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Horses And Toilets In The Kitchen: Terrible Real Estate Photos


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 The book has another 150 unpublished images.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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.