Real Estate Photographers Reveal the One Listing Photo That Can Make—or Break—a Sale

Where do all eyes go first when perusing a real estate listing? The photos, of course.

Home sellers should never underestimate the importance of investing in a professional real estate photographer to get the very best pictures possible of their place. Because no matter how good an eye you have, homeowners tend to be blind to how their own home comes across on camera—and, as a result, might have listing photos that don’t show their home in the best light.

And, if you ask most real estate photographers what type of image matters most of all, many would say the exterior. After all, homebuyers truly do judge a home by its cover.

Since all it takes is one second for homebuyers to lose interest in a listing and swipe away, here are some tips from photographers on how to make the most of your curb appeal pictures, as well as a few photos that vividly illustrate what not to do.

Time Your Shoot To Capture Your Home In Its Best Light

Lighting is the secret sauce of any great photo. As such, it truly pays to watch the light on your house to figure out when it looks best.

“Does your home exterior read best in the morning, day, or the ‘magic hour’ of the sunset?” asks photographer Jill Lotenberg, founder of the photo/video production company JillPhotography.

She suggests sellers keep note of shadows cast from other buildings and neighbors’ trees at different times of the day, as these things can make it difficult to capture good exposures.

Twilight photoshoots are also becoming popular as the market gets more competitive.

“The No. 1 tip for twilight exteriors is to make sure your landscape lighting is working and that someone who is present at the shoot knows how to turn it on,” says real estate photographer Charles Taylor, strategic creative adviser at real estate bees.

“Check your pool light, patio lights, solar lights, and any other exterior lighting you have, because without any additional lighting, your twilight shots may be subpar,” he adds.

Once you know the best time of day, communicate with your photographer before your session so you can precisely time the shot schedule to capture your home in its most flattering light.

Manicure Your Landscaping

One of the best ways to boost your home’s photographic curb appeal is by manicuring your landscaping.

“This should be scheduled one to two days before your photoshoot to ensure your yard is fresh and clean the day of your photo shoot,” says Jonathan Gonzalez, founder of the real estate photography company Flux Media.

If you don’t want to hire a landscaping company, then at least make sure you’ve mowed the lawn, swept the driveways, and picked up dead branches and leaves.

“Removing old cars and replacing worn-down mailboxes are also a plus,” says Gonzalez.

Don’t Get In The Way Of The Drones

Aerial real estate photography and videography have been all the rage for the past several years. And no doubt such shots can add a lot of value to the listing. But it’s crucial to remember that drones see everything.

Be mindful of trash cans, yard debris, signage, wayward toys, and cars. And though it can be entertaining to watch a drone at work, says Josh Hasty, co-founder and CEO of the high-end real estate video production company Relavox. You should just stay inside while the operator gets the images.

“Things that seem like a part of the furniture to you could stand out like a sore thumb to the viewer, and please, make sure you’re not in the shot,” adds Hasty. “The higher in the air the camera goes, the more it sees, and I have unfortunately seen too many potentially beautiful images ruined by a person standing somewhere in the shot staring up at the drone, looking like ‘Where’s Waldo?’”

Courtesy of