How to Photograph Your For-Sale House

Real Estate Agent

Here's a great article from the Wall Street Journal.  Homeowners!  Pay attention.  There'll be a test on this material.  Seriously, the value of good pictures can't be overstated.  Virtual tours and video are coming of age, but many buyers can't be bothered to check them out.  Regarding photos, though, the bottom line is that if they don't get a buyer's attention, they're moving on.  I shows other agents' properties all the time and clients tell me: "We saw this one on the internet, but the [insert feature] looked awful." If the photos of your home aren't impressive, make your agent do them again.

One point that's not captured here is the importance of which picture is selected as your 'thumbnail'.  This is the photo that serves as the My personal opinion is to use the shot that accentuates the best exterior feature.  What do I mean?  If your wooded lot is the most attractive feature, choose a picture that shows off the trees.  Well tended landscaping?  Get the picture that's angled to best capture it.  If you've got a particularly nice patio or pool, use that.

There are far too many block, straight on shots of homes that don't give any perspective.  If you can't get someone past that first photo, they'll never have a chance to see that wooded lot or custom pool that's buried at the end of 30 other pictures.



[interior] Scott Van Dyke

Props like the wine and cheese shown here can make a kitchen look warm and inviting.

Here are some tips from professional architectural photographers on how to show your home's best face to buyers:

  • Always use a tripod.
  • Take interior photos at twilight when the light coming through windows better matches the interior levels.
  • If a room is empty, bring in a prop like a chair to give it a sense of scale.

-Alan Stoker, Iowa City, Iowa

  • Outside, keep the sun behind you, shining on the face of the home. If the main entry is always in the shade (on the north face), shoot it on a partly cloudy day to lower the contrast.
  • Inside, close the drapes to lessen the possibility of the camera's light meter being fooled by bright exterior light.
  • For empty houses, try to capture rooms that are together, like a master bedroom and bathroom, to add interest to the image.

-Joel Eden, Denver

  • Keep the camera straight and level. Tilting it makes side walls appear slanted.
  • Don't get too close to objects with a wide lens. This will create distortion, especially with rounded objects.

See Photo Dos and Don'ts

View Slideshow

[SB125087250189749591]Nick Gorski

Photographers explain how to use natural light to your advantage in this slideshow.

  • Use props such as fruit, drinks, magazines and towels. This will make the space look as if someone was just there.
  • Get dynamic angles by shooting low or with something in the foreground.

-Jeff Green, Las Vegas

  • You don't always have to shoot the entire room; keep the composition balanced. A vase, chair or object in the foreground gives more depth to the shot.
  • Turn on as many lights as possible, and fill in dark areas with work lights.
  • Draw blinds so they are horizontal and windows look transparent.

-Dale Christopher Lang, Seattle

  • Outside, remove garbage cans, cars, seasonal decorations, flags and plaques. Inside, put away toys and clothes on hooks.
  • If there are heavy shadows from trees, shoot on an overcast day.
  • Shoot at chest-level so you show less ceiling.

-Gary Silverstein, Olympia, Wash.

  • Shoot rooms from an angle; they'll look larger.
  • Fluff the pillows, so you don't have an imprint of where people sat on the bed or sofa.
  • Use odd numbers of accessories, like three or five, in different sizes. For instance, on a bedside table, put flowers, a few books and a small clock.

-Scott Van Dyke, Los Angeles

  • Wait for shafts of sunlight to come through the window; they create a friendly mood.

House Talk

  • Move furniture so it doesn't hide architectural features like a fireplace.

-Cameron Carothers, Glendale, Calif.

  • Each room looks best at a different time of day, so give yourself a day to take your pictures.
  • Shoot two walls only, with a bit of floor and ceiling. Shooting three walls creates a shoebox effect.
  • For a fresh perspective, stand a few feet to one side of a corner, but angle the camera as if you were standing in the corner.

-Bradley Hart, San Diego

  • Turn all the lights on in the house, and shoot the exterior at dusk. It will look welcoming.
  • Never photograph a house dead on, or when it's backlit by the sun.
  • Take exterior pictures from a ladder, or the top of your car, especially if you are using a wide-angle lens.

-Nick Gorski, Stillwater, Minn.

  • Compose photos so corners aren't in the center of the frame.
  • If an interior is empty, stand back as far as you can to show how large the space is.
  • Figure out where the sun rises and set, and shoot when the sun is 45 degrees from the angle you want to take the shot. If a façade faces north, shoot just before sunset or on a cloudy day.

-Lincoln Barbour, Portland, Ore.

  • Don't use a wide angle lens in an interior shot. They make rooms look smaller.
  • Turn off your camera's flash; it will make the most spectacular room look like a scary, semi-lit dungeon.
  • Don't tilt the camera up or down; it gives objects odd, unnatural shapes.

-Douglas Hill, Los Angeles



Chris deLambert retired from the United States Army after 20 years of distinguished service. He is now a licensed Realtor and certified Short Sale/Foreclosure Resource serving all of Northeast Mississippi, including Lee County, Pontotoc County, Union County, Itawamba County, and Prentiss County. His office is located at 1720 McCullough Blvd in Tupelo, MS. You can call him at (662) 891-8942 or reach him via email at His website, provides potential homebuyers and sellers with an array of data and tools without any registration requirements.

Comments (2)

Bill Travis
Captain Bill Realty, LLC - Gilbert, AZ

Good info Chris

Jul 21, 2010 07:15 AM
Ken B. Banks
Keller Williams Realty - Spring Hill, TN

  It is true. Some people don't know how to better present their listing. We can all learn pointers from articles like you have made. Sometimes just having a knack or feel for things helps too.

Jul 25, 2010 08:09 AM