Preparing for your Photo Shoot

Preparing for Your PHotoshoot

Getting professional photos to highlight your for-sale home is critical to helping your listing outshine the competition online and getting buyers to visit your property!

Professional photos also  help make your vacation rental stand out online and attract your ideal customer.

Even with professional photos, it is important to make sure what is in the photo looks great and will capture buyer  or renter interest! After all, a high quality photo of an ugly room will emphasize the negative aspects rather than the positive.  Here is a checklist to make sure your rooms and the photos look fabulous.

Preparing for Your Photoshoot
Photo by Brandon Erlinger-Ford on Unsplash

Prepare for Your Photo Shoot - 2 weeks or more in advance

  • Consult with a professional home stager.  Staged homes or rental properties will look significantly better in photos than un-staged homes. Stagers are experts at decorating your home to create an atmosphere that appeals to buyers or renters so they make an emotional connection!
  • Stagers will help you highlight the positive and downplay the negative, give you an objective plan of things you can do to get top dollar and sell quickly with suggestions that will give you the greatest return for your investment.
  • Stagers can re-arrange furniture and decor to highlight focal points and enhance space, recommend paint colors that appeal to buyers or renters and look good in your photos.
  • They recommend repairs or remodeling, arrange to rent and place furniture, art and accessories if needed.
  • They research your target market in advance, and decorate to appeal to them. Most stagers will need 2 weeks in advance of photos to consult with you, devise and implement your staging plan and set up and have furniture and decor delivered if it is needed, although they can usually work with what you already have.
Preparing for Your PHotoshoot
Photo by Isabela Kronemberger on Unsplash

Complete painting, repairs and maintenance

  • Make your house spotless! While this is particularly important before showing your house to buyers, a clean house will make your photos look much better!
  • Stick with the plan. If your home has been staged, do not add, take away, or re-arrange items that have been placed before the photos
Preparing for Your Photoshoot
Photo by Miss Zhang on Unsplash

On the Day of Your Photo Shoot

If you have used a professional stager, they may have done most of this for you. If you are living in the house while listing, some of these things will still be up to you to do on the day of the photo shoot.

In All Rooms

  • Turn on all the lights, including accent lights such as under kitchen cabinets
  • Open all curtains unless specified otherwise by your stager to downplay a poor view
  • Make sure shades, if partially closed are all at the same level and are even at the bottom with cords neatly hanging and as invisible as possible
  • Consolidate and hide electrical cords as much as possible
  • Remove personal photos
  • Make sure price and other tags are not visible on pillows, towels, curtains or other items
  • Remove pets and all evidence of their bowls, food, beds etc.
  • Turn off TVs and ceiling fans


  • Remove all items from the countertops except a few appliances and decorative items
  • Remove dish towels
  • Sinks should be clean and empty. Remove sponges and soaps
  • Remove small area rugs in front of sink or doors. They are distracting in photos.
  • Remove all magnets, papers etc. from the refrigerator
  • Close all cabinet, pantry or closet doors
Preparing for Your Photoshoot
Photo by Isabela Kronemberger on Unsplash

Living /Family Rooms

  • Neatly arrange pillows or throws on couches
  • Clear coffee and end tables of items except for a few decorative items
  • Hide remotes

Dining Room

  • Clear table except for a centerpiece


  • Make the beds. Ensure the bottom of the bed spread is even along the front and sides. Crooked bedspreads look distracting in photos
  • Put away clothes
  • Close closet doors
  • Clean and organize closets for interior photos
  • Clear bedside tables of all items except for lamps and small decorative items


  • Neatly organize papers and files
  • Hide personal information, certificates or bills


  • Towels are clean and neatly folded or hung. On towel racks, make sure the bottoms are straight and even.
  • Put down the lid on the toilet seat!
  • Remove personal items such as soaps, shampoos, toothbrushes etc. from view
  • Remove bath mats (they are distracting in the photos).
  • Shower curtains are clean, pressed, and open to show the shower


  • Put away shoes, coats, keys, backpacks etc. so they not visible
  • Remove all rugs except entry rug just inside the door


  • Park cars elsewhere so house is clearly visible
  • Put away all tools, toys
  • Make sure yard looks cleaned and maintained
  • Remove trash cans from view


Ready to Prepare for a Great Photo Shoot?

Get your online home staging consultation or staging service today. Click on the pictures to learn more. For in person consultations or staging, call for a custom quote.

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Virtual Remodeling Service.Is your vacant home turning buyers off with its lackluster paint, flooring, or lighting? No time or budget to remodel? Try virtual remodeling (combined with our virtual staging services) for a fraction of the cost. I create a 3D rendering from your photo and measurements to show cost effective remodeling options that buyers will love!
Virtual Staging Service. Vacant homes leaving your buyers cold? Staging too expensive? Try virtual staging for a fraction of the cost. I drop-in furniture, art, and accessories into your well-lit vacant room photo so buyers can visualize this home as their own!
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Preparing for your PHotoshoot. Photo by emrecan arık on Unsplash

By Mary Ann Benoit

President- Northern Lights Home Staging and Design Owner- Arctic Paradise Bed and Breakfast Artist- Stained Glass, Jewelry and Alcohol Ink Art Wildlife Biologist Director- Kaleido World Percussion and Dance Company Director- Tavus Dance Company of Alaska Lover of music, art, dance and animals.


  1. Good stuff. That’s something I hadn’t thought about before. Keep up the good work.

  2. Perfect advice, Mary Ann! There are SO MANY truly bad real estate photos out there, and it is so unnecessary! Good photos are key to getting prospects in the door and getting the most money for your property.

    1. I so agree, professional photos as well as home staging is well worth the investment to attract buyers online!

  3. Such great advice especially for AirBNB owners! Good photos make such a difference in deciding which place to rent.

    1. Yes, it is critical for home sales and attracting your ideal customers for your vacation rental, and really any business that your are advertising. Beautiful images sell!

  4. Great info as always Mary Ann! And I’m always surprised how many real estate listings have raised toilet lids! It’s crazy! And gross…

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