a self-evidently observable state.

                               In closing, I think that photographers must take up and assert their rights to photography in the public space.  If we do not, the future will show a (visually documented) gap in our history.

The future of photogrpahy

The Future of Photography


The goal of this paper is to identify the essential components of the growth process of the photographer.  A number of questions will be asked.

·       What is photography?

·       How does it differ from vision?

·       Why does it appeal to us?

·       How does one use such a device

·       What does the future of photography bring?

·       Is the profession of photography deteriorating?


1.      What is photography?  It is the capturing of photons on a visual medium.  It is a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional space, at a specific time.  Thus, it captures an impression of a unique space/time.  


A.     Depth of field is conveyed through visual cues, such as optical blurring, from the inverse of the circle of confusion.  The proportion of images, in relation to each other.  And finally, the natural psychological disposition to organize the depth orientation from foreground being largest, to background being smallest.


B.     Most photographers work with the visible spectrum of light, and some work within the infrared spectrum. 


C.     Lenses are capable of resolving details greater than the human eye.  Either in close proximities, such as a 1:1 ratio, or making distant objects appear closer.


2.     Why does photography appeal to us?  It creates spatial/temporal cues to immerse one’s self in the past and in that particular space/time.  

A.     It conveys ideas through symbolism.

B.     It transports us to places that we have not seen.

C.     It triggers emotional responses, by the content represented, which is integrated by the mind and its prior conditioning.


3.     How does it differ from human sight? 

A.      The angle of view can be greater than ours.

B.     The mind compensates for spatial distortions.  The eyes have a curvature and distort objects.  Furthermore, the eye receives an inverted image in which the mind corrects for, whereas, the image has to be corrected optically.

C.     The eye has a greater dynamic range than current camera technology.  14 stops of light, compared to 8, that is available in high end DSLRs.

D.     The eye has can sense a greater range of color and tonality than current technology.

E.     The human eye can resolve at 1,100 line pairs, whereas the best lenses today can only resolve at 200-250 line pairs per mm.

F.      At 120 degrees viewing angle, a pair of yes can resolve detail equivalent to a 576 megapixels.

4.     If cameras are far inferior to the human eye, why do we use them?

A.     It is the closest we can get to day, technologically speaking, to convey the experience of being in a point, in space/time.

B.     But sequential stills (video), is a more immersive experience. Although video is composed of a sequence of still images, the information it conveys, is very different to that of a single static image.  The world we live in is temporally fluid.  A photograph creates an impression from a slice of time.  Thus, we pluck a fragment of time that can be closely scrutinized.  There is no other medium that can accomplish what a photograph can.  

C.     The process of rendering phenomena within a time-frame makes it an abstraction.  Thus, photography is relegated to conveying components of an idea, by using visual cues, which are preconditioned to the viewer.

5.     This essentially suggests that we have multiple levels of mediation in photographic representation. 

A.     The photographer

B.     The skill of the photographer

C.     The equipment

D.     The printing medium

E.     The timing

F.      The person viewing the image.


1.     If these factors are taken into consideration, then the process of photography becomes very complex and highly inconsistent.   Thus, isolating causal relationships becomes a very daunting endeavor.

2.     The photographer: is both technically and creatively inconsistent.  Technical concerns can be reduced, but mood, timing and inspiration are variables. 

3.     The equipment has an impact on the final product.  Either, due to technological limitations or the choice of gear combination.

4.     The viewer has similar problems to the photographer; mood, timing and experience, impact the visual and conceptual impact it will have on them.

5.     What can the photographer do to minimize these things?

6.     I can imagine a time when the printed medium will be rare.  Where the resolution of displays will be far greater than what the human eye can discern. Furthermore, the color technology and power of consumption of these devices will become negligible. The question this leads to is; will art be relegated to a hobby, as the barriers to entry become progressively eroded?  Will art have a place in the economy?  Or will the free market concept be obsolete? Rendering material goods monetarily worthless. Is the vision of the photographer, unique enough to continue to have demand?  Or will the advancements in technology make photography so pervasive and of high quality, with complete automation, that the photographer is limited to his vision of expression?  But if all people can express themselves thoroughly through this medium, then every little separates them from the multitudes of unique identities, waiting to express themselves.

7.     There are only two things that can save the career of the photographer. First, commercial photography, as long as people still need such services.  Secondly, as long as photography remains technically demanding.  Because the only other barrier to entry in this field was cost.  And that is slowly being eroded.  I am ignoring the fact that running a business is an important factor in one’s success.

8.     As we move forward, many of the optical limitations of today will either be eliminated entirely, or reduced significantly.  We are not referring to limitations imposed by physics, but those that impede the access to these limitations.  

9.     Unless the human eye evolves into something else, photography will always be a viable means of representing reality.  There is only one exception to this idea.  If imaging becomes so advanced that it is integrated into the brain. Then, it induces sensory states rather than relying on the eye and the brain to interpret the image.  In essence, it is creating the visual experience inside the mind.  And we are moving toward that direction, with the advent of neuron-synaptic circuit interconnects.

10.  What makes photography valuable?

A.     It documents events

1.     Rituals, such as weddings

2.     Events, historical events

3.     Objects and their location in space/time

B.     It creates images that are pleasing to the eye as art, conveying an idea or emotion.