Checklist for Preparing a Real Estate Property for Photography

Oliver M. Zielinski Oliver M. Zielinski - 30. Juni 2013 - in: English

The human eye is surprisingly tolerant when it comes to watching interiors. If you look at them directly a pair of eyes generously passes over any flaws in the scene because the next attraction already sits around the corner. But when watching the same scene on a photograph every little deficiency becomes visible and distracts the attention from the intended image expression. Thus already prior to the photo shoot some rules need to be followed. That’s why I have compiled this photography checklist.

Also psychology has a special role: Every human being wants to feel comfortable in its own home. Mainly responsible for this is the personal preference for furnishing and decoration. Living space which is ready for viewing by prospective buyers should be equipped with a rather modest number of furniture and deco. Everything that is redundant, personal and ordinary has to disappear. The viewer has to feel the existing arrangement just as an option for a possible use.

To raise sale success both equipped and empty spaces need to be staged. We have collected  a lot of tips in the following list. Most of them are actually kind of self-evident. At the same time they are sales-promoting for every viewing by buyers and thus not only important for a single photo shoot.

Photography Checklist for Preparing a Property for a Shoot

Update for Photography Checklist

Due to many requests after discussing this topic over at PFRE I have created this list as a printable pdf-file with real checkboxes which can be downloaded here.

If you want the German version instead, click here.

1. Slenderize Furnishing

  • Create space – remove all unnecessary pieces of furniture.
  • Place furniture and decoration only where they are appropriate. Put children’s chairs and toys back to the children’s bedroom and the computer to the office.
  • Remove rigorously  all used looking furnishings (worn upholstered couches, stained carpets, scratched sideboards etc.).
  • Move all domestic animals to another place – sounds tough but promotes the success of the presentation.

2. Perform Basic Cleaning

  • Let professionals clean the whole space.
  • Clear all floors, furniture’s surfaces, wall tiles, mirrors and windows from dirt, streaks and dust.
  • Remove spider webs, especially in corners and around ceiling lamps.
  • Remove all lime and drop marks from faucets, sinks and bath tubs.

3. Create Clarity

  • Care for uniformity. A table should only be surrounded by chairs of the same model. In a glass cabinet only display dishes of the same series.
  • Align all chairs at dining tables, kitchen counters or working places.
  • Sort Books according to their size. Remove extreme formats and very colorful publications.
  • Straighten all lampshades.

4. De-Personalize all Interior

  • Hide all family-related photographs and other mementos.
  • Remove any signs of religious or political preferences of the owners (unless you want to sell only to a specific target group).
  • Clear the whole property from hints to preferences in sports, hobbies and brands.
  • Don’t show records and certificates of the owner.
  • Remove all kinds of souvenirs and trophies from walls and shelves.

5. Minimize Decoration

  • Hide all small images, any bric-à-brac items and hobbyist collections.
  • Remove all pillows and blankets from the living room.
  • Place only one piece of deco on one table.
  • Remove all newspapers and magazines.
  • Remove trash cans and waste baskets.
  • Clear all tables, trays and cabinets in the kitchen.
  • Keep only one or two items per panel of glass cabinets.
  • Remove all magnets, photographs and children’s drawings from fridges and pin boards.
  • Hide all cables and electricity distributors.

6. Straighten Fabrics

  • Straighten blankets, bed sheets and bed covers.
  • Plump up the cushions and smoothen them out.
  • Care for evenly hanging curtains.
  • Remove all waves from carpets.
  • Take down all towels from their hooks, fold them and stack them near the sink.

7. Control Stocks

  • Display only new packets of expendable items (toilet tissue, paper towels etc.).
  • Remove all opened bottles from a bar.

8. Check Lighting

  • Switch on all lamps and replace broken light bulbs. Maintain the same wattage/performance for all bulbs within one lamp.
  • Check the proper function of all outdoor lighting (garden lamps, door lights, patio lights, pool lamps).

9. Get the outdoor area ready

  • Remove all vehicles from driveways.
  • Hide the garbage cans.
  • Put garden tools, garden hoses, sprinklers and used barbecues into the garage.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Rake garden beds and drive ways.
  • Sweep pavement areas.
  • Give the pool a professional cleaning.
  • Shut all doors and windows for the first outdoor images.
  • But open all door and window shutters/shades.

We recommend to check this list again on the day of photo session. Often there is some time at the beginning – when the photographer takes a scouting tour around the property – to conduct last small corrections. Have some cleaning equipment (floor cleaner, feather duster, bucket, dry and wet cloths, vacuum cleaner, glass cleaning liquid) ready.