How to Shoot Your Own Home Photos
In today’s real estate market, buyers most often start browsing for new properties online.
In today’s real estate market, buyers most often start browsing for new properties online. As they scan through the multitude of listings, it’s the photos that catch their attention. Outstanding photographs don’t just help to make a great first impression. They can actually make your home sell more quickly and for a higher price. While you can certainly hire a professional photographer, why not save that money and take the photos yourself? If you’re not a skilled photographer, never fear. Read on for tips that can help you learn how to shoot your own home photos.
1. Pull Out Your Toolkit and Paintbrush
Before you whip out your camera to take photos of your home in order to list it, it’s important to make your house shine. Taking good photos isn’t just about camera angles and lighting. It’s also about subject matter. You want your home to look fantastic so that your photos can be truly outstanding.
The best place to start is with any minor repairs that your home requires. Walk through each room and look for issues like leaking faucets, cracked light switch plate covers, scuffed hardwood floors, carpet stains, and dented drywall. Many repairs of this type are easy for almost anyone to make; but, if necessary, ask friends or family to refer a reliable and skilled handyperson.
Once drywall dents and scratched moldings are filled and sanded, it’s time to paint. If your walls are already painted in a neutral colour, it’s fine to simply touch up scuffs and filled holes. But, if your home has a lot of walls painted in bright or deep hues, it may be best to repaint in a different shade.
Neutral colours, and especially off-white, can make a home seem larger and brighter. These shades are also more universally appealing and may help you find a buyer more quickly.
Minor upgrades can make your home seem fresh and modern. It’s not necessary to undertake extensive renovations — and, in fact, major kitchen and bath renos rarely pay off. Instead, focus on cosmetic upgrades, like:
- Installing new cabinet hardware;
- Painting cabinets or replacing cabinet doors;
- Installing new light fixtures;
- Replacing taps and faucets;
- Installing a new toilet;
- Hanging new window treatments or shower curtains; or
- Replacing the flooring.
2. Purge and Organize
Ample storage space is often on the wishlists of potential buyers. Clutter doesn’t just make a space seem messy–it makes it seem smaller too. Additionally, highly personal clutter (like your kids’ crayon drawings tacked onto your fridge) can make it difficult for buyers to imagine themselves living in your home.
Be ruthless. If you don’t need it, pack it up and stow it in a rented shipping container. This applies not just to clutter that is out in the open but to extra items in cabinets and closets as well. Extra sheets, towels, mixing bowls, and small appliances that rarely get used (like that quesadilla maker) can be stashed away.
In terms of clutter that you do intend to use until your home sells (like craft supplies or pet toys), consider keeping a few laundry baskets or totes handy. Just before photographing your home or allowing buyers in for a viewing, toss this type of clutter in the basket and store the whole thing in the trunk of your car.
3. Break Out the Mop and Duster
A spotlessly clean house will be attractive to potential buyers. Take the time to really make your house shine. Start and the top, and work your way down:
- Wash and polish light fixtures and ceiling fan blades;
- Remove cobwebs;
- Wipe down walls, cupboard doors, baseboards, and register covers;
- Vacuum thoroughly;
- Meticulously clean your bathroom(s), including the grout and drains; and
- Make your windows sparkle.
4. Add Layers and Pops of Colour – AKA Stage Your Home
After working hard to declutter your space, here we are advising you to bring stuff back in. But,it’s true: staging a home with neutral accessories can make it more appealing to buyers. As well, pops of colour and visual texture can add interest and depth to your home–and to photographs of it.
A piece in the Washington Post suggests adding things like, “decorative tabletop accessories, mirrors, layered artwork leaning against a wall, layered rugs, texture-rich throws and fabrics, and flowers picked from the garden.”
Other things you can do include:
- Rearranging the furniture to open up the space and improve traffic flow.
- Opening all window treatments, to flood your home with natural lighting.
- Setting an open book on the coffee table.
- Filling a fruit bowl in the kitchen.
5. Use the Best Photography Equipment You Can Find
Cell phone cameras are exceptional these days, but to shoot your own home photos, an actual camera will likely provide better results. If you don’t already have a separate digital camera and related photography equipment, see if you can borrow these items from a friend:
- A good quality DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera;
- A wide angle lens; and
- A tripod.
The higher resolution that’s capable with a camera will allow buyers to zoom in for crystal-clear details on your online listing. The wide-angle lens, which isn’t available for cell phone cameras, will help you capture a more complete shot of each room. The tripod will help steady the camera, which will minimize blurring as well as ensure straight lines within the composition.
6. Wait for Optimal Lighting
Natural lighting is always best when taking photos of your home for an online listing. Choose a sunny day, open all window treatments fully, and turn off all interior lights. To fully max out the natural lighting available to you, a blog piece at HomeLight suggests shooting photos at specific times of the day:
The best time to shoot depends on the way each room (and the house) faces. You want the sun to be behind the camera so that colors are illuminated. For example, when taking photos of an exterior, you can assume that: you should shoot an East-facing house in the morning, a West-facing house in the afternoon, a North-facing house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a South-facing house in the early am or just before the sun sets.
7. Tell a Story With Your Photos
Every room in your home has its own story to tell. Consider the energy of each space when setting up to take photos of it. This can help you determine which features of a room to focus on and from which angle to to snap the picture.
8. Edit as Required
If you have some knowledge of digital photo editing, you may wish to take photos of your home in RAW instead of JPG. RAW files are basically unfinished negatives. They require editing before they can be used. That said, because they do require that editing, it can be easier to adjust things like the exposure, the white balance, and contrast.
If you don’t have a lot of experience in editing digital photos, shooting in JPG format is just fine.
Taking your own photos for an online listing may seem a little daunting at first. There’s a lot of prep involved and it’s best to use professional-quality photography equipment. While you could simply pull out your cell phone and snap random photos at any time of the day, high quality and well composed photos will go a long way in helping your house sell quickly and for a good price. It’s well worth your time and effort to take the best photos you possibly can.