Preparing for the Photo Shoot

How to Prepare for Real Estate Photography session

Having a professional real estate photographer is an important part of selling a home today. Before the professional arrives, there are a few things that you can do to make your home ready. 

General Guidelines

There are some general guidelines that should be considered for all parts of the home. Paying attention to these general guidelines will help to ensure that your photos turn out the best they can be, increasing the likelihood that you will be able to sell your home quickly. Homes with professional photos and properly staged often will sell quicker and at a higher price than homes that are not. 

Your Photographer was hired to take the best photos he or she can of the home as it looks through the lens. As this will often take 100% of the  photographers attention they will not have time to clean up a mess and the camera can only do so much with a house that is in poor condition. 

If it is in the budget, you may consider hiring a professional stager who who will account for proper furniture arrangement and decor. The outcome of photos taken when a professional stager is involved in the design are worth the expense.

When the budget dos not allow for a professional stager. There are some things that you can do on your own to make your home the best it can be. Clear personal items, clutter and and excessive items from the room. 

You have only a few seconds to impress.

The first few seconds that a person sees a home will determine if they continue. Keep in mind when you are generally cleaning and arranging the furniture. You must create a lasting impression from the moment that they walk in the room.

Your real estate photographer will often take photos from the doorway, making use of the windows and natural light in the room. So you will want to consider the way the furniture is placed as it corresponds with the windows and doorways. It is good to capture the windows in the photos, because people like to see the natural light that comes in the room. Allowing for as much floor to be seen in the photo as well will make a room look lager. 

If there are built-in features in the room, such as a fireplace or decorative pillars, the photographer will take the photos from an angle to include those features. So, you try and arrange your furniture to be complimentary of the built-in decor.

Time to prepare for your move.

A clean space will be more appealing, time to dispose of or donate the items that you will not be taking with you. Get rid of anything that is cluttering the room, then when your done continue to clear our a few more items in the room.

The goal here, is to create generic room in which any buyer can picture themselves living in. If you include too many personal effects, such as photos and knickknacks, then it makes it more difficult for the buyers to imagine their own belongings in the home. So, get rid of the distractions and eliminate any clutter that may be present.

Get Rid of the Grime

Now is not the time to invite Pig-Pen from Peanuts over. So a quick wipe down to “clean” the house isn’t enough to get rid of the grime, and it is important that all areas are deep-cleaned in order to remove the stains in the bathroom and kitchen, dirt and anything else that might be visible. Make sure that the windows are clear, getting rid of fingerprints or marks around the home as well.

Give your Pets a Vacation.

Any pets, it is best to have them out of the home during the photo shoot. Don’t let the dogs run around in the yard during the photo shoot, and any indoor animals should be moved as it is being photographed.

Don't stop with just the inside of the home.

The exterior of the home is one of the first things that a person will look at when they are viewing your listing, so it is important that you cleanup around the house to make it look good. Curb appeal matters, buyers want their new home to look good on both the outside and inside. 

The front yard is the most important, but don’t neglect the back yard. It won’t look natural to have front yard photos of a beautifully manicured lawn and flower beds, with a back yard that is in disarray.

Exterior tasks should include:

  • Pull weeds

  • Trim trees and overgrown shrubs

  • Rake leaves

  • Mow the lawn and use the right edging tools near cement

  • Wrap up garden hoses and put them away.

  • Pick up any items that may be laying around the yard, such as garden tools, garbage cans, toys, empty pots or pots with dead plants

  • Cover dirt with mulch to make it look more attractive

  • Move cars out of the driveway

  • Sweep the porch and sidewalks

  • If you have outdoor furniture, wipe it down and make sure that the cushions look clean and nice

Interior Preparation

Before the photographer arrives, you should make sure that you are letting in as much light as possible. Open up the blinds and curtains, and turn on every light in your home. All lamps and surface lights should be on, including the lights that are part of furniture and appliances such as those on the stove or built into a bookshelf. If any light bulbs are burned out, make sure to replace them and use high-wattage bulbs to make the room brighter.


As with other areas in the house, get rid of any clutter that is visible in the room. You'll also want to make sure that the counters are as open as possible. Extra small appliances that are sitting around, as well as stacks of paper or dishes that may be placed at the end of the counter Should be placed out of site.

If you have child-proof equipment that is visible on the outside of the cabinets or cupboards, it is better to remove that equipment for the photos. Clear the school notices, crayon drawings, and magnets off of the fridge.

Clear away dish racks, cutting boards, tea towels, hand and dish soap bottles, cleaning products, mops, brooms and garbage cans. You can add a little decoration with a nice bowl of fresh fruit or a vase of flowers.

Living Room

As the formal sitting room in the house, it is especially important to make sure that the furniture is arranged appropriately. The goal of the room should be to create a beautiful and comfortable space, it should be an area where the potential buyer could imagine their family spending time.

If you have a nice coffee table book, set it out as decor on the table. Remove any magazines. If bookshelves are in the room, take out half of the books and arrange the remaining books in a nice pattern. Keep the nice, hardback and colorful books on the shelf, and clear out the ratty, old books.

Family Room

Small items are sometimes left in the family room, because it is the space where the family often spends a lot of time. Collect the TV remotes, video game systems, DVDs, or any other cluttered electronic items. Also, it is a good idea to pay attention to the way the electronic cords are arranged, and try to move them to a place so that they are out of sight. Clear out any toys that may have been left in the room by the kids.

Dining Room

Make sure the dining table is scrubbed and the chairs are arranged neatly around the table. You might consider adding a nice centerpiece on the table, such as bowl of fresh fruit or a floral arrangement. Don’t leave any leftover plates or dishes on the table, and make sure that the remnants of the previous meal have been cleared away: wipe the table, sweep the floor, and mop the floor to remove any marks.


It may be tempting to stuff everything under the bed in order to hide the clutter, but the items under the beds can often be seen in the photos.  Instead of trying to hide clothing and toys under the bed, move everything out of the room so that the space is as open as possible.

With teenager bedrooms, sometimes there are unique or usual decorations to match the personality of the child. Those decorations may need to be adjusted in order to make the space appear more generic and neutral, instead of trendy or hipster. Remember, you want the buyer to imagine themselves as if they were in the room, and unusual themes in the bedrooms can be somewhat distracting.

Look at pictures in magazines to see the way the beds are made, and match the bedding accordingly. You want the bed to look beautiful and inviting. Use a nice bedspread and big, fluffy pillows that are neatly arranged at the head of the bed.

If anything is sitting on the nightstand, get rid of it! Common things that need to be moved include: phone chargers, tissue boxes, lip balm, a glass of water, jewelry, or anything else that is kept at your bedside.


In the bathroom, everything should be moved off the counter, including makeup, razors, soap, toothbrushes, and any other beauty products. In the shower and tub, remove the shampoo, soaps, washcloths, and baby toys.

The garbage cans, bathmats, laundry baskets, extra toilet paper, the toilet brush, and scales should also be moved out of the room. Finish it off by closing the toilet, and hang fresh towels on the towel rails.

A Little Bit of Preparation Goes a Long Way

If your real estate photographer arrives, and they see that the home has not been prepared for the photo shoot, then you might be charged a cancellation fee and be forced to reschedule. Or, the photographer might move forward with the photo shoot, but the results will be unprofessional and they will not look good on your real estate listing. It is very important that you spend the time that is needed to make sure that your home is prepared so that the photographer has something to work with.