Photoshoot preparation guide – accommodation

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

This list as assuming the property will be cleaned and made up as it would be for guests prior to the photo shoot. These are extra actions you may want to take to ensure your property is looking its best for the photo 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).

It’s important to present the property for photos in the same way your guests will find it on arrival. Good news – if your property is regularly maintained and made-up for guests there shouldn’t be a lot to do here! If your property is new, still lived in or has been vacant for some time this guide will really help you.

Important: please let your staff, cleaners, gardeners or other contractors know about the photo shoot and try to avoid any other work on the property at the time of 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 around that room or even the room next door (especially for timber floors), or outside doors and windows may compromise the quality of the photos.

 

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.
  • 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.
  • If you will be styling or staging your property now is the time to make a list of items to source or buy.  My advice for holiday homes / airbnbs – don’t introduce any items to the property just for the shoot that your guests wouldn’t normally find there during their stay. Also see the very end of this checklist for more styling tips. 
 
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:

  • Remove all fridge magnets and other items from the fridge.
  • All artwork and mirrors on walls – ensure all hung straight.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • Firepits & chimineas: if we will be taking twilight photos please have the fire set with firelighters, kindling, wood and ready to light. During winter months (fires permitted) your photographer will want to light this about 15 minutes before sunset so it is full of nice flames in time for twilight. During summer the fire wont be lit but very realistic flames can be edited into the shot, over the kindling wood. 
  • Remove covers from BBQ’s (as long as the BBQ is clean). Stash BBQ cover away out of sight.
 
Only if you have time:
  • Set up / display any sports or other equipment your guests have the use of: lawn games, kayaks, bikes, surfboards etc.
 

INDOORS:

Essential:

  • 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.
  • Fireplaces: a clean, neat and very small stack of firewood looks best inside wood storage areas. No need to light indoor fires, very realistic flames can be edited into the shot to suit the style of fireplace. 
 

 

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

All items here are essential:

OUTDOORS:

  • 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.
 
  • Daytime shoots: all lights remain off, the photographer will switch on / off lights as they are needed.
  • Turn all faucets and taps to the centre of each sink.
  • Bed covers pulled tight and smooth (or ironed), 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, pulled out just a little from the edge of the table.
  • Pack away all cleaning supplies – cloths, sponges, spray bottles all out of sight.
  • All toilet seats down, toilet paper neatly folded / torn off, toilet brushes removed out sight.
  • Bathroom: place one towel neatly folded on each towel rack. For towel hooks, a towel neatly draped over the hook looks good.
  • 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.

EXTRA STYLING TIPS:

A little styling and staging goes a long way. Here’s my tips:

  • You may choose to keep some items out on display if they are a feature of the stay – beautiful cookware, pet supplies, children’s toys etc. 
  • Keep 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 tea, coffee or cocktail making areas, guests love to see these.
  • Throw rugs are excellent for ‘softening’ furniture in photos, one or two is really useful and your guests will love them.
  • 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.
  • Beach towels and hats look great in photos of beach homes or those with a pool, hanging over a chair indoors or outdoors.
  • Have some fun with this, think like your favourite guests – how would they make the most of your place? What would they use and enjoy during their stay?