The Ultimate Checklist for Staging Property Photography

The Ultimate Checklist for Staging Property Photography

Creating an effective staging plan for property photography involves careful planning, attention to detail, and a focus on highlighting the property's best features. Here's a comprehensive staging plan that I use that includes the use of props and emphasizes cleanliness.

1. Pre-Shoot Preparation 

  • Conduct a thorough walkthrough of the property to identify its key selling points, such as architectural features, views, natural light, and open spaces.
  • Clean the entire property thoroughly, including all furniture, surfaces, windows, floors, carpet, rugs and fixtures. A spotless property is essential for creating appealing photographs. If you're only doing the photography, make sure the landlord or property owner is aware of what needs to be done. There's only so much Photoshop you can do, and you want to present an accurate portrait of the property
  • Repair or get the landlord or owner to repair any visible damages or issues, such as cracked walls, leaky faucets, or broken appliances. Look at using grout cleaner to fix dirty or old grout in bathrooms and kitchens, and use white or colored caulk to blend in connecting surfaces to walls and around door frames.
  • Remove any of the tenant or landlord's personal items, clutter, and unnecessary furniture that can make the space look crowded or less appealing.

2. Choosing the Right Props

  • Select props that complement the style and design of the property. For example, if it's a modern home, choose contemporary props; for a more traditional property, opt for classic or vintage props.
  • Common props include potted plants, fresh flowers, decorative pillows, throw blankets, artwork, and stylish table settings. You can even look at fresh pastries or bread for a kitchen and a laptop, book, or newspaper for a study or office.
  • Remember to use props sparingly to enhance, not overwhelm, the space. Avoid cluttering or creating a staged look that is too artificial. It should look natural so any potential client should be able to imagine living there. 

3. Furniture Placement

  • Arrange furniture to maximize the sense of space and flow. In the living room, for instance, create a conversational area with seating around a central focal point, such as a fireplace or TV.
  • In the bedroom, make sure the bed has clean, high-quality linens and add accent pillows for a cozy touch. Throws and pillows should be matched ideally. Everything needs to be clean and ironed to avoid wrinkling wherever possible.  
  • Dining areas should be set up with a well-dressed table, including place mats, dishes, and utensils. Flowers can dress an antique table, for instance, and draw the eye in. 
  • Make sure all furniture is clean and in good condition, unless it's meant to be distressed, of course. Repair or replace any damaged items as necessary. Furniture should ideally have some matching element or theme and be complimentary to the space rather than standing out unless it’s a featured piece.

4. Lighting

  • Utilize natural light to your advantage. Open curtains and blinds to control or allow natural light to flood the space.
  • Add supplementary lighting if needed, such as floor, wall, or table lamps, to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
  • Look at the color of the bulbs that you’re using. For instance, tungsten creates a warm and homely feel, while daylight-balanced bulbs are better for work spaces or home-based offices. 

5. Accessorize

  • Add tasteful accessories to enhance the overall look of the property. This might include decorative vases, area rugs, and tasteful artwork on the walls. Remove anything that looks out of place or doesn't fit in with the decor. Remember, you don't have to bin it; just move it out of the line of sight of the camera.
  • Ensure that accessories are carefully chosen to complement the color scheme and style of the space.
  • Include models. This might include using people for lifestyle magazine-style shots. Be diverse and include children and adults of all ages and backgrounds to fit in with the client's brief and the target audience. 

6. Exterior Staging

  • Pay attention to the property's exterior as well. Trim landscaping, mow the lawn, and remove any clutter from the yard. Paint any guttering and walls if they are stained or damaged.
  • Use sand to fill in holes between paving slabs or bricks. Just brush it in and leave it.  
  • Consider using outdoor furniture or decor on patios or decks to showcase outdoor living spaces. Look at furniture that complements the area rather than just using plastic cheap seating.
  • Power-wash any paving slabs and walls that have mold, moss, or weather stains.

7. Photography Setup

  • Use a high-quality camera with a wide angle lens to capture more of the room in a single shot.
  • Adjust your camera settings to optimize your exposure and white balance.
  • Use a tripod to maintain stable, level shots at waist height, and avoid camera shake.
  • Take multiple photos from different angles to capture the property's best features.
  • Don't be afraid to single out features like bookshelves, alcoves, and other features.

8. Post-Processing

  • Edit the photos as needed to enhance color, contrast, and sharpness.
  • Remove any unwanted distractions or reflections.
  • Clean up walls but without massively changing the architecture. Don't remove walls, windows, or other permanent fixtures. 
  • Maintain a natural look while ensuring the photos are clean and visually appealing.

9. Review and Refine

  • Review the photos to ensure they effectively and accurately highlight the property's strengths.
  • If necessary, make further adjustments and don't be afraid to retake photos if you make a mistake.
  • Get them uploaded to an online portfolio for the client. Something like Zenfolio, Smugmug, or Pic-Time works well.

By following this staging plan, you can help to create compelling property photographs that showcase the space in its best light, attracting potential renters or buyers and helping the property stand out in the real estate market.

Peter Morgan's picture

Peter Morgan is a professional photographer, drone pilot, writer and tech enthusiast. He has worked in the tech sector since the age of 16 and has over 30 years experience of working with technology. He also runs his own photographic company and shoots weddings, headshots and commercial projects.

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