Photography Preparation

How should you prepare your home for real estate photography?

Home buyers will browse dozens or possibly hundreds of homes online before making an appointment to see a specific property. Sometimes, if shoppers are confident enough, home buyers may even buy a property sight unseen after only looking at the photos and video. Regardless of how buyers view your listing, preparation is vital.  Our photography and video services combined with preparation will ensure that your listing media looks its best.  The first step towards making a great first impression on buyers is preparing the property for photography.  These tips not only apply for photography and video, they also apply to showing the property.  We have arranged the tips by each section of the property.

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What areas aren’t photographed?
Unless otherwise requested, these areas are NOT typically photographed. Instead, use these areas for storage during the photo shoot. Occasionally, laundry rooms include features that are compelling enough for photography.  The realtor will typically decide if any of these areas should be photographed.

Areas Not Photographed

  • Garage
  • Half Baths / Powder Rooms
  • Toilet Rooms (In Master Bathrooms)
  • Closets
  • Kitchen Pantry
  • Storage Sheds
  • Laundry Room

Real Estate Agent Notes

  • Remove the lock box during exterior photo shoot
  • Install signage AFTER photo shoot
  • Be sure to provide access code for gated communities.
  • Avoid scheduling shoots on garbage day.

General Prep

  • Thoroughly clean whole house (vacuum carpet, mop hard floors, clean countertops, clean windows)
  • Turn all overhead lights and lamps ON
  • Replace all burned out light bulbs
  • Use bulbs of the same temperature (ALL incandescent or ALL compact fluorescent)
  • Turn all ceiling fans OFF
  • Turn all TVs OFF
  • Turn all computer screens OFF
  • Open blinds/window treatments to let in outside light
  • If a window has a view, raise the blinds completely for a completely unobstructed view
  • Remove personal photographs (or replace with general landscape/object photographs)
  • Make all beds
  • Remove small floor rugs to reveal actual flooring
  • Place all shoes/jackets in closets
  • Remove exterior flags that may blow in the wind


Front Exterior

The front of the home is usually the first picture buyers will see, and this picture will determine if they will look at additional property details.

  • Close garage doors
  • Remove cars from driveway and front of home
  • Remove trash cans from front of house
  • Clean up landscaping (mow, trim shrubs, clear leaves)
  • Remove empty planters
  • Use broom to remove cobwebs from eaves and door frames
  • Remove visible water hoses
  • Remove toys, sports balls, basketball goals, soccer goals, etc.

Back Yard / Decks / Docks

  • Clean porch, tidy up outdoor tables/chairs/cushions
  • Pillows/cushions should be fresh, not faded
  • Clear out kid’s toys, balls, frisbees, etc.
  • Clean pool
  • Remove pool vacuum/cleaner hose if possible
  • Hide pool cleaning supplies
  • Turn on pool fountains/water features
  • Remove visible water hoses
  • Remove trash cans
  • Docked boats and/or jet ski’s should be clean
  • Fishing gear should be neatly organized
  • Fire pits should be lit if evening photography is being provided


  • Clear countertops completely. No knife blocks, baking supplies, mail, etc.
  • Leave out max of one small appliance (ex. coffee maker)
  • Clear outside of refrigerator of magnets, papers, photos, etc.
  • Hide garbage cans in pantry or closet
  • Remove dishes from sink, place in dishwasher
  • Clean stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops to ensure there are no fingerprints or smudges

Dining Room

  • Clear table, dust and polish the table top
  • Use decorative place setting if available
  • Feature one center piece such as a bouquet of flowers
  • Straighten all chairs and space them evenly
  • Remove child seats/booster chairs


  • Remove stacks of magazines, papers, mail, etc.
  • De-clutter fireplace mantel/hearth (no more than 5 items, including art)
  • Clean interior of fireplace and re-paint if needed
  • Do not block fireplace with furniture
  • Fluff and arrange furniture pillows
  • Remove kid’s toys


Owners Suite

  • Make bed, including decorative pillows/shams if available
  • Press bed linens and bed skirts
  • Clear nightstands of all personal items
  • Store away phone/tablet charging cables
  • Remove all clutter from top of dressers
  • Remove family photos from walls
  • Clean under bed, removing items that may show in the photos

Kid Rooms & Secondary Rooms

  • Remove personalized names from walls
  • Remove wall stickers/posters
  • Remove diaper genies
  • Clean under bed, removing items that may show in the photos


  • Clear countertops completely. No soap, toothbrushes, medications, deodorant, etc.
  • Put toilet seats down
  • Close closet doors
  • Remove shampoo, soap, loofahs, etc. from showers and tubs
  • Remove dirty towels – leave out only new, unused towels
  • Remove floor mats


  • Place food and water bowls in pantry or closet
  • Place pet beds/toys in pantry or closet
  • Use lint roller on furniture to remove pet hair
  • Contain pets in hidden crate or outside
  • Clear back yard of pet waste/toys


Holiday decorations are not recommended for real estate photos. If a property listing has holiday decorations it can date the media, resulting in problems if the listing is active outside of the holidays. We strongly discourage our clients from displaying holiday decorations. Of course, we also understand the reality of decorating for the holidays. We will do our best to shoot around decorations, but we can’t guarantee that we can avoid decorations in the finished photos.

  • Remove yard decorations and visible lighting
  • Remove interior decorations including Christmas trees
  • Any decorations that are up should be kept to a minimum
  • Remove window decorations

Twilight Photography

Twilight photography is impressive and creates a dramatic presentation. Here are some tips to help achieve the best results.  These tips are in addition to the Front Exterior tips previously covered.

  • Turn on all exterior AND interior lights that are exposed to the shoot area
  • Open blinds and/or window treatments that are exposed to shoot area
  • Keep windows clean
  • Visible outdoor fire pits or fireplaces should be lit
  • Turn on landscape lights
  • Make sure pool lighting is operational
  • Ensure timers are working and operation prior to the shoot
  • Replace burned out bulbs or broken fixtures
  • Turn on pool lights and patio lights for pool/patio shoots
  • Test lights prior to arrival and reschedule if needed