Preparing For Your PhotoShoot

by Lila Martin

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Preparing For The Photoshoot

This is by no means a complete list of everything you will have to do, it is a photographer’s wish list to get you started. If you don’t do these things before I arrive, your photos won’t be what they could be. Although I do use Photoshop, I’m not a magician. If I photograph a cluttered, dark room, thatís what you’re going to get. If you spend the time doing the things suggested on this list, you are going to get much better images and many more potential buyers.


General Stuff
Turn off ceiling fans. They appear as a blur in the photos. Turn on all lights about 15 minutes before I arrive. Replace the bulbs if necessary. Open curtains and hang them evenly. Lower the miniblinds but crack them open if you see your neighbor, if you have beautiful views outside your window, open the blinds all the way. My camera doesn't pick up light smears on windows, so only wash windows if they are really dirty.

Remove seasonal items (thanksgiving, Christmas, etc) It looks great now, but next month it will look dated. Try to show as much floor as possible. That will make the room look the largest. Remove excess furniture and area rugs, fans, heaters, laundry baskets, toyboxes, etc. When selecting decorations, try to keep the same color scheme throughout the room. Remove items that are not the same color scheme. For example, in a living room with browns and natural tones, you should remove the bright blue humidifier.

Curb Appeal
Wash the door. The door is the focal point of the whole picture. Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, pull weeds, trim shrubs. Knock off dead leaves from trees. Hide cars, trailers, toys, lawn tools, bikes, trash cans. If there is ice or snow on grass or cement, please shovel it off or spray it down with a garden hose. A wet look is better than a snow look. Many people have stuff stored next to their house, if possible move it along the back fence line instead of the house because the focal point is the house. I can usually avoid the back fence line by angling my camera. A great idea is to put everything in a box or on a board and then we can slide it around the yard so it avoids the camera. Fix up the patio furniture, add the cushions if you have them. Remove furniture that is broken or worn out.

Remove the coats from the coat racks, area rugs, and shoes along the wall.

Living Room
Keep the end tables modest. A few nic-naks are fine but try not to cover the entire table or credenza with picture frames and other items. Remove blankets off the furniture. They look like blobs in the picture. Tuck cords behind the furniture or remove the plugged in item all together. Make sure the couch pillows match or flow together nicely.

Dining Room & Eating Areas
A centerpiece is nice but not a tall one. You want to create as much space between the top of the table and the ceiling. If your table is scratched and worn out, consider a table cloth, or modestly setting the table. The scratches and water marks will show up in the pictures. Make sure kid booster seats are removed, as well as, the high chair.

Remove clutter from refrigerator. Remove dishtowels hanging on stove and cabinet handles, area rugs, and trash cans. No more than 3- 5 items on the kitchen counter, remove everything else. Remove soap, dish washing tools, pluggers, drain mats, and cutting boards.

Most importantly, wash the mirror! Make sure there is toilet paper on dispenser. Clear of top of cabinet, completely. Remove product from around the bath tubs. Many cases I will open the shower curtain half way to reveal the water fixture and tile, try to make that half nice and tidy. Remove trash cans and area rugs.

Make sure comforter or sheet is even along the bottom of the bed. This is the most important thing you can do to the bedroom. If your comforter is worn out, invest in a new one. Remove throw blankets from end of bed. Stack pillows against the headboard, rather than flat. If you don’t have a headboard or your pillows are small, we can use the pillows from the couch if available. Remove clutter from night stands and dressers, some stuff is fine, but make sure it goes with the room. Straighten up shelves, organize or remove the books and papers

I won’t take pictures of the garage or closets unless there is something unique in there, such as workshop, tandem garage, etc. You will have to tell me. My goal is to get at least one shot of each room. Unfinished basements are usually full of stuff. Try to stack it all in one corner that is opposite any windows or doors. I will stand in front of the stuff and take a picture. People won’t even know it is there.

Animals, Baby and Kid Stuff
You want the perspective buyer to envision themselves in the home, not your family. They may not have babies or children. Animals stuff should also be removed, dog crates, feeding dishes, dog beds. If possible put all the baby and kid items that are usually stored throughout the house in the bathroom or one room by itself.I will take photos of all the rooms and then do that one last, while you are putting everything back where it goes.

In summary
Show lots of carpet
Keep complimentary color schemes
Remove clutter from corners and tabletops
Avoid tall items

If you have done the things on this list, congratulations! It was not easy, but now that you are looking around, I bet you are surprised by how much bigger, brighter, and happier your place feels.

SuperTip - Touch paint the trim of the house. This is be beneficial during the photo shoot and during showings.
SuperTip - Buy flowers (fresh or plastic doesn’t matter) and put them in your flower boxes and flower beds outside. The extra color will make your home look more inviting.
SuperTip - Painting. If you are planning to touch up paint, make sure that the paint you select is the same sheen (flat, matte, glossy, enamel) You can paint something with the exact same color but in two different finishes and they will look like to very different colors. Additionally, paint a little bit larger than the actual spot.


  1. Jessi Hance says:

    My wife and I set out to do the stuff on your list, before it was over, we had went through all the closets, garage, boxes in the basement. We got rid of sooooo much stuff. I can't believe how great our house looks.

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