24 DOs and DON’Ts of Photographing Your Home

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Homeowners who put their home on the market usually take pictures of the interior and some of the exterior of their property to make their online or print profile more appealing for prospective buyers. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes when it comes to making their home look attractive to potential buyers. Here are some tips to consider before you start snapping away.

Real Estate Photography DOs:

DO #1 – Allow plenty of natural-looking light: You may have to play around with different looks, but it’s better to use as much natural light as possible to liven up the room. If the room still looks dark, start turning on the room’s own lights until you have enough.

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DO #2 – Use extra lighting when necessary, but carefully: Sometimes you just need that extra bit of light to brighten up a room more for better exposure. Using a soft lamp can help when pointed at a light surface to add a bit more ambient light. Use flashes sparingly and pointed towards the ceiling as a last resort.

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DO #3 – Stage each room: Just as you would stage the home when having an open house, so should you when taking pictures. Rearrange furniture and even buy new accent pieces to make rooms look more open and attractive to potential buyers as if they were walking around in the home.

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DO #4 – Thoroughly clean the home: There is nothing more ugly than dirty rooms–smudges on the walls, stained carpet, and even lime build up in the bathroom can ruin your home’s natural beauty. If it can’t be cleaned, it should be replaced.

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DO #5 – Shoot into corners: Aiming the camera at the corner of a room can make it appear larger and more spacious. Shooting a flat wall can make a room look cut off and narrower, so put that wide lense to good use by giving the shot angled walls.

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DO #6 – Let each room tell a story: It always helps to give a room some character to add to its appeal. For example, adding a few stuffed animals on top of a bed conveys youthfulness and child-like wonder to an ordinary bedroom. You want to make a room look like it’s ready to be occupied instead of your own actual stuff strewn all over the place.

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DO #7 – Be creative with lighting and arrangements: There is no need to make a room look sterile to be safe when taking photos. Having a little fun with rooms can be a good thing in moderation because it will assist in making a room look more interesting and open possibilities in your buyer’s mind. Try different levels of lighting, add or subtract accessories, and even rotate furniture for different feels to give yourself a few choices in deciding what looks best.

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DO #8 – Let open floor line the bottom of the frame: When positioning the camera for a picture, have open floor fill the bottom quadrant of the shot to make a room appear larger and more open. Any obstruction in the foreground of your picture can diminish the true spaciousness of the room.

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DO #9 – Shoot as much of the room as possible: You can line up a great shot of a room, yet only get a partial picture of it if you’re standing in the middle of the room while taking the shot. Either stand in the corner of the room or in the doorway leading to the room to get as much coverage in the frame that you can.

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DO #10 – Close the toilet lid and other appliance doors: While it may not be that big of a deal to you, it is not very flattering to leave the toilet lid up, so leave it down for pictures of the bathroom. Additionally, close doors to your appliances such as the oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, and washer/dryer combo because it may come off as tacky.

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DO #11 – Use an actual digital camera: If you are not having a professional photographer take your photos, be sure to use a good quality digital camera with adjustable settings. Using your cell phone’s camera will not yield professional looking photographs no matter the pixel resolution, nor will the pictures be as easy to touch up.

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DO #12 – Touch up with photography software, but don’t rely on it: Programs like Photoshop and Light Room can be helpful tools, but do not assume you can totally transform a poor initial photo into professional-grade if the photo was overexposed, underexposed, or taken at a bad angle. Take multiple pictures of each room so you will have options to sift through for finding the best one.

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Real Estate Photography DON’Ts:

Don’t #1 – Let light reflect in pictures, mirrors, or surfaces: This is particularly a problem if you use flash when taking your photos. A stark reflection of light can be very distracting and steal focus away from what you want people to see.

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Don’t #2 – Make windows and doors the focal point when light is pouring in: Much like a reflection, if light streaming in from windows and doors is blinding the camera, it can wash out everything else in a room and make it appear darker than it really is. Make sure natural light is at an angle from the camera for best results.

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Don’t #3 – Shoot from behind furniture or right next to a wall: Having something in the picture’s foreground (closest to the camera) can block the total view of the room in general and make it seem smaller. Move furniture if you need to in order to open up the room more. Also do not shoot with a wall taking up a good chunk of the picture frame, further obstructing the view.

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Don’t #4 – Shoot any room that looks cluttered: No one likes visiting a home when it’s messy, so be sure to either hide or get rid of the extra clutter in every room to make them more open. If you’ve been looking for a good reason to do some spring cleaning, this is definitely it.

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Don’t #5 – Shoot with the ceiling in the frame: Most potential buyers aren’t interested in space where nothing is placed, so limit the amount of frame space you use for the ceiling. Use low angles that mostly include the spacious floor and accented wall space.

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Don’t #6 – Shoot at night:  Mostly a lighting issue, shooting photos at night will always be too dark. While it may be fun to take pictures socially of your parties at home, they will not flatter any of your rooms when trying to sell the home; buyers will want to see the home as it is when they will see it most–the day time.

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Don’t #7 – Use weird angles: While it may make for a more artsy look, it will be jarring to potential buyers and will not give them a favored look at your home. Using a steady tripod can usually take care of this problem, and allow you to use the same angle for different shots.

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Don’t #8 – Take blurry pictures: This should be a given, as most people don’t even like their personal photos to be out of focus. Be sure to test your focus before taking your set of pictures for all rooms.

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Don’t #9 – Take pictures with people or animals in them: Most buyers want to be able to imagine themselves living in the home, so taking pictures with you or anyone else for that matter can ruin the dream. If you have pets, be sure to keep them outside of out of the room you are photographing to keep them from just wandering in front of your camera lens.

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Don’t #10 – Include the time stamp: This can make your photos look like a home video from the 1990’s, and is not the mark of professional photos. Make sure to turn the time stamp setting off on your camera (and paint off any graffiti) before starting to take any pictures of your home.

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Don’t #11 – Let your own reflection show in the picture: While taking mirror selfies may be a thing in social media, you definitely don’t want to see yourself taking the picture within the picture. Always be sure that you are not visible in any reflective surfaces within the frame before snapping the shutter.

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Don’t #12 – Shoot directly into the sun:
This is more of an issue for exterior shots, but can affect interior photos with large windows. While natural lighting is the best in these situations, you don’t want it blinding the camera, so pick the time of day you shoot wisely.

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Do you have any other pointers that help when taking photos of your home when entering sell mode? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!