Getting Your House Ready For Photography

I don't normally do real estate photography for sales listings, but I wrote up a handy checklist of what needs to be done to get your home ready for your photographer and RE agent, including everything that needs to be cleaned up inside, preparing all the rooms, and the outside too.

The goal is to provide high-quality photos that will impress your buyers and attract offers. To make your RE session go as quickly and smoothly as possible, it is requested that you have the entire house ready to be photographed before the photographer arrives. This includes:

- Having each room ready, see below for more details.

- Secure or remove all pets (especially dogs to ensure the safety of the photographer and their equipment).

- Plan not to be seen. Most occupants should plan on being elsewhere while one person stays to guide the photographer. Extra people can cast shadows and cause reflections that will show up in the photos. And there is the added risk of damage to the equipment.

- Use the garage as storage. We generally don't photograph the garage, so feel free to store items in there for the time being.


- Clean and clear every room of clutter. Hide trash cans.

- Replace burned-out lightbulbs with matching bulbs (same wattage, no colorful bulbs if possible).

- Wipe down windows and mirrors. Smudges show.

- Put away all mail, papers, toys, knick-knacks, remote controls, etc.

- Put away all clothes, and laundry baskets.

- Hide pet evidence including toys, water/food bowls, beds, etc.

- Put away excessive photo frames and family photos.

- Please turn off all TVs and computer monitors. Hide electric cords and TV remotes.

- De-cluttered, picked up, and tidy make more of a difference than 'spotless'.

- Turn off all ceiling fans.

- Open all blinds and curtains.


- Make all beds.

- Put away all clothes.

- Close closet doors.

- Clear off end tables & dressers of clutter.


- Clear off counters completely.

- Hide ALL toiletries, both on counters and in baths/showers.

- Wipe down mirrors.

- Please do not use shower or bath just before the shoot in case we need to step inside.

- Close all toilet lids.

- Check bathroom towel racks; arrange towels in a neat and orderly fashion.


- Clear off all counters and surfaces completely, except two nice things max.

- Clear off the refrigerator of magnets, papers, everything.

- Wipe down counters and stainless appliances.

- Hide knick-knacks and excessive small appliances.

- Put away all dishes.

- Remove sponges, soaps, dishes and such from sinks.


- Roll up and put hoses away, out of sight.

- Put away outdoor toys, bikes, etc.

- Arrange and clean patio/porch/balcony furniture to look inviting.

- Tidy pool areas. No clothes, towels, toys, coolers, pet bowls, etc.

- Clean up any dog poop if there are piles in the yard.

- Remove wilted plants. Cut grass if necessary the day before.

- Sweep front walkway and entry.

- Remove all vehicles from the driveway and move trash bins to the garage or out to the street.

Prep any water features, like fountains or waterfalls. Clean them and have them functioning that morning.

- Remove any For Sale signs that may be in the front yard.


- Please make sure all lights have working and matching (if possible) light bulbs. Prep by turning on all interior and exterior lights the day before your shoot, and replace all burnt-out bulbs. This includes:

- All Interior Lights: overheads, ceiling fan light fixtures, lamps, niches, light over kitchen range, under-cabinet lighting, etc.

- All Exterior Lights: Front and rear of house lights, garage lights, lamp posts, landscaping lights, pool lights, porch/patio/deck/balcony lights, dock lighting, etc.


- Clean all glass — windows, mirrors, glass doors, etc. Please pay particular attention to dirty windows and mirrors/glass doors when cleaning. Smudges, water drops, etc., will show up in photos and will look dirty. These types of smudges are extremely difficult to edit in post-processing and often look worse in photos; they cannot be edited out.

- Clear the pool deck — This includes: Removing vacuum and hoses out of the pool, and putting all hoses, skimmers, brushes, pool toys, floats, noodles, etc. completely out of sight.


- Turn on all lights, including lamps, overhead/ceiling fan lights, architectural niche lights, can lights, kitchen range overhead lights, under-cabinet lighting, etc.

- Turn on exterior lights, including house/garage lights and porch lights, but no fans.

- Turn off all ceiling fans.


If you have scheduled a twilight shoot, the following are additional items to prepare before we arrive. Please note that twilight sessions have a tight time frame to ensure the best lighting, so make sure all of these items are ready.

- Turn on all interior and exterior lights. Replace all burned-out bulbs.

- Remove covers for spa or pool, turn on all lights.

- Turn on any water features and turn on all lights.

Resources to Download

To download this information, and several other documents, please visit my Resources page.

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