Svetlana Leahy Photography
Clear, Simplify
It doesn't matter how great of a photographer I may be, if your property is not photo ready, it will not look good in photos. This list is based on my 11 years of experience photographing real estate.

Why is it so important to prepare the property?
  • First impressions are critical.

  • Spaciousness is essential in illuminating the potential of the house. This list will help you make your home appear more spacious.

  • Depersonalization. Potential buyers or renters need to be able to visualize themselves in the house.

  • It is important that the house is ready prior to my arrival, so i can focus on creating good images. I cannot instruct you on what to move or clear while taking photos. The photo session will be rescheduled if property is not photo ready upon my arrival.


30 minutes prior to photographer's arrival please do the following:

  • If you are going to be present during the shoot, please turn on all lights and lamps in the entire house. If you are not present, photographer will do it.

  • Open all light blocking curtains, turn blinds to open. Keep the windows open if you have very strong sunlight coming into the room - I LOVE WORKING WITH STRONG SUNLIGHT. EVEN, DIFFUSED LIGHTING PRODUCE FLAT, NON 3-DIMENSIONAL IMAGES

  • Turn off TVs and all ceiling fans. Turn off the music.

  • Unplug all wall air fresheners, BLOW OUT ALL CANDLES (SAFETY)

  • All pets must be crated, leashed or removed from the property, we will not start photo session with pets walking around the property. Hide all pets related items, bowls, toys, beds, leashes

  • Hide all trashcans (into closets or garage, we normally do not photograph these areas). Bring outside trashcans into the garage, remove all vehicles from the driveway prior to our arrival

  • Put toilets lids down in each bathroom, hide all toiletries (especially toothbrushes), hide plungers and toilet bowl brushes, please check that you have fresh towels on towel racks, no any personal items hanging on doors, remove scales, sponges etc. Clear everything around kitchen sink that does not relate to decor, leave decorative items only

  • If there is a special circumstance, let's discuss ahead of time so we can plan accordingly

  • Thank you for your understanding and cooperation!
    Overview for Homeowners & Realtors
    Unless otherwise requested, these areas are NOT photographed. Use these areas for storage.

    Areas Not Photographed
    • Garage

    • Toilet Rooms (In Master Bathrooms)

    • Closets

    • Kitchen Pantry

    • Storage Sheds

    • Laundry Room


    General Prep - Clear, clear, clear
    General Prep
    • Thoroughly clear the entire house of all personal items such as clothes, toiletries and food/drink items. Each room is photographed from 3 corners, do not hide anything behind or under the furniture, do not hide anything behind doors, it will be visible in photos. Pay attention to what is reflecting in your mirrors, clear those spaces. No boxes, bins, suitcases, cleaning supplies, brooms, vacuum cleaners may be sitting in any spaces that will be photographed. Hide everything in closets and garage, those areas are not photographed. If you have time left, sweep and mop the floors, clean windows. But if you are on a time crunch please prioritize clearing and simplifying. Dirt might not show in photos, but cluttered spaces will not look good. Clean everything thoroughly if you wish for close up photos to be taken, otherwise we only show rooms in general

    • Open blinds/window treatments to let in outside light

    • If a window has a view, raise the blinds completely for an unobstructed view

    • Remove personal photographs or replace with general landscape/object photographs. Remove sports' memorabilia, collectibles or anything else that express strong personal opinion or views. Stick to the essentials such as furnishings and decorative pieces

    • Make all beds with no wrinkles, with pillows on top, make sure that bedspread is large enough to hide the mattress. Make sure sheets and mattress pads underneath have no wrinkles. Bedding must match (bedspread, pillows and bed skirt). No matching bedding - please buy new one, at least bedspread and pillow covers and take off bed skirt if it doesn't match

    • Remove small floor rugs to reveal actual flooring

    • Place all shoes/jackets in closets

    • Simplify all rooms. Take your rooms down to a bare minimum. Too much decor will make rooms look too busy. Full counter tops will make your kitchen look small. Remove extra pieces of furniture. Remove small decorative pieces, always opt out for large ones. Organize decorations in groups of 3. Hide all floor fans, space heaters, air cleaners, humidifiers, sound speakers (that can be moved without disconnecting). Unplug and remove all phone/ipad chargers in the entire house, tuck in all visible cords, but do not unplug any lamps

    • Hide all Trash Cans and close all Toilet Lids

    • Not mandatory, but remove small landscape decorations and figurines or replace them with larger pieces. Put American flag out if you wish, it does look good in photos

    Front Exterior
    The front of the home is usually the first picture buyers will see, and this picture will determine if they will look at additional property details.

    • Close garage doors

    • Remove cars from driveway and front of home

    • Remove trash cans from front of house

    • Clean up landscaping (mow, trim shrubs, clear leaves)

    • Remove empty planters

    • Use broom to remove cobwebs from eaves and door frames

    • Remove visible water hoses

    • Remove toys, sports balls, basketball goals, soccer goals, etc.
    Back Yard / Decks / Docks
    • Clean porch, tidy up outdoor tables/chairs/cushions

    • Pillows/cushions should be fresh, not faded

    • Clear out toys, balls, frisbees, etc.

    • Clean pool

    • Remove pool vacuum/cleaner hose if possible

    • Hide pool cleaning supplies

    • Turn on pool fountains/water features

    • Remove visible water hoses

    • Remove trash cans

    • Fishing gear should be neatly organized

    • Fire pits should be lit if evening photography is being provided
      Property for Sale:

    • Clear countertops completely. No knife blocks, baking supplies, no oils, no salt/pepper shakers, no mail, nothing

    • Leave only a couple of small appliances and decorative pieces (ex. coffee maker, small toaster)

    • Clear outside of refrigerator of magnets, papers, photos, etc. Clear off the top of the refrigerator

    • Hide garbage cans in pantry or closet

    • Clear in and around the kitchen sink. Remove paper towels, sponges, soaps, dish drainer

    • Clean stainless steel appliances with "Weiman stainless steel wipes" and polish with dry rag to ensure there are no fingerprints or smudges

      Property for Rent:

    • Please do all of the above but keep items provided for renters visible on the countertops if you wish
    Living Room & Family Room
    Living Room & Family Room
    • Remove stacks of magazines, papers, mail, hide remote controls, hide drink coasters etc.

    • De-clutter fireplace mantel/hearth (no more than 5 items, including art)

    • Do not block fireplace with furniture

    • Fluff and arrange furniture pillows. Make sure that all furniture pillows/cushions are in the correct position and one cushion is not longer or taller than another

    • Remove kids and pet toys. Check underneath the furniture to make sure nothing is underneath that can be visible
    Master Bedroom
    • Make all beds with no wrinkles, do not cover pillows with the bedspread, bring pillows on top of the bedspread, sit them against the headboard, add decorative pillows and pillows with decorative shams to cover your sleeping pillows. Make sure the bedspread is large enough to hide mattress. Buy new bedding if yours is outdated, stained, has holes in it or mismatched, ask your realtor for advice on color and style.

    • Clear nightstands of all personal items especially phone chargers

    • Remove all clutter from tops of dressers including bottles of perfume or toiletries, leave only decorative pieces

    • Clear under the beds, removing items that may show in the photos
    Kid Rooms & Guest Rooms
    • Remove personalized names from walls if you wish

    • Remove wall stickers/posters

    • Make beds. Pay attention to bunk beds to make sure blankets or bedspreads to not overhang

    • Clean under bed, removing items that may show in the photos
      Property for Sale:

    • Clear countertops completely. No soaps, toothbrushes, medications, deodorant, etc.

    • Put toilet seats down

    • Close closet doors

    • Remove shampoo, soaps, loofahs, razors etc. from showers and tubs

    • Remove dirty towels, leave out only new, unused towels

    • Remove floor mats, wipe mirror of water drops. Wipe shower doors and sinks of water drops

      Property for Rent:

    • Please do all of the above but keep supplies provided for renters visible if you wish
    • Place food and water bowls in pantry or closet

    • Place pet beds/toys in pantry or closet

    • Use lint roller on furniture to remove pet hair

    • Contain pets in hidden crate or outside

    • Clear back yard of pet waste/toys
    Holiday Decorations
    Holiday decorations can quickly date your real estate photos. We strongly discourage our clients from displaying holiday decorations.

    • Remove yard decorations and visible lighting

    • Remove interior decorations including Christmas trees

    • Any decorations that are up should be kept to a minimum

    • Remove window decorations
    Twilight Photography
    Twilight Prep
    Twilight photography is impressive and creates a dramatic presentation. Here are some tips to help achieve the best results. These tips are in addition to the Front Exterior tips previously covered.

    • Turn on all exterior AND interior lights that are exposed to the shoot area

    • Open blinds and/or window treatments that are exposed to shoot area

    • Keep windows clean

    • Visible outdoor fire pits or fireplaces should be lit

    • Turn on landscape lights

    • Make sure pool lighting is operational

    • Ensure timers are working and operation prior to the shoot

    • Replace burned out bulbs or broken fixtures

    • Turn on pool lights and patio lights for pool/patio shoots

    • Test lights prior to arrival and reschedule if needed
    Svetlana Leahy Photography