5 Tips for Shooting Real Estate Listings & Vacation Rentals


I’ve growled at my clients for putting up pictures that don’t compliment their marketing or design. Most times their response is “I was in a hurry!” And I completely understand it. In Real Estate, when you have a new listing you want, no, you NEED to tell the world ASAP. So you do what we all do, take quick phone snaps for content to use on your social media.

What’s wrong with that?

The problem is, that becomes the precedent for your marketing plan. That becomes your first impression. That becomes your reputation.  And that is what your current and your potential future clients and customers will see.

No good. Nothing substitutes a photographers’ holy trinity.  

But in the time that you are waiting to bring in your favorite photographer, here are some quick tips on how to take the best photos you possibly can using your cell phone. This is the bare minimum. So don’t skimp or skip.

1. TIDY UP – This may seem obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked out on a space because it was not photo ready. No matter how crisp and clear a photo is, a messy kitchen is a turn off. Clear off counter and tables tops. Make the beds, close toilet seats. It is in your clients’ best interest to show off their property in its’ best light. Let your client know before hand that you need to take quick photos and ask them to tidy things up. You want to show the homes’ potential, not the owners dirty laundry.


2. Light, light, LIGHT! – Take photos when the outside natural light is flooding the space. In addition turn on all the lights in the room. You want the space to look warm and welcoming. Not dark and gloomy.  Dark photos makes a viewer assume that it needs work when in reality, it may just need a new lightbulb.


3. TWO ANGLES PER ROOM – After a while, for a home shopper, every room begins to look the same if all you do is take a picture from the door way. In bedrooms, I take a photo from the doorway then from the opposite corner to show the door and closet. For kitchens I take a shot from both ends. This gives the viewers an idea of size and set up in that space.



 – Stop angling your camera from top down or bottom up. When you are viewing the room through your phone make sure the walls  on your left and right are STRAIGHT in your camera. Viewers don’t want to look down into the bathroom sink, they want to see how the bathroom itself flows.


You can sell the fancy counter tops when you have the customer in the house. Don’t raise your phone over your head or crouch down on a knee to snap a photo. That is not a natural view point. Leave the creative angles to the professional.

– A real estate listing is selling the space, not the back of the couch. If a piece of furniture is in your way of showcasing a space, move it. Same goes for the randomness we keep laying around like remotes, magazines and plants. We want to give a sense of size without distracting the viewer.


Nothing can substitute the proper gear, the proper software and experience.  That’s a photographer’s holy trinity. And your photographer will help you leave a lasting impression on all those who view your images.  Although the initial photos you take with your phone are to document the space you are about to put on the market, that doesn’t mean they have to look crappy. Just make sure they aren’t your final images as what happens on the Internet STAYS on the Internet.


All photos are ©Chastity Cortijo and are NOT available for copy, purchase or download.

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