How to Prepare a Property for Real Estate or Rental Photography

Jan 2020   |   Real Estate
Preparing a property for great real estate or rental photos is vital in getting the best outcome

Having photographed properties for sale or rental on a daily basis for over 10 years the one thing that has set me and the real estate agents I work for apart from our competitors is the attention to detail that we expect (and even demand) in getting a property ready before the photos are taken. Real estate and property management photography is not rocket science ... we have trained many people in our on-location and on-line real estate and architectural photography courses in how to get the best photos - what lenses, what camera settings, how to streamline your workflow both on the job and in post-production - but once you are at a property it is the little things that make the difference. Here is a step-by-step process to save both you, the agent and the vendor time on the day ...

STEP 1 : Put together a checklist

It will save everyone time on the day if the vendor, owner or agency has been pre-warned of how you want the property to be prepared BEFORE you get there to take the photos. Generally, most photographers who take real estate and property management photos on a regular basis are being paid as a set fee based on time, or per image, or whatever you have negotiated with your "client" (generally the real estate agency). So "time is money" and you don't want to be much time at all in preparing the property yourself ... 10 mins at the most I say!

So, I suggest you put together a "Checklist for Preparing a Property for Photography" and make sure the agent has a copy so that either you or they can send it to the client prior to the shoot. The checklist may vary a little depending on whether the property is an apartment, unit or house but the principles are still the same. I include a statement at the end to the effect that if more than 10 mins is spent de-cluttering then an additional charge will be added. Below is an example of what could be included:


Here are a few tips for preparing your property for photography.


o   Eliminate clutter – kitchen bench tops and bathrooms should be clean and cleared

o   De-clutter rooms – put away knick-knacks including TV remotes, kettles, toasters, knife blocks, mugs, magazines, pet dishes, tissue boxes, family photos, toys, computer cords, pinup boards, phones & phone chargers

o   Remove fridge magnets

o   Check that all ceiling & wall lights are working as well as lamps, outside lights and rangehood lights over cooktop

o   Check that all blinds are working and windows clean

o   Turn on all lights for the photoshoot


o   De-clutter – clear bedside tables & vanity units, remove tissue boxes

o   Make all the beds – add extra pillows/cushions

o   Remove stored items from under bed

o   Pick up and put away anything on the floor eg dirty washing, clothes, handbags, shoes, toys

o   Clean mirrors

o   Turn on bedside lamps


o   Clean bathrooms thoroughly – get rid of mould and water stains and replace towels with dry fresh ones or remove all towels & mats completely

o   Clean shower screens and mirrors

o   Remove all clutter from shower recesses and vanities including soaps, shampoo, tissues, toilet brush, bins, toilet paper holders & scales

o   Put toilet seat down

o   Turn on all lights


o   Mow lawns

o   Rake leaves / sweep paths

o   Weed garden & mulch garden beds

o   Remove toys & yard clutter including, hoses, tools, gardening implements, pet gear

o   Clean pool and remove creepy crawly, pool cleaners, pool toys & pool blanket (if applicable)

o   Hide bins

o   Make sure all garden & pool lights are working

o   Remove cars / trailers from driveway and from directly outside house



I am pretty lucky in that for most of my photoshoots I have the agent, their personal assistant or the property manager with me, which is amazing - even better when you have trained them up to your high expectations and they arrive 10 mins before you to ensure that all is ready to go as you arrive! The worst case scenario is a tenanted property when the agent doesn't come with you and the tenants have no incentive to present the property as you would like - there has been times where I have not been able to photograph the property at all due to beds being unmade, dishes everywhere, clothes all over the floor and every surface in the bathroom being used for storage. In this case, I just take a few photos with my phone to show how the property has been left and forward these onto the agent. They are still charged a call-out fee.

So for 90% of my shoots my workflow is such:

  • Meet and greet the agent/owner
  • Go from room to room to ensure all lights and lamps are on and to work out a plan of action as to what order you will photograph the property
  • Last minute decluttering is also done at this stage - beds are neat; tissue boxes are put away; no bins, shampoos, toilet brushes or weight scales are left in the bathrooms; kitchen surfaces and the fridge front are clear; pet food & accessories are hidden, hoses are away and cars are removed from the driveway ... basically check everything that was on your list has been done. I prefer to have all rooms ready then just be able to move from room to room getting the angles you want
  • Photograph the property
  • Put everything back where you have found it ... or get your assistant to do this as you go
  • Thank the agent/owner/tenant and be gone!


Agents, owners and vendors LOVE attention to detail and the fact that you as the photographer are prepared to go the extra mile to get the best shots. Don't be afraid to move things, plump up cushions, reorganise a decorative "throw" on a bed, reposition blinds and curtains to your liking, hide things in the laundry (not usually photographed unless its an apartment), or around the side of the house, get rid of unsightly cords and chargers and get the "Creepy Crawly" out of the pool!

All these little things make a huge difference to the end result including great photos which in turn means a quicker sale, a speedier tenant turnover and clients and owners who LOVE and remember YOU as the photographer!

Happy photographing, 

Serena :))