Capture Your Listings in Their Best Light

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR Magazine

Staging is important in improving a home’s presentation, but quality photos are important for getting buyers through the front door. Most buyers begin their home search online and they often use photos to decide which homes to view and which ones to skip, real estate pro Jennifer Ames with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago told a crowd during a session at the REALTOR® Conference & Expo in Anaheim on Friday.

Ames offered up some of the following photo tips to enhance the presentation of your listings:

Find the best time of day to shoot: If the sun pours in a room in the morning, then you’ll likely want to shoot photos in the afternoon so the view outside doesn’t look like a bright glow. Overcast days or dusk are often the best time to shoot interior photos, Ames said.

Have the right equipment: Ames recommends using an SLR camera with a wide-angle lens (12-18 mm) and a tripod, if you’re shooting your listing photos yourself.

Go wide: Capturing rooms straight-on can sometimes make a room look narrow and small. By standing in a corner and shooting at an angle, you’ll make the room look larger.

Turn off the flash: Ames said that turning on a flash on when you shoot your images can make a room feel one-dimensional.

Tweak: You might need a photo-editing program to enhance your photos, but don’t cross an ethical line and fundamentally change the home. Instead, use such programs to help capture a room completely. For example, Ames said that she has used Photoshop to help show off the lake views in a bedroom. When she shot the photo of the bedroom, light was pouring in so much that viewers couldn’t see the views outside the window. By changing the camera’s shutter speed, she was able to capture the views outside the window, but then the rest of the room was too dark. By using a photo-editing program, the two photographs she took could be merged together—revealing the views outside the window and the bedroom inside.

Tell a story with your photos: Organize the photos so that they flow logically, in the order you would show a home to a potential buyer. Avoid redundant images or images that don’t add value, such as four views of the same bedroom that don’t reveal anything new. Missing photos of major rooms in the house? “Buyers are going to assume something is wrong with that room,” Ames said. Put their fears to rest and display the maximum images permitted (e.g. allows up to 25 images and Trulia allows 32 per listing). Also, to complete your listing’s photo story, you might also opt to add some photos of the neighborhood or street scenes to show the surrounding area.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Those are all great tips. As a stager, I promote the importance of good photos as the internet is the new “curb appeal”.

  2. Susan Schupp

    I’m a Palm Beach County Realtor and avid photographer. Sony has a new mirrorless digital camera with interchangeable lenses called the Sony NEX-5n that allows you to
    take incredible photos of home interiors in low light conditions with no flash and no tripod. This camera is small enough to fit right in your purse or briefcase. Buy it with the wide angle lens and your photos will look like they were taken by a pro. Plus, it is perfect for those family photos around the dinner table in low light.

  3. Don’t underestimate the power of pictures taken at night. Interior pictures taken with all the lights on can display the warmth that a daytime picture cannot convey.

    Exterior pictures taken at night, can create the emotional response of calm and peacefulness.

    Jesse Bahraini, CNC, CSC, GRI, SFR, SRES

  4. I would think recommendations of the best camera to use in property shoots would be a great article. I’m researching Canon 30s Rebel T3 right now and did not find anything – Because the cost of the photographer has risen 200% in last year – I/m looking to this and not hire outside. Plus it is fun

    Just thought I would request updated info.!


    DeAnne Ottaway
    Santa Fe, NM 87574