You've staged your home and you're ready to list it. Now it's time for it to be photographed. 

Really good photos flatter a home. They tell prospective buyers what they want to know about its layout and main features. They make it easy for buyers to compare it with other properties. And they encourage people to schedule a viewing.   

I always advise a home seller to hire a professional photographer so the home looks as good online as it possibly can. But maybe you're determined to take those photos yourself. Maybe your Realtor won't spring for the cost of a photographer. Maybe you're listing the property yourself. Maybe you want to supplement the professional photos your Realtor paid for with a photo or two that show something you feel is missing. Or maybe professional photos in an MLS listing just aren't the norm where you live. 

Start by staging

Naturally, I believe every home should be staged before it's photographed. After you've decluttered, remove small items that distract. Arrange furniture so the room looks inviting. My ebook DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar should be your guidebook! 

Pay attention to details. Remove that old dog bed, straighten any crooked lampshades and wall art, smooth out the bed covering, and replace or fluff flat pillows. 

Online photos should entice a buyer to require more information and perhaps a viewing. Don't feel that your pictures need to convey all the specifics of your place. The MLS sales copy should convey those facts. So, don't bother photographing your furnace, an unfinished attic, the closets (yes, I said that!), or a crawl space. Just make sure your listing agent lists those important features like a new HVAC system, pull-down attic stairs, those walk-in closets, or a dry and roomy crawl space.

Also, I don't think it's helpful to include close-ups or "beauty shots" of things like table settings, cabinet handles, lighting fixtures, or that special daylily that bloomed last year. Save some surprises for when prospective buyers come to tour your home. 

It's helpful if your photos can indicate your home's floor plan. This 
dining room picture includes part of the stairwell and living room.

Use a good camera

Cell phone photos get plenty of criticism for taking poor-quality shots for MLS listings. But the latest phone cameras have features that make them suitable for listings. So, if you have a fairly new smartphone, you don't need to purchase a special camera just to get good results. 

A serious camera that delivers better photos will cost at least $1300. If you already own a DSLR camera with a wide-angle lens, you're ahead of the game. For about $130 you can buy a 24mm wide-angle lens that will make rooms look more open. The wide angle will let you include three walls instead of just two. That high-quality camera will use flash memory for better results, plus a variety of lens openings and shutter speeds. 

If you aren't entirely pleased with the results of your camera work, but are on a  budget, go to Fiverr for someone who can photo edit your images.  

Time it right 

Choose the ideal time of day to make your photos better. Although not every photographer agrees with me, I like to photograph on a day that is slightly overcast, so I can open all window treatments and let natural, diffused light enter instead of streams of bright light that create harsh shadows. But, you can be your own judge, based on your home's interior lighting, its orientation to the sun, and the position of windows. Take time to experiment. It's one advantage you have as the photographer of your own property. 

Another advantage to shooting your own photos is that you can decide when each room shows well, based on how light enters. Your exterior photos will probably look best when they are taken either early in the day or just before sunset -- the "golden hour." 

If your photos show the neighborhood, schedule yourself so that the street is not lined with trash receptacles and recycle bins or too many parked vehicles. Shoot when you are not distracted or rushed by other people. Don't let people or pets photo-bomb your shots. 

The exterior image -- the profile or main photo --is the most important one you'll take. I've blogged about the common mistakes people make when photographing their own homes. 

If you don't edit your own photos to do things like add an 
interesting sky or clean up the landscape, you can hire 
a photo editing company to bump your pics up a notch!  

Invest in a tripod 

A tripod is one way to guarantee you'll keep your camera steady during shots that take a longer exposure. Even quick-exposure pictures can be blurry if your camera moves ever-so-slightly. A tripod doesn't have to be fancy to do the job. You can buy a dependable, lightweight, easy-to-use tripod for less than $20.  

Here is a simple device to stabilize your camera -- a combination ring holder and kickstand for your phone. 

It's often tricky to photograph bathrooms because the mirror reflects the photographer. Position the camera on your tripod for a well-composed shot. Then use a remote shutter release cord or a timer. You can then edit out the camera and tripod.        

Follow tips from pros

Professional photographers pay strict attention to verticals so that all walls are parallel and at right angles to the floor. You don't want your rooms to look like a carnival fun house.  

The photographer did not aim his camera
to align the verticals in this photo. The result
is the room looks awkward and distorted.    
A good photographer will make sure the colors are true, not overly saturated, washed out, or high contrast. Unless you have professional flash equipment, it's best to use only natural lighting.

Be sure to compose your photos so they are interesting to look at. Frame your image by adjusting the position and angle of your camera to see what looks most flattering and natural.  

Don't hesitate to move furniture slightly to make the room appear more logical or comfortable. This could mean moving chairs closer together or away from a fireplace or walkway. Cluster smaller objects together to make vignettes that help tell your home's story. 

Take many more photos than you need, so that you can willow the results down to only the ones that look pleasant and balanced. If you have decided to skip staging the rooms that are empty in your home (which I do not suggest because I think it looks cheap and lazy), don't bother photographing those rooms.      

Hire a professional instead 

Although with practice and the right equipment, you can take attention-grabbing photos, you may decide to hire a real estate photographer to do the job. These people have the experience and equipment to deliver the high-quality images that sell properties. They have drones for aerial pictures, lights that balance the shadows and color of the room, video equipment for virtual home tours, sophisticated photo-editing software, and precise high-end cameras that take extra-sharp images, wide-angle shots, and panoramic views. 

Even homes that are modestly priced or sold as fixer-uppers benefit from having quality photos to whet the curiosity of buyers. Photos shouldn't portray a property for what it is not, but they certainly can highlight important selling features like a large yard, original hardwood flooring, or high ceilings. These are the kinds of properties that benefit most from professional work.  

Your Realtor should be able to recommend a real estate photographer. Some agents have exclusive contracts with photographers. If your Realtor insists that good photos are not "all that important," consider listing with another company. If she is lukewarm to the idea, consider splitting the cost of a professional photographer. Those captivating images can add thousands of dollars to your selling price!  

This small living room was photographed by 
professional photographer Adam Ferman. He's been able 
 to capture the entire room, all five walls, in one picture.  

Get the look, get the book

Staged homes sell faster and for more money. Don't leave profits on the closing table. My three eBooks show you how to make your home more appealing to buyers. Download these homestaging ebooks today that will help you stage like a professional home stager. You'll discover all the tricks, formulas, products, and methods that make your staging easy and effective.