The Debate: How many photos should I take / add to MLS?

Services for Real Estate Pros with The Atlas Group - Southern Oregon Real Estate-Medford Homes

Good morning AR,

Something that came up recently in conversation here at Chaparral Realty Group, and has also come up numerous times while teaching my Digital Photography Composition class to agents:


On one hand many brokers post to MLS with around four to six photos - while sometimes you see agents posting rediculous amounts of photos including mutliple angles from each room and even pictures taken from the crawlspace in the foundation.

Thus the conversation sparks: how many photos would be consider enough without being overkill.

Well think of it this way. Lets get hypothetical for a moment: Suppose you were planning on renting a home, and had searched for your new place online. You find a few websites featuring available rentals that have numerous details to help you decide if this rental is right for you.

If you were to see a listed rental with 30 pictures, pictures so detailed that you felt like you had already seen the home in person: would you take the extra step to see the property? Chances are, if you felt like you saw enough from the photos - you could make your decision based simply on the photos alone. But this is a VERY BAD thing. Why? Well for one major reason, photos often have a habit of making things look less spacious than they really are. Often times bad lighting, bag angles, and even horrible colors can cause a home to look less than it's best in photos.

The basic concept here, is that if you give them too many photos - they'll often find a reason NOT to come and view the home. "I like the house, but the living room looks really small, and the neighbors yard is atrocious. Lets look at some other homes."


Well, first off - we must determine how many photos would be enough to draw someone in to schedule a showing. In my photography class I teach Brokers how to take photos in such a way that they leave some mystery, or in essence they give the viewer a reason to want to view the home.

One way of doing this is to take photos that capture the essence of a room, but leave subtle hints about adjoining rooms. For example, take a look at this photo I took:

Notice how there are areas of the kitchen you cannot see? This makes the viewer want to see more.

Here's another example:

Notice how you see sneak peaks of the adjoining rooms, but never a full photo of any room? This again, is designed to create curiosity in the viewer. This causes the comment, "Looks great, I'd love to see the rest of the home"

One good rule to use when deciding how many photos are enough: Take at least one photo from each room that would be considered an asset to a home. This means, leave out that tiny 1/2 bathroom, and instead focus on the largest bathroom. Do we really need a photo featuring the cluttered garage of the current homeowner? Simply mentioning a 2 car garage is enough.

A second good rule is to consider your angles. See how this house photo features the best lines and architecture, while leaving out portions of the home?

This is designed to make the home look great, but also to cause the viewer to want to see the portions left out of the photo. Also when taking photos of the exterior of a home, angles help to accentuate the three dimensional quality of the home. With this home, if we shot it straight on - the viewer wouldn't see the depth of the covered porch and entry. This angle allows one to get a sense of how nice the front porch really is.

An old and true addage comes to mind. Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

So to sum up: Take better pictures, and less of them. Leave out elements, in order to generate curiosity. Use angles to highlight three dimensional aspects. Leave out cluttered areas or tiny rooms.


What about those owners who insist on taking their own photos? Well, be proactive - and offer to come and assist them in their photography. In some cases these owners are hobbyist photographers, or simply wish to assist you by thinking "since I live here, I know best which areas should be highlighted."

Mention that you can assist them to identify the best angles and rooms to feature. If you encounter any resistance to your ideas, just let them know that you have a lot of experience with what works and what doesn't - and that you just want to help them get the best possible photos in order to quickly sell their home. And also, offer some tips to them that you've seen in this article. Often times an owner just needs to see a visual representation of the concepts you are trying to get accross. Show them this article :)

(all photos shown are copyright of Matt Jameson, and were taken with a Cannon Powershot A570 with no special lenses or lighting)

Happy shooting!


Posted by


-Matt Jameson

The Atlas Group: Our philosophy is all about embracing change in a manner that is most effective toward the success of our clients. Our reputation is built on the many testimonials and referrals from our past clients - and it's become that way for a reason...we simply try harder.

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Comments (10)

Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

Good tips.  I sent them on to our listing manager.  She takes great photos of our homes but there is always more to learn.

Feb 10, 2009 08:41 AM
Anne Bourne
StagingWorks - Toronto, ON

Hi Matt,

Great tips.  I can't stand it when photographers take those super-wide angled shots so little rooms look enormous.  I like the idea of leaving a bit to the imagination. 


Feb 10, 2009 08:44 AM
Matt Jameson
The Atlas Group - Southern Oregon Real Estate-Medford Homes - Medford, OR
Medford Web Designer

Thanks guys, the photos are probably the second most important element to listings, over the price point of course. We just brought on a broker with years of experience as an appraiser and he has even more to impart about how to take photos. Expect a sequel article soon :)

Feb 10, 2009 08:52 AM
Scott Gephart
The Delta Group brokered by eXp Realty - Medford, OR
The Delta Group brokered by eXp Realty

It's also important to try and give your owner as much advance notice as possible BEFORE shooting photos. This allows them to de-clutter and generally should result in better all around photos.

Feb 10, 2009 08:59 AM
Randy Demming
Campbell Homes - Colorado Springs, CO

This was a really helpful blig! I am in charge of taking the MLS photos for my company and this is really wonderful information! Thanks for the tips!

Feb 10, 2009 09:05 AM
Matt Jameson
The Atlas Group - Southern Oregon Real Estate-Medford Homes - Medford, OR
Medford Web Designer

Thanks Kelly, Id like to invite you to subscribe to my blog if you find the content helpful. I plan to keep posting some great tips and advice for both real estate and support professionals.

Feb 10, 2009 09:26 AM
Elizabeth Bolton
RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA - Cambridge, MA
Cambridge MA Realtor

Hi Matt,

I agree completely - fewer but better pictures is the way to go.  I've always thought that buyers are looking for reasons to eliminate a property - why hand it to them on a platter?  Better to have some enticing views and leave them wanting to see more - and they can see more by scheduling a showing.


Feb 10, 2009 11:00 AM
Matt Jameson
The Atlas Group - Southern Oregon Real Estate-Medford Homes - Medford, OR
Medford Web Designer

A great way to state that! "why hand it to them on a platter?"

Feb 10, 2009 11:45 AM
Dan and Amy Schuman
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Solon, OH
Luxury Home Specialists

Matt, this is a really helpful post. Sometimes we feel like we want to show potential buyers everything about a home and feel compelled to have a lot of pictures but creating curiosity certainly makes sense. Thanks for the post and great photos.

Feb 10, 2009 11:54 AM
Everard Korthals
---Preferred Lifestyle Advisors--- - Lancaster, PA
Mountain Realty

10-14 is our estimate based on reports, anaylsis and polls.

Feb 10, 2009 06:05 PM