The Remodelers Guide to Business

Getting The Picture: Taking Your Best Remodeling Project Photos

We live in a visual world, and having great photographs of your projects is key to presenting your work in the best light possible, from beginning to end. Not just for using in your marketing on your website, social media networks, and printed collateral like brochures and newsletters, but to make a strong case for your work in award entries.

There are some phases of project photography you can — and should — do yourself. But when it comes to showcasing your amazing work, you’ll get your best results and save time by using a pro. You need to hire someone with an HD camera, a variety of lenses, and a lighting kit. And they have to know how to use it. Check their work, and pay attention to how they photograph difficult rooms like bathrooms — there are so many reflective surfaces in a tight area that angles and lighting become even more important. 

Prep Work

It’s important to get photos of the project site before you start work, and this is something you or someone on your team can do with your phone smartphone. This is the time to strategically get the “before” photos that will tell the story of the space’s transformation.

Schedule time for you, or someone on your team like the designer or your marketing person (if you’ve got one) to take photos of the space. Print out a copy of the approved plan, make notes, and circle places that need to be documented. This is your photo plan — get shots of these key areas and keep the plan and the photos to use a reference for the final “after” shots.

Having almost identical views and angles of your work shows how much of an improvement you’ve made to the space. Mark your locations on the plan as you go. Having lower-quality photos may actually help — the difference will be more striking. But there are still some things to remember, and using a simple editing app like Preview or Photos on Mac or Microsoft’s Photo Editor will give you the results you need for these photos. Some things to remember:

  • Take photos in both landscape and portrait mode
  • Use your photo editor to correct any tilted photos
  • For any area, take close-ups, medium, and longer range photos
  • Select the photos you want to use and create a file on Dropbox or Google Drive and make sure you save them

The “After” Shoot

The project’s done, the appointment for photographing the space is approaching. Pull that plan back out and print small versions of your selected “before” photos on one or two sheets of paper for reference.

You or someone from your team should be at the photo shoot — to explain the work, orient the photographer to the plan and the space, and lend a hand decluttering and moving lights and equipment. Take some time before going to the site to review the photos and shot locations to refresh your memory after all this time.

At the home, walk the photographer through the project with the plan for reference. You or your team member is directing this shoot — don’t leave the results to chance.

  • Point out any detail work you want a close-up of — the photographer may miss those without explanation
  • Go over the “before” photos and make sure to get the same angles and perspectives
  • Be prepared to declutter — take a couple of bins or laundry baskets to stow “stuff” safely, and remember where to put them back when done.
  • You may need to move or rearrange furniture
  • Be especially vigilant in baths and kitchens — clear the counters, remove hand or dish towels, wipe surfaces.
  • Bring a flower arrangement that will complement the decor — and leave it behind as a thank-you
  • Check the photographs with the photographer at regular intervals and make adjustments as needed

Pulling it All Together

When the photos come back, organize them to reflect the best matches with your before photos, as well as the photos that showcase the overall project. These files and results are ready to tell the story of the transformation on your digital outlets like your website and Houzz profile and in awards presentations.

You may also want to put a collection of “before” photos together for your client in print or digital format. It’s an effective way to prompt referrals — when they’re proudly showing family or friends the new space, especially folks who didn’t see it before the work was done, picture of how far they’ve come help them tell the story of your work.


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