We all do it. Somebody’s visiting and we want the house looking spick and span. We’ll dust and polish, plump the cushions and give the carpet a good old hoover. That new carpet look, no dust, no bits, no pet fur, the carpet pile nicely groomed, it’s what we all prefer.
And so, when Avonvale Carpets advertises a particularly nice carpet in the local press – in the Bath Circus Journal, the Bath Magazine etc. – the carpet manufacturer’s photos that we choose to use are naturally just as perfect.
It’s what every carpet manufacturer and retailer does. It’s what people have come to expect, it’s the ‘look’ that they want. So no surprises there. But can they be trusted to faithfully portray a carpet? Do carpet photos lie?
The stark reality is of course, that the new carpet once fitted in your house will over time always gather bits, dust and pet fur – it’s only natural. It can’t be avoided. And sadly neither can the hoovering …
Plus there’s that ‘shading’ (aka ‘pooling’ or ‘pile reversal’) that appears, where changes in the direction of the pile make a carpet seem lighter or darker in places. Again it’s normal, it’s just an optical effect. It’s simply the way the light reflects off the carpet surface.
Answering the question
And so to answer the question posed, we have to say that the carpet photo you see, either in-print or on-line, is always going to be an ideal. It shows the carpet in the best light and the best condition possible. It may well have been photographed in a professional studio lit by pure white light.
And so to know for sure that a carpet colour and texture is true to the photo, and really going to suit your room and decor, you should see a sample, take it home perhaps and see how it looks in the natural and artificial lighting that’s actually in your own home. Only then will you know for sure.
Importantly though, when you do see a carpet you like in a newspaper or magazine advert or on a website somewhere, there are other important technology factors to take into account that are actually outside of both our and your control.
Carpet photos in-print
Even though colour photography made its first appearance in magazines as far back as the 1890’s and in daily newspapers here in the 1980s, printing processes are still not infallible. Capturing and reproducing the original colours, textures and clarity of high-quality carpet photography isn’t 100% reliable.
And then there’s also the quality of the paper to consider. A newspaper for example is printed on a very thin, inexpensive paper that can be very matt in appearance. Depending on the colour and texture of the carpet, this can have a profound effect on how good (or not) the carpet looks.
On the other hand, a magazine will use a better quality paper and its pages will be glossy in appearance too. But then there’s the light that’s caught and reflected by the page and that too can influence the appearance of the carpet. So print is never really a perfect medium.
Carpet photos on-line
In a similar way though, the carpet photos you see online are also affected by its medium. The display technologies of different manufacturers of laptops, desktops, tablets and smart phones can be very different, in terms of resolution and colour integrity, so they will never reproduce the same photo in the exact same way – not possible.
Plus there’s another fact to consider. Irrespective of the capability of a device’s display technology and screen size, one thing you can be sure of is that it will always be back-lit, which naturally makes a carpet look nice and bright, brighter than you’d actually see it if you held it in your hand.
And what’s more the kind of lighting that’s used in your device to do the screen back-lighting can also vary significantly, it might use light emitting diodes, an electroluminescent panel or a type of fluorescent lamp. So the way a carpet photo looks from device to device can certainly change.
Carpet photos and Photoshop
Of course we couldn’t talk about this issue without mentioning Photoshop as well. An image editing software introduced almost 30 years ago now, it’s used to enhance or alter photographic images the world over. From how beauty and ‘celebrity’ is portrayed to ‘fake news’, Photoshop regularly changes our perception of reality, both on-line and in-print.
So is carpet photography immune to such software manipulation? Well consider the photographs at the head of this article and you’ll see the answer’s no. Here a quality carpet has been photographed in a home environment and it’s incurred that natural pooling described earlier.
But like we said at the outset, we all much prefer to see our carpets with that new carpet look, but if a photographer’s not got time to hoover first, or there’s not a hoover to hand then what can he do? Answer: Photoshop it …
As it happens, there’s not a photograph on our website or social media pages that’s needed manipulation in this way. It doesn’t take away the need though to pop into the shop, to see and feel the carpet that’s caught your eye, to take a sample away and see how it really looks in your own home.
There’s no doubt that print and online media does its very best to faithfully present a carpet in all its natural glory, however it’s never perfect. So we cross our fingers for future technological advancements 😉