Prepare your House for the Professional Photographer

Remember when you were in school and it was the morning of picture day? You had to wear your favorite shirt. Mom did your hair. When you got to school there was the buzz of excitement. Everyone dressed in their best. You stood in line, trying to stand still, while your stomach jumped around with anxiety and exhilaration. And then you got your picture taken and waited weeks for the proofs.

When the professional photographer comes to take the marketing pictures for the sale of your home, remember picture day! Get your house cleaned, dressed up, straighten all the things that need it, hide away any extras.

Preparing for picture day is something easily overlooked especially after you’ve done just about everything to prepare already. You’ve probably been doing it for weeks or months. But pictures will be your first impression and you’ll need to do those additional tasks that will make your house pop online.

Getting it photo-ready will produce the highest quality marketing photographs. The photos are the first impression when your house hits the multiple listing service. Anxious buyers will get an email alert notifying them that there’s a new listing for sale in the neighborhood of their choice. You’ll want to take full advantage of this excitement by showing the best possible marketing images of your home.

After working so hard to prepare it for the sale, don’t make the mistake of taking picture day lightly. The photographer is going to do his best to make your property look its best by highlighting its foremost features but he’ll need your help to do it. They’re skilled at determining the best angles and focal points. Their experience, tools and skill will enable them to find even the hidden features that will attract home buyers enough to get them to make an appointment to see your home.

Professional photographers/videographers are a creative bunch who have their own process and procedures that they follow to be efficient and effective. You’ll get a lot more out of their work if you’re ready when he arrives as opposed to just “finishing up” around the house. He will move a cord if he notices or fluff a pillow but it takes their focus away from their main job: to take excellent photos of your house.

When a photog comes into a house and sees that everything is done to perfection, they are jazzed. It makes for an easier process for them and a less-stressed you. So please stay out of the way of the action and keep pets corralled.

The Day Before the Photographer/Videographer Come to the House

The All-Over Double Check Inside the House

Clean the windows and move furniture away from the front of windows. The photographer will want to focus on the view, especially if the ocean or mountains are visible. Even if this isn’t the case, the views – whatever they are – will be the backdrop in the photos.

Remove throw rugs and runners from the kitchen, bathrooms, and hallways to make the home look less cluttered and show off the hardwood floors.

Go around the house checking for burned-out light bulbs. If there are bulbs that are different colors, it’s a wise idea to change them all to match. That shows up significantly in quality photos.

Hide any electrical or cable cords as best you can. They always seem to stand out more than you would think in the photos.

The Exterior of the House, Yard and Driveway.

If your neighbors regularly park close to the front of the house, ask them the day before if they can move for a couple of hours to insure it’s only the house in the photos.

Hide the garbage cans. We know they’re necessary but we don’t want them to be the focus of any pictures.

Make sure garden tools, including hoses and sprinklers, are put away.

Put children’s toys, bikes, and other portable items, neatly in the garage or on the side of the house out of view of the photographer.

Mow your lawn the day or two before and make sure any leaves or debris are removed.

Clean up all the dog poop.

Sweep your entryway, driveway and back patio.

The Highlight of the House: How to Prepare Your Kitchen for Pictures

Do one more de-cluttering by hiding away the small appliances like coffee pots and toasters; the knife block and dish drainer. It’s better to remove too much than not enough.

When the kitchen counters are completely cleared off, it makes the kitchen look bigger, cleaner and buyers can imagine themselves in the space.

Remove any artwork, calendars, magnets or to-do lists that you have stuck to the refrigerator. Just be sure to put the kids’ artwork back before they notice.

Homebuyers Second Favorite Room: The Bathroom

Spacious and clean are the operative words.

Get a plastic bin to store all of your personal items from countertops, back of the toilet or bathroom shelving: toothbrushes, soap dish, tissues, lotions, makeup, and anything else that you can take out. You’ll need the bathroom to look just like this for showings too so make it easy on yourself to get things you use most often in and out. That goes for the shower too. Don’t leave soap, shampoo, or other products in the shower or bathtub and be sure the shower doors sparkle.

Put the toilet seat lid down in every bathroom! You don’t want to be on Really Bad MLS Photos.

Replace the towels with fresh ones neatly folded in the bathrooms. Once again, remove the toilet seat cover and any rugs or extra towels.


The Living and Family Rooms

Gather any games, homework, newspapers and magazines to put them out of sight.

Hide the remote controls and make sure any cords and cables are concealed as well as possible.
De-clutter and dust your bookshelves, tables and cabinets.
If there’s still a dark corner consider getting a floor lamp to lighten it up.

The Bedrooms

In addition to making the beds, be sure to put away any clothes.

Completely clear off the dressers and nightstands of personal items, including watches, jewelry and coin dishes.

The Day of Picture Taking


You should make sure your vehicles aren’t parked on the driveways or in the street directly in front of the home.

Prepare your patio set like you’re ready for a party. Clear the chairs of leaves and debris, wipe off the raccoon prints. Open up the umbrella. Fresh outdoor pillows and flowers will create an inviting space for your photographer to highlight while they’re in your backyard.


Do a last wipe-down of the counters, backsplash, appliances: the refrigerator, oven, the range hood and dishwasher. You don’t want handprints or watermarks showing up in the photos.

Bathrooms Do another wipe-down: mirrors, toilet, sink. Make sure they’re all spotlessly clean.

Living and Family Rooms

If you take your shoes off when you come in the house relocate that shoe rack and all the shoes for the pictures and the marketing of the home. That can clutter the entryway making it seem smaller and messy.

Most photographers use HDR photography, which takes multiple light exposures for each photo and combines them into one final picture. Any moving items like ceiling fans or active TV or computer screens look very strange in HDR. That’s why the recommendation to turn off anything that moves or causes motion blur.

Open all of the window coverings and let the sunshine in. Light and bright is what buyers love so give your house every chance to show off the natural light.


Make all the beds to perfection. Double check that the duvet covers the mattress and the pillows are lined up and set just right.

Turn off all the ceiling fans, TV and computer monitors. Turn off anything that moves or causes motion blur like TVs, computer screens and ceiling fans.

Open all of the window coverings.

Pray for Good Weather

If it’s foggy, windy or raining the exterior photo shoot will have to be rescheduled. Putting your house in its best light doesn’t include a socked in day of fog and the drone can’t be flown if it’s windy.

So the interior may go on while the exterior gets rescheduled; or be prepared for the worst case scenario: everything has to be rescheduled.

The marketing of your home is the most important piece of the selling puzzle, and it begins with your preparation paired with a great photographer/videographer.

Having the items on this list completed will ensure that your home will be ready before they arrive, which will enable you to get the most out of their time and talent.

You’ve likely done a lot of work to get your home ready to sell. Don’t tire out at the end when these details matter the most! Remember, great marketing leads to great offers!