Part of the process of running a top real estate team in Calgary is selecting and partnering with top industry professionals, this include mortgage brokers, lawyers, home inspectors, surveyors, and of course photographers! One of the most important elements of getting a home sold is the marketing and presentation we invest into your listing and the online exposure you receive through social media and paid advertising, and this begins and ends with great content. Enter Emmanuel one of the best photographers we partner with, who's here to share some insight from a professional real estate photographers perspective on the best tips to maximizing your photos. 

Check out our free twenty step checklist to preparing your home for real estate photos as well! Click the image to download a PDF copy. 

My name is Emmanuel and I’ve been a full time Calgary real estate photographer for the last 7 years.  Over that time, I have shot properties of all sorts and have been witness to thousands of real estate transactions, from inception to firm sale.  Some of these transactions take a day while others take months or even years.  Why such a discrepancy? There are many factors that contribute to the timely sale of a house.  Market cycles, condition of the home, pricing, marketing, etc.  There is no obvious “one size fits all” answer to this question.  Although I have noticed some patterns in listings that generate the most foot traffic. So here are the top 5 things to do – from a photography perspective - when listing your house to ensure you attract the most buyers and generate top dollar for your home:

1. Declutter / Depersonalize

In real estate, sometimes less is more.  Less clutter means more real estate, which is what buyers are after.  Who doesn’t want more of what the came for right? One method to show off more real estate is to decrease the amount of clutter occupying the space. Take this opportunity to purge items that are no longer relevant. Remove unused appliances from the countertops, remove any pieces of furniture that are big and bulky, avoid excessive trinkets you will have buyers knocking at your door in no time.

Real Estate Partners bonus tip: While it may not be common for buyers to use these against you, we do advise removing family pictures, degrees, etc, this helps ensure you wont come across buyers who see your travels, successes, etc and in a buyers market put forth an offer that reflects their perceptions of your wealth / success. Let the focus remain on the home and your decor, not your personal life. 

2. Let There Be Light!

To “photo-graph”, technically means to draw with lights. Therefore, it's no surprise lighting plays a crucial role in producing top notch photography. However, some residential homes have very little natural light so those sellers will have to be strategic about introducing other light sources to allow their properties to shine (pun intended) on picture day. Tips to ensure best results on photo day include:

  • Opening curtains & blinds to introduce natural light

  • Use 100W equivalent LED bulbs

  • Add in floor lamps to darks rooms

  • Change out “soft white” for “bright white” lightbulbs.  I recommend at least 3500K

Real Estate Partners Bonus Tip: Sometimes you can use your TV as wall art, instead of a big black void, ask the photographer if they recommend having the TV on for photos is recommended. Remember though, if you're doing video, there's a good chance it could look bad (rolling shutter) and we do not recommend this technique. 

3. Make Sure House Colors Are Neutral

Sellers want to appeal to as many buyers as possible when listing their property. This means more money and fewer days on market, all great things when listing your property. To use a fishing analogy, you want to cast the biggest net in the busiest pond possible. One way to do that is to paint your walls a neutral color (beige, grey, and off-white). While some buyers are looking for something exotic, those are few and far in between.  Generally, it’s a much safer bet to go with a grey or off-white that appeals to the large majority.

From a photo perspective, some rooms with varying colors and with different lightbulbs can really clash, the camera will battle to figure out the proper white balance for a room and photos won't be as optimal. 

4. Remove Evidence Of Pets

While we all love them, pets are not easy on our houses. They scratch the floors, chewing up corners, and occasionally having accidents on the carpets. Despite they trouble they cause, we love our pets unconditionally, but buyers may see things differently. Which is why it's important to remove any evidence of pets when listing your house. This means food dishes, beds, dog toys, and anything else that might suggest a furry resident on site. Quick tip: Before hitting the market, invite a friend over and ask if they detect any odour. 

5. Avoid These Mistakes!

This is my quick list of five things you should avoid when taking real estate photos

  • Taking a shot with the ceiling fans on - This will cause issues in editing especially if you're shooting for HDR 
  • Pets / People in the shot - The best looking homes don't include pictures of home owners or pets :) 
  • Using a bad wide angle lens - This can cause severe distortion and unrealistic looks
  • Not Shooting HDR - It's a simple process to help ensure you're blending the exposures of the photos into one perfectly exposed shot with tons of depth and color

Emmanuel Ly, Owner


The Real Estate Partners Top Photography Tips To Get Your Home Sold

Shoutout to Emmanuel for those tips! We like to geek out a little when it comes to photography / videography and making sure your home is putting its best foot forward, so here's our bonus extended list of our top recommendations to help your home get sold faster via better photography and preparation. 

Remove vehicles from the driveway / front of the house 

There's nothing worse in a real estate photo than having a vehicle distracting you from the perfectly framed shot of your home. While you can't control the public roadways, being a good neighbor does help out in this situation, make sure your driveway is clear of all vehicles, and if you're friendly with your neighbors, fire them a text message and ask them to clear an vehicles in front of your home on the street, it really makes a difference! 

Work With A Real Estate Team That Cares & Is Invested In The Successful Sale Of Your home

While we won't get into every detail (they all really do matter though) there are many homes on the market that are represented by portrait oriented cell phone pictures, or ones not taken on a tripod, that are blurry, out of focus, missing rooms, etc. While some clients may be okay with this, our clients are not, they expect the best, and that's what we promise to deliver on, and it doesn't JUST mean hiring professionals to take on these tasks. It means we employ professionals who are passionate about quality and service, who take the time and effort to do the little (and sometimes big things) like moving garbage bins, lowering toilet seats, opening blinds, and always ready to do some on the fly staging. You've maybe had a stager, your friends / family, and of course (us) your agents all go through the home and make sure it looks its best, but nothing beats having that one last final set of eyes that is able, and most importantly WILLING to take pride in their work and ensure your home is reflected in its best light. 

As buyers and investors in the real estate market, we look for homes that aren't marketed very well, they're often RACKING up days on the market, low on showings, and may have seen a price decrease or two. These homes come in all shapes and sizes, we've even seen luxury homes that back onto some of the most prime real estate in Discovery Ridge listed with minimal photos, not showing key components of the home, the area, and the prime location. This results in lower showings, less interest, and ultimately lower sales prices. 

Professionally Edited Real Estate Photos 

It's one thing to get the photos and throw them online, it's another to truly market a home and make it stand out. In a winter world of dull grey skies, there's many situations where the front photos from our professionals simply don't cut it. In fact, 99% of the time, we engage our professional photograph editing team to make our front photos stand out! 
This for example is one of our record breaking sales in 2022 for the community of Legacy where we fetched our sellers a list price hundreds of thousands above what they paid for it 

Below is from a recent listed we had in the downtown beltline, even our lowest priced inventory receives the same professional photo editing treatments to make their listings shine. In this instance we added a bit more depth to the photo but introducing a newer sky, some better colors, and lightening up the shadows along with removing the power lines that ran across the center of the image. 

professional real estate photographs

Of course our team is known as being one of the top VIDEO producers in the real estate industry in Calgary, with over 575 videos on our Calgary Homes Youtube Channel - We're one of Calgary's most sought teams to market homes by sellers who want a major digital presence and their property to be marketed to thousands on social media and through paid platforms. 

Not watching for the little details 

Our top photographers that we work with, including Emmanuel go through great lengths to ensure homes are staged properly for real estate photos. It's easy to just walk in, put the camera on a tripod and hit every room up with some shots, but a true professional will observe all rooms, make adjustments to things including lighting, blinds, minor staging and little details like ensuring the toilet seat is down. These small but often overlooked details really help your home stand out and not be riddle with distracting or unappealing shots. 

Our favorite (above and beyond) real estate photos

  • Aerial or Drone Photography - Something we do for any of our listings that require the unique perspective of a birds eye view. Our professional aerial footage is perfect for highlight amenities in a community, showing the distance to downtown, highlighting a huge piece of land, or the backdrop to your property, and to captivate more buyers with compelling marketing!
  • Entryways - Often overlooked, many homes feature grand entrances with functional storage, and impressive lighting, this shot is a must if any of those boxes are checked. 
  • Backyard night shots - When done properly, these can be some of the most jaw dropping, eye grabbing photos that you can post. They attract many different types of buyers and tell stories of backyard adventures on warm summer nights, THEY'RE HARD TO BEAT. 
  • Details - From upgraded flooring to custom counter tops, or just a blend of decor/style these shots that capture the details wouldn't suffice on their own to market a home, they definitely pack a punch, builders seem to especially do a good job with these, likely because they put a major emphasis on their staging. 
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