Horses And Toilets In The Kitchen: Terrible Real Estate Photos

Andy Donaldson was browsing new flats in London when he noticed that some photos in real estate ads are really, really bad. His blog and book showcase some of the worst, as he tells NPR's Scott Simon.

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Andy Donaldson was on the market for a new flat in London when he realized something about the photos in some real estate ads - they're awful. Mr. Donaldson posted a couple of the photos online. They were so popular, he created a blog and now he's written a book titled "Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos."

Andy Donaldson joins us from the BBC in London. Thanks so much for being with us.

ANDY DONALDSON: Thanks for having me on.

SIMON: What were the first couple of pictures that caught your eye, made you groan?

DONALDSON: They were ones that I think everyone would recognize. They were just tremendously untidy flats and houses with large bags of garbage in the living room and so on. But then quite soon I was coming across really quite remarkable ones - images of entire sets of furniture in the garden, images of a man in a canoe in his living room. Images that really, I can't explain to you. But they were used by real estate agents to advertise their houses. So I thought, you know, there is some mileage in this.

SIMON: And you're quite sure these are all real estate ads?

DONALDSON: Absolutely. I mean, it's quite simple for me to check whether or not they've been online because there's a working link and I do not use photographs that I can't verify because otherwise, this just becomes a blog or a book full of kind of, funny photos. And it's a lot more than that.

SIMON: Do you have an all-time favorite or, not so favorite?

DONALDSON: Yes, I do. I do. There was one from Ireland. It was a farmstead that was being sold. And for some reason, they were allowing the animals to run free through the house so there's a photograph of a kitchen with an enormous horse standing in it.

SIMON: (Laughter).

DONALDSON: So I think that has to be my favorite.

SIMON: You have French photos?

DONALDSON: Yes. There is a phenomenon I've come across which I don't think's mirrored in the States - and that is of having toilets in the kitchen. I've been sent 5, 6, 7 different examples, and they're all from France. And I'm not casting any aspersions on specific nationalities, but that does seem to be a strange way to prepare your food.

SIMON: Are you just getting started on this genre?

DONALDSON: Well, on the blog I've published around 250. The book has another 150 unpublished images. But on my database at home, I still have 1,000 that I haven't yet published and I still have to write captions for. I think a lot people recognize this. You know, everybody's has looked for a flat. Everyone's looked for a house. Nowadays, you're having to do it online. You are at the mercy of the real estate agents and which images they choose and I think these terrible photographs are things that everyone recognizes, to some extent.

SIMON: Andy Donaldson - he's author of the blog "Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos."

Mr. Donaldson, thanks very much.

DONALDSON: My pleasure.

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