How to Take Your Listing Photos to the Next Level


Heat Level: Medium: These tips require some experience.

Bottom Line: A picture is worth a thousand words. Are your listing photos saying the right things? Sub-par photos can make a listing look small, dingy, or uninspiring. But with the right techniques, you can make your listing look light, airy, and spacious - getting your seller more offers, faster.

Do This: Try these techniques or lighting preset apps to showcase your listing in its best light. Go a step further with digital staging tools to show the property's full potential.

Everything has been wiped down and cleaned, floors are glistening, and furniture is perfectly set into place. The house looks awesome and is ready for a showing. There’s just one problem: you haven’t found any buyers to show the property to. 

You know home staging is the key to closing a sale quickly at a good price. But how you present your listings online is just as important as staging if you want to get showings. So how do you bring that “wow” factor online and on social? 

This guide will give you digital tips and tricks on how to bring your home staging to the next level and snag some appointments. 

Take Photos, and Then Take More Photos

Take your marketing efforts up a notch by capturing gorgeous photos. We know what you’re thinking, you need to hire a professional to achieve this greatness, right? Think again. With some tools and finesse, you can create an amazing listing photo gallery.

You don’t necessarily need a digital camera to take great photos (but if you have one, all the better!) You can use your smartphone’s camera if the quality is good enough. As a general rule of thumb, if the phone has more than 3.2 megapixels it will take reasonably good photos.

Follow these tips to get the best photos when you’re on a budget. 

Take Advantage of Natural Light

Whatever you do, try not use overhead lighting to take your photos. This will cast shadows and a yellow hue over objects which creates a dreary effect. Aim to take your photos in the middle of the day, with curtains drawn back from the windows so light can pour into the house.

Of course, sometimes the clock is ticking and sunny days are in short supply (looking at you, Pittsburgh). In those cases, work with what you’ve got, then use a lighting preset app to reduce the yellow hue and minimize shadows.

living room with natural light

Use Gridlines as a Guide

Gridlines are a common setting on most smartphone cameras. This setting will bring up a series of lines when you open your camera which creates a grid with nine equal parts. Having an image broken down into thirds helps you capture a shot that’s balanced, leveled, and allows you to focus on your subject and avoid capturing too much negative space.

Aim for the focal point of your image to take up one-third or two-thirds of the image. Being perfectly square or centered makes you look right at the focal point - but that means the viewer won’t take in the whole room. 

smartphone taking photo of fireworks

Try Different Angles

Don’t be afraid to experiment and take your photos from different angles. If you’re showcasing a house with a balcony, try taking a few shots overlooking the home. This can create a shot that has a lot of depth and make the house look more appealing.

If you take a photo from a crouching position, you can create the appearance of a taller, larger room. This simple change in perspective will make the room more attractive.

porch with white umbrella from above

Take Photos in Landscape Orientation

Taking photos horizontally (instead of vertically) allows you to capture more in each shot. You can always crop a landscape photo to be portrait if necessary.

person using smartphone to take photo of apartment

Use Photo Editing Tools

There are many free photo editing tools you can take advantage of to enhance your listing photos. Photoshop Express is a great option that allows you to sharpen images, increase or decrease exposure, or even add blurring to bring more focus to the subject. Here are some other popular editing tools

Get Some High-Tech Help With Virtual Staging

If you don’t want to spend hours and money on traditional home staging, there’s another option that’s a fraction of the cost. Virtual Staging allows you to stage a home using software. You can effortlessly add digital images of couches, tables, curtains, and other furnishings to make the home look lived in and tasteful. This gives you the flexibility to customize each room and the freedom to swap out decor without paying extra – something that is nearly impossible with traditional staging.

While there is virtual staging software you can buy, we recommend having a professional do it in order to make rooms look as realistic as possible. Pricing varies by company, but you can expect to pay around $30-40 per photo. This may seem like a lot of money but compared to the average cost of traditional staging, this is a bargain.

Virtual staging obviously has its advantages, but keep in mind there are some drawbacks. Virtually staging a home may inflate homebuyers’ expectations when they come to look at the house. What was once a perfectly decorated home online is now an empty shell in real life. Our recommendation is to include both a furnished and unfurnished version of each room. This will give buyers an honest perspective of what furniture will look like in each living space before the showing. 

Bottom Line

Capturing a home in its best light is essential to closing on sale quickly and at a higher price. Practice taking photos of each room and don’t be afraid to enhance them with photo editing tools to make them pop. (Just a reminder not to go too far, as this is false advertising.) You may also want to look into the convenience of virtual staging if you’re short on time and money. Remember, how you present your listings online is the key to getting clients who will come and see a house in person!

Chelsea Embry self-portrait on Mount Washington
Chelsea Embry is the Project Manager and Marketing Assistant at Joyce, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA.
Chelsea helps keep the team on track with daily to-do lists and enjoys writing content for clients. Whenever she has free time, Chelsea likes managing her food blog, heading to the gym bright and early, and kayaking.

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