The 10 Photo Commandments

Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CalBRE License #01490977

The 10 Photo Commandments


Real estate photos for marketing a listing effectively are a huge deal – we all know that, as does the buying public. Sadly, many in our profession appear to be clueless on this issue, or don’t care. There is simply no excuse in my opinion in this age of digital photography for crappy photos, or lack thereof. None!


Open Toilet in a home - MLS quality? Hopefully notHere is my 10 Photo Commandments List for sellers that I just created and have now added to my pre-listing package, and plan to include in my listing presentation.


Making sellers aware that bad or very limited photos are commonplace, but worse, are inconsistent with what I, and many others, believe is responsible seller representation, is my goal.


Sellers WILL have a commitment from me, in writing, that my photos will be the best they can possibly be.


Of course part of that discussion is also to coach sellers on how they can enable me to achieve this goal on their behalf.


So here they are. Whadya think?


My 10 Photo Commandments


Thou shalt include multiple photos - the maximum allowed on listing sites and the MLS

Thou shalt take photos of the interior and the exterior


Thou shalt not include photos of an open toilet, EVER!


Thou shalt take multiple photos of each room from different angles to enable the best pictures to be selected


Thou shalt not take photos of blank walls, corners of an empty room or the ceiling


Thou shalt not include photos of driveways with cars and trucks, especially those up on blocks


Thou shalt not take exterior photos of the home on trash collection day


Thou shalt not include photos of dirty dishes in the sink or on the counters


Thou shalt take no photos of dirty laundry on the floor (or anywhere) and unmade beds


Thou shalt not include photos which are crooked, upside-down, out-of-focus, or dark


Jeff Dowler

Your Listing Agent


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  1. Mike Martin 01/15/2012 10:04 PM
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Debbie Laity
Cedaredge Land Company - Cedaredge, CO
Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County, CO

I agree that photos are very important. It's one of my pet peeves when a listing only has one, or even no photos. But at the same time, I can understand why there may not be many photos...but never not a one. You can at least get a photo of the front of the house. I've got a listing right now with a seller that just got divorced. He doesn't want me to get interior pictures yet, but it is important for us to get the house listed right away. He's been a bachelor for quite a while and not a happy one. He has some cleaning to do before I can take interior pictures.

Jan 12, 2012 12:10 AM #7
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Okay Jeff, if you ever sale my home and take picture, I'm going to need some time to make some corrections before you get there.


Great post.

Jan 12, 2012 01:14 AM #8
Ginny Gorman
Phillips Post Road Realty ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond

Oh Gee Jeff, you mean i have to start from scratch on my picture true advice!

Jan 12, 2012 07:25 AM #9
Jeff Dowler CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Debbie - yes, there are exceptions, and I have certainly had them as well. The whole point of this is making the commitment to do the best possible photos within the circumstances, and to have a dialog with the sellers about the issues.

Tom - I suspect that is true for many people who decide to sell. Unfortunately it seems that some agents do not care. And some sellers clearly don't either.

Ginny - oh we have all made mistakes in our photos from time to time.



Jan 12, 2012 09:26 AM #10
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

I have always wondered why I see so many photos of toilets. 

Jan 12, 2012 09:33 AM #11
Jeff Dowler CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad


In this day and age of indoor plumbing it doesn't seem necessary to convey to buyers that there IS at least 1 toilet in the house. ONe does have to wonder. Granted bathrooms, especailly small ones are not easy to photograph but why even include unless it really IS outstanding. LOL


Jan 12, 2012 09:52 AM #12
LaNita Cates
REMAX of Joliet - Joliet, IL

I hate seeing blinds closed during the day. I hate seeing garbage cans. I hate seeing rugs in bathrooms and I hate seeing the dogs dishes!

Jan 12, 2012 04:13 PM #13
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale - Probate Specialist

Jeff, I think these are great photo commandments. There are some rooms, those on an angle and rooms that are small that are difficult to capture. We do the best we can … highlighting the great features and minimizing the not so great features of a home.  You’re hired!

Jan 12, 2012 07:16 PM #14
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages Connecticut - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jeff, I have a problem with number 2.  What if I have to go quickly, number 2 maybe the cause of an embarrassing moment :)

Jan 12, 2012 08:51 PM #15
Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Re/Max Realty 100 262-377-1459 - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent,Waukesha


Very good and effective list. That open toilet one is crucial as can be.

Jan 12, 2012 10:58 PM #16
Jane Peters
Power Brokers Int'l - Los Angeles, CA
Connecting you to the L.A. real estate scene

And in Southern California thou shalt not take pictures on a rainy day....

Jan 12, 2012 11:04 PM #17
Jeff Dowler CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

LaNita - LOL. So tell us how you REALLY feel! I agree, though.

Kathleen - no doubt some rooms, homes, and sellers, present some significant challenges,

George - you are REALLY in trouble if the house is vacant and the water off, seat up or not. LOL


Jan 12, 2012 11:14 PM #18
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Jeff, That was quite a good list of commandments. I especially liked the one about the toilet. I will try to remember all these, :-)

Jan 12, 2012 11:36 PM #19
Janis Borgueta
Key Properties of the Hudson Valley - Newburgh, NY
LIC RE Salesperson - Hudson Valley Homes for Sale

I also say NO photos of children. Some realtors take photos that show off furniture and art work. REALLY?? It makes me crazy the photos I see.

I just showed a rental today. My clients are paying my fee and this was found on Craigslist. I asked the owner after if she would list the rental with me instead of trying this on her own. Of course she wants all my trade secrets, but her photo of the front of the house was terrible. Grey, crooked and just plain awful. We were all pleasantly surprised to see the home was actually pretty.

Well, she will not get showings, and hopefully give me back a call. I let her know that our marketing is DIFFERENT than her. Not being a professional, she has an excuse. When I see agents do the same thing, well... that is NOT forgiveable!

Jan 15, 2012 11:06 AM #20
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Jeff - Sounds so simple, but apparently a lot of agents don't understand that the purpose of the photos is to market the home.  Just a few days ago I was looking for a property for a client and on one listing there were pictures of two different open toilets, a table, a door, and a lamp among the 8 photos.  I have no idea what that agent was thinking.

Jan 15, 2012 10:21 PM #21
Lottie Kendall
Today | Sotheby's International Realty - San Carlos, CA
Serving San Mateo County and San Francisco

Great list, and great idea #11 from Hella.

Feb 26, 2012 09:14 AM #22
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

My personal entry at the top of the “what were they thinking?” list is the photo taken with a cell phone camera from through the side window of the car with the rear view mirror in the picture!

Feb 26, 2012 10:21 AM #23
Bart Foster
Keller Williams Realty Boston - Metro - Boston, MA
Boston MA Real Estate

#11 Thou shalt not use a phone or tablet (regardless of price) to take photos

#12 Thou shalt hire a student of photograpy or ameture photographer if your too cheep to hire a professional.

Feb 26, 2012 11:07 AM #24
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist

Jeff, you and I definitely agree on this subject!  I would add Hella's comment about not including any with reflections of the photo-taker in a mirror and add one more of my own...

"Thou shalt not include any photos taken from the eye-level of a pet."

Yes, I've seen several of those on the MLS.

Apr 29, 2015 11:40 AM #26
Jeff Dowler CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

S. Leanne Paynter ~ Broward County, FL 

Thanks for stopping by. And those are great suggestions. I see pics including the photographer (no doubt the agent) all the time



Apr 29, 2015 01:04 PM #27
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The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad
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