Why must I prepare my venue/house for a photo shoot?

Have you ever met a bride that did not prepare herself for a wedding? Anything from the right dress, makeup shoes, hair, nails, flowers, every detail and some of them even went of diets just to look their best for a new future life together with their partner.
Your house is that potential bride that is looking for that future partner. If you really want to “let your house go” you need to play your part and do your best and me the photographer and then the agent will do our part in this process.

Keep this in mind
Remember that a professional technical perfect looking photo of a cluttered unprepared house will send a I do not really care message to potential buyers. Making it a challenge for your agent to convince potential buyers of the good qualities of your house. Leaving many home owners wondering why their property do not sell and “Stay on the shelf”.

This interactive manual is like a wedding guide for your house. The art of preparing your house to look its absolute stunning best and still to be able to be true, honest and authentic in that visual presentation for the happy to be new home owner.

Outside Property Preparation (for photography shoot).
Prepare the Front Yard.

How to prepare your front yard for a venue or real state photography shoot.

# Declutter Remove toys, sport balls, soccer goals, garbage cans, movable sprinklers, garden hoses and empty pots. Any items that may be distracting. Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
# Cleaning Clean up landscape (mow and trim the lawn, trim shrubs, prune trees, remove fallen leaves) Sweep pathways and remove cobwebs from doors and frames. Clean your windows and fence.
# Switches & action Close garage doors If you want, fix / paint your fence or anything that needs to be fixed. Check all outdoor lights if twilight shoot are arranged.
# Look and feel “mood” Consider adding some garden lights if you/agent arranged for twilight photos.
ASK YOURSELF THE QUESTION The front exterior is usually the first photo buyers see so does it look picture perfect, inviting, clean, neat and free from any clutter?
IMPORTANT – Day of shoot. Remove any vehicle from the driveway or in the road in front of house. Do not mow or water the garden on the day of the shoot (It sometime makes yellow looking grass and unpleasing puddles on pathways) If twilight shoots were arranged, switch on all lights before I arrive for shoot.

Prepare the Back Yard

How to prepare your back yard for a venue or real state photography shoot.

# Declutter Remove kid’s toys, balls, sport items, personal belongings that will not fit into a inviting photo, visible water hoses, movable sprinklers, trash cans, etc. Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
# Cleaning Clean up landscape (mow and trim the lawn, trim shrubs, prune trees, remove fallen leaves) sweep pathways and remove cobwebs from doors and frames. Clean and sweep debris from the deck. Clean your fence Clean porch, tidy up outdoor tables/chairs/cushions Clean backyard stoves / braais and braai areas.
# Switches and action Check that pool fountains, water features and all lights work.
# Look and feel “mood” Pillows/cushions should be neat, fresh, not bad looking or faded. Arrange any furniture to look inviting and pleasant.
ASK YOURSELF THE QUESTION The back yard must be described as an oasis to relax in and needs to look perfect. Looking at the photos, home buyers wants to envision themselves enjoying the property, free of personal belongings. Does the exterior look neat, inviting and spotless.
IMPORTANT – Day of shoot. Do not mow or water the garden on the day of the shoot (It sometime makes yellow looking grass and unpleasing puddles on pathways) Turn on pool fountains, water features and all lights. Prep braai area with wood and make it inviting looking for a braai. Arrange any furniture, open umbrellas to look inviting and pleasant.

Prepare the Pool Area

How to prepare your pool area for a venue or real state photography shoot.

# Declutter Remove pool hose/ creepy-crawly , cleaners, filters, chlorine floats ,all toys and other floating devices (a day before shoot to prevent ugly water puddles in photos). Remove all trash cans and toys, pool supplies and cleaning tools in backyard. Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
# Clean Clean pool (Pool cleaning must be done a day before shoot to avoid water puddles on tiles wood and cement and walkways) The pool should be blue and clear, sweep dirt off the bottom and skim off the debris. Clean pool deck, tables, chairs, and any porches, pot plants etc. Mow the lawn a day or two before so that the grass do not have that yellow dead look. Blow / sweep all leaves and debris away.
# Switches and actions Check that pool fountains, water features and all lights outside and inside home works.
# Mood look and feel Pool furniture should be straighten /organized in an logic, neat and inviting order. Make sure all chairs, cushions and umbrellas look neat and clean not faded and add some rolled up towels on the chairs if appropriate. You can decorate the tables without going over the top. Set up and open all the patio umbrellas if you have. If pool has a view make sure that you do all that you possibly can to make the view look good.
# Switches and action Make 100% sure that all the lights work Check if fountains, jets, umbrellas etc. works. Make sure all works days prior to your shoot in case you need to schedule repairs.
IMPORTANT – Day of shoot. Remove pool cover hours before shoot (try not to make puddles) and remember to take safety into consideration. It will be your responsibility at all times and after shoot to restore cover and to keep safety precautions. Start the hot tub jets and turn on any water features long before the shoot. If twilight shoot has been arranged. Turn on pool lights, all outside and all inside home lights. You cannot afford running around to do that at the time of shoot, because ambiance light with these tipe of photos has a small window time frame and when it past it cannot be recreated.

Inside Property Preparation (for photography shoot).
Prepare the Kitchen

How to prepare your kitchen for a venue or real state photography shoot.

# Declutter Clear the outside of your refrigerator of magnets, papers, photos , calendars, notes, crayon drawings any personal items. Declutter stovetop Kitchens often collects a lot of things on the counters, keep it neat and clean. Remove soap containers, sponges, cleaning supplies, dish towels, child chairs, garbage cans, dish rack or draining rack, knife blocks, baking supplies, mail, paper towels, any dirty dishes, food, cooking supplies, cereals, clothing, shoes, “ugly” cutting boards all small appliances such as toasters or blenders, etc. You can leave basic appliances on your countertop i.e. your coffee maker Remove pet bowls and baskets Place items out of view in closets or in pantry. Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
# Clean Clean your kitchen thoroughly Clean the major appliances – refrigerator, oven, stove top, range hood, the counter tops , and dishwasher, remove any stains. Clear sink of dishes Make sure not to leave cloth and wipe marks on shining surfaces. Clean windows.
# Look and feel “Mood” Stage your kitchen area. Straighten all chairs, use one small centerpiece, like a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter or maybe a cookbook. Neatly organize items on open shelves and cabinets that are visible even when closed. Leave out max of one small appliance (ex. coffee maker) Clear countertops, remember with a kitchen, less is more.
# Switches and action Check and make sure all lights including cabinet and the hood lights all work.
ASK YOURSELF THE QUESTION The kitchen is a strong selling point and needs work to look its best. It must be perfect looking and deserves, staging and attention to detail. Kitchens sell homes, will yours do the same?
IMPORTANT – Day of shoot.

Prepare the Dining Room

How to prepare your dining room for a venue or real state photography shoot.

# Declutter Remove child seats, dead pot plants anything that say clutter. Clear table and other surfaces Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
# Cleaning Dust and polish the tabletops. Vacuum or sweep & mop the floor to remove any marks.
# Action and switches Straighten all chairs and space them evenly. Make 100% sure that all lights work.
# Look and feel “mood” Stage the dining room area You could set the table with nice dinnerware if you want with a low centerpiece such as candles, a bowl of fresh fruit or small flowers (large centerpieces spoil 95% of photos by blocking the view). Add a bottle of wine, glasses if you want. If you have a see-through cabinet make sure things are neat and tidy inside. Create a homey inviting feel. Remember, perfection is achieved when nothing else can be removed.
# Please do not Don’t leave any leftover plates or dishes on the table. A giant centerpiece on table is a huge no-no it will block the photo from all angles.
ASK YOURSELF THE QUESTION Will your buyers when viewing your dining room online be able to imagine themselves having a nice family meal in your dining room.
IMPORTANT – Day of shoot. Double-check all of the above.

Prepare the Living Room

How to prepare your living room for a venue or real state photography shoot.

# Declutter Remove any random clutter like stacks of magazines, papers, mail, kids toys, remotes, books, personal effects/photos, blankets, small items, video game systems, DVD’s. Please hide all cords & cables as best you can. Declutter fireplace mantel Remove seasonal features like Christmas lights etc. Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
# Clean Vacuum and clean/mop floors Dust surfaces, clean windows, glass tables, cabinet doors, mirrors and table tops (leave no reflecting cloth wipe marks or spots) Polish wood and other services Clean the interior of your fireplace Clean blinds and curtains.
# Action Straighten wall art, mirrors, blinds and curtains Replace any dead pot plants If you ave a selling view or even a nice view outside the windows make sure that it looks great outside. Fluff pillows and arrange furniture neatly and straighten throws. IMPORTANT : Make 100% sure that all lights work.
# Mood, look and feel Leave a few minimal pieces of artwork. Make sure that the furniture is arranged to create a living room feel. Maybe with a nice coffee table book as dekor, If you have bookshelves, try to arrange in a nice pattern and remove the “ugly” looking books.
ASK YOURSELF THE QUESTION Did I create a beautiful, clean, inviting and clutter-free, comfortable space to be photographed, where buyers will be able to imagine themselves in the living room enjoy conversation and spend quality time with family?
IMPORTANT – Day of shoot. Turn on all lamps and lights. Switch of ceiling fan options and double-check all of the above.

Prepare the Bedrooms

How to prepare your bedrooms for a venue or real state photography shoot.

# Declutter Most bedroom photos look smaller and unpleasant just because of clutter. Clear night stands of all books, magazines, pictures & clocks Clear dresser and other surfaces of personal items tissue boxes, lip balm, a glass of water, jewelry, Hide cell phone charging cables and put away clothing, shoes etc. Make sure nothing is visible under the bed. Remove any bedside rugs, cushions or steps Remove family photos from walls Remove trashcans Hide away laundry Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
Master Bedroom Spend enough time with the preparation of the master bedroom since potential home buyers strongly focuses on its photos. Check to see that bed light and ceiling lights works. Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
Teenager Rooms Remove some of the personal and “statement” type of items to give the room more of a balanced neutral feel. Check to see that bed light and ceiling lights works Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
In the kids’ Rooms Put excess toys out of sight, take distracting posters and drawings off the walls, and straighten up overall. Remove personalized names from walls. Check to see that bed light and ceiling lights works Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
Baby room When prepping your baby’s bedroom, for instance, keep the baby cot etc. but get rid of diaper stock piles, baby photos on the walls, excessive toys, etc. Check to see that bed light and ceiling lights works. Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
# Clean Tidy up, dust and vacuum carpets. Clean floors, tables, furniture, blinds, ceiling fans, etc.
# Switches and action Make beds … press bed linens and bed skirts. Pillows should be wrinkle free. Straighten comforters as best you can straighten the bedspread and pillows. Neatly arranged fluffed pillows at the head of the bed. Stand back an look at pillow tipes sizes and colors to see that they are the same left and right. Edges of sheets when visible should hung straight (matching colors, no wrinkles, no discoloring or faded bedding) See how they make beds in magazines and thy to do it the same. Make 100% sure that all lights including ceiling and bed lights works. Turn of ceiling fans option Close all closet doors and make sure they can stay closed.
# Look & feel “mood” ASK YOURSELF THE QUESTION The room is a place of rest and the buyer must be able to see themselves in that room without your strong themes distracting them. The bedroom must look beautiful, decluttered, spacious and clean. In short, will the buyer be able to see themselves and their family members relaxing in the rooms?

Prepare the Bathrooms

How to prepare your bathrooms for a venue or real state photography shoot.

# Declutter Remove trash cans, floor scales, “ugly” laundry baskets, floor mats, bathroom cleaning supplies, personal care products and children’s bath toys from the shower and tub If colors are unavoidable, make sure colors complement each other and remove that colorful toilet cover. Remove or replace any dead plants. Clear all personal items from countertop (soap, tooth brushes, medications, deodorants, toiletries, shampoo and bath products, sponges, tissues, hair products, makeup etc.), just about everything should be put away. Remove items in shower Remove all items from tub. Remove all throw rugs from the floor. Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
# Cleaning Make surfaces shine as much as possible Clean mirrors, doors and shower doors thoroughly (no spots, drops or cloth wipe marks) Clean sinks & bathtubs (dry all off, no spots or water drops) Make metal and tiles shine Clean toilet on the outside especially near the floor and pipes Clean windows and make sure there is no cloth wipe marks on any glass and mirrors. Shower curtains should also be clean and straight. Bath tub must be clean and shining Clean toilet inside and close lid and especially clean outside Hide away the toilet brush and plunger.
# Switches and actions Closed closet doors It must be able to stay closed. Check to see that all lights works. Replace toilet paper rolls Remove extra toilet paper Remove dirty floppy towels and hang fresh towels. Make sure towels are folded neatly and are straight on the towel bars with towel labels out of sight.
 # Look and feel Use white towels to bring out a spotless effect Finish it off by adding nice looking candles, flowers or small items near tub depending on room available. Nothing over the top If windows have a view, stare outside for a while and find faults, then go outside and make sure the outside is looking at its best.
ASK YOURSELF THE QUESTION Does your bathrooms sparkle, looking like those clean hotel bathrooms?
IMPORTANT – Day of shoot. Turn on all lamps and lights and double-check all of the above.

TWILIGHT
Prepare your Front and Back Yard for a Twilight Shoot

How to prepare your front and back yard of house for a twilight venue or real state photography shoot.

IMPORTANT: THIS SHOOT IS EXTREMELY TIME SENSITIVE NO TIME TO SWITCH ON OR FIX ANYTHING. If you or your agent have scheduled a twilight please take note that everything must be ready, switched on and done before I arrive.
# Declutter For the front, back, pool and social areas refer to the relevant links and them come back to this list. Remove “over the top” Christmas lights and seasonal features Remove things you do not what people to see-in your photos.
# Clean front, back yard and pool area Please refer to the relevant links and them come back to this list.
# Switches and action Stand outside a day or more before the shoot and make 100% sure that all lights outside and inside home works.
At the day of shoot Before I arrive. Turn on all interior and exterior lights this is all lights throughout the property. Turn on spas, jets fountains. Turn on pool lights before I arrive. Turn on water features, fountains, waterfalls, please turn them on before I arrive. If there is a outside “ready to light” fire it could possibly be used to add mood depending on the photo. Just inform me before my arrival of this “ready to light fire”. Remember, no cars in the driveway and clear the road in front of house if possible.
# Look & feel “mood” Go and stand outside at night and see where you can fix or improve the mood. And again check the lights a day before the time.
ASK YOURSELF THE QUESTION Did I do my absolute best to creating outside twilight views that will excite that potential happy new home owner?
IMPORTANT – Day of shoot. Double-check all of the above.

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