The Do's and Don’ts of Property Photography

So, you’ve cleaned the home until it’s sparkling and you’re ready to photograph the property. Let’s take a look at some before and after shots to show you how you can boost your results with photos that will really grab potential buyers.

Start with the basics

Don’t capture yourself in the mirror

Do you see that small head reflected in the mirror? You shouldn’t! Mirrors add more light and can make the room look larger, but they should never show the photographer. Leave the selfies to Instagram.

Don’t forget to tidy up

Even a bit of clutter – like the personal items seen on the tables here – will look sloppier in photos. Carefully examine every part of the space for any personal items you may have overlooked – no one ever wants to see someone else’s mess lying around.

Do watch your angle

Unnatural angles can distort the room and make vertical or horizontal elements seem bowed. Instead, keep your photos straight at eye level – from a person’s standing or sitting perspective – to avoid any distortion and match the experience of actually being in the home.

Do light up the room

Bad lighting can make a room look gloomy and discolored, so open the curtains and turn on every light. Also, think about how the furnishings will absorb or reflect light; white or cream slipcovers will freshen up outdated furniture upholstery and reflect even more light into the space.

Advanced Tip: If you’ve got experience in editing your photos, try overexposing the image just a bit to bring in even more light.

Encourage imagination

Don’t take your photos at night!

You can’t show off the view from the windows if you can’t see the view, so never – ever! – schedule property photos in the evening. Take pictures during the day, and open the blinds to show the location in the best possible light.

Don’t leave personal items in the space

Mementos – like a cuddly teddy bear – may remind you of happy times, but will also remind buyers that the home belongs to someone else and stop them from picturing their own life there. Even an innocent standing fan will say more than you intend – don’t leave anything that can make buyers think the home is too hot or too cold.

Do show how spaces can be used

That empty spot under the windows makes the space seem unusable, but placing furniture into conversational or functional groups can highlight how practical a room can be. Here, two chairs create a casual breakfast area in the kitchen and invites buyers to imagine how they might use the space.

Do add a cheerful pop of color

Although a neutral color palette will appeal to a larger pool of buyers, a pop of bright color will bring your photo to life. Apply your accent color – such as this bright green – with vibrant artwork and decor throughout the rooms to unify the entire space as well as connect to the natural elements seen outside.

Advanced Tip: Without professional lighting (or a very steady hand!), pictures can look blurry. Use a tripod to keep your images sharp as you shoot at slower shutter speeds to take advantage of natural light.

Invite the viewer in

Don’t block out the viewer

Think like a psychologist. Positioning the couch with its back to the viewer is the equivalent of a person turning their back on the viewer – it’s impolite and excludes the view from the space. Instead, open up the furniture groupings and arrange pieces to invite the viewer into the space.

Don’t be afraid to cut the cord

Pay attention to the way appliances are organized to keep the room tidy. Collect the TV remotes, video games systems, DVDs or any other cluttered electronic items and move them out of sight – and unplug tangled cables and cords to keep the walls free.

Do show an ideal life, not real life

Can you see those shoes in the lower left corner? So can potential buyers! Living rooms are where the family usually spend a lot of time, so small items are bound to collect there. Use a pre-photography checklist to make sure that each room in the home is camera-ready.

Do draw the eye to distinctive features

Glowing candles attract attention to the fireplace, highlighting the unique feature of the space. Always arrange furniture to complement the built-in benefits of a room, such as fireplaces or decorative pillars, and take phots from an angle that will be sure to include those features.

Advanced Tip: Keep most of your photos in landscape format. Although smartphones are changing standard formats from landscape to portrait, the human eye sees the world as a flattened oval. So a horizontal view may actually be more pleasing to a buyer’s brain.

Keep the eye moving

Don’t keep it static

Stairways or archways can sometimes be hard to photograph, but they give a home its character. Capture these details by placing trailing plants on the stairs to invite the viewer’s eye to travel up and explore the space.

Don’t let it get awkward

If you don’t know what to do with a space, neither will the buyer, so avoid leaving any awkward empty areas. Instead, moving the rocking chair creates an inviting, cozy nook and shows how the space under the stairs can be an asset, not a problem.

Do show off materials

Brighter light doesn’t just make the room look larger, but can reflect off other surfaces – such as a beautiful tile or stone floor – drawing the viewer’s attention to the high quality of the materials or the craftsmanship of the work.

Do move around

Taking a photo from a straight-on angle can make the room look blocky and small. But stepping just a bit to the right or left can allow viewers to see how the space connects to other rooms and gives a sense of the overall flow of the house.

Advanced Tip: Take a lot of pictures – at the highest resolution possible – during your photo session so that you can be sure that you’ve got the best view and enough image data to crop if necessary.

Present ideal situations

Don’t get extreme

As you know by now, pictures that are too dark make the space look gloomy – but at the same time, harsh sunlight casts shadows that obscure the space. Soften this effect by shooting your photos at a time when the sunlight won’t shine at a direct angle into the windows or openings of the home.

Don’t let the viewer wander away

With a longer depth of field creating an infinite focus, the eye goes right to the trees in the background and stays there. However, using a narrower depth of field will still allow viewers to see the natural landscape, but will keep their focus on the home you’re trying to sell.

Do come in closer

Sometimes less really is more, so don’t feel as if you have to place the camera right up against the wall. Lowering the camera and placing it towards the center of the table brings the viewer right into the space, inviting potential buyers to sit down and enjoy the view.

Do entertain the viewer

Show off the entertainment potential of a home by staging a dining table with linens, glassware and dishes fit for a party. And place green plants around the outdoor living spaces to connect to the landscaped areas and bring this space to life.

Advanced Tip: Take advantage of the season to make the listing seem up to date. If it’s summer, take a sunny photo of the backyard. If it’s winter, create a cozy feel with a fire and a warm blanket.

 

Small changes such as these can mean the difference between good photos and great ones. Check your results regularly throughout the shoot and consider how your photo will look to others. A little more effort in the moment will save you a lot of editing time later!