Real Estate Photography Staging and Preparation

Do your real estate pictures make viewers say, “I’ve got to see this house!” or do they say, “eh, let’s see the next one” ?
Preparing a home for successful photography and showing is an important, yet often overlooked element of the home-selling process. It’s surprising how many homes are ill-prepared for photography. Great home photography can be compromised by a home that is not properly staged or prepared for the photography that is ultimately the first glimpse a potential buyer sees of the home. As a photographer, I take all of “my” photos very seriously and personally. When I enter a home to photograph it, I want “my” photos to be the best representation of the home as possible, and unless the home has been professionally staged, I often find myself moving certain items out of view in an effort to ensure the best photography I can provide to the homeowner and realtor. Having to move items adds to the amount of time required for photography, and the last thing I want to be is an inconvenience. It’s best for you and for me if I can efficiently photograph the home, which means getting in and out as quickly as possible without compromising the quality of your photography.
If professional staging is not an option, in order to ensure the best possible photography there are still some simple preparations that can easily be accomplished to ensure that the home is presented as a showcase and will greatly enhance the quality of your photography. When I (or any other good real estate photographer) arrive in the home I may move small items and furniture in an effort to obtain the best “staged” appearance, and I may unplug electrical appliances so the power cords don’t show. There are, however many things that can be done in advance of my arrival that can really help. You’d be surprised how quickly your eye is drawn to burnt out lights, and that is not what you want people to remember when the look at your home. Based on my experience I have compiled a list of things that should be done to assure that your home photography is as good as you expect.

Remember the purchase of a home is the biggest investment most people make in their lifetime, and photos are the first things a buyer looks at when considering the purchase of a home.

Exterior Front & Back 
  • Close Garage Doors
  • Ensure that trash cans are out of sight
  • Cars should not be parked in the driveway
  • Switch on porch lights (but not flood lights), especially for twilight photography
  • Blinds or curtains should be drawn/open
  • Remove fallen tree limbs and branches from lawn and driveway
  • Ensure that missing shutters are replaced
  • Neatly coil or remove hoses
  • Neatly arrange patio furniture & BBQ equipment
  • If there is an umbrella, open it
  • Remove leaves from pool, walkways & patio areas
  • Move pet toys, crates, beds & dishes out of view
General Tips For Every Room
  • Open all blinds and drapes to let the light in
  •  Switch on all of the lights in all rooms
  •  Stow away personal items such as iPads, books, magazines, toys, etc.
  • Remove items such as dog/pet beds
  • Switch off ceiling fans
  • Hide the power cords for any electrical items
  • Replace all burnt-out light bulbs in all light fixtures
  • Remove cobwebs from walls/ ceiling corners
  • Make sure artwork & Mirrors are not hanging crooked
  • Remove any small rugs
Family Room & Living Room
  • If there is a fireplace, light it
  • Set candles in appropriate areas
  • Stow away television remote controls and personal items
  • Place several books or magazines on the coffee table or end table
  • Arrange pillows on the sofa and other seating areas
  • Move any pet toys, children toys out of view
Bathrooms  
  • Remove trash cans
  • Remove cleaning instruments
  • Lower the toilet seat lid
  • Remove personal items such as soaps, toothbrushes, brushes and combs, etc.
  • Remove all floor mats
  • Ensure that towels are fresh and presented properly
  • Clean all spots and streaks on mirrors
Bedrooms
  • Make sure the beds are neatly made
  • Items under the bed should be out of view
  • Laundry baskets should not be visible
  • Remove all personal items from view, especially on the dresser and nightstand
  • Remove fans or space heaters
Dining Room
  • Set the table or place a centerpiece on the table
  • If equipped, switch on the light in the china cabinet
  • Straighten the chairs
  • Open the curtains and let the light in
  • Make it look as if you were having guests over for dinner
Kitchen  
  • Remove the trash can from view
  • Remove all loose items from counter tops
  • Remove everything from the refrigerator door
  • Set or place a centerpiece on the kitchen table
  • Make sure that the sink is clean and free of any dishes, sponges, etc.
  • Switch on the stove light
Laundry Room  
  • Ensure that it is clear of all dirty laundry and laundry baskets
  • Close all cabinets
  • Remove all items from counters (if possible)
  • Clean the appliances to ensure they are free of fingerprints and soaps, etc.