Preparing your home for photography

There are many elements that go into making great property photography: the weather, the skill and experience of the photographer, and the features of the house itself – they all go into making or breaking the shoot. But did you know there are lots of things you can do to increase the chances of achieving the best images of your house? You need to ensure the images of your house not only do it justice, but also more importantly, to portray the kind of lifestyle that a buyer can aspire to.

To help you wow your buyers with your photography, you need to first prepare for success. Here is our 12-point checklist to help make sure your photos sell your home:

  1. Plan – write a plan of the timeline of your photoshoot. If your home already looks like a showhome, you won’t need a long timeline. On the other hand, if your home is cluttered and needs a good spring clean, you’ll need to factor this into to your photoshoot plan. Allow yourself time for cleaning and clearing, and for shopping for the accessories listed below. The better you plan, the better your photos will be; and the better your photos, the more likely you are to receive the offer you’re looking for, in the timescale you need.
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  2. Clear and sort – you know how tv can add inches to a person’s waistline? Property photography can take off inches! Rooms can look cluttered and meanly-proportioned, with dark corners and distracting colours. Grab some boxes and mark them ‘store’, ‘sell’, ‘charity’ and move everything out of the rooms that doesn’t add positively to their presentation. Clear shelves and floor spaces, take up rugs where necessary, and make surfaces of all kinds look larger by keeping them empty of all but the most attractive accessories.
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  3. Clean everything until it sparkles – light and reflected shine are the best ways to show off the size of your rooms. Clean rooms present better, look more modern, and smell lovely.
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  4. Arrange the best time for your photoshoot – make sure the photographer knows what time of daythe sun will be on the front of the house. Think also about evening shots, and when the sun will be on the garden. This may necessitate two separate visits so make sure the photographer has allowed for this. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast too. Most professional photographers will do this anyway, but keep in touch with them to make any last-minute decisions on timing. You don’t want your photographs to show a frosty lawn, or rain cascading down windows.
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  5. Update – look at other homes for sale online that your house may compete with. Critically appraise their presentation and compare it to your own. Do you need to update any soft furnishings? You may not need to replace your sofa, but would new cushions be an improvement? Is your bedding patterned or coloured when plain neutral is more flattering? If your home needs updating, replacing accessories and the cheaper soft furnishings can make your photographs look so much better, and help you to compete more successfully in the market.
  1. Go shopping! – Any self-respecting property lover adores seeing inside the homes of the rich and famous, but one of the reasons these houses look so fabulous is that they are styled for the photoshoot. Take a leaf out of their books: shop for staging accessories and give your home the star treatment:
  • Croissants
  • Champagne
  • Fruit – stick to one type per bowl. Strawberries, limes and green apples look great in a glass bowl
  • Rustic board of artisan breads and cheeses
  • Flowers – in keeping with your home style; eg hand-picked posy for a farmhouse, Calla lilies for a contemporary home.
  • Church candles in fireplaces
  • Flowering plants
  • Lifestyle magazines and coffee table books
  • Fluffy white towels
  • Luxury spa-style toiletries
  • Flowering plant for your patio table centre
  • Pretty tealight holders or church candle lanterns around the garden look amazing
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  1. Dress your home – here comes the fun part. Dress each room as if the Queen were coming for tea! Each room needs to impress so pay attention to the details. Straighten bedding (with an iron if necessary) and dress with cushions; clear all your everyday toiletries out of your bathrooms and dress with luxury toiletries and new, fluffy towels. In the kitchen, clear the sides and add lifestyle touches, like cafetieres, cheese boards or a cake on a stand. Check out home magazines for inspiration and have fun with it.
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  2. Direct the photoshoot – the better you guide your photographer, the better your photographs will turn out. Go round the house making a note of any particularly attractive angles or features, then go through your list with him. Suggest any particular features of interest in the house and garden, that best portray the character and style of the home. Ask him to ensure that in addition to his standard shots, he also takes some ‘lifestyle’ images,not just a full0-width shot of each room. Encourage him to be imaginative, and to portray your home creatively.
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  3. Be inspired – have your favourite shots from home magazines or interior design books marked ready for the day of the shoot. Discuss them with your photographer and plan how you can best emulate these in your photoshoot. Photographers are often left to their own devices, with no guidance and even the best ones can become jaded. Encourage him to produce something really creative and they will rise to that challenge.
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  4. Facilitate your photographer – be his assistant! Plump cushions, move chairs, take away any distracting objects, remove bins and washing. Make sure you can see what he’s photographing so you can anticipate any potential for the room not looking its absolute best. Put lamps on, or turn lights off, to keep the ambient light at the right level. A good photographer will really appreciate your help and your photographs will look so much better as a result.
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  5. Keep your images seasonal – it’s very telling to see a house advertised in September with daffodils in the garden, or in January with Wisteria in full bloom. Keep your property photography as close as possible to the current season. This often means asking your agent to revisit to refresh your images with new ‘foliage’ shots.. After all, you may not want your viewer to know how long your house has been for sale – and why give them an excuse to make a low offer?
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  6. Choosing the best – don’t just leave this task to your estate agent. Whilst it’s true that you’re close to your house and an outsider can sometimes give you a better perspective of what will sell it more effectively, it’s still your home – somewhere you have loved and cherished, and after all your hard work in steps 1-11, you deserve to be involved in choosing the final set of images. Choose a variety of different image styles: full-width, feature shots and lifestyle images. We usually use around 15-20 images on Rightmove, and sometimes twice that many in the brochure. Make sure the images you choose reflect the lifestyle a buyer will aspire to, and that really sell your home to them.
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So there you have it; 12 steps to making sure your property photography is perfect!

If you’d like any help or advice in making sure your home looks beautiful online, we’d love to be of service. Just call Sam or Phil on 015394 88811 or drop us an email at team@ashdownjones.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

Sam and Phil