Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Archive for the ‘Staging & Styling’ Category

Staging and styling for real estate photography

A Before and After Staging Story

Posted by larrylohrman on September 3, 2007

John Grow over at sent me a link to some before and after staging photos from a before and after staging shoot that he did. Click on the photo above to see the whole series of before and after photos.

We always hire a stager when faced with listing a vacant home because we’re convinced that it’s worth the staging cost. But this story is the PROOF you need to convince a skeptical Realtor/Seller that staging pays. John says:

This is a 1.2 million dollar home situated on a golf course. The owners declined to have the property staged feeling that the allure of the golf club would sell the home. After one month with no offers they relented and agreed to have the home staged. This is a local stager that I have worked with before. A note: staging fee for LR, DR, KIT, FR, BN, MBR and bath, and one BR, $4000 for the first month, $400 per week there after. Two weeks after staging there are already 2 offers on the table.

Empty homes just don’t market well. Without furniture rooms loose their scale in photos and buyers find it difficult to relate to rooms that are empty.

Thanks John for the story and examples.


Posted in Staging & Styling | 7 Comments »

Staging, Styling and Good Marketing Photography

Posted by larrylohrman on March 4, 2007

I like to look through the Wall Street Journals real estate site occasionally to see the upper-end homes that are marketed in their home of the week feature. Considering that these homes are moving slowly these days (Ben Casselman reports that only 14 of the 46 these homes of the week have sold in 2006; all at big discounts) and that Internet marketing is even more important with these upper-end homes you would think that they would all be beautifully staged and presented with the very best professional photography.

Not so; as an example look at Joan and Ted Waitt’s (Ted is co-founder of Gateway Computer) home in San Francisco listed at $25.9 million. Vacant homes are just not appealing. Large cavernous spaces tend to look like warehouses instead of warm inviting living spaces.

So far this year we’ve sold three vacant homes. We used a stager to decorate all three homes and it’s very clear that the staging/styling was a big factor in making the homes sell quickly. This is not rocket science! All you have to do is walk in to a vacant home before staging and then after staging to be conviced. I think it is the place of RE photographers to give agents advice and push back when asked to photograph a vacant home. In our case it cost in the neighborhood of $1,000 to have a home in the $500,000 price range staged. This is well worth it in the scheme of things. It cost agents and sellers when a home sits on the market for a long time.

Make contact with a stager/designer in your area so you can quickly refer them to agents when you are asked to photograph a vacant home.

Posted in Staging & Styling | 2 Comments »

Making Every Pixel Count – Article in New York Times

Posted by larrylohrman on February 12, 2007

Marc Lacoste just pointed out an outstanding article to me that was published in yesterdays (Sunday Feb 11, 2007) New York Times.

This is the kind of article that Real Estate Photographers should make copies of and pass out to their clients. It’s a sales presentation for hiring a Professional RE Photographer. This also great material for incorporating into RE photographer marketing materials. Realtors can also use it to explain to sellers why the use top quality photography to market their home.

The quotes it uses are not surprising to any of us but there’s an added credibility that being in the NY Times. Some of my favorite are:

“IN real estate, a picture can be worth more than a thousand words. Much, much more. When selling properties online, agents and Web designers say that the pictures buyers see of houses and apartments for sale are often the first — and sometimes the only — chance for a seller to make a good impression.”

“Eighty percent of people across the country who bought a new home last year used the Internet while house hunting, and they rated photographs as the most useful tool in their search, according to a survey of buyers and sellers “

“she uses only pictures taken by professional photographers, because “if things look shoddy or unprofessional, not only are buyers going to find the property unappealing, they’re going to associate you with being shoddy and unprofessional.

Updated on 2/13: as Scott points out in one of the comments below be sure to see Vivian Toy’s multi-media presentation that gives examples. Click here or on the link on the left side-bar of the article.

If you want to send Vivian a thank click on her name to send her an e-mail.

Posted in Marketing, Staging & Styling, Virtual Tours | 11 Comments »

Home Preperation Check List for Photographers and Realtors

Posted by larrylohrman on December 17, 2006

Dawn Shaffer, a real estate photographer that works in the Vancover, WA and Portland, Oregon area left a significant comment on one of the Staging and Styling posts. Dawn says:

“We provide a list of tips for the homeowner to follow before we arrive. You’re welcome to “rip it off” (across the bottom you can click on the page and print it). …but surprisingly, Realtors love that we send this.”

Her list of tips she is talking about gives sellers a check-list of things to do to get ready to have their home photographed. This list is useful for both real estate photographers and Realtors to give to sellers because the list are the same things a home seller should be doing to get their home “parade ready” to go on the market.

Ideally Realtors should be spending time with their home sellers to get their home ready for market. This is should be done before the home is photographed. Dawn’s list is a great starting point for this activity. All real estate photographers could make use of a list like this to help seller know what to expect during a photo shoot and remind them that there are things they can do to insure their home looks great in the photos.

Incidentally, I like the policy that Dawn states in the list of tips that points out that the photographer will not be “assuming risk of moving furniture”. I’m guilty of encouraging RE photographers to move furniture around if necessary to get good shots but Dawn is right this should be done by the Realtor and seller. If you don’t have insurance that covers damage that you to so someone’s home you shouldn’t be moving furniture.

Posted in Staging & Styling | 1 Comment »

Kris Dick – Sydney Australia

Posted by larrylohrman on June 22, 2006

Kris Dick, a real estate photographer working in the Sydney, Australia area sent us another example of a before and after staging a room. Kris uses a stager or stylist that specializes in residential interiors when ever the budget allows. The above photo is a recent example before and after the stager did their thing. This is a great example of how with out the furniture it's difficult to even get a feel for the size of the room.

Kris says:

"With regards to my setup, the majority of the photographs on my website were
shot with a Canon 10D and a Sigma 15-30 lens. The 15-30 is a great lens on a
cropped frame camera, but its limitations really show on the Canon 5D that I
recently upgraded to. I still use it for bathrooms or incredibly tight rooms
where the 15mm becomes invaluable. I'll hopefully be replacing it with a
Canon 16-35 or 17-40 soon.

On the 5D I've been using Canons fantastic 24mm TS-E Tilt-Shift lens, which
gives the same field of view as the 15-30 did on my 10D, but with the added
advantages of being able to shift to correct converging verticals. After
using the TS-E for a while now I'm beginning to wonder how I lived without

With regards to lighting, I nearly always use available light only. I do
carry two Canon flashes which can be wirelessly controlled if there are any
areas of an interior which really need bit of extra light, but for the most
part I find that shooting on a tripod and bracketing the exposures works
very well if you have time to put towards some masking and blending in
Photoshop after the shoot.

I've found that carrying some daylight balanced light-bulbs of different
strengths can be helpful if the lights in the property are too yellow or
orange, or even if they're just too dim or blown!"

Kris's website is Check out the interior shots on Kris's  two "real estate" pages.

Kris's use of daylight balanced light-bulbs is an interesting technique that was very prevalent when everyone shot film and it was relatively difficult to change the white balance after the shot was made. I read some place that Better Homes and Gardens photographers used to routinely change all the light bulbs in a home to daylight balanced bulbs before starting a shoot. This technique can still save allot of photo editing time or it can eliminate the situation where you have a mixture of daylight coming from the windows and incandescent light coming from interior lighting.

Thanks Kris for the examples and the information on your setup.

Posted in ReaderProfile, Staging & Styling | 5 Comments »

Any furniture is better than an empty room

Posted by larrylohrman on May 18, 2006

Back on my April 24 post on Styling and Staging I a pointed out that interior photos of empty rooms should be avoided. If you are the listing agent you should convince the seller not to have empty rooms. If you are the photographer you should convince the listing agent to not shoot empty rooms.

Marc Lacoste gives a great example of what a difference a little furniture can make in the feeling of a room. About the before and after example above Marc says, “Bring your own furniture: I shot today an empty flat. It's depressing, very hard to project yourself in living inside it.We bought some folding chairs and a bench, so I bring them, a Matisse reproduction, a ficus benjamina and a portmanteau. I placed them around the scene a bit, and shot.It's not gonna look like it's inhabited, but it's much more easy to believe you can live in it.I have to bring a carpet and a Coffee table next time.”

As this example shows a few folding chairs, a print on the wall and a potted plant or two can make a big difference in how the empty room feels.

Posted in Staging & Styling | 1 Comment »

Styling and Staging

Posted by larrylohrman on April 24, 2006

I was asked recently to review a virtual tour by a virtual tour vendor. The tour had photos of empty rooms, photos of the garage, photos of a hallway and photos of the exterior with no landscaping. The problem is what to do when you need to sell an empty home or new construction. Photographs of empty rooms usually look terrible unless the space itself has some interesting aspect.

You need to remember that real estate photography is not documentary photography. That is, you are not simply documenting the property; you are trying to make it look attractive so someone would want to purchase it. I recommend that real estate photographers and agents work with interior designers sometimes called staggers who can move in furniture and décor items to decorate a home to make it look good. This service may seem expensive but it usually pays off in the long run for the seller.

Another variation of this problem is lived in homes that have too much furniture or furniture that does not present well. Let’s face it, not all home owners have a good sense of home decorating. Many times home sellers would be better served if they just move out and have their home professionally staged. Solving these problems is of course ultimately up to the real estate agent and owner the home. However, it’s the job of the photographer to raise the issue to who ever is having you photograph the home.

A photographer can do a lot to improve the look of a home by simply moving around furniture and making sure clutter is out of photos. Many times I spend half of my time moving stuff out of shots. That’s OK; remember your job as a photographer is to do what ever it takes to make a home look good in the photographs!

Posted in Staging & Styling | 6 Comments »