Property Shoot Preparation Checklist

Pictures are the centerpiece of any real estate marketing campaign. Realtors pay professional photographers in the hope of creating appealing images that are going to draw the attention of buyers. The more buyers that see a property, the more the chance of competing offers. But to get the most out of a photo shoot it takes more than just hiring the right photographer. It’s important to take steps to ensure that the home looks as good as it can. It’s no different than checking the mirror and straightening yourself out before you get your head shot.

The good news for home owners is that prepping for a photo shoot covers many of the same steps they would have to perform anyway for more impactful showings and open houses, so their efforts reap benefits that go well beyond the photo session.


Ensuring scenes are free of clutter prior to photo shoots results in much more appealing images.

Taking photos of a house with clutter is like taking a headshot with spinach between your teeth.

While photographers may help with final styling tweaks the house should still be fully prepared in advance of their arrival. Below you’ll find everything your sellers need to know about getting their home ready for its close up.

Here’s a link that creates an email with a link to this information for your clients!

  • IN GENERAL: Minimize personal affects on surfaces such as sideboards, that have a great many family pictures, or chachkies, etc. Remove valuables that the owners do not wish to appear in published images. Clean up toys and pet paraphernalia, pictures on fridges, etc. Flowers and other items that add color are welcome but remembering that ‘less is more’. Massive orchids in small rooms can actually get in the way if the camera has to be situated close-by. Remove cordless phones, wired appliances, phone chargers, etc., from walls and counters.
  • CARS: Remove all cars from the driveway. If possible, park in front of the house before the photographer arrives to reserve the spot so the car can be removed at the time of the shoot, providing for a clear shot of the house. If the owner isn’t there, ensure keys are left to move unattended vehicles if necessary.
  • WINDOWS: Clean dirty windows, remove screens if you don’t wish to have them in images, open window treatments as symmetrically as possible. Don’t forget glass balcony guards!
    • Remove covers on patio furniture, BBQ, pool
    • Remove children’s toys where possible
    • Clean and place cushions on outdoor seating
    • Open patio umbrellas
    • Neatly stow or better yet, completely remove hoses
    • Remove dog ‘gifts’ from the lawn to prevent ‘accidents’
    • Clear gardens of dirt, leaves, etc.
    • Clear driveway of dirt, leaves, etc
    • If it’s garbage day and possible, wheel bins to a location where they interfere as little as possible
    • Ensure ALL outdoor lights – including pool lights – work and that instructions are left for how to operate all exterior and pool lights.
  • LIGHTS: If you prefer ‘lights on’ in images, turn on indoor lights in advance and replace any bulbs as necessary.
  • BEDROOMS: Beds made, smoothed and as lump free as possible. Nightstands and vanities should be cleared of family pictures, with the minimum of items visible. If walk-in closets are to be photographed they should appear neat and organized. Try to reduce visible clutter in kids’ bedrooms.
  • LIVING ROOM: Living room pillows should be orderly and fluffed. Surfaces should be dust-free
  • KITCHEN: Minimize small kitchen appliances if there are many, remove paper towels, cleaners, etc, wipe and clear counters
  • BATHROOMS: Always clear all medications and toiletries (minimal decorative soap, perfume bottles are OK). Clean shower glass. Towels should be as plain as possible and neatly folded. Remove bath mats.
  • FIREPLACES: Depending on ease of use and for liability reasons, photographers may elect not to light fires. However, if you have a working fireplace and it is to be turned on, ensure the owners leave the flues open in advance.

While some steps may not be always be applicable or even possible, the more you can do to prepare a property for a photo shoot in advance, the better the result.

To view an extensive collection of Mark Singer’s real estate shoots, visit his real estate gallery.

Mark Singer Photography. A thousand words. Say them well.