When you’re building up your home staging portfolio, it’s tempting to include every home staging photo you’ve taken in your client’s home. But this can be a real pitfall because you should only show the most effective photos. In general, even three sets of before and after shots should be enough to capture a potential client’s attention and generate interest in working with you.
Not only do you want to avoid showing too many photos of the same room, you also want to avoid overloading potential clients with too many photos at once. Here are 5 tips to choosing the most effective before and after photos for your home staging portfolio.
1. Pretend you’ve never been in the room when looking at your photos.
While you might know your home staging services resulted in a dramatic transformation, if that’s not evident from the photos alone, they don’t belong in your portfolio. We need have a more objective eye when evaluating our photos because the viewer doesn’t know (or care about) the rest of the story. Look at what’s going on in the photos, not what you remember from the room itself.
2. Don’t rely on long photo captions to sell your transformation.
To be effective, a dramatic home staging transformation must be obvious at first glance. Potential clients shouldn’t need to study the photos to see what tiny things are different, or read a long and detailed caption. The photos have to be strong enough on their own.
3. Show a range of home staging situations.
Unless you intend to specialize exclusively in vacant or resale homes don’t show all of one type or the other. If all your before photos are empty rooms then a home seller looking for a home stager to work on their resale home might think, “She only does vacant homes. She’s not appropriate for us because we already have a house full of furniture.”
Conversely, if all your before and after photos demonstrate how you’ve rearranging the furnishings that were already there, the seller of a vacant property will assume you don’t stage vacant homes.
Your range should also include different rooms and different styles if possible. Perhaps one of your home staging portfolio pairs is a traditional dining room while another is a modern living room for example.
4. Demonstrate more than your cluttering busting talents.
The biggest, and most common, home staging portfolio pitfall to avoid is showing a bunch of before and after photos that just show de-cluttering. Most often new home stagers make this mistake with kitchens. The only thing that’s different is they’ve taken all the junk off the counters and the photos off the front of the fridge. Otherwise, it’s exactly the same kitchen.
That’s a wasted opportunity to sell your home staging services because potential clients looking at these photos will think, “I’ve got to de-clutter my kitchen. I can do that myself.”
An effective home staging portfolio only includes photos that will make someone think, “Wow! I never would have thought of doing that on my own. I need this home stager to get results like this in my own home.”
5. Get opinions if you can’t decide which pairs to choose.
If you can’t decide which of your home staging photos to choose, it might be helpful to put 6 or 10 sets of before and after photos in front of other people and ask, “Which do you think are the most dramatic transformations and why?” Try and avoid doing this in a group. You’ll get a better range or honest reactions one-on-one.
Their opinions may or may not be valid, especially if they aren’t representative of your target market. That’s why it’s good to ask “why?” They might tell you a reason and you realize that its not really representative of most people.
While outside opinions can be helpful (and provide insights you hadn’t thought of), take their opinions with a grain of salt. Ultimately you have to make the final selections for your own home staging portfolio.
Please add to the comments section. Let me know if these tips were helpful, share your own, or ask me anything you like about home staging photos so I can address these in a follow up article.
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.