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How to prepare your listing for a photo shoot

"The purpose of virtual tour/real estate photography is not to document every single room or angle.  It is instead, a “tease” to create an interest to perspective buyers and get them to view the property, in person.  We request that the agent or homeowner be present on a shoot.  When the agent or seller is not present, the photographer will decide which photos and angles will show the property best.  If the agent or seller is not happy with these images a re-shoot can be scheduled, at an additional cost."   

I’ve photographed hundreds of listings and have found that the more the listing has been prepped before my arrival the better the photos come out. 

Staging is one of the most important aspects of a photo shoot.  Here are some tips I found to be helpful:

Try to make your place look stylish and inviting, but should be somewhat generic.  The goal is to allow the buyers to imagine living there.  Don’t make this fantasy more difficult by having too many personal photos, religious items and overly distracting belongings displayed, and don’t make the fantasy a nightmare by having cluttered, messy rooms.  Less is more.

Keep in mind that people are going to be looking at rooms from the doorway they enter through and that initial “feeling” in those first few seconds they get is the one that will count the most.  So, it is important to arrange things so the room looks great from that angle.  I am likely going to shoot from that same angle, and/or from the corner of the room where I capture the most dramatic feeling.  For photographic purposes showing the windows in the room usually takes priority over closet doors or furnishings.  If there is a fireplace or other important built-in feature in the room, I’ll likely be getting the best angle of it.


Before photo shoot turn on every single light in the house, don’t forget the surface lights on your stove and under your cupboards.  If any lights are burned out, replace them with new bulbs (low wattage daylight bulbs work best and gives a great glow to the interiors).  Open all curtains and blinds (unless there is a very unappealing view out the window you don’t want to highlight in the photos).  Turn off the ceiling fans.  


"Some lighting can be very distracting and over powering.  It is the discretion of the photographer as to what lights should remain on when shooting. "


This is THE #1 MOST IMPORTANT THING for showing off your listing:

Get all knickknacks, stacks of paper, remote controls, extraneous furniture, family photos, religious items, pet stuff and toys out of sight.  NOT under your bed!  I can often see under beds when I photograph bedrooms.  Store it all in a closet, in the garage (if we aren’t photographing it), or sacrifice a room for storage that won’t be photographed.  Again, your goal is to make your home look like clean, cared-for, a tastefully arranged haven.  Hide power cords and cables as much as you can.  If you have child-proof latches on cupboards and drawers, remove them for the photos if it’s not too difficult.  Make your beds look like you see in magazines.  The pillows should be big and fluffy and the bed cover should be hotel-room perfect.  Hide all digital do-dads, cords laying around the bed and a tissue box.   

Remember, less is more. 



The view of the front of your listing is very important.  Your goal is to make the front of the home appealing enough that buyers will want to see more.  Make sure your property has been landscaped/mowed and cleaned a day or two before the shoot.  Also, hide all garbage bins, garden hoses, yard tools, toys, pool accessories, clean outdoor furniture and place clean cushions on them.  Clean up the front porch and stairs and sweep the decks and patios.  Remove all vehicles from driveway and preferably not directly in front of your home. 


Bring some color, freshness and serenity to your listing by staging a few nice flower arrangements on the dining room table, in a corner of the living room, and in a bedroom or large bathroom.  A bowl of apples or lemons or oranges in the kitchen always looks nice.  If you have a nice big attractive coffee table book, preferably home decor or architectural in theme, set it on your coffee table. 


Remove refrigerator magnets, towels, floor mats, small appliances, paper towel holders, soap dispensers, trash cans, pet bowls and dish drainer racks.


Many bathrooms are small and difficult to photograph.  Hide all personal bath and shower items and bathroom trash cans.  Put on a new roll of toilet paper and make sure toilet lids are down.  Neatly hang a few color complementary towels and hand towels.  If you have room put a nice looking candle or small plant next to the sink or bathtub.   



Please confirm with your seller that they are aware of preparation before the photo shoot.  When possible please do a walk through to make sure your sellers have complied with your instructions for prepping the home.  If your property is not ready when I arrive I will either shoot it as is or charge you a cancellation fee and reschedule when it is CAMERA-READY. 


These tips will help make our photography experience go much smoother and create beautiful images.

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