How to Make Your Apartment Photos Shine

Nearly everyone has identical exposure on Flip. What makes one seller more effective over another is dependent on key areas like cost, location, and availability, but an equally important and often neglected aspect comes down to what the place looks like. Before someone decides to visit your apartment or even message you, they are judging you harshly by your photos. Including your profile picture. While Flip offers free professional staging and photography, for those of you taking your own shots, we put together 6 helpful tips to make your apartment shine.

1. Clean up your shit.

The difference between a cluttered and clean apartment.

Minimizing clutter maximizes space. A photo bustling with objects coming out in all directions takes away from the wall, ceiling, and floor, all of which appears more confining. It’s hard to imagine what the possibilities of a room are when you have no spacial cues.

Having a clean apartment is not just good for your listing, it’s good for your health. A study by Indiana University found that the cleanliness of your home has a strong correlation with how healthy and active you are, even more so than how walkable your neighborhood is. So break out the scrub brush and bleach, because even if you’ve ignored it for months, everyone else can still see the grime, mold, mildew, and stains in your photos.

“The connection between health and the dwelling of the population is one of the most important that exists.” — Florence Nightingale

Now that your apartment is spotless and you’re having second thoughts about leaving, let’s talk about photos.

2. Get out of the dark.

An otherwise great apartment can be held back by darkness.

How important is lighting to photography? Photographs are literally a measure of light at a given time. Better lighting is quintessential to having better photos. Take your pictures during daylight hours with the curtains and blinds open. How can you describe your apartment as a “Sunny Bedroom in the Heart of TriBeCa” if you don’t actually show sunlight flooding the walls? While dimly lit, windowless apartments are a reality in New York, adding lamps and turning on overhead lighting can make even some of these places look better.

3. Perfect your angles

Shooting into the corner can better show off your space, but having a wide angle lens doesn’t hurt either.

Proper angles can do wonders for pictures, and you selfie-loving folks surely know this. When it comes to interior photography, you don’t want to sell yourself short. An interested buyer wants to see all the aspects of your apartment, and we recommend taking photos from multiple perspectives. While straight on photographs limit distortion, create a harmonious composition, and are a great addition to any photoset, sometimes these shots can make your space appear smaller. By shooting into a corner, you’re able to open up the room by showing greater depth. A wide angle lens is great for capturing as much of the room as possible, but wider doesn’t necessarily mean better. Taking more photos that focus on the different aspects of your rooms is better than just one shot that contains everything.

Be cognizant of details like light fixtures or vibrant colors, and try to balance the visual weight by using the rule of thirds — don’t be afraid to move things around.

4. Straighten Up

The differences might seem subtle at first, but once you see it, you’ll never look at photos the same way.

Along with taking photos that open up the room, one of the most important things you can do to make your images look better is to mind the horizon and vertical lines. Have you ever been seen a television mounted crookedly? It’s devastating. Our eyes are drawn to straight lines, it’s why we notice little things like when picture frames are a bit off. When taking photos, you’re not always holding the camera as straight as you believe, and it shows. While you might need Photoshop or a professional tilt shift lens to account for some lens distortion. You can make your lines straighter by finding an edge in your camera’s viewfinder and aligning to that. Even smart phones come with basic photo editing tools and grids for aligning photos, which brings us to our next tip.

5. Use your phone better.

If you’re using your smart phone, you should clean your lens before you start shooting. Your hands are constantly all over your phone, causing fingerprint and smudges galore, but even a simple wipe with your shirt can greatly improve image clarity. If your photos are too dark or light, you can generally change the focus of light sensitivity in the phone’s sensor by tapping different areas of contrast on your screen. Too dark, tap an area that’s brighter, too bright and tap a darker part of the displayed image. For more control, there are a gazillion photo apps, our favorite is Afterlight.

Don’t go crazy, though. You don’t need a sepia-tone photo of your bathroom with a vignette.

6. Decorations are great, sometimes.

Wrong, nope, don’t do it. Try to find avoid these things.

A well-staged home can do wonders for giving an apartment more appeal, but much the same way clutter detracts from your space, a completely empty apartment is also unflattering. Anyone searching for an apartment has likely dug through hundreds of apartment photos in a very short time. If you happen to have a sweet location at a great price, you may be able to get away with it, but while we can at least remember the terrible apartments we see, there’s nothing memorable about a barren apartment.

Not only does an empty apartment look less inviting and not show how to best utilize the space, without any furniture as a reference point it’s hard to gauge the size of the room. If you‘re trying to sell your lease we recommend taking photos of your apartment before you start your move, unless of course your apartment looks similar to the ones above. In that case, we suggest packing. Sure you love your giant used-car-lot American flag, and your Himalayan monk blessed wall tapestry, but large flat patterns also flatten out a space by obscuring corners and taking up a hefty chuck of visual real estate.

While it’s a bit more work to clean, and spend your daylight hours composing an image, the quality of your listing will become exponentially better. Your apartment is a reflection of your character. Don’t let your photos bring you down.