Whether shooting for an editorial feature article or a luxury real estate listing, thoroughly preparing the residence or business for the upcoming shoot will ensure that you get the outstanding images you need. LIFT’s experienced architectural photographers have created a checklist for clients to use in preparing a property for photography.
Before You Book
- Make arrangements for the home/business owner and their family/staff to spend the day away from the property on the day of the shoot.
- Ensure that no maintenance services or deliveries will occur during the shoot.
- Be aware of any covenants, restrictions, and association rules that could affect the actual shoot or the commercial use of the photos.
Week Before Shoot
- Obtain visitor passes, security clearances, gate codes, and means of access to the property.
- Conduct landscaping maintenance.
- Test all lighting in all rooms. Replace all bad bulbs and repair inoperable fixtures.
- Test and learn how to operate exterior lighting, pools, water features, fireplaces, and fire features.
Day Before Shoot
- Have the property commercially cleaned with special attention given to reflective surfaces such as glass and metal appliances.
- Have the property professionally staged (cut flowers, fresh fruit, furniture arranged and straightened, window treatments arranged, pillows and bedding smoothed and straightened, etc.)
- Clean pools and ensure filtration and lights (pool deck and underwater) are working. Remove and stow toys, towels and personal items.
- Check windows and doors to ensure that they can be unlocked and opened if needed. This is especially important for coastal homes exposed to salt air.
Day of Shoot – Before Photographer Arrives
- Arrive before the photographer and be ready to answer your phone and provide last minute help and directions.
- Park your car away from the property and safely out of any potential exterior or aerial shots.
- Disable security system and pause all “smart home” programs.
- Brief photographer on any areas of the property that should not be photographed such as panic rooms, security equipment, IT closets, vaults and safes, etc.
- Tour each room and turn on all lights.
- Police up and stow away all personal items, inside and outside. Shoes, clothing, purses, keys, paperwork, mail, newspapers, toys etc. Everything should be stored away, out of view.
- Stow away unnecessary electronics and telephones, place all remote controls in a drawer near their master unit (to be easily found later), and tidy up or hide all electrical/electronics cords and power supplies (a.k.a. wall warts).
- Stow out of view all trash cans, bins, and waste baskets.
- Remove all evidence of pets (beds, toys, food dishes, etc.)
- Remove all personal items and trash cans from bathrooms leaving only clean folded towels and decorative soaps.
- Remove all items from kitchen counter tops except one knife block and one vase of cut flowers or bowl of fruit. Everything else, including sink and cleaning supplies, condiments, etc. should be stored out of view.
- Ensure that kitchen cabinet, range hood, and appliance lighting is turned on.
- If dusk shots are scheduled, turn on all exterior lights. Turn all lights on in every exterior facing room that has windows.
During the Shoot
- Most clients like to leave while we work; Please be available to answer your mobile.
- Notify us before you return so that you don’t walk or drive into any shots or aerial drone footage.
Conclusion of Shoot
- Close and lock all windows and doors, turning off lights and otherwise restore the property to its usual state. For liability reasons, the photographer cannot assist you with these tasks.
While this seems like a lot of work, much of it will be handled by your cleaning service and the interior designer who is staging the property. Addressing the items on this checklist will ensure that your shoot proceeds on budget and on schedule.
The obstacles that we encounter most often are security and lighting issues:
- The client didn’t make the necessary security arrangements, far enough in advance, to gain access to the property.
- The client did not test the lighting and replace inoperative fixtures and burned-out bulbs.
Both of these situations can force a cancellation (with cancellation fee or forfeiture of deposit.)