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Behind the Scenes

Why Real Estate Photographers Love Staged Homes

Real estate reality shows are amazingly popular. And why not? Everyone imagines buying the home of their own dreams and living their best life in that perfect neighborhood. The shows are a kind of voyeuristic wish fulfillment.

But even with the bombardment of real estate programming, the saturation of real estate apps, and other consumer-friendly interior design software – all tools helping homebuyers dream bigger more easily – we still see couples walking into the next viewing, talking about how they can’t envision anything beyond the terribly outdated wallpaper.

Apparently, it’s just the way we’re programmed.

We need a visual – especially in the digital age of homebuying. In fact, Redfin reported that for homes under a million dollars, listings with high quality photography sell for $3-11k more on average than those that do not. A big part of providing those high-quality listing photos is having something great to capture.

How do you do that?

Setting the Stage.

One of the most important jobs of a real estate photographer is to help create a photographic story for each home. It is far easier to build a good story around a staged room than one that is a completely blank canvas.

Professional stagers use conceptualization techniques in order to help potential buyers walk in and envision the property as their home. Ideally, they can see themselves living and entertaining in the space. Likewise, a staged home provides the perspective and depth that a photographer would otherwise not be able to show in a room with nothing in it.

Editing the Room.

Images should be composed with a central focal point and framed with clean lines and complimentary backdrop elements. Doing this is a lot easier when a professional has come in to clear the clutter.

Just like a good book editor, home stagers are able to “edit out” all those mundane details of everyday life that don’t add anything to the story of the home – details that can sometimes even detract from the overall vision.

Essentially, they highlight key features and minimize the weak points of a home, ultimately lending to the lifestyle the seller is pitching.

More Equals Less.

RISMedia noted last month that more photos equal less time on the market, stating, “a home with one photo spends an average 70 days on the market, but a home with 20 photos spends 32 days on the market.”

When a home has been professionally staged, it is far easier for us as real estate photographers to find more picture-worthy spots and angles.

Passionate People. 


Like photographers, graphic designers, and really any other kind of artist, professional home stagers do the work because they love it. The best stagers put their passion about creating the story of the homes they work on above everything else.

For instance, About Face Staging not only provides turnkey professional home staging for resale and new construction, but a variety of consultation services. Northern Lights Staging is another one specializing in occupied home staging – scenarios where sellers are retiring and need to be comfortable staying in the home, but the market and location calls for targeting younger first-time home buyers or families with young children.

Both firms offer varying price points based on a client’s resources and budget, and those are just two examples out of many great staging companies out there.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is the fact that professionally staged homes enable us to do our job better – something that’s good for everyone.

Make Shift Bounce - Anchorage Real Estate Photographer

Creating Light w/a Make Shift Bounce

My job as a Real Estate and Architecture Photographer is to bring a space to life by adding and enhancing the light.  Not all homes and spaces are created equal.  Some require a lot more work and some creativity.  

I recently was commissioned to photograph a home for sale in Anchorage that was the perfect example of a home that required some creativity and additional lighting techniques.  The large majority of homes I photograph have white walls or at least a white ceiling that I can use for my lighting technique. This home, however was almost all wood.  Wood does not bounce light.  This poses a problem.

Over the years I have acquired a lot of little tricks to get light where I need it.  Luckily, I had all the tools in the back of my vehicle I needed for this job.

Walk through

I make it a habit to walk through each home I photograph first, so I can start to get an idea of what tools I will need to make it stand out.  As I walk around the house I am looking for areas that I need to add some additional lighting.  I am looking for ways I can hide those lights and still get the look I am shooting for.  When I saw this shot above, I knew immediately that I would need to bring in the whole tool kit to make this one work.  I needed every light. Every stand. Every bounce, tape, etc. that I had on me.

A lot of my peers take the easier road and photograph homes with no additional lights.  They are able to get in and out in a few short minutes and then spend more time on the computer processing the images to get the desired result.  I, however feel that lighting the scene with lights gives a much better image, so I take the time needed to do it.  This home took me about 4 hours to get all the lighting I wanted.

White Boards

I have found having some white boards handy really makes a difference, especially in homes like this.  The following images show how I use white boards or foam core to bounce my lights in areas I need.  I am always trying to find new ways to hang them, prop them up, or whatever I can to get them in the right spot.

The little boards give me just the right amount of light to make the area look how I envisioned it when I walked through the home.

Here are a few more images from this photo shoot.