Preparing your home for photography

Outstanding photography is essential to make a great first impression. We live in a digital world and searching for a home is also digital. Buyers have a number of mobile apps to search, maximizing the ability to compare and contrast homes by selected features. Most of this is done before a potential homebuyer connects with a real estate agent.

Graph showing homebuyers' use of the Internet to search for homes from the 2017 National Association of REALTORS® Generational Trends SurveyAmong nearly all generations of homebuyers, the first step taken is to look online for properties. The most important website feature was photos for nine in 10 buyers under the age of 62. 95% of all homebuyers use online websites as an information source in their home search versus 16% who used print newspaper advertisements.¹

As a result of searching for homes on the internet, buyers most often walked through the home that they viewed online. That’s why it’s imperative we take fantastic photos and do our best to stage the home for the photographer.

Here’s my advice as you prepare for our photography day:

General Prep

  • Thoroughly clean whole house: vacuum, mop, dust, etc.
  • Remove stains and marks from floors and walls (Magic Eraser works great!)
  • Turn ON all lights in the house, including lamps
  • Replace any burned out lights. Make sure light bulbs are high wattage and are consistent
  • Turn OFF all ceiling fans
  • Open all blinds and drapes
  • Turn off all TVs
  • Make all the beds, fluff pillows, straighten bed skirts
    • Items stored under the bed should be pushed far enough that the camera doesn’t see them
  • Declutter all areas of house
  • Place slip-proof mats under every loose rug
  • Light all unlit, visible candles. Burn for a minute and then extinguish (Unlit candlewicks look like props)
  • Remove inside pet bowls, toys, cat litter boxes
  • Remove pets
  • Remove any item, yard sign, poster, etc. that would indicate a political party preference or polarizing issue


  • Close garage doors
  • Move cars out of the garage and park away from the home
  • Mow lawn, trim edges, sweep sidewalks
  • Add colorful flowers in all exterior focal areas. Stick with the 3-color rule.
  • Weed all beds and remove out-of-control vines from home (if not completely)
  • Remove or at least hang hoses neatly
  • Clean patio furniture, tables and set the scene for guests
  • Move garbage/recycling bins out of sight
  • Store toys and bikes
  • Put away pool equipment, remove and store vacuum/hose
  • Turn on any fountains and other water features


  • Remove shoes, coats
  • No keys, coins, or glasses

Living Room

  • Remove stacks of magazines, newspapers, remotes, etc.
  • Store any toys
  • Hide cords to any electronics
  • Store blankets/throws, fluff pillows
  • Place furniture currently against walls a minimum of six inches out


  • Clear countertops of all food (except for a basket/bowl of fresh fruit), dish soap, knife block, mail
  • Leave only one or two matching small appliances
  • Remove all magnets, notes, and photos from refrigerator
  • Put trashcans in pantry, closet or under sink
  • Have sinks clear and fixtures sparkling
  • Turn on lights over cooktop, in (clean) oven, over sink
  • Take down all greenery on upper cabinets
  • If your faucet is less than stellar, replace with a recommended fixture
  • Do not hang a tea towel on your oven door (or anywhere else). It looks sloppy
    Please do not hang a tea towel on your kitchen stove. It looks sloppy, and no one needs that level of illustration in accessorizing a kitchen.

Master Bedroom

  • Make bed, fluff pillows, straighten bed skirt
  • Clear off nightstands, dressers and tables
  • Remove portable fans
  • Straighten and organize closet

Guest/Children’s Bedrooms

  • Make beds, fluff pillows
  • Declutter all small items (toys, books, shoes)
  • Remove posters from walls
  • Straighten/organize walk-in closets


  • Clear countertops completely (no soap, toothbrushes, razors, photos)
  • Put toilet seats down
  • Remove everything from tub/showers
  • Place clean, folded towels out
  • Remove floor mats

Download Photography Prep Checklist:

Download Checklist