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    Pro Real Estate Photo Tips for Selling or Renting Your Home

    As a military homeowner, you know that you must take advantage of every opportunity to market your property properly when advertising your home for sale or for rent. Your marketing strategy should include the best photographs and videos you can produce (or afford) to advertise your house online creatively and professionally. 

    Although it's often best to hire a professional photographer to capture your home’s standout features, if your local real estate market supports DIY photos, there are some tricks to enhance your personal photography skills. We’ve asked Brad Davidson, real estate agent and professional photographer, to share fresh advice for capturing the magic needed to sell or rent your home quickly and at asking price or better.

    Pro Real Estate Photo Tips for Selling or Renting Your Home

    Beyond 'Clean, Clear Clutter, and Depersonalize'

    Take basic cleaning techniques to the next level. Once you’ve inspected and cleaned every inch of the house, don’t forget to take pictures of examples of the spruced-up good stuff buyers are looking for: spacious and organized closets and pantries, ample playrooms or flex spaces, and custom cabinetry or bookshelves.

    Make sure to: schedule storage, neutralize paint colors, clean top to bottom, and deodorize fabrics and rugs.

    Now, it's time to go back and execute the finer details to make the photos and open house memorable.

    real estate photo of bedroom
    All home photos courtesy Brad Davidson. Visit his Instagram for more information.

    1) If you didn’t the first time, return to each room with a new appreciation for cleaning at different heights.

    Shorter people miss areas like door moldings and the tops of refrigerators, while the tall folks don’t think to scrub baseboards and floor registers.

    2) Reevaluate the presence of any plugs and extension cords.

    They are the sore thumbs of real estate photography. Long cord lengths indicate the plugs aren’t in a convenient location or worse, the outlets (and potentially the electrical system) are outdated and can’t handle many appliances working simultaneously.

    3) Granite countertops probably grace your bathroom and/or kitchen.

    Bring the sparkle back to life with a cleaning and finishing product. The shine in the picture is worth the work it will take to capture just the right angle to avoid glare.

    Here’s a pro tip from Brad to make the kitchen or bathroom photograph larger: Lower the tripod 6 inches to approximately 1 foot higher than the countertop and use that as your reference point. This direction makes the room feel larger.

    5) Any storage capacity should be organized and thinned out, if not emptied, because buyers will inspect it.

    Humans are naturally curious, especially those throwing down significant cash to buy your house. They’ll want to see every inch of the tucked-away nooks and crannies.

    6) Although you’ve taken down most of your pictures, do you have remaining personal items that are turn-offs to potential buyers?

    It might be something as silly as a rival college team flag in your master closet or piles of military memorabilia in the garage. Stacks of anything indicate a lack of storage for home shoppers. 

    7) A photo of a beloved pet who has passed on takes on another meaning when trying to sell or rent your home.

    Allergic buyers will doubt they can ever clean the house to meet their needs. Don’t let a personal memory for you turn away a pool of buyers.

    8) Flex, hobby, bonus: these words all mean the same thing—extra space to create a personalized environment.

    Even though the room was perfect for your home office, encourage buyers to envision other options like a home gym, a craft room, a play space, or a media room. Make sure to capture the best photography angle to maximize the room’s open space. This is likely from the doorway or corner at about chest to eye level, with as much natural light pouring in as possible.

    9) Neutral paint inside a home for sale or rent is as popular as ever, but the way colors appear changes depending on the light entering the room.

    Natural light plays with paint colors throughout the day. Concentrate on the best time to showcase the color at its best through the camera's lens.

    Home Staging

    There’s no way around it. Home staging sells homes faster and for more money. Time and time again, the numbers don’t lie. Recently, the National Association of Realtors Research Group delivered the Profile of Home Staging. It was revealed that 58% of buyers agents said home staging positively affected most buyers’ view of the home. The report also mentioned that some sellers earned between 1% and 5% more on the asking prices with fewer days on the market. 

    Depending on your local market and your ability to capture the home’s potential in person and in pictures, you might not need professional staging. But, take a moment to consider the possibility of a maximized home sale.

    Make sure to: leave people out of the pictures, put the toilet seat down, draw a buyer’s eye to selling features.

    real estate photo of dining area

    You might like cozy interiors, but home buyers want wide-open spaces—not just in the living areas, but also in the bedrooms and basement areas. Consider putting a few furniture items in storage to showcase plenty of room. 

    Focus your attention on kitchens and bathrooms.

    You’re striving to achieve the experience of fresh, clean, and bright. New linens and scrubbed shiny surfaces look great in person and in photos.

    Consider the placement of your throw rugs.

    Are they simply for comfort? If so, remove them to take pictures. The space appears larger. The same concept works for any room. Subtract the comfort factor and evaluate if the room looks better or bigger by removing rugs.

    Tuck away the entertainment accessories and their mounds of cords.

    Remove remotes, gaming systems, multiple electronic boxes, and anything that looks unsightly before taking pictures.

    Extra Curb Appeal

    Just like home staging, curb appeal draws buyers and renters to the house. Their first interest is likely piqued by an amazing front-view picture of the house, but their buying interest is solidified from the walk up to the door. 

    Professional real estate photography is at its best when the photographer captures the intimate details of a home for sale. This is particularly true for exterior photos. Brad urges homeowners to consider the sun's direction and where light hits the property throughout the day. The sun shadows or highlights different architectural features as the day moves along. Use this as an opportunity to showcase the best features and downplay the less pleasing attributes.

    Make sure to: manicure the lawn and shrubs, update the entryway, and power wash the house.

    How to Add Curb Appeal to Your Real Estate Photos

    Think of your front entry and yard space as a storefront window. Traditional retailers spend tons of money hiring pros to showcase the exact items precisely to draw customers in. The same is true for your home’s curb appeal, but pristine photos are the best way to attract buyers.

    Use coordinating accessories for appealing photographs, including chair pillows and an outdoor rug. A jumble of patterns and colors doesn’t photograph well. This doesn’t mean each chair has to match exactly, but they do have to be related enough to not distract the eye while viewing online or in person.

    Add a little color interest by layering a small doormat on top of a larger one, producing a picture frame effect. Don’t use your family’s last name or initials on the mat, though. Depersonalize those photos!

    Take the curb appeal up a notch by using coordinating mulch to the colors of the existing porch items. When in doubt, black mulch usually pops against most exterior colors of houses.

    Fix any broken windows or screens immediately in view.

    Find storage space for unsightly yard items, such as pool and lawn equipment or trash and recycling cans. Remember, your carefully cropped pictures are selling a dream, not advertising the upkeep and maintenance the house requires.

    real estate photo of beautiful home exterior and driveway


    Take Your Best Photos

    Advice for taking home-selling photos is prolific and easy to find online. Everyone has a few basic tricks up their sleeves to share. But you need next-level details for your pictures to entice renters and buyers.

    Make sure to: let natural light in, use high resolution, and take advantage of your smartphone’s editing feature.


    You can never go wrong updating or adding more lighting to a room. Renters especially get used to or accept living with the dim lighting they have in place, but the buyers and renters you want will demand more. Plus, the better lighting available, the higher-quality pictures you’ll take.

    Brad is adamant about the importance of accurate lighting and how it affects home photography. He says, 

    “Lighting is by far the most substantial component of photography in general, and in real estate, it is no different. Times of day will vary, the weather will vary, and the home itself will vary so much so that the same settings, at the same time of day, in the same weather conditions will still result in drastically different photos.”

    Learn from Others' Mistakes

    Browse online and take note of others' photography mistakes. Make a list of things that you can correct or implement better. Sometimes, seeing the errors is easier than reading about them.

    Avoid pet areas in photos: no bowls, beds, or funny toys. Flaunt your yard’s desirability without featuring dog runs and kennels. It’s tempting to go Norman Rockwell and plop your pooch in the front yard for a charming picture, but don’t do this. Animals don’t translate well in home selling advertising. You’ll automatically cull your buyer pool of those who can’t or won’t buy a pet dander and hair infused home. 

    Capture Details

    Capture in your advertising photos the features that make your house stand out. Showcase soaking tubs, fireplaces, and high-end hardwood flooring

    The small details matter for perfect pictures. Before you point and shoot the camera, take a hard look. Are the pillows and curtains straight? Are picture frames askew? Online viewers will pick apart every tiny detail.

    If you’re leaving it up to your real estate agent to take your pictures or hire their go-to real estate photography company, investigate their previous ads. Their marketing vision must match yours. While you are interviewing potential real estate agents to represent you, ask about how they conduct the photography aspect of your home selling/renting marketing. While you’re at it, also ask about their thoughts on home staging. The two go hand in hand.    

    real estate photo of backyard and pool


    More Tips from Brad Davidson for Better Pictures

    1) As a professional real estate photographer, Brad recommends taking pictures with a DSLR camera. Mobile devices have come far in technology and convenience, but professional equipment is always best for high-stakes real estate transactions.

    2) To translate the openness of a room through pictures, choose from two locations to present the best perspective. A corner shot allows versatility, as each house is laid out differently and not necessarily symmetrical. Taking pictures from the middle of the wall offers the most space to enter the frame. You’ll have to be the judge as to which way sends the best message to buyers.

    3) Horizontal alignment should be gospel by now, but home photos in advertising too often still include vertical alignment. These pictures won’t represent the room in a sellable fashion.

    4) Take your pictures as someone who is viewing the room straight ahead. Never try to gain height by lifting the camera and pointing downward. This angle does not translate into a broader, more open area. Potential buyers and renters want to view the space as they stand there.

    MilitaryByOwner Home Selling and Renting Resources

    Advertising your home for sale or rent abides by the old adage, do it right the first time. Time and money are wasted if multiple rounds of cleaning, updating, and photography sessions are required. Although flexibility to meet your customer’s needs is necessary, a solid foundation of advertising anchors your efforts.

    If you're just beginning to explore the necessary steps for selling or renting your home or want more in-depth advice, MilitaryByOwner has much to offer. See our extensive home selling resources, including free guides, and capture the best techniques for advertising your home successfully.

    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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