When you get right down to it, real estate photography is essentially product photography. The product is the property, and the photos are intended to make the home look its very best to draw in interested buyers.
But unlike professional product photography—wherein dozens of people scuttle around to arrange, rearrange, and stage the product absolutely perfectly—it doesn’t take a lot of time, effort, or money to receive professional quality results for your listing.
A Clean Home is a Photographic Home
First and foremost, the listing property should be clean and ready to be photographed. Floors vacuumed or mopped, stains shampooed, windows and mirrors washed, and counters clear. All dirty dishes and laundry should be hidden out of sight. The lawn should be mowed, and landscaping trimmed neatly.
You don’t have to get too nuts, you’re not trying to pass a white glove inspection. The goal is to show a clean and inviting space.
Be Ready for Your Closeup
As a follow-up to the cleaning tip above, have everything ready for the photographer when he/she arrives. Many real estate photographers, us included, have multiple shoots scheduled for a single day. Waiting for last minute cleaning to be done pushes the schedule out of whack, and throws off the times for every appointment that comes after.
While some small tidying is understandable, anything that requires the photographer to wait for long periods may necessitate an additional charge. For example, if you just need to stash the morning dishes or last night’s laundry, that’s something that can be done quickly while the photographer is focused on something else. If, however, the floor needs vacuumed, mirrors washed, and counters cleared, that’s something that will take time.
This includes the “moving mess” that we have come across in a few appointments. This is when a homeowner shoves all clutter into one room with the intention of just moving said mess once the photographer finished with another. Depending on the size of the mess, this could be time-consuming, and turn a 45 minute shoot into an hour and half session.
Save yourself and your photographer that wasted time by having everything ship shape before your appointment.
The Homey Details
Some agents and homeowners fret over every tiny detail and accessory in the home, often focusing too closely on ones that aren’t that big a deal. A few “homey” items are fine, while clutter is not.
A few appliances on a clean kitchen counter are fine, such as the coffee pot, toaster, and mixer. A dozen different appliances, however, makes for a more cluttered look. Remove all but the few most common ones to offer a neat appearance.
Soap dishes and dispensers on bathroom or kitchen sinks are fine, so long as they’re clean and not distracting. A counter full of toothbrushes, razors, towels, or other personal hygiene products is not.
The ultimate goal is to make the house look nice and neat, not barren and sterile.
A Light Chore
Capturing great images requires lots of light, and real estate photography is no different. Before your photo shoot, turn on all lights in the home. Not just overhead lights, either. Don’t forget the table lamps. This helps the areas look brighter, and results in better images. Even if a lamp doesn’t throw off much actual light, it creates a sense of welcome and life while fixtures that are off look distinctly “dead.”
While you flick those switches, check the bulbs in your ceiling fan, bathroom fixtures, and over the stove. Replace burned out bulbs so every one works.
Turn off all televisions and ceiling fans to avoid distracting images in the final photos. We want lots of light, not blurry fan blades and the latest episode of Honey Boo Boo.
Clear the Set
A listing photo is designed to sell the house, and ideally these photos should have no life forms in them. No humans, no pets. Photo appointments should be set when all family can be away for that hour or so.
As with many other things, life can get in the way and sometimes this isn’t possible. That’s fine, so long as everyone still in the home can be safely kept out of the camera’s way. This includes pets, elderly family members, kids, and anyone else who may unintentionally photobomb the image.
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, specifically for those with medical conditions that make moving difficult. Speak with your photographer if this situation applies, as he/she will most likely have a suggestion as a work-around.
All pets, however, should be contained or controlled. Without exception.
Trust Your Photographer
Many well-meaning agents and homeowners like to suggest areas the photographer should focus on during the appointment, and sometimes even where to stand! While this is appreciated when dealing with impressive feature upgrades, professional real estate photographers have the experience necessary to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
Don’t hesitate to point out unusual features, such as the newly built two-tier deck, or finished lower level, but avoid suggesting the photographer take a photo of the hardwood floor. This lovely feature will show in the final images.
Keep these tips in mind for a smooth, efficient, quick photo shoot!