When you start out in home staging, and even if you’ve been at it for a year or two, you’re probably not too worried about how you’ll organize all your home staging photos for your portfolio. At this point it’s pretty easy to remember the homes you’ve staged. You might even recall every client’s name or what street their homes were on.
In this article I’ll help you learn from the home staging photo mess I made while staging hundreds of homes since 2002. In that time, I shot over 10,000 before and after photos. How to keep track of them all?
For clarification, these are all digital images stored on my computer (and backed up of course).
Since real estate is a passion of mine, I’m better at recalling a house/project by it’s street name than remembering a house by the name of the client.
Side note, I often don’t even recall what my client looks like, though I can sometimes remember intricate details of their house for years afterwards! I learned this when a past client approached me while I was grocery shopping.
She didn’t look at all familiar to me, but then she said I did a redesign consultation for her house on Brookdale. To my surprise, I almost instantly asked her things like, “How did that granite counter top we chose turn out?” and “Was your daughter pleased with the way we rearranged her room?” etc. I know this is a bit weird! I guess it proves I’m so busy looking at every detail in a house, I don’t study the face of the owner (though I always pick up on their body language to know if I’m on the right track)!
Because I’ve always been good at remembering street names of homes I’ve worked on, I filed all my before and after photos in digital folders with the home’s address as the file name. That worked great for awhile, say the first few thousand images in my home staging portfolio.
But memory loss (mine, not the computer’s) being what it is, years later I can recall the house where I transformed that fabulous living room. In fact I can even picture all the rooms and the neighborhood, but I have no idea anymore exactly what street it was on.
How do I easily find the home staging photo of a specific room?
My advice, avoid the chaos I created by keeping track of before and after photos by address alone. Instead also file your images by room type. I would have been much better off with folders on my computer labeled also with names like these:
- Powder Rooms
- Kids Rooms
- Master Bedrooms
- Guest Rooms
- Home Offices
- Family Rooms
- Living Rooms
- Dining Rooms
- Curb Appeal
You get the idea. It would even be great to subdivide the above into sub folders like:
Organize Home Staging Portfolio with Photo Tags To Make It Easy
Now I’m suggesting folders and sub-folders here, but this is the “low-tech” solution. On my Mac for example, I can use iPhoto to tag images multiple times. So while the “Photo Event” might be “Home Staging 123 Main Street,” the individual photos within that event (ie folder), can have multiple tags like: living room before, curb appeal after, contemporary, vacant staging, color consulting exterior, etc.
Get Your Home Staging Photos in the Media
This “system” would also serve you well when the media requests photos for a story. I’ve often been asked to send shots out to a newspaper, magazine or major website like HGTV’s Front Door, and usually they’ll ask for something specific, like a “bathroom makeover”, or “staging a vacant home”. If I used this system it would be much easier to scroll through my selections of that type to decide what to send.
Think Long Term When Setting Your System
The longer you have a home staging and redesign business the more difficult it becomes to keep all your portfolio photos organized. The key is to figure out a system that will work when you have tens of thousands of before and after photos of room makeovers, and you no longer recall which house was which, or what the name of a client was for a particular house.
So, what system do you use? Have you thought through whether it will grow with you? How many before and after shots do you normally have for each project? Please share in the comments below so we can all learn from and inspire each other!
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Home Staging and Voice Of Possibility Group Inc.
Debra Gould has staged close to a thousand homes and is the author of 5 guides for home stagers, including the best-selling Staging Diva Ultimate Portfolio Guide: Winning Clients With The Perfect Home Staging Portfolio.
STAGEPLUS has been in business less than a year, but already the need for a consistent labeling system is apparent. I love the suggestion of cross-filing for the portfolio. While that, too, would have become apparent in time, thanks for the idea now. What a time-saver!
Debra Gould says
Thanks for commenting Sheila, really glad I could save you some time! Congrats on your staging business!
Stacy Goade says
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Debra! I have been great about creating “before” and “after” photos for each of my staging projects but getting them organized so I can find them quickly has been a challenge. I file by street address but now see the value in cross-reference filing. Like Sheila, I appreciate that you have saved us time and shown us a way to keep photo grief to a minimum! Who else would we give us these tricks of the trade, but you!?
Debra Gould says
Fantastic Stacy. I SO appreciate you commenting and letting me know this was helpful! You keep me inspired to keep doing what I’m doing!
Kay Keeton says
Sometimes I think you can read minds! How did you know I was struggling with all these photos? I am redoing my webpage on Staging Diva.com and in the process of looking for more staging photos for Dallas,TX examples I realized how successful home staging has been for me. I could not have done it without your amazing home staging course. Thanks for reading my mind! Ha, Ha!
Debra Gould says
Kay, I love all the success you’ve had and appreciate your feedback! Can’t wait to see how your updated Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers listing comes together!
Jodi Whalen says
Debra, this is so timely, I have been in business now for 6 years and I too can longer remember the names of my clients, so I switched to street addresses for the last 3. I started this year by filing my jobs by redesign and staging, that seems to help a lot and I also go back and DELETE any old photos that are not worth keeping. My files are so big and you can waste a lot of memory by keeping photos you don’t need. I use Google’s Picasa to manage my photos and I make before and after ‘albums’ and I like to send them to my client and the realtor so they can be reminded of how far the house really came. I am on my second Seagate removable back up drive to house my photos. You can buy 1TB for under $100 now!! Amazing!
Debra Gould says
Jodi, first of all a huge congratulations to you for being in business for 6 years! I can’t believe I’ve known you that long already! It’s been a joy watching your business grow and remember fondly our Staging Diva dinner in New York a few years back.
Your idea to go back and delete old photos that are no longer worth keeping is a great one, and one I haven’t been diligent enough about. (Kind of like the paper clutter on my desk of ideas I may have outgrown already!).
I also love your Picasa idea and sending before and afters back to clients and realtors. You are right, people forget how bad things were after the fact.
Appreciate your comments and ideas. I know you’ll inspire other stagers! Thanks!!
Beth Lester says
What a great idea! This year has been my busiest (coming up on my 6th anniversary), and I am starting to have a hard time remembering the street names, which I’ve always used under each year. But it sure would be handy to be able to find specifics quickly by room. My system isn’t as “tag” friendly, but maybe we can come up with something.
Debra Gould says
Beth, glad I could help! And congratulations on 6 years as a home stager, that’s a fabulous milestone definitely worth celebrating! A great opportunity to reflect on how far you’ve come from where you started. Bravo! Hey, I think you might enjoy this article as part of your reflection: 10 Wow Moments as a Home Stager