You just got a new listing and now you are pulling out your digital camera to take a flurry of photographs of the home to create a listing that will generate plenty of interest and attract potential buyers.

Too often, listing images include photos that still had toilet seats up, magnets on the refrigerator, and some that could clearly have used a little planning.

Moreover, property listings today usually boast closer to 35 images, versus the dozen or so used in the earlier days of online real estate.

Before you post pictures for your next listing, we have some tips that just might help you take your photographs to a new level.

As you pick up your camera, first take a walk around the house and imagine how it looks to people who don’t live there, advises Buddy Mountcastle, a real estate photographer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“I don’t ever walk into a house with my equipment ready to shoot pictures,” Mountcastle says. “I ask the homeowners for a tour, so I can capture the passion and emotion of the house.”

Atlanta-based photostylist/producer Annette Joseph offers tips on her craft and shares tips and tricks for styling your home photographs.
Joseph told that there are several key elements that can make a space feel welcoming in photographs.

“A sense of order is very important in a photograph; great composition, balance, and warmth are a key factors,” she said.

But that is not all – it’s not that simple.

“When I work with talented photographers to make a beautiful image, it is collaborative and artistic,” Joseph added. “A photo needs a soul, and finding that soul in the home is what I do. It is not a tangible thing.”

When there is a flaw in a space, a styled photo can make the difference.

“There are times when the flow of a space is not ideal, but most of the spaces we photograph are beautiful to start,” Joseph explained. “When the flow is not ideal the camera angle is actually more important than the styling.”

For agents who take their own photos, it is important to turn the lights on. If there isn’t enough light, create it and be sure to replace blown bulbs.

Beds also should be made up and neat, ideally with linens that match. Bathroom towels should be folded and on racks or shelves.

Declutter all counter tops in the kitchens and bathrooms, but leave a splash of color in the form of fruit or flowers on the kitchen counter.

We all have seen the listing photos with a refrigerator full of magnets. Take them down for the photos!

While in the kitchen, put away cluttering items, such as trash cans, sponges, soap, and dish or cleaning cloths.

Carpets and hardwood floors should be vacuumed.

You also want to de-clutter and de-personalize so potential buyers can imagine the home as their own.

Joseph also suggests when you are photographing a home, make it inviting and lived-in.  Pull the chair out just a little from the dining room table. When shooting a bed, ruffle the sheets a bit.

While we aren’t professionals, we can look for equal weight and balance in our photographs.  We want to make sure the images get the attention of potential buyers who are increasingly starting their search online. Mike Small, a Phoenix, Ariz., real estate photographer, suggests agents make their photos stand out.

“If they’re blurry or dark, or it’s a very messy house, they’re not going to want to look further,” Small said. “Photos of a house that’s been cleaned and decluttered attracts attention, and gets buyers to slow down enough to say, ‘Is this one that I want to go see in person?’”

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