Plenty has been written over the years regarding the staging and preparation of homes for sale for two very important audiences: those who are browsing online and for the many who will be visiting a home for sale either by private appointment or during a public open house. For the most doted over properties which do so deserve first place on the must see list, these are a pleasure to photograph, but perfection is not always the case.
When the backyard is the beach – the front lawn doesn’t need to be perfect.
So what to do as the photographer, realtor or stager to make the best from a not the most camera ready situation when it comes to making the home ready for the photos? Below are a few tips to get started.
Clutter, stuff, chachkies, knick knacks and all of your favorite things. We all know the answer to this image busying dilemma, but what if the home and inside of the garage has simply run out of space? Become practical about this. Not everyone can afford a rental box for the stuff, so for the overflow things, drop it all into some cardboard boxes or plastic bins and stack along one wall of the least important upper floor bedroom. If these containers are only along one wall – we can still get an image of the room and that way your online gallery will not be missing any principal rooms. Completeness counts when showing off the entire inventory of rooms and this is one way to get around the extra storage problem.
Sure, there are one too many bureaus in this room, but the image really doesn’t suffer from its positioning blocking the closet.
But we live here! Yep – that’s for sure and if the well defined room is dressed up exactly how it will be used, then perhaps just leave sleeping dogs lie. It’s kind of like sweeping out only one side of the two car garage: Unless you are going to go all the way, then let the lifestyle be the storage solution.
If you’re going to pick up and move one of the things – you might as well move all of ’em. Or none in this case of a well defined kids’ room. The big feature of this space is the extra natural light and that is presented well in the image.
Photo: word-forming element meaning “light” or “photographic” or “photoelectric,” from Greek photo-, comb. form of phos (genitive photos) “light,” from PIE root *bha- (1) “to shine” This etymology supplied from etymonline.com. So what about light? This could take a few days and the exploration of several videos regarding the relationship between the sensor in the camera and the reflective and direct lighting sources that illuminate the subject of our image. For this very specific example we are going to the basement or sometimes a bedroom or bathroom. Most ceilings are painted flat white. This provides a wonderful surface to bounce a flash from to acheive a cloud of soft reflected light into the room. What if room has a ceiling that has been painted a colour? Some planning can help. If this bedroom is the domicile of a teenager who is a devoted Maple Leafs fan, then the dark blue ceiling will be a challenge. The resulting very dark image can be brightened in post-edit. To not have to manipulate the image, try for some high wattage daylight corrected bulbs in the lamps, or even add a pair of floor standing torches with the same daylight bulbs. The image will then be true to the colour in the room and the visitor to the home will see exactly what is there. Cheap paint is still only 25 bucks a can, but if everyone is out of time, then this is a workaround.
This room is so dark given the colorful ceiling that only a long exposure works. Daylight bulbs would help out. A bit. If you haven’t run out of time, fresh ceiling white paint is the best thing to do. 20 bucks on sale!
What if there is just no chance for any good shot at all? I get these assignments often. And i enjoy every one of them – the essence of everyone’s home is their castle means just that. We all work hard to create something for ourselves and to diminish the dignity of another’s domicile is just wasted energy. So what do I do? Many years ago, i began to create images that not only showed off the space of the home and it’s usage, but to also suggest a lifestyle or feeling of the area. Below is a particularly challenging kitchen. Since setting this one up for a perfect photo would be just too time consuming, off the bench enters the lifestyle photo. Now we have a slice of the room that suggests the domain du chef. And a few necessary tools. Groupings of ones, threes or fives please.
The feature wall colour really works well here. Unseen in the image above is a collection of things not usually found in a kitchen. Mission accomplished with a lifestyle photo.
The examples above are just a few of the details as seen through the lens that might get overlooked when bringing a home to market quickly. Your comprehensive list of things to do usually doesn’t come from the photographer, this advice is most often spelled out by your sales representative and/or home stager. And they are really good at what they do. To end this post, here is my top ten list of instant things to do that are a must before a professional home for sale photo shoot.
- Driveway clear of vehicles, sidewalk chalk, trash bins and gardening supplies. If you wouldn’t encounter it at a new model home for sale, then it needs to go.
- Front hall clear of boot trays, shoes boots and backpacks. A cleverly positioned designer purse or pair of Prada shoes gets to stay.
- Excessive paper products goodbye. Extra paper towels and tissue boxes everywhere are just clutter.
- Clear counters in the kitchen* The asterisk is here to defer this element to your stager. They get it right every time. My favorite thing to leave in view is the brightly coloured mixer in the corner because I think these machines are part artform.
- Windows clean. But they don’t have to be perfect. The image is usually slightly overexposed anyway … this is more important for showings.
- Toilet seat lids down. However you can relax on this one. I will always be sure this is done.
- Really expensive things behind glass should be at a different address. And especially out of a photo. Just to be extra careful.
- I don’t usually photo the inside of a garage, but if yours will fit an F550 crew cab, clear it out! When we shoot floorplans with 360 images, we actually take a scan of the garage to get dimensions – the less stuff there, the better.
- Kitchens and bathrooms: if the thing you are looking at would not be encountered during a visit to a new model home for sale, then it has to go. Trash bins and toilet bowl cleaning devices in view are the primary offenders. Along with the combination toilet paper tower with the library of periodicals built in.
- Out back in the spring, summer and fall: Make this look like it is ready for a family gathering or a bar b q with friends. This is where your inner stager can shine in so many ways.
post by James leiper on Super Bowl Sunday 2017.