In addition to family portraits, I do a bit of real estate photography on the side. After a few houses, I realized there is a simple routine for getting your home ready for photos that will help sell your house faster– and some of these tips can also be applied to getting ready for an in-home family portrait.
–Have a basic wipe down/clean up. It doesn’t need to be fully show-ready–no one is going to be moving your shower curtain to look inside your tub, but a fresh vacuum and a basic wipe down of counters and sinks will really make your house shine. Pay special attention to mirrors as streaking will really show up in a photograph.
–Clear your clutter. You don’t need to do any deep organizing. Bills and other mail or papers can be temporarily stuffed in a kitchen cabinet. Shoes can be tossed into a closet. Cabinets and hampers make for great temporary hiding places for stuff.
–Pay special attention to your counters. No more than 1 or 2 decorative items or appliances sitting out. The less stuff/decorations you have, the bigger your space will appear. Extra appliances, like toaster ovens or old/not-pretty coffee makers can be stuck in your cabinets or pantry for the photos. Be sure to hide baby items like bottle drying racks, as well as your chargers for phones/laptops.
-Other items to be aware of include shoes, larger pieces of baby gear (swings, bouncers, playmats, cosleepers that attach to the bed, bassinets)*. In the bathroom: bath towels that are hung on hooks to dry should be removed (decorative towels should stay), as well as toothbrushes, and personal hygiene/toiletries/makeup. Be sure shower stalls are dried off.
-Double check your surfaces: nightstands, dressers, end tables. The less on them, the better. For a real estate photograph, you want your space to look welcoming but more generic to make it appealing to buyers. This means personal items like photographs and sentimental trinkets are usually temporarily downsized to a bare minimum.*
-Pet food and water dishes as well as litter boxes should be hidden.*
-Toys should be minimized. They can be stuck in baskets in your car or tucked away in closets. The more toys you have sitting out, the smaller it makes the room appear. Please remember- this is only for the photos, it’s not a long term removal of your child’s favorite toys.*
–Turn on all your lights and lamps before I arrive. It makes the photos look more welcoming.**
-Move the cars from your driveway or the front of your house for a clear photograph of your yard and the front of your property.*
-Be sure yard debris is clear, as well as outdoor toys/bikes/etc. Hoses should be neatly coiled and trashcans temporarily relocated if they are visible. Neatly arrange and wipe down patio furniture. Consider curb appeal: fresh mulch in the garden bed and brightly colored flowers by your front door can really make a photo seem welcoming.*
*obviously for an in-home portrait these items can stay out as they are a part of your life and may even be intentionally included in photographs, however for a real estate listing, removal of these items make your home appear larger and visually more appealing. You don’t want to make your home look generic for your family portrait, just clean and clear. For a family portrait, you obviously don’t need to mulch your garden and plant new flowers!
**For an in-home portrait, I bring studio lighting as well as working with the sunlight through your windows. Most of the time we work with your lamps off, but it depends on the situation and the look we want to get.
That’s about it! It’s really pretty simple- it’s a lot of hiding loose items in closets/cabinets/pantries. I promise you that these seemingly little details will make all the difference in the outcome of your photos.