How to prep your house for an in-home photo session

How to prep your house for an in-home photo session

In home family sessions are my faaaaavorite: I mean, comfy clothes, relaxed kiddos, and alllll the doggos. What’s not to love?!

You need to do a little bit of prep in your home for an upcoming in-home photo session, but don’t worry; it’s not hard!

I’m making some assumptions about your session, which are:

  1. You’re preparing for an in-home family or newborn session
  2. Your photographer is using the natural light in your home

I covered what to wear for your in-home session in a prior post, so now that your ‘fit is squared away, it’s time to get your house picture-fied!

Decide which areas of the house you’ll be shooting in.

Hint, hint: anywhere with good natural light is the likely answer! This often includes living room, primary bedroom, kids’ rooms, but might also be areas you wouldn’t think of, like a front entryway, stairs, and kitchen.

So, the well-lit areas are where you’ll be tidying up!

Why do I need to tidy up at all?!

Welp, it’s all about visual clutter.

At home, our eyes become immune to clutter. But on camera, every bit of clutter serves to distract from the subjects of the photo: YOU and your cute kids.

Task #1: Make like Marie Kondo and clear surfaces and remove distractions.

You don’t have to give gratitude and kiss your items goodbye; they’re just going on a little closet vacation for a bit!

Especially look for ultrabright colors—like the ones many baby toys are made in—because they are eye-catching, and not in a good way.

Kitchen counters

Take everything off the counter that you wouldn’t want front and center in a photo.

Dish scrubber, dishes drying in the sink, a cup full of pencils, a dish drying mat, even the toaster! Stash it in the pantry until later. No harm, no foul.

A small vase of flowers or a small green plant can stick around if they aren’t too obnoxious.

PRO TIP: Just before the session, wipe down the counters until they gleam. I love a good countertop reflection!

prep your house for in-home photos

Dining table

Clear the table completely. I often take shots of everyone sitting at the table, playing cards or board games, so have it cleared ahead of time so playing games is easier. Wipe it down with surface cleaner, so it’s shiny, too!

prep your house for in-home photos

The stuff on top of the fridge

This area tends to become a dumping ground, at least in my house. Clear it out!

Speaking of the fridge…

If the front’s covered with magnets, school art projects, etc., clear it out for your session. Everything can go right back up afterward!

The empty space above the kitchen cabinets

If your cabinets go all the way to the ceiling, you don’t have to worry about this one. It’s yet another common unnoticed dumping ground. Remove anything that’s visible from the height of a typical adult.

Again, let me be clear: all this stuff you declutter can be shoved into the mudroom or a closet. It’s just about getting out of the line of sight for now. 🙂

Baby toys: bouncers, playmats, circles of distraction, blocks, etc.

Plastic baby paraphernalia is usually made in obnoxious colors, so anything that fits the bill—big, plastic, and brightly colored—should go camp out in another room.

A few toys can stay, especially wooden toys and maybe a stuffy… like this little toy we included in an in-home session!

prep your house for in-home photos

Bedrooms (the ones we’ll shoot in)

Bedside tables should be clutter-free. Perhaps a lamp and a small stack of books and call it good? Remove the alarm clock, tuck the phone chargers down the side… make it look nice and neat.

Stairs and stairways

You probably wouldn’t think of it first, but stairs are a fun place to take a few shots, if the lighting’s there.

If you’ve got stuff hanging out on the stairs on its way to some other destination, tuck those away, too.

Task #2: A little bit of cleanup!

Make up the primary bed

prep your house for in-home photos

First, use all the pillows.

I like to shoot the whole family on the bed, including some of Mom and Dad leaning back on the pillows and headboard.

An all-white comforter is perfect, maybe with a textured throw tossed over the foot over the bed.

It doesn’t have to be fancy; besides, you’re the center of attention, not your bedding!

If you don’t have a quilt or comforter, a white sheet works perfectly fine. Light colors are better; they reflect more light back onto faces.

If your comforter is a bright and bold—orange, magenta, etc.—those colors will create funky color casts on faces. See if you can find another option around the house that might work instead!

Shut the doors, baby

prep your house for in-home photos

Shut the doors to your closets and bathrooms. I’ll be closing the doors to other areas as we move around the house, but it’s always good to start off with the little things done!

Windex your mirrors

prep your house for in-home photos

If you have mirrors around your home, give them a good Windexing! Mirrors are another favorite prop to use, and fingerprints will be no bueno.

Let there be (natural) light!

Open the blinds in all the important areas. Let that light in!

Dark, heavy curtains should be ALL the way open, for sure.

If you have white sheer panels as part of your window treatments, we’ll love you forever. Keep those in place; they soften the light coming in and they’re super dreamy.

Kill the lights!

This time I’m talkin’ artificial lights.

Just turn off all the lamps and lights in your house right before your session.

Why? Because most home bulbs give off yellow light, while most of the day the sun gives off blue-tinted light.

Mixing light temperatures in a single photo makes everything all screwy.

If light’s falling on your face from one yellow source (the light bulbs) and one blue one (the natural light), your complexion looks off, and it’s just not good.

You’re ready!

It’s time for your in-home session, and your home is all set!

Don’t worry if you missed something; your photog will probably notice anything you didn’t, and s/he can help you put items out of sight or make small adjustments as you go.

Now, go put on your comfy clothes and socks and enjoy your session!

RELATED POST: What to wear for your in-home photo session


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