Many listing agents understand this and demonstrate how important photos are by hiring a professional photographer. But then they spoil the benefit of quality photos by making one small mistake. They take a vertically oriented photo (taller than wide) and use it as the main/first photo in the listing. Here's what happens when that photo is displayed on the MLS and other property search engines. In going through new listings today I ran across several examples. Here's one:
First, here is what the photo is supposed to look like:
Here's how it appears on Realtor.com:
Here's how it appears on Trulia:
Tip: if you don't want the main photo of your listing to be mangled by search engines (over which you have no control), always use a horizontally oriented photo (wider than tall). You may not avoid all the distortions introduced by the search engines but you'll make a better first impression.
(I've blurred out identifying information in these photos because the point here is to provide helpful information, not to embarrass the listing agent. This property happens to be a multi-million dollar listing by an experienced and well-respected local agent but this problem can happen to anyone.)