Why taking great photos relies on the vendor

Your Vendors Must Understand Their Part in Optimising the Value of Their Properties –

You’re their marketing partner. It’s your job to explain to them.

The very first impression your eventual purchaser will have of any property you’re selling will be the marketing photographs used to promote it. So, these need to be top-notch if you want to attract the best interest and achieve the optimal selling price.

From my experience of working with hundreds of agents across the UK helping them to take better photos, many agents just don’t have the confidence to ask their vendor to prepare their properties for photographing. But, not only is it paramount that the agent reminds the client to tidy up, they should also consider asking them to stage the property.

The first objective for any agent, once they’ve been entrusted with a property to sell, is to get it noticed in the beauty parades we call Rightmove and Zoopla.

The better the property is prepared, the better the photos will turn out, the more clicks, the more chances you’ll create for optimising the sale price.

According to Max Davidson from last Saturdays (10th June) Telegraph “As in any competitive market, mediocrity is doomed to fail. There is not a homeowner in the land who has not cottoned on to the fact that, if they want to sell their property, they have to show it at its best. That means decent, professional photographs, not amateur snaps on a mobile phone. It also means photographing the garden when the sun is shining. 

If only that were true.

Just look through the portals to see that there are hundreds of thousands of vendors who don’t understand this, and by implication, thousands of agents who are too frightened to “tell the king he has no clothes”, to ask them to do a better job.

The penalty for not taking control will very probably be that you will spend a considerable amount of your own money trying to attract interest in something that resembles the lower deck of Noah’s Ark after a nasty storm. You’ll waste your time and theirs and you’ll more than likely sell for less than the property’s optimal value following a long period on the market. You’ll also dilute your own brand.

For Heaven’s sake, there are websites dedicated to bad property photography. What we’re saying here couldn’t be more true.

What you can do about it

For a vendor to be motivated to tidy up, there must be something in it for them. Many just don’t understand that they’ve a part to play in achieving the optimal price for their properties, so you need to explain it to them.

So, we’ve put together some ideas to help you recommend to your vendors what to concentrate on when preparing for your arrival with your camera. [Although these ideas were written for higher-value properties, the reality is that there are many ideas here that will be just as important to a studio apartment].

Here are some extras from my pamphlet that all of my photography customers receive before I turn up with my camera. Here’s a link to the full pamphlet and I encourage you to plagiarise this to your heart’s content. Rewrite it in your own style and adjust it to the market you’re seeking.

  • Dressing beds with colour coordinated throws, cushions and crisp, white linen can make the room look fabulous. A small child’s bedroom can be imaginatively dressed with some high-quality toys, arranged on a rug perhaps.

  • Consider dressing your dining table. A bare table with nothing on it looks dull and uninteresting. As a minimum, have a centrepiece to break up the slab-e­ffect. A fully-dressed dining table can look sensational. It can be as important for your property’s photographs to illustrate an attractive lifestyle as it is for them to display your accommodation. Some coffee cups and a milk jug on a breakfast table will look more interesting than empty space.

  • If you have a garden table, dressing it will give the garden photographs more impact. If you see your property as a family home, then a gingham tablecloth, jug of squash and glasses etc, will help promote that lifestyle. Alternatively, a bottle of wine and glasses with something in them might be more fitting for other properties. Place cushions on garden chairs and loungers, if you have them, to promote the idea of a luxurious lifestyle. Be as creative as you like.

  • Garden umbrellas should be opened, especially if they can be seen from indoors through your windows. Remove swimming pool covers where possible – depending of course on the time of year. Toys, rubber rings, nets/poles etc. are best removed also. Move garden trampolines and other outdoor toys out of sight. If this is not possible, often a photographic angle can be found to avoid them, especially if they are moved away from the elevation. Keep hosepipes fully wound and tidy. Fallen leaves should be removed from lawns if possible. Curtains and blinds should be left open. Vehicles should ideally not be visible from indoors through the windows.
  • Make sure that all light bulbs are working, especially low-voltage down-lighters such as those found in many kitchens. Picture lights, too, are very e­ffective at creating visual interest – when they are working.
  • Branded plastic bottles, such as washing-up liquid, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes/ toothpaste etc. are best kept out of sight. An exception would be for more upmarket products, such as Molton Brown or similar, especially if they are colourful.
  • Tidy away papers: but in moderation, quality magazines and coffee-table books can add appeal. Remove birthday cards, invitation cards etc. from mantelpieces and shelves. Bookshelves look their best when they are stocked neatly with books rather than box files.
  • If you have an open fireplace, there is nothing that creates a homely feel better than a roaring fire. If it is not convenient to set a real fire, then roll-up some newspaper; when lit for a few minutes this should create enough flame to photograph.
  • Consider using props. For example, colourful vegetables, a cottage loaf and tomatoes etc would work well in a farmhouse kitchen.
  • Coloured glass, or bottles with coloured liquids can be complementary to contemporary, white or otherwise minimalist kitchens.
  • Plump cushions and straighten curtains.
  • Towels look most luxurious when they are folded on shelves or other surfaces. If they are hanging on towel rails they need to be presented neatly. Towel colours should complement the decor. If they do not, then it is best to remove them.
  • Fruit and flowers provide attractive splashes of colour.
  • Remove magnets, postcards and children’s artworks from the fridge. Move dog/cat bowls and baskets etc. out of sight.
  • Dressing tables, sideboards and similar surfaces should be neat and tidy. The less clutter the better. Trouser-presses are a little old-fashioned and are probably best removed.
  • If possible, make sure that keys are available for French windows, and other windows and exterior doors, so that they may be opened if necessary.
  • Do not be frightened to use colour – tastefully. De-cluttering is a very good idea, but not to the extent that the property looks sterile. The usual objective is to promote a tidy but comfortable lifestyle.


What do you do if the vendor doesn’t care or if the property is full of tenants that have no interest in tidying?

Send your photos to Doctor Photo and we’ll stage the property for you, digitally…

Here’s a few examples of what we can do:


Tom Durrant

Doctor Photo are a leading Image Enhancing Agency. We enhance and transform photos taken by leading estate agents, property developers and photographers, to maximise the appeal and value of their clients’ houses and commercial properties.

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