Photoshoot preparation guide – real estate / builders

Use this checklist as a guide to prepare your property for photos. 

The property should be ‘photo ready’ at the start time of the shoot. 

Each section is broken down into ‘Essential’ (must do actions to ensure quality photos) and ‘Only If You Have Time’ (will improve the property further for even better photos).

A neat, clean, clutter free property looks the best in photos. 

Important: please let your friends, family, cleaners and other regular visitors know about the photo shoot. To avoid any interruptions during the shoot they should make alternative plans, and pets and kids should also kept away during the shoot. The photographer may be using really wide-angle lenses, long shutter speeds and multiple exposures – meaning that the camera may be ‘working’ for a few minutes on each photo and can pick up a really wide view of the surrounds, and everything needs to be completely still. Any movement in that room, or outside doors and windows may compromise the shot.

 

ONE WEEK  BEFORE:

OUTDOORS:

Essential:

  • Remove rubbish from outdoor areas.
  • Clean messy verandahs, patios and front porches.
  • Swimming pools / spas: clean and remove all toys, tools and cleaning equipment.
  • Remove trailers, caravans, bicycles from the property or make sure they’re completely out of sight.
  • Outdoor lighting: if we will be taking twilight photos please ensure all outdoor lights – around decks, patios, driveways, pools, feature lighting in gardens – are all working and ready for the photographer to switch on at sunset. 
  • Glass fencing on decks and around pools cleaned.
 
Only if you have time:
  • Prune and remove dead tree branches.
  • Prune and weed garden beds – this doesn’t have to be perfect as long as generally tidy and big weeds are gone.
  • Clean windows (really dirty windows are visible in photos, a few small marks is not a problem).
  • If it’s summer, start watering gardens as much as possible this week (minding any water restrictions in your area). A week of watering can make a big difference to how healthy and lush a garden looks.
 

INDOORS:

Essential:

  • Clean bathrooms – shower screens, bath tubs, mirrors. Remove or replace dirty / stained shower curtains.
  • Declutter all shelves, tables, desks and bench tops – all paperwork, pens, bills, children’s items, cosmetics, medicines etc removed and placed inside cupboards or drawers.
  • Remove family photos, hide inside cupboards.
  • Remove personal items and trinkets: trophies, souvenirs, memorabilia.
  • Remove all fridge magnets and other items from the fridge, wipe outside surface clean.
  • All artwork and mirrors on walls – ensure all hung straight.
  • Remove clutter from underneath beds – this space should be completely clear in each room.
  • Ensure all blinds, shutters and curtains are operable as the photographer will need to open and close these to ‘play’ with the best light during the shoot.
  • Ensure sliding doors and french doors are clean and fully operable (keys available, locks & latches in good order) as the photographer may want these open to show off the views and let in the best light.
 
Only if you have time:
  • Replace any faulty light globes in lights and lamps. Try to have the same tone light globes throughout – all warm or all cool. 
  • Tidy bookshelves – arrange books neatly. Remove some books if shelves are crowded.

 

ONE DAY BEFORE:

OUTDOORS:

Essential:

  • Mow lawns.
  • Sweep or blow leaves away from outdoor areas – paths, verandahs, patios, front porch.
  • Remove any mail sticking out of mailbox and newspapers in the driveway.
  • Pack away garden tools, sprinklers, and hoses neatly coiled.
  • Set up or tidy outdoor furniture including front patios, verandahs, decks, and pool / spa areas: dust and remove cobwebs, arrange in a suitable location for the photo shoot, neatly arrange and fluff up cushions, consider a throw rug. Clean glass table tops. Remove ashtrays. 
  • All chairs evenly spaced around tables.
  • Firepits & chimineas: set with kindling or small wood. The photographer will add flames during editing, over the top of the wood. 
  • Remove covers from BBQ’s (as long as the BBQ is clean). Stash BBQ cover away out of sight.
 

INDOORS:

Essential:

  • Pack away children’s toys completely, and stack or order books neatly in shelves.
  • Make up all beds – each bed should have a matching pillows and doona set if possible. 
  • All floor rugs and door mats neatly spread out and placed evenly in spaces.
  • Tuck away TV cables, computer and lamp electrical cords so they are out of sight.
  • Pack away computer game consoles, remote controls, bluetooth speakers, DVDs and other entertainment items. Everything accept the TV and main media equipment should be packed away (DVD player, stereo, large speakers are OK).
 
Only if you have time:
  • A vase of flowers or a bowl of fruit on kitchen tables and benches looks great.
 

ON THE DAY OF THE SHOOT (prior to shoot start time):

All items here are essential:

OUTDOORS:

  • Remove real estate signs from street front. These can be put back up again after the photos are taken.
  • All outdoor garbage bins moved out of sight – place behind garden shed, or inside garage neatly against a wall.
  • Park cars inside garage, with garage door closed, or down the road so they are completely out of view from the road in front of the property.
  • Swimming pools & spas – remove covers and ensure they are completely out of sight. 
  • Pool / spa pumps left on – the water will have a swirling effect in the photos. Pool / spa pumps switched off – the water will be still and clear(unless it’s very windy). Please choose your preferred effect and switch off pumps ahead of the shoot if this is preferred. 
 

INDOORS:

Open all window dressings:

  • curtains evenly placed on each side
  • roller blinds equal height about 10cm from the top. Stagger sheers with block-outs to show both are available.
  • vertical / venetian /  horizontal blinds, shutters, louvers – all open to the same ‘flat open’ position.
 
  • Turn all lights and lamps ON.
  • Clean up around fireplaces, sweep away debris and ash. No need to light the fire, as very realistic flames can be added during editing.
  • Kitchen surfaces should be completely clear. All food packaging should be packed away inside cupboards.
  • Turn all faucets and taps to the centre of each sink.
  • All cupboards, pantries and wardrobe doors closed.
  • Beds neatly made, corners and edges of doona even along bed frame, covers pulled tight and smooth, pillows nicely fluffed up in the upright position.
  • All throw rugs and cushions neatly placed.
  • All dining, desk chairs and barstools evenly spaced around tables.
  • Wipe shower screens, kitchen sinks and laundry troughs clean.
  • Pack away all cleaning supplies – cloths, sponges, spray bottles all out of sight.
  • All toilet seats down, toilet paper neatly folded / torn off.
  • Bathroom: place one towel neatly folded on each towel rack.
  • Bath mats removed and out of sight (this makes the bathroom look neater and bigger).
  • All rubbish bins in any rooms packed away inside a cupboard or completely out of sight.
  • All clothes and other items off floors, chairs, beds and out of sight.
  • Remove any washing from inside washing machine, dryer and also remove from clothes line.
  • Remove washing baskets out of sight.
  • Remove pet beds, bowls and toys out of sight.
  • Restrain pets or take them away so they will not be in the photos.

 

EXTRA STYLING TIPS:

A little styling and staging goes a long way, especially for photos of newly built homes. Here’s my tips:

  • You may choose to keep some items out on display if they are a feature and add beauty to the space – beautiful cookware, nice books, hats on a hat rack, a few cute children’s toys etc. 
  • Keep food / cheese platters small and simple, there’s no need to go overboard here. Remember any props like this are to accentuate the photos and are not the focus of the photos. 
  • Consider other food to use as props, such as a nice loaf of bread sliced, a bowl of lemons, pears or eggs.
  • A bottle of local wine is always best, to show that you love to support your local wineries.
  • Show off your bar if you have one and any dedicated cabinetry for tea, coffee or cocktail making areas.
  • Throw rugs are excellent for ‘softening’ furniture in photos, one or two is really useful during the photo shoot.
  • Keep flower arrangements simple, even some foliage from the garden arranged in a vase or a jar looks lovely. 
  • Place potted plants in ceramic pots, avoid black plastic pots straight from the nursery.
  • For large backyards, a lawn game or two is a great addition (giant jenga, bocce, giant chess) or some sun loungers under a nice tree.
  • Beach towels and hats look great in photos of beach homes or those with a pool, hanging over a chair indoors or outdoors.