How to Take Listing Pictures Like a Pro
Updated: May 25
Learn how to take listing photos of your rental property like a professional with the right camera, techniques and editing software.
Exterior photo of home used as the main photo for a rental property listing
As a property manager or real estate investor, you know that it’s essential to have quality listing pictures because you want to create an attractive listing that makes an excellent first impression on potential renters. You also want to increase the likelihood of renting your property quickly by creating an inviting atmosphere through photography. Although it’s recommended, you don’t need a sophisticated camera to take quality photos. As long as you have a newer model smart phone with a quality camera and access to a photo editing software, you can make your pictures look like they were taken by a professional!
What You'll Need
A high-quality camera or a smartphone with a high-quality camera (at least 12MP)
Photo editing software
Prepping the Home for Photography
Preparing your rental property for photography is one of the most important steps in creating professional rental listing pictures. Start with having the property deep cleaned, carpets washed, lawn trimmed, and toilet seats down (funny but optically more appealing). It’s much easier to take quality photos when the property is all tidied up rather than having to try and remove blemishes during the editing phase. When the property is dirty or the lawn not maintained it gives a poor impression about, not just the condition of the property, but also the property manager and/or owner. It shows that they don’t really care about the appearance and may also not care about maintaining the condition of the property or even possibly caring for the residents.
Capturing the Exterior of the Home
The exterior photos are usually the first photos that prospective tenants see when searching for a new home. This means that it is extremely important to take the best possible exterior photos that you can. Always try to plan to take photos on sunny and blue-sky days. Sunny days will brighten up the exterior and highlight the landscaping. Ideally, you should capture the entire house from side-to-side making sure to include the front yard and carport or garage. In my opinion, taking the photo from a slight angle works best as it shows the size and depth of the house. Move around a bit and take photos from multiple angles and from each side of the house. Then when you are viewing them on a computer with a larger screen you can decide on which ones work best. I also like to only include the subject house itself and not the neighboring houses or anything else that could distract from the home including your car in the driveway.
Moving to the backyard, I walk as far back to the fence line and take a picture of the home from an angle capturing the size of the yard and the back of the house. Lastly, look for any other additional features that the home my have on the exterior that can be of interest of the prospective tenant such as carport, garden or landscaping, or storage shed or workshop.
Capturing the Interior of the Home
Once you've captured the exterior of the home, it's time to move indoors. The living spaces and bedrooms are generally where most renters will spend their time, so be sure to photograph these areas with the idea of highlighting the size of the rooms. But the kitchen and bathrooms provide excellent photo opportunities to set your property apart from the others. If the kitchen and bathrooms were recently updated then make sure to spotlight them by photographing the updated cabinets, vanities and tile in the bathrooms.
Depending on the layout of the kitchen it’s important to capture the countertop space, appliances, and pantry. The bathrooms usually require two photos. The first one will include the vanity, mirror, lights and the toilet, and the second photo would be of an angle of the tub/shower including the shower fixtures.
Execution is Key
When taking listing photos, it’s important to keep the camera leveled with the floor. It’s often helpful to use a tripod to ensure your camera is leveled with the floor and parallel with the walls. Some cameras have the ability to turn on a grid that can help with alignment. If you have steady hands you can achieve balanced photos without a tripod with some patience and practice.
Another helpful tip when taking photos of living spaces and bedrooms is to take the photos from a corner of the room capturing two walls of the room and centering the photo with the opposite corner of the room. When taking photos in this way, it gives a visual perception of a larger space for the viewer.
The camera should be about 36-42 inches from the floor. At this height the picture should capture much more of the floor than the ceiling. The purpose of this is not only to highlight the floors, but naturally when we are standing in a room we see much more of the floors with our eyes than the ceiling. I’ve seen many listing photos capture an equal amount of the ceiling, floor and the three walls and it creates a tight, box like appearance that makes the room look small and unattractive. This is exactly the opposite of what we are trying to achieve with our photos.
Editing Your Photos
Once you have taken your pictures, it's time to edit them. My software of choice is Adobe Photoshop, but there are many other photo editing softwares that you can choose from. The first thing I do is align the photos, so that they are all uniform.
Next, I adjust the lighting by increasing or decreasing brightness and contrast. For interior pictures, I usually have to increase the brightness along with slightly increasing the contrast. My goal is to make the interior look bright and welcoming and not dark and gloomy. Depending on the lighting in the home, you many need to adjust the Vibrance. Decreasing the Vibrance decreases the amount of color, and thus giving off a more muted tone. I find this adjuster to be one of the most important to ensure that the photo represents the true color of the walls and floors. This adjustment comes in handy especially when the home has yellow light bulbs. The yellow light bulbs can turn white or gray painted walls into a yellow/brown tone, so we want to adjust the colors to make them appear as accurate as possible. The Vibrance is the best tool for that adjustment.
Exterior pictures require a slight color enhancement to boost the green grass and blue skies. This can be done by adjusting the hue/saturation levels until everything looks balanced. It’s very important to not over-do the editing as it will make the photos look fake and unappealing.
The last important tip from me for photo editing is to try your best to keep all of the photos looking consistent by making the same adjustments to each photo. Some might require more brightness or less, depending on the lighting, but your goal should be for all interior photos to have the same feel as well as all of the exterior photos. This can be done by writing down the levels of the settings you make on one photo and then applying the same settings to the rest of the photos. Although it’s a bit beyond the scope of this blog, a feature you might want to look into if you are using Adobe Photoshop is the Actions feature. It will let you record and apply your settings to all of your photos by clicking one button.
You don’t need to be a professional photographer or have the most high-tech equipment to take high-quality listing photos. The most important part of taking pictures if getting your techniques down when taking the photos and perfecting the editing stage. As you gain more experience taking listing photos, you’ll continue to improve. When editing your photos, pay close attention to the angles and the lighting of your photos. Analyzing your photos can help you improve your technique, and thus your final product. Experiment with taking photos from different angles, times of day and editing adjustments, and soon you’ll find what works best for you and possibly develop your own style of listing photos.