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Modern open-space kitchen and dining room with lights on

5 DIY Real Estate Photography Tips

Though professional real estate photography is highly recommended when trying to sell a home, hiring a professional might not always be an option. If you’re putting your house on the market and planning to take your own real estate photos for online listings, there are few things you need to be aware of so you can take high-quality photos and avoid home staging mistakes.

Use the Right Photography Tools

White and black modern kitchen. Photo by Instagram user @wowfactorfoto

Photo via @wowfactorfoto

Taking quality photos doesn’t mean you have to break the bank with expensive photography equipment, but consider investing in (or renting) some staple items that will really make a difference.

While smartphones continue to hit the market with better cameras and editing apps, you may find that a DSLR camera can produce better results. Regardless of whether you use your smartphone or a DSLR camera for your DIY real estate photography, be sure to have a tripod for your shoot. This will ensure your photos are level, consistent, and crisp. Another helpful tool is a light reflector, which can brighten and direct light to darker spaces in your home.

Photo editing software is another worthwhile way to improve the quality of your photos. Look into getting a free trial of Adobe Lightroom, or save some time by exploring the free features on a photo editing app like Darkroom.

Don’t Forget to Stage Your Home

Before taking photos, it’s important to set the scene. That’s where home staging comes in. By decluttering your home, removing personal items, and placing furniture and decor to better show off the room, you can make a better impression through your photos.

Professional organizer Ben Soreff advises creating a more open space by staging furniture away from the foreground of the picture and removing excessive pieces. This makes the room look bigger and less cluttered.

Real estate agent and author Mindy Jensen reminds that nothing ruins a photo like a pile of dirty laundry, an unmade bed, or an overflowing trash can. She recommends having some friends walk through your home to help you catch any unsightly items you may have overlooked. This applies for exterior locations, too, as you may have some bushes or trees that need trimmed to help maximize the view of your home.

As far as home decor goes, it can be helpful to add a spot of color here and there to attract attention in a neutral-toned room. But don’t go overboard. Remember that you’re trying to attract potential buyers.

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Find Good Lighting Like a Pro

Twilight photography of house exterior. Photo by Instagram user @burnhamcompany

Photo via @burnhamcompany

It’s no secret that good lighting is essential to photography. Allowing in as much natural light as possible can help you take clearer, brighter pictures. To avoid sun glare, real estate blogger G. Brian Davis suggests shooting pictures with the light source behind or to the side of you.

While natural light is best for taking pictures, too much sunlight streaming through the windows can create a harsh glow. If your pictures look washed out, real estate writer and professional photographer Brentnie Daggett suggests hanging sheer white curtains as window treatments to diffuse light and produce a softer glow.

One trick for taking attention-grabbing exterior photos is to opt for twilight photography (i.e., around dusk). Just after sunset, turn on all of the interior and exterior lights to set up a dreamy, warm look. “There’s nothing more inviting than a glowing home at dusk,” said Daggett.

Try Different Angles

Finding a good angle to display a room in its entirety can be challenging. That’s why it’s good to try out several different angles until you find one you like. Davis suggests taking shots from eye level while kneeling and then from a high level to give yourself options. “Low or high-angle shots can often make a room look larger, and the variety makes for more interesting and eye-catching photos,” he said.

Shooting from the corner shows the most depth, notes realtor Nathan Garrett. Not only does this better showcase how spacious a room really is, but it also helps capture every important aspect of the room in frame. You can’t see most of the room in one photo otherwise. But be careful when selecting a camera lens, as some wide-angle lenses will distort the dimensions of the room, which can be misleading for potential homebuyers.

Perspective is also crucial to consider with DIY real estate photography. Photos that make rooms look like they have odd proportions are a dead giveaway of amateur photo skills. To make sure that corners, door frames, and other “verticals” appear straight, real estate investor expert Evan Harris suggests using a tripod for alignment and shooting from hip height or above eye level.

Don’t Misrepresent the Space

When shooting and editing pictures of your house, be sure to avoid misrepresenting the space. Jensen warns against misleading photos, as pictures are meant to provide an initial look at a house or property. If a buyer arrives at your home to find it’s not what they expected, they may lose interest. “There is no point in using funky lenses or weird angles in order to make the home appear to be what it isn’t,” Jensen added.

Looking for more real estate tips and advice to help your home sell? Check out these guides:


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