W&Co – Photo Shoot Preparation & Staging Tips

The Camera Doesn’t Lie

In today’s competitive real estate market, first impressions weigh heavily. Better photos are more compelling to buyers. Staging recommendations can inform adjustments to highlight features for photography. In fact, staged homes sell 79% faster and for 17% more than a non-staged home. – National Association of Realtors


When you’re ready to begin preparing your home for the market, the absolute first thing you should do is go outside and stand around in your front yard. Imagine you are a buyer coming into the home for the first time. Pay attention to where your eyes naturally look and take lots of notes. ‘Do I need new plants or mulch, how do the lights look, etc. Update your welcome rug. Sweep cobwebs.

Walk into every room and imagine you are someone with different tastes and styles. What stands out at you? What could be toned down to appeal to everyone, but still remain fresh? Did you see that spot on the carpet? Yikes. Better put that on the list…


Be Objective!


Look at your home objectively and critically. If you’re having a hard time seeing it objectively, get it “ready” in your eyes, then walk around and take some photos. Then, compare photos of your home with photos of other homes that are on the market (just avoid the ones that have been listed for weeks…unless you want your home listed for weeks). The camera doesn’t lie when it comes to clutter.


Do you see all that clutter that just happened in our house?! I told you the camera doesn’t lie!


The great news is that home staging doesn’t have to be expensive. Sometimes, all it takes is removing some of your personal items and giving everything a good scrub-down for your home to be warm and inviting. Even an older home can be market-ready with the right attention, even if it doesn’t have granite countertops and hardwood floors.


A Note About the Photographer:


When the photographer arrives to take photos of your property, we ask that all staging and cleaning be done prior to their arrival.

Out of respect to their busy schedule and their efforts to deliver exceptional service, they can not spend time at the home waiting for it to be cleaned, dusted, de-cluttered, etc.


Please note the photographer does not do the following:


  • Move or rearrange furniture
  • Make beds, clean, dust or de-clutter
  • Pick up toys or yard items
  • “Photoshop” vehicles, walls, damaged walls, power lines, wall pictures, cords, etc.
  • Touch personal bathroom supplies (shampoo, toothbrushes, deodorant, towels)



  • Close garage doors
  • Remove cars from driveway and front of home
  • Clean up landscaping (mow, trim shrubs, clear leaves)
  • Remove visible water hoses
  • Remove toys, sports balls, basketball goals, soccer goals, etc.
  • Clean porch, tidy up outdoor tables/ chairs/ cushions
  • Clear out kid’s toys, balls, frisbees, etc.
  • Clean pool
  • Remove pool vacuum/cleaner hose
  • Hide pool cleaning supplies
  • Turn on pool fountains/water features
  • Remove trash can(s)


Outside Spaces and Curb Appeal

  • Consider adding new mulch or pine needles to garden beds.
  • Add new potted plants near the front door or front entrance.
  • Glam Up Your Mailbox – An upscale mailbox, architectural house numbers, or address plaques can make your house stand out.
  • Update welcome mats.
  • Sweep patios or porches.
  • Sweep cobwebs from exterior.
  • Replace lightbulbs in exterior fixtures that might be burnt out.



  • Remove dishes from sink, place in dishwasher
  • Clear table, dust and polish the table top
  • Use decorative place setting if available
  • Feature one center piece such as a bouquet of flowers
  • Straighten all chairs and space them evenly
  • Remove child seats/booster chairs
  • Remove stacks of magazines, papers, mail, etc.
  • De-clutter fireplace mantel/hearth (no more than 5 items, including art)
  • Clean interior of fireplace and re-paint if needed
  • Fluff and arrange furniture pillows
  • Remove kid’s toys
  • Turn all overhead lights and lamps ON
  • Replace all burned-out light bulbs
  • Turn all ceiling fans OFF
  • Turn all TVs OFF
  • Turn all computer screens OFF
  • Remove personal photographs (or replace them with general landscape/object photographs)
  • Make all beds
  • Remove small floor rugs to reveal actual flooring
  • Place all shoes/jackets in closets
  • Clear countertops completely. No knife blocks, baking supplies, mail, etc.
  • Leave out a max of one small appliance (ex. coffee maker)
  • Clear outside of refrigerator of magnets, papers, photos, etc.
  • Hide garbage cans in pantry or closet
  • Clear nightstands of all personal items
  • Store away phone/tablet charging cables
  • Remove all clutter from top of dressers
  • Remove family photos from walls
  • Clean under the bed, removing items that may show in the photos
  • Remove personalized names from walls
  • Remove wall stickers/posters
  • Remove diaper genies
  • Clear countertops completely. No soap, toothbrushes, medications, deodorant, etc.
  • Put toilet seats down
  • Close closet doors
  • Remove shampoo, soap, loofahs, etc. from showers and tubs
  • Remove dirty towels – leave out only new, unused towels
  • Remove floor mats
  • Place pet food and water bowls in pantry or closet
  • Place pet beds/toys in pantry or closet
  • Contain pets in a hidden crates or outside
  • The house should be shoot-ready when I arrive



  • Clear off the tops of the cabinets and the entire countertop.
  • Choose the one or two cabinets/drawers you think buyers will check and organize those.
  • Organize pantry – The more organized and spacious you make it look, the more space they see for storage.
  • Make sure the top of your refrigerator is cleaned off if it is accessible.
  • Put a decorative towel and hand soap next to the sink.
  • Display a bowl of fruit – one fruit i.e lemons, apples, oranges, etc.



  • Clear off the bed side tables.
  • Remove personal items from dresser and side tables.
  • Keep decor to a minimum – One lamp and flowers.
  • Clear off the entire countertop.
  • Choose a neutral bedding and make up bed.
  • Throw pillows and one small pillow for a pop of color.



  • Clear off the tops of the cabinets.
  • Clear off the entire countertop.
  • Choose the one or two cabinets/drawers you think buyers will check and organize those.
  • Organize pantry.
  • Make sure the top of your refrigerator is cleaned off if it is accessible.


Right Before A Showing & Photos

  • Replace used towels with fresh decorative towels.
  • Hide the trash can &/or take it out of the house altogether.
  • Close toilet lids.
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Turn on all lights.
  • Open all blinds and curtains.
  • Set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature.

Staging a home with a toddler and/or pets can also be a major project. Hiding dog beds, food bowls, and tidying toys are time-consuming when you plan to put them right back, however, the time you put into staging your home will prove to be completely worth it in the end.

We promise!