Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog



For both the realtor and a stager... GOOD photography of the property for sale is a necessity. For the realtor, the photos you take of your listing show the product you are trying to sell. For the stager the photos of your work capture and chronicle your staging skills.

Therefore it is to BOTH the realtors and stager's advantages to take and display the ABSOLUTE BEST PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES you can... especially NOW that more and more people use the internet as a means to determine evaluate a home or the abilities of a stager.

With that in mind... last night I went on line and looked at listings on for properties for sale in the metro-Chicago market. I have to admit I was delighted by some of the photos, BUT much of what I saw concerns me.

HERE are a few common mistakes I saw over and over again... (Please note, while I did the best  I could to repair the photos of properties on, I did NOT have access to the original image file... so my "clean-ups" are  NOT as good as they could be. All "original" images are shown on the left.)

BIG SKY:  When taking interior photo, be aware of how much ceiling you "feature". Unless the ceiling has an interesting architectural feature... why place so much emphasis on it? In the above picture I cropped the image and warmed it up. TOTAL time spent making the edit: 3 MINUTES!

TWIST & SLIP:  Because kitchens have so many "clean" vertical & horizontal lines, when the are photographed they tend to look a skewed-up when photographed. Note how crooked the stove and frig look in the picture on the left... which I straightened up in the picture on the right. TOTAL time spent making the edit: 2 MINUTES!

BRIGHT LIGHTS:  When taking pictures into the sun, sometimes the resulting photo has a "hot spot" that blinds the viewer. To clean up the image I simply cropped the picture and ended up with a BETTER view of what the property being featured. I also punched up the contrast. TOTAL time spent making the edit: 2 MINUTES!

ICY COLD:  I found this particular "problem" occurring on both INTERIOR and EXTERIOR photos of a home. The edits here required adding more red and yellow to the picture to warm it up. TOTAL time spent making the edit: 2 MINUTES!

DATE STAMPED:  This one REALLY surprised me... WHY would a realtor want to let the buyer know how long the property has been on the market? INSTANTLY a buyer will wonder what is the problem... why has the property been on the market so long? In my edited picture I removed the date stamp, cropped it and fixed it by straighten it out and removing the "slip". TOTAL time spent making the edit: 4 MINUTES!

DAYNIGHT:  Punching up the brightness took a "dusky" dark home into the daylight, resulting in a photo showing more of the home. TOTAL time spent making the edit: 1 MINUTE!

SLIP SLIDING AWAY: Doesn't the original photo make it look like the house is sliding into hole in the back yard. This is a MORE COMPLEX adjustment... but once learned easy to do OVER AND OVER AND OVER. TOTAL time spent making the edit: 3 MINUTES!

DARK SHADOWS:  WOW... would you have thought that just by adjusting the brightness and contrast such a GREAT HOME would come shining through? WHAT a dis-service the ORIGINAL photo was serving the seller. Oh... I also cropped the image a bit so that so much of the ceiling was not being highlighted... really who cares about THIS ceiling? TOTAL time spent making the edit: 2 MINUTES!

GREASY SLIDER:  All I did was fix up the slide and punched up the brightness! Again... straightening things out takes a bit more time... but once mastered its like riding a bike. TOTAL time spent making the edit: 4 MINUTES!

ON FIRE:  JUST the opposite of ICY COLD is a photo being to warm. However I only found this particular "problem" occurring mostly in interior photos of a home. The edits here required adding more blue and green to cool it down. Here too, I cropped the image a bit so that the ceiling was not being highlighted... again, who cares about the ceiling? TOTAL time spent making the edit: 4 MINUTES!

BLEACHED OUT:  JUST LOOK at how easy it is to add LIFE to a washed out photo. I also chose to feature MORE of  the house and less of the sidewalk... so I cropped the image tighter.  TOTAL time spent making the edit: 3 MINUTES!

TOWERING GIANT:  THIS happens to be one of the most common issues I see with images of large condos. Look how WEIRD the building looks on the left.   TIP: Vertical lines SHOULD always be STRAIGHT up and down... many CAMERAS skew things all up, which then must be corrected. TOTAL time spent making the edit: 2 MINUTES!

SOOOOO, what was the end result? Well the TOTAL TIME I invested in editing 12 images was ONLY 31 minutes. THIS averages 2 1/2 minutes to fix EACH picture. NOT BAD AT ALL!

I share all this information because I think that realtors have an OBLIGATION to the sellers to show their properties in the BEST manner possible. AND stagers... you need to show YOUR talent as best as possible... so that you get more and more people seeing and benefiting from what staging offers.

stage it forward...


PS: I personally happen to use PhotoShop to edit the photos I take. However in a previous post where I said that "Photos Lie" others of you have shared what you have used and have found as a great tool to edit photos. I encourage you to go back and review that post.


Comment balloon 38 commentsCraig Schiller • December 01 2006 08:22PM


My Favorite Craig: Until you pointed out the house in the hole, I didn't realize how many photos look like that!  Also the skewing of the buildings, wow what a difference. I'm bookmarking this you are super to share this with all of us. They should pay you to do this : - ) 
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago
Great job Craig.  I'd like to get an assistant to be able to do this with my pics.  A good pic is truly worth the effort and/or a thousand words.
Posted by Keith Jeppson - Salt Lake City Real Estate (Everest Realty Group) almost 14 years ago

Great explanation and demonstration Craig! Just another  reason that you are so good for the group!

Have you scheduled any shows with HGTV yet?


Posted by Angus in Naperville IL (RE/MAX of Naperville) almost 14 years ago

Wow! What a difference. And, it seems to be common sense.

I always notice when agents have lights on and there's a bright spot on their pictures.

And, now when many exterior shots are taken on grey, snowy days knowing how to lighten and brighten will make a big difference.

Posted by Eileen Landau, ABR, CRS, e-PRO (BAIRD & WARNER, NAPERVILLE) almost 14 years ago
Thanks a lot for the tips. My interior photos are all over the place.  Dark, light, yellow, etc.  You have given me the inspiration to work on them with some of your editing techniques.
Posted by Steve Hewson, Denver Metro Comnulll Real Estate (KW Commercial Real Estate, LLC - Denver) almost 14 years ago

I especially like the "slipping away" house.  In the mountains Craig's Star Ronald McDonaldthat would be a great way to end up with an expired listing!

Great post Craig.  You get a Star...




Yes sir!

Posted by Kristal Kraft, Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022 (Novella Real Estate) almost 14 years ago
Wow. Now that's what I call an informative blog post. Nicely done. We know how much time it took you to do each edit, but how long did it take you to put this piece together!?!
Posted by Racquel Turner (Mothers Fighting For Others) almost 14 years ago

I discovered long ago that digital camera don't like incandescent lights.  Agents need to shut them off and let the flash do the work it was designed for.  I suspect the problem is that they don't truly look at their final product.  They look at the photo and say, "that's the kitchen" rather than looking at it closely and saying, "why is the stove at an angle?"

I know I usually have to make corrections on at least a third of the pictures my clients take.

Another great post.  Thanks for sharing your knowledge.  

Posted by John Willis (None) almost 14 years ago
Craig... as always what a nice illustration to make your point. Looks like you put in a ton of work on this one. Great stuff!
Posted by marti garaughty, a highly caffeinated creative type... ( almost 14 years ago

Great post, Craig .... Next we need you to write a short tutorial post for each fix.  :-)

Let's see, in your samples, I think I see some brilliant use of the "Edit>Transform" tools or maybe "Edit>Free Transform"  ...and  also "Image>Adjustments" ... do you like to hit "levels" first or "brightness/contrast" ??

Yep, everybody, that's what Craig needs to write next.  Some step-by-step tutorials on using those tools.  :-)

Posted by Cheryl Johnson almost 14 years ago
Hey Craig -- Looking at the 5th sample down - DateStamped.  I betcha you didn't CROP the date out - because I can still see the table's legs.  I'm betting you CLONED it out.   Am I right?  See.. something else to write a tutorial about .....  :-)
Posted by Cheryl Johnson almost 14 years ago
Yes, Craig should write the tutorial about cloning (not clowning).  We all need Photoshop tuturials...
Posted by Kristal Kraft, Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022 (Novella Real Estate) almost 14 years ago


WE should all pay you to do this. I am having the worst times with my photos. Everytime I stage a home, I absolutely love the results and then the photos come back and they are well just okay..this is key to your business and still one of the more difficult things I am dealing with...YOU ROCK, now come and do my photos...hee, hee, pretty please with sugar on top....okay it was a good honest try, no??

Love you, Phyllis Pafumi 


Posted by Phyllis Pafumi, ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ (ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey) almost 14 years ago

Craig, you've got such a gift for showing things!

I love the outside flash repair! With today's LCD displays it's difficult to understand why a lot of the carelessness exists.

 craig schiller 


craig s

Your Daynight was perfect!. I used another tool which seemed to affect the sky a little less.

John W: The problem many times inside is the white balance. This can be your new best friend.

I absolutely love cloning things. Recently I took an aqua semi truck out of a panorama. The realtor and builder were delighted. I'll blog about that too.

You *rock* the *house* my friend. My heart just sings when you talk about straight/vertical lines.

I've done tutorials on step by step instructions but I don't think it gets much attention because everyone has a different program that they are used to. Mine's Adobe Photoshop Elements.. $84.99 through and I never upgraded to Photoshop because it does everything I need.

Dawn Shaffer,


Posted by Dawn Shaffer Life is good! almost 14 years ago

Great post, Craig, and very informative.

I vote for your tutorials as well!

One problem I have in Florida is trying to get a photo of both the room and the view. I don't want to shut the drapes (if there are any) but there is so much sunlight it's difficult to adjust for both the room and the view.  Can you offer any suggestions? 

Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) almost 14 years ago

Sharon: It is a bit time consuming but you could use a tripod and take a pix of the room with the camera reading the room light.... and then take a pix of the room with no flash.

THEN cut out the window view and past it into the rooms windows.


Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago
Hadn't thought of cut and paste. Thanks, Craig.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) almost 14 years ago

AWESOME Craig........I wish you lived in the central Florida area, man.......


Posted by Alexander Harb, Dallas, Texas Real Estate Investing (Knights Investing) almost 14 years ago

I really need to learn how to use Photo shop.  It seems so complicated.  For anyone that is not the savvy when editing photos - Google Picasa has some really easy to use editing software.  They have an easy straighten, crop feature, hue, contrast etc features. You can download it for free from Google:

Posted by Maureen Maureen almost 14 years ago
I'm impressed and will use these tips from now on.  Thank you for contributing
Posted by Diane Rice, SFR, SRES, CNC ( Rice Prprty Mgmnt & Rlty, LLC, South Holland, IL) almost 14 years ago
Great post.  Acquiring and learning photoshop need to be on my to do list.  I have too many slipping houses!
Posted by Maureen Francis & Dmitry Koublitsky, Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel (Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel) almost 14 years ago
Very kewl, great blog with some excellent information. The pic samples are amazing.
Posted by Leo Namiot, Before you chose a lender check my rates and fees (Canopy Mortgage) almost 14 years ago

Hi Craig,

Reala Stagging Photo Stagging, Inc

For the low low price of $29.95 we will stage your MLS photos. Up to 10 photos included. 24 hour turn around. It's easy! Just E-mail us your photos and within 24 hours you tired listing photos will be staged and ready to be presented to the world. Nose not included.  

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 14 years ago
LOL LOL ROFLOL!!! Bryant you are tooooooo funny!!!
Posted by Diane Rice, SFR, SRES, CNC ( Rice Prprty Mgmnt & Rlty, LLC, South Holland, IL) almost 14 years ago
I kinda like BB's idea myself lol.  Craig is probably on the phone and doesn't see us at the moment, having a pre-birthday chat with some guy he shares a BD with: Ozzy Osbourne
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago of my pet peeves are cords, cords, cords! Hide the cords...nothing is worse than looking at a beautifully staged room and see a telephone with a cord dangling and lamp cords serpentining all over the floor. My advice is take the phones out of the room before the snap.

I was going to blog this myself but just can't hold back another minute...thanks for getting us going Craig! 

Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) almost 14 years ago

Craig, since nobody else asked, how did you do the kitchen fix and the others that require "rotating" part of the photo, particularly the top part forward?  I have Photo Editor and Corel Paint Shop Pro 9 (FREE with the $4500 digital SLR, woo hoo!  of course, for that price I shouldn't need to do any editing of anything...).

Thanks, Gabriel

Posted by Gabriel Silverstein, SIOR (Angelic Real Estate, LLC) almost 14 years ago

Three Cee (Carole): Thanks for the BD wishes.

Keith: If you ask me with today's technology, there is NO excuse for BAD pictures.

Angus: Things are bubbling with HGTV.

Eileen: GOOD POINT that I FORGOT to make. Turning on lights is KEY to a good pix.

Alexander: Sometimes I also wish I lived in central Florida.

MaureenH & Maureen F: There are many different packages available... ranging in price. The main thing is being able to straighten out a pix that is all skewed up.

Diane: AWESOME... that is just why I shared the information.

Leo: I most wanted to show how quick and EASY it is to make these changes.

Bryant: I gotta raise my prices.... by agent (Bryant) wants 15%.

Sheron: CORDS! OH how right you are. And for some reason they seem to show up even MORE in pictures.

Gabriel: Cameras WILL skew up the image... especailly wide angle lenses. I use Photoshop to rotate and change the skewie mess.

Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago

ahhh the magic of photoshop! thanks for the generous tips! i remember you had a similar post earlier, which actually reminded me of you every time i edit a photo now!



i stage & redeisgn to sell, live and work in san francisco bay area


Posted by Cindy Lin, Host, The Home Staging Show podcast (Staged4more School of Home Staging) almost 14 years ago

I give you a gold star too, Craig!!

You have inspired me in more ways than you know!

Now I just need to figure out how to do this stuff.  My eye! 2 minutes, I spent 2 hours with MS Digital image and the photos looked worse than when I started.

Posted by Jessica Hughes (Ambiance Staging) almost 14 years ago

Very nice Craig.  Great suggestions!  Some things that a lot of people do not even think of. 

Most of all, I'm just glad none of my listings pictures were used in the "before" column.  :)

Brian Ortiz

RE/MAX Real Estate Advocates

Posted by Brian Ortiz, Chicago Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Vision 212) almost 14 years ago

If you have photoshop CS or CS2:

For the dark areas - interior or exterior.  I found that shadow/highlight really helps.

Rather than just increasing brightness go to IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>SHADOW/HIGHLIGHT and drag the shadow down some because the default is usually too much.  Dragging highlight up will decrease extra light areas as well.

Afer adjusting the shadow highlights, I sometimes finish it off with tiny contrast boost if needed - that also tends to clean up dirty wood floors and/or furniture.



Posted by Carson Coots, Video Producer (Cognitive Films) almost 14 years ago
Craig, this is the time - this is the place! My BIGGEST PET PEEVE is Realtors to lazy to get out of the @#$% car and take the picture. How many exterior shots have you seen with rear view mirrors in them? I want a curse jar next to the rear view mirror jar!
Posted by Dena Stevens Coriz, Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004 (Rocky Mountain Realty ) almost 14 years ago

Hi Craig,

We so totally agree with your point here.  We have always believed that the photos we take to market our Seller's listing is a key ingredient in the whole picture (pardon the pun).  I agreed with your entire selection of photos with the exception of "Big Sky".  Maybe it's just me or probably it's just me.  But doesn't the angle that picks up more ceiling on small rooms make the room look bigger.  Could it be that I have a weird point of view (pardon the pun again).  But the Blog is Great!  Thanks for reminding us all to take better care in how we promote our listings!



Posted by Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618, Bergen County NJ Real Estate (Christie's International Real Estate ) almost 14 years ago

EXCELLENT Post Craig!!! I'm doing some setting changes on my camera right now!

All the best,


Posted by Minnesota Home Staging Firm, Minnesota (Minnesota Home Staging Network~ MN's Top Home Staging Firm) over 13 years ago other thing Craig, do recommend a certain kind or price range of cameras?
Posted by Minnesota Home Staging Firm, Minnesota (Minnesota Home Staging Network~ MN's Top Home Staging Firm) over 13 years ago


 Thanks for your help!  I feel I'm doing a better job than the majority of Realtors out there but I'm still not satisfied!  I think I've got the right equipment (Nikon D50 w/ external flash and wide-angle lens) but I'm not a photographer - the only thing I really take photos of are my houses.  I've purchased an additional camera-specific "how-to" book for the D50 but I quickly get lost in the details that many camera buffs understand easily.  Can you suggest any resourses that can help me to shoot better photos of my listings?  Is there an article, web site, book or anything that's a "real estate photos for dummies" concept?

Here's an example of what level I'm currently at:

 Any help is greatly appreciated!  Thank You!

 Scott Sowles, ePro ABR CRS

Posted by Scott Sowles over 13 years ago


I was confused by the title so I skipped over this blog several times.  When it came up again I opened it not knowing what to expect.

It is excellent.  Those are great examples of how photographs can be enhanced to make them better.  Everyone should take a look at your before and after work and take the few minutes that are required to fix their photos before posting them to the Internet.

I am on the learning curve with photoshop and am taking courses on it.  The Advanced Photoshop course will be completed in mid-May.  After that I will share what I have learned with the AR community.

If you have not done so already you should post your blog to the Photoshop group at


I am sure Craig will respond to you with other resources to help you out.  In the mean time there are a lot of tips in the Photography group at and Bryce Mohan's excellent postings in the Advanced Photography group at

Check this out and join the three AR groups that I cited.

Posted by Mike Stankewich, MBA, e-PRO - ZipRealty, Inc. (ZipRealty, Inc.) over 13 years ago