Preparation Checklist Before Your Photo Shoot

Navigation: Photography | Videography
Updated: June 25, 2020

Author: Benjamin Harty

Hi, I'm Benjamin, Digital Media Strategist for Skyline STR. I have been involved in content creation for over a decade and love helping people develop strategies to grow their business. My wife and I are AirBnB photographers that are experienced in rental arbitrage and hosting on the platform.

Disclosure: is a participant in several affiliate programs and may be compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies at no additional cost to you.

Whether you have a listing going on the MLS or an AirBnB about to go live, professional photography will give you the best chance of success.

However, if your property is not in “photo ready” condition then there is a high chance of hurting your listing more than it helps:

  • People will judge the quality of your listing/property by the photos.
  • If your photos are blurry or cluttered, it will be perceived as less valuable.
  • Home buyers may disqualify a home on a perceived lack of maintenance.
  • Guests are less willing to pay premium prices and home buyers will offer less for properties that are not presented well.

While we will do our best to capture the best possible images and video, we are limited in the things we can do to work around issues.

Please keep in mind that we are on a tight schedule and need to focus on capturing the best images as possible and cleaning, moving objects, etc. will distract us from our photo shoot.

And ultimately, your deliverables.

This property preparation checklist is for your reference to ensure that everything goes as smooth as possible, so we can focus on what matters most: improving your image.

General Preparation


Before we arrive, please ensure that all fixtures/furniture are cleaned and staged to how you want the world to see it. Preferably, do a quick clean 24 hours before your photo shoot. Any items you don’t want to be seen in photos is recommended to be stored in the garage.

Remove/Secure Pets

While we love Mr. Barker and Mrs. Meowzer, we find that they are distracting for the photo shoot and pose a danger to our equipment. Additionally, they are prohibited from being in pictures on the MLS and guests tend to believe they may have to contend with them during their stay.

Hide Occupants

Anyone living at the property should plan to be absent from the photo shoot area since rooms tend to overlap and peaking heads/additional bodies cast shadows or can be seen in reflections. Additionally, there is a hazard to equipment and the MLS prohibits people from being in photos.

Exterior Property Preparation

Clear Vehicles

In order to get the best view of the property, it’s important remove any vehicles from your driveway and park them out of view.

Hide Trashcans

Big giant trashcans stick out like a sore thumb in listing photos and can make your property be perceived as less valuable by detail oriented people with high standards.

Hide Hoses

Just like trashcans, hoses strewn about the yard can diminish the appearance of your property. Additionally, hoses can drip water and cause puddles where we might not want them, so please roll them up at least 24 hours before we arrive.

Clean The Yard

Both the front and back yards should be mowed and edged 24 hours before our arrival. Also be sure to pick up any toys, tools, or dog poop that can be seen from any angle.

Turn Off Sprinklers

To prevent puddles around your property and tracking in mud, please do not water your lawns during your shoot or up to 24 hours before we arrive.

Prepare Pool/Spa

If you have a pool or spa available, please remove any covers and turn on lights. Also, provide instructions on how to operate the spa so we can get the best shots of these features.

Prepare Fountains/Water Features

Fountains and water falls, etc. should be cleaned of debris and be photo ready. If they require manual operation to turn them on, please provide instructions to us or your realtor.

Clean Patio Furniture

Since puddles can be created by hosing down your outdoor furniture, please clean off dust, debris, and cobwebs at least 24 hours before your photo shoot for the best images.

Temporarily Remove For-Sale Sign

If you have a property that is going on the MLS, please note that for-sale signs are prohibited from being in the photos and may be cause for rejection.

They are also not always able to be edited out and can incur an additional cost. If a for-sale sign is installed, have your realtor remove it before the shoot.

All signs should be installed after the photo shoot, and after proper locating of utility lines such as water mains, electric, communications, etc.

Interior Preparation

Clear Entryways

Popular items that are typically found in entryways, such as shoes, umbrellas, keys, etc. should be hidden from view and stored in a closet or the garage.

Declutter Kitchen

Kitchens are one of the biggest selling features for a home as well as for guests wanting to book your place.

Some key items that help sell the space, such as coffee makers and toasters, are okay to leave in view. But make sure to clear out any rags, sponges, pictures/magnets on the refrigerator, etc.

Declutter Bathrooms

Personal items such as tooth brushes, razors, brushes, etc. should be hidden from view. Decorative items such as candles, unused designer soaps, flowers, etc. are great to keep in view and help tell a story in the space.

Declutter Bedrooms

Bedrooms should have the beds made and all personal belongings hidden from view.

Night stands should only contain decorative pieces or lamps, and the windows/blinds should be open.

If the bedroom has carpet flooring, vacuuming the floor with geometrical lines will help accentuate the space.

Hide Trashcans

Trashcans are distracting and should be hidden from view.

Hide Portable Fans

Portable fans, while very useful, take away from a properties perceived value and should be hidden in the closet or garage.

Hide Cords/Remotes

TV Remotes, game consoles, cords, etc. are distracting in a photo and will make the place appear cluttered. If it’s possible, try to hide these from view as best you can.

Turn Off Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are okay to leave on during a video shoot for visual stimulation, but should be turned off for photos. Please ensure that all fans are turned off, as we will begin the session with photography work.

Turn On Lights

Please ensure that all light bulbs are in working order and of the same “color” 24 hours prior to our arrival. Replace any bulbs that are burned out, and have all interior lights turned on when we enter the property.

Open Blinds

Your indoor photos will be post processed to include outdoor views of the surrounding area, so please ensure that all blinds are open. If the view is unappealing, we will leave the window bright.

Twilight Exterior Preparation

Twilight property shots are incredibly cinematic and artistic scenes that help enhance the perceived value.

They also require a very tight window of opportunity to get the shot and additional scheduling, so please make sure that the following items are prepared before our arrival.

Turn On All Lights

All lights, both interior and exterior, should be turned on and the blinds open. Please make sure all burned out bulbs are replaced at least 24 hours prior to our arrival.

Turn On Spas

If you have a spa, make sure that it is up to temperature to help capture steam/heat radiation.

Remove Pool/Spa Covers

All covers on any pools and spas should be removed before we arrive. Please make sure they are free of debris.

Turn On Pool/Spa Lights

With the covers off, have all pool/spa lights turned on. If using RGB lighting, please select a static color so it does not change throughout the shoot.

Turn On Water Features

Fountains, waterfalls, or similar water features should be running prior to our arrival and free of debris.

Final Thoughts

Thank you so much for your patience and taking the time to go through this checklist.

We know how much work is involved in making sure your property is in “photo ready” condition, and it will ultimately help sell your place in the best way possible.

It also helps us focus on delivering great pictures, as I’m sure you can appreciate how distracted we would be if we had to also work on the above.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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