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  • Writer's pictureLisa Parker

Photography Tips to Spruce up Your Real Estate Listings

When selling a home, it’s critical to make a great first impression. But these days, buyers are forming their first impressions before they ever book a showing. According to a 2008 real estate trends report, more than 80% of all home buyers start their property searches on the Internet. After narrowing down the tens of thousands of possibilities based on price range, location, and number of rooms, the next thing prospective buyers look at are the photos.

Because of this, real estate agents are more concerned than ever that their listing photos stand out and attract showings. It’s not only how well the shots are lit and whether they’re straight and in focus; the content of the shots is critical too.

When you’re photographing a listing for MLS and your website, you want to ensure that your photos will impress a prospective home buyer enough to click your “contact” link. Home staging expert Debra Gould offers the following photography tips to make a great first impression online:

Foyer, kitchen and dining room shots

Make sure the entryway looks clear and that all shoes and coats are out of sight. Clear papers and other clutter from tabletops and counters, ensure dishes are put away, and remove rags and towels from faucets and ovens.

Do a quick sweep of the front of the fridge. All those magnets and photos can be a real distraction in a kitchen photo.

Any collections on top of the cabinets should be removed at least for the photo and preferably for the entire time the house is on the market.

Last, but not least, if your coat is hanging on the back of a chair, move it before taking your picture.

Living room shots

Turn off the television or this will end up being the focal point of your photograph!

Ensure that art and lampshades are hanging straight, and pick up any piles of books and magazines from the floor or coffee table. Remove family photos, clear clutter from the tops of mantels and pianos, and pick up toys.

Be sure to look at the room through your camera’s viewfinder before taking the photo. If you see anything overly distracting in the shot, remove it before you take the picture.

Bedroom shots

Make sure the beds are neatly made and there aren’t any piles of laundry sitting around. Where there’s a dust ruffle on the bed, make sure the bottom edge of it meets and is parallel with the floor.

Bathroom shots

Don’t forget to close the toilet lid before taking pictures of the bathroom. Remove toothbrushes and other personal items from the counter.

Make sure towels are hung neatly, and don’t keep the shower curtain wide open.

Also take care not to photograph your reflection in the bathroom mirror.

Other tips for better digital photos

Be careful that your finger isn’t partially covering the lens or flash, and be sure to hold the camera straight. Try not to move after you’ve focused, and don’t move when you’re shooting.

Don’t shoot towards a window, or everything in the picture will be too dark. Instead of just pointing and shooting randomly, experiment by taking pictures at different resolutions, with and without flash, and with the lights on and off.

Adopting these tips should make a big difference in the quality of your photos. If you are reluctant to rearrange your client’s possessions to get the best shots, consider having them present while you’re shooting the rooms so you can ask them to make the necessary changes for you.

To make an even bigger impact on buyers by increasing the emotional appeal of your listings, consider the services of a professional home stager. They will save you valuable time and energy by attending to all the details, including arranging flowers for photography. A stager can even be present during your shoot to ensure everything is in perfect shape.

Written by internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®, © Copyright Six Elements Inc. Used with permission. To learn more, visit

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