If you’re trying to sell a very expensive product...like...oh I don't know....a house, it makes sense to hire a professional to take worthy pictures. It’s a relatively minimal investment: $300 is a drop in the bucket when $300,000 is on the line. If I were in the market for anything else that expensive, like a 5ct diamond ring or a Bentley, I would expect memorable commercials, awesome websites, slick salesmen, etc. The marketing should be impressive all the way around. So why are there so many pitiful pictures of beautiful houses out there? I'm here to help.


First impressions are crucial; I don't need to convince anyone of that. With real estate, this once pertained only to curb appeal but since most people now browse for houses online, the pictures need to be as flattering as possible. Captivating would be a good word. Most of them are crap. Trust me, your smart phone or point and shoot camera won't do the trick. Some people think equipment is key: "What kind of camera do you use?" Experience and knowledge, or what we call skill, is much more important than the tool. Jimi Hendrix, BB King, and Eric Clapton didn't become famous simply because they owned nice guitars. I use a fancy camera (on manual mode) with a fancy lens. I use a tripod, multiple lights, and several editing programs. Cheap camera setups will give you a claustrophobic feel because they can never zoom out enough. They will also make bright areas too bright and dark areas too dark. If your hands touch the camera when it snaps, all interior photos will be blurry so I use a tripod and set my camera on a timer. I could keep going but the main two points here are good real estate pictures are a necessity and not as automatic as unlearned people think.


I'm trying to help you but in case you think this is merely a sales pitch, listen to some independent voices...









If you want to receive top dollar for your property, there are tips and tricks, but your realtor and photographer can only do so much. This list isn’t meant to be demanding, but the more you are willing to do, the more everyone should benefit. Don’t expect these to add value to your home like remodeling, but they will help, and they don’t cost much. Two common-sense principles can help summarize the overall objectives:

  1. Buyers want to feel the previous homeowners cared and maintained the property responsibly. Small details can show you care. Wouldn’t you rather purchase a used vehicle from someone who washed and vacuumed it before they put it up for sale?

  2. Make your home look as though someone could live in it but not like someone is living in it. You want people to easily imagine themselves living in your house so removing personal items achieves this. Hotels and condos have mastered this concept.


Before you continue reading and feel overwhelmed, don’t worry about messy closets, storage spaces, or garages since they’re typically not photographed.

Here's my list of the most beneficial preparations with a supplemental video from another pro:




  1. Trim bushes. Mow and edge the yard that day or one before. Be sure to blow off the driveway and sidewalks.

  2. Park cars in the garage or on the street.

  3. Roll the garbage cans out of view.

  4. Remove leaves from lawn, mulch beds, roof, gutters, and stairs.

  5. Clean the main entrance very well: new doormat, wash the door, remove cobwebs from porch light.

  6. Put down a fresh layer of mulch.

  7. Potted plants should be healthy and neatly arranged or removed

  8. Store away garden hoses.

  9. Cover/clean grills

  10. Flowers and splashes of color can drastically improve curb appeal.



  1. Do all typical housecleaning chores: vacuum/sweep, dust, and wipe the mirrors. Dusty ceiling fans are often forgotten.

  2. Fluff the pillows, fold/remove blankets, and smooth out wrinkles in the bedspreads.

  3. Replace any burned out light bulbs (and broken globes). Dark rooms can be downright creepy if the home is shown in the evening, but no matter what, they convey disregard. Ideally, you want all the colors of light to match so use all daylight white bulbs. If some look blue and some look orange, the pictures will look weird.

  4. Don't leave out any personal belongings like toothbrushes, bathing products, magazines, etc.

  5. Show no evidence of pets. Hide them, their bowls, cages, blankets, and toys.

  6. If you have more than 3 items per surface, the space can feel cluttered. This is commonly a problem on kitchen and bathroom counters, mantles, and walls. Take down all refrigerator magnets.

  7. Roll up extra cabling and cords

  8. Display generic, decorative art instead of your family photos. If this is too much to ask, faces can be blurred out in Photoshop.

  9. Remove seasonal decor. Fresh fruit and flower arrangements add a nice touch but things like pastel eggs, pumpkins, or Christmas trees are too temporary.

  10. Wipe and level all blinds.

  11. Toilet seats need to be closed, paper rolls need to be full/new, and trashcans need to be out of sight.

  12. Turn on all lamps and lights. Turn off all ceiling fans and televisions. Bright is good and movement is bad.

  13. Straighten mats and rugs.



  1. A fresh, neutral coat of paint throughout the inside helps the home feel newer.

  2. Kill the weeds, aerate, seed, and fertilize so the law looks full and lush in time to show.

  3. Consider pressure washing a stained driveway or molded porch.

  4. Search online for home staging tips before your first showing to learn more not specifically related to imagery: air freshener, hiding valuables, etc.