Prepare the property for the photoshoot - basic tips.
1. Start your preparation online by visiting 2-3 real estate listing websites and looking for properties listed for sale/rent. This will serve as a benchmark for your work or, rather, will tell you what things to avoid. Find some examples of unattractive photos. Disastrous property photographs are not rare, so be ready to see cluttered rooms, dirty toilets, scattered clothes, toys, and more. Remember these as things to avoid. You can easily find photos with cluttered rooms or scattered clothes, toys, and, in extreme cases, even toilets with open lids in the bathroom.
2. On the day of your photoshoot, make sure the place is spotless and clean so no random items appear in the photo. Get all shiny surfaces polished, and make sure there are no smudges, dust, or dirt.
3. Remove personal items from view (i.e., photos, paintings, diplomas, certificates, etc.).
4. Hide any signs of pets - not everyone is fond of them. Unwanted things include bowls, leashes, food bags, pet beds, etc.
5. Ensure good lighting. If there isn’t enough natural light, the lamps should be on during photography, so replace any burnt-out bulbs if necessary.
6. Wipe the leaves of plants and water the flowers to make them look lush and fresh. You can buy a bouquet for the duration of the shoot. Plants can liven up the frame, adding a warm, welcoming feel to the interiors.
7. Get a few accessories (candles, cushions, blankets, vases, etc.) and buy fresh fruits to prepare a decorative fruit bowl in the kitchen. The place will look warmer and more welcoming, and these final touches will help to get the best pictures.
Preparing property interiors
The hallway or entrance hall
Turn on all the lights for the shoot duration: These parts of the house are often poorly lit, so if necessary, consider adding extra lamps or using flash/LED lighting. Tidy up (hide) shoes and clothing (an exception can be made for clean, new slippers that can give the photo a homey atmosphere). If there are solid entrance doors, prepare them for photography as well: they can give the impression that the house is safe (in that case, don't forget to vacuum and shake the doormat). You should keep doors to other rooms open to "invite" guests into the house (an exception is the bathroom door. If they were to appear in the foreground, it should be closed).
Kitchen and dining area
It is the heart of the house, so the kitchen is an important property selling point. Remember to hide pots and pans – old and burned ones are the worst. Remove food - only fresh fruit can remain (although artificial ones can also look good sometimes). Hide all personal notes and board reminders, such as recipes, shopping lists, referrals for medical tests, etc. Wipe the tiles, walls, and all glass surfaces, such as oven doors, microwaves, and cabinets. All these actions will speed up photography work.
Living room and other rooms
Apart from the usual vacuuming and mopping, you can examine the floor. If it is stunning, consider leaving it uncovered by a carpet for the photos. Like in the hallway, check the lighting and clear away family souvenirs and photos. Examine the curtains and drapes. They should not be dirty or wrinkled. Nets can be used as a giant softbox if you shoot around midday and the room has a window only on one side, which means that in your photo, that window could look like a gaping white hole if you don’t decrease the amount of light coming from that window. To keep even lighting in the room, diffuse strong sunlight from a widow by covering it (with a net or other see-through textile).
Don't turn on the TV during the shoot, as it distracts viewers and doesn’t help to create a welcoming atmosphere.
Focus on the bedroom: make the bed, smooth out the sheets, and cover it with a blanket or bedspread. Again, hide pictures and personal items, but turn on the overhead and bedside lamps. Put away newspapers (they can reveal political views, and there's no need to make potential clients adversaries).
Ensure the toilet seat is down and remove any stains from the mirror, bathtub, and sink. Take down laundry, remove baskets with dirty laundry, drying racks, cosmetics, perfumes, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. Avoid showing towels if they don’t match, but leave them visible - as long as they are neatly folded and color coordinated.
The balcony and the terrace
Clean the floor and remove any stains left from watering plants. Buy or rent some plants in pots to create a leafy feel. The space in the cities is scarce and expensive, so having a green oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle is precious. If the terrace is big enough, set up a table with a few chairs, an umbrella, fairy lights, and cushions. Don’t forget to remove the ashtrays.
Preparing the area around the property
Real estate photography means focusing on the property and its surroundings. If you plan to have the house photographed, you should check if the garden is in order and, if necessary, clean up leaves, trash, tools, etc. Remove bins from the frame (i.e., move them behind a fence or into the garage during the session). Trash cans have unwanted associations and are not recommended in real estate presentation photos. Unnecessary items like bikes, cars (with license plates), and baby strollers must also be removed, as they distract viewers. Sometimes, luxury cars can be left in view, but this applies to luxury properties as it can evoke specific associations. Still, remember to get the lawn watered well and trimmed in advance if necessary. The garden should be an advantage, instead of resembling a film set of a “Secret Garden” or a dreary horror blockbuster.
Even if you decide to contract the home staging process and photography to a company or freelancer, you should be able to check the quality of their work. If you are an agent just starting your real estate career, you are likelier to do a little DIY to get the right photos for your listings. You might want to implement active property staging before taking a snapshot: remove unnecessary items and furniture and introduce other decor elements such as plants, candles, fruit bowls, and neutral visuals (framed black and white photos or posters) or textiles and books. Thanks to such small additions, you can create the ambiance and make the property appealing to potential customers. If you follow the above steps, your property will shine in photographs because every detail is picture-perfect, and you'll be well on your way to producing stunning images that leave a lasting impression on prospective clients and help you achieve your real estate goals.