Posts Tagged photography

If you think every home I walk into is ready for pictures, you are wroooooong. Of course, by the time I have worked my magic (by magic, I mean hard work and carefully crafted skills and talent) they all look photo ready.

But if you want your home to have more visits, your pictures need to be amazing. The photos you post of your home online are the first piece of marketing. The photos will either catch the eye of a potential buyer or they will keep on scrolling.

Real Estate Photography Rachel Carter Images

Now what should you do to prep your home for amazing pictures?


  • The kitchen counter tops should be nearly bare. Stuff things in the pantry. No knife blocks. No toasters. No dish drying racks. A fruit bowl is okay. No coffee maker. No salt and pepper. Bare.
  • Take three-quarters of the decor on your shelves, and put it in a box. Take down all personal photos.
  • Hang pictures over terrible wall blemishes (like the spot on the wall your toddler tested out some new markers). Strategically positioning furniture and decor to cover blemishes for the photos is perfectly acceptable.
  • If your closet is a mess, organize some of it, then stuff the rest in boxes and put in the garage. People love to see photos of closets, but a closet of chaos is a turn off. If you can’t keep it tidy, how is ALL their stuff supposed to fit? So thinks a potential buyer anyway.
  • Leave nothing but the lamp and a decorative item on your bedside tables.
  • Remove small pieces of furniture that are there for convenience but not for decorative reasons (like the comfy ottoman that you love to put your feet on, but it’s seen better days or the over-the-sofa end table where you put your hot tea and computer).
  • Hide dog bowls, kitty litter boxes, and other traces of animals. Someone with an animal allergy could write off your entire home, sight unseen, just because they saw a litter box.
  • Tuck away cords and extra electronics.
  • Remove trashcans. Because nobody wants to see a picture with your trash can.

Real Estate Photography Kitchen Rachel Carter Images


  • Do you have nice cupboards with pullout shelving? Stage it with just a few bowls or pans so potential buyers can see how spacious it is.
  • Are your closets spacious? Pack up the junk. Pull out extra clothes so the racks are spaced evenly.
  • Do NOT showcase the inside of your toilet. Put all the toilet seats down.
  • Open your shower curtains. Buyers want to see the bathtub.
  • Razors, loofahs, soaps, etc. should all be removed from the shower. Stash them under the sink and leave only shampoo and conditioner, unless the bottles are obnoxious (huge or brightly colored).

Real Estate Photography Rachel Carter Images

Real Estate Photography Rachel Carter Images


  • Channel your inner HGTV star. Small bouquets of flowers throughout the home (dining table, kitchen island, bathroom counters) go a long way for setting the tone.
  • Make your bed. Make it fluffy and cozy looking with lots of pillows. Put a tray on it with a stack of books and a vase with a flower. Practical? Absolutely not. But buyers will look at those photos and imagine they too were spending their mornings waking in such a cozy, romantic, luxurious space.
  • Pull furniture away from walls. Arrange it in a conversational manner, even if that means you can’t view the TV from any of the angles.

Real Estate Photography Rachel Carter Images


  • Fabrics (blankets, pillows, drapes) create an ambiance of luxury and beauty.
  • Colors help the pictures to pop. Try to stick with solids or bold patterns. Pin stripes and small patterns can photograph weird.

Real Estate Photography Rachel Carter Images


  • You don’t want bare walls, but you also don’t want your face on the wall. Large pieces of simple art make great statements. Canvas prints from Rachel Carter Images are the perfect way to spruce up your walls and showcase the beautiful area.

Real Estate Photography Rachel Carter Images


  • See what I did there? Green grass… green money… haha 😉
  • If you don’t have a perfectly manicured lawn, there are still ways to add greenery. Potted plants on the stairs, porch, and deck create a feeling of care.
  • Put out chairs on the porch, put pillows in the chairs

Real Estate Photography Rachel Carter Images


  • Thoroughly clean everything, duh.
  • Open all blinds and curtains.
  • Replace all light bulbs.
  • Make all beds.
  • Remove all small rugs.
  • Turn off TVs and computer monitors.
  • Clean all magnets off the fridge, all notes off the peg boards, all words off the chalkboard (unless you want to write your address and your broker’s name)
  • Hang up clean towels, neatly.
  • No dishes in the sink.

Real Estate Photography Rachel Carter Images


Basically, you want your house to look like a staged home, void of your personality and mark. It should be neutral and generic in decor so the photographs highlight the tall ceilings, hard wood floors, and beautiful chandeliers. Not the espresso machine in the kitchen or the goofy family photo on the fridge.

The little preparations can go a long way. Some people think I can just fix their house blemishes with Photoshop, but that’s not how it works. I can’t create photos that don’t represent the reality of the house. It’s unethical.

I’m happy to change out the sky to give the outside a cheerful appearance. You can’t control the weather after all. But if your banister is broken, I’m not photo shopping it fixed. So before I arrive, go through this list. It takes a little time but I promise you, the photos will be worth it.

Are you getting ready to sell your home or know someone who is? Email me today to schedule real estate photos for your property.

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What’s in my photography bag? What camera equipment makes the cut & what gets left at home? 

(I’ll keep the cherry chapstick, old gum, random change, and that crushed protein bar that’s still in the wrapper, out of the post.)

The questions that people ask me most are:

  1. What’s in your bag?
  2. What lens do you use most often?

I finally took the time to sort through my bag so I can answer those questions for you.

What’s In My Photography Bag | My Bag(s):

I don’t actually use just one bag…I’m currently using three!! It all depends on where I’m going or what I’m photographing.

The bag I use most often for local real estate shoots is the Gracie by Jo Totes. It’s $119 on Amazon and perfect for my camera body, lens, and flash.

I can put my keys, phone and a few other items (batteries, memory cards, business cards, etc) as well. The exterior is so soft and it’s the perfect size for a real estate shoot. I do not normally use this bag for the beach, but I have once or twice.


For traveling and/or the beach, a backpack is a must. I am currently using the Manfrotto Pro-Light 3N1-26 Backpack ($170 on Amazon) and it fits so much stuff!!! I weighed it before I left for Ireland and I had 28 pounds worth of stuff in there. It made all the difference when you’re walking 6 miles in a day! Very comfortable and easy access to your stuff from all angles.

This bag is awesome on the beach too. I have yet to have any sand problems. It comes with a waterproof covering which could come in handy.


The newest bag I’ve added to my collection is The Libby 2.0 by Kelly Moore. I actually tried to buy this bag several times, but it kept selling out! I finally received it in August, at least 6 months after I tried to buy it the first time. It apparently was a very popular bag – although I haven’t found anyone else that has it!? Weird…

So far, it is holding up well, and I can get a lot more in it than the Gracie bag… it traveled nicely and has been to the beach. I was very comfortable hauling it, my iPad, camera body, flash, three lenses and all my other personal items across a few airports.

Something I consider often while carrying expensive equipment is that I don’t want a camera bag that looks like I’m carrying expensive equipment. The price is $249 on Amazon.


What’s In My Photography Bag | Camera:

I think the answer to this will surprise most people, but the camera body I use primarily is the Canon 6D. I’m using the first version… but you can find the upgrade Canon 6D Mark II info here:

When it comes to a camera body, it takes me awhile to upgrade. I’d prefer to put money into my lenses, and when I get to know the camera body inside and out, it takes awhile to get used to a new one. The images aren’t as great right away.

Most professional photographers that are Canon users shoot with the 5D Mark (whatever number we’re on now) … but I have yet to even look at those!! I’m pretty set in my ways. 🙂

What’s In My Photography Bag | Lenses:

Here’s the fun part for me. Which lens?

I actually posted on Instagram with some of my lenses while packing for my trip to Ireland in August. That was definitely the highlight of my packing!!

Choosing lenses to travel with is not easy!! #canon

A post shared by Rachel Carter Images (@rachelcarterimages) on

The lens I use the most is the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 III USM Lens. The amount of love I have for this lens would have to be a separate, sappy love post. It’s by far the most versatile lens I have and it’s what I use for most real estate shoots (but not all). This lens is the heaviest that I own, and at 16mm it usually needs lens correction during editing. Definitely my preferred lens in my photography bag though.

After that, it really depends on what I’m shooting or where I’m going. The following is just a random list of the other lenses I bring, according to what I’m shooting or where.

The Nifty Fifty Lens. This thing is just a must have for every photographer. This is my creative lens when I’m trying to do something different or out of my normal every day shooting. (Canon EF 50mm f/1.8) I’ve taken some really cool shots with this lens and it does NOT disappoint. It is also small and always fits.

Along with that prime lens, I use the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8  if I’m doing portraits (which is not often at all). But it’s a great lens for portraits and I’m happy to have it for those times I need it. Be careful you’re not using manual focus. It can be tricky but the resulting images from manual focus can be brilliant.



Another great lens for real estate, and great back up lens, is the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 lens. I do usually have this in my photography bag as a backup, and also there are some spots you just need that extra 5mm. This is much lighter than the 16-35mm which is phenomenal.


Last but not least (and I may be forgetting some), is the telephoto that I take everywhere. I frequently end up needing it. Telephoto is not my favorite way to take photos, and this just isn’t my favorite lens, but this one does the job.

I’m open to suggestions on upgrading it though! Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 IS USM lens.

I tend to leave this on my crop sensor and have my dad use it because he enjoys seeing in the distance and taking photos of wildlife. When I finally get time to go through the photos of Ireland this winter, I’m excited to see what he was able to capture with it!

What’s In My Photography Bag | Flash:

I’m very basic when it comes to flash, but I use it all the time for real estate. The Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II is what I currently have in my photography bag. Do you have any cool tricks to share about this one? TELL ME! I like it, but I’m open to suggestions too.


What’s In My Photography Bag | Tripod:

The tripod. Yes. The best invention that I wish I used much more regularly. I just don’t.

I love long exposure and for some reason it is something I save for the colder months (of course, when I’m freezing outside taking long shots). But hey, that’s when I actually have more time to be creative. The sunsets and sunrises are also more colorful in the winter.

Manfrotto BeFree Compact Aluminum Travel Tripod is very lightweight and fits perfectly on my Manfrotto 3N1 backpack. It works great on sinking sand. I do rinse it out so it won’t get rusty but I’ve had it a few years and it’s in great condition considering the salt water and sand elements I put it in. I do not use a ball head (although it’s on the list of things to try out) and if you are looking for a tripod or ball head I recommend reading up on the reviews by Mark C. Morris Photography here.

What’s In My Photography Bag | Remote:

I use the Vello Wireless ShutterBoss II Remote Switch.

What’s In My Photography Bag | The Oddest Thing:

While writing this post, I chatted with my wonderful photographer support group about what was in their bags (and really, what a fun conversation that turned into!) but the best question posed was “What’s the oddest thing someone would find in your camera bag?”

The answer to this is definitely the Scentsy Bonfire Beach Car Bar. I use them in the car and once the bar doesn’t smell as strong in the car, I move them to the camera bags and tie it to the inside zipper. I wonder what people think when they see it!

scentsy bonfire beach car bar rachel carter camera bag


camera lenses in rachel carter photography bag

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to join my Facebook group, where novice and skilled photographers alike, enjoy sharing their passion, tips, tricks, and of course, beautiful photographs. If you’re not already a fan, go follow my page for a glimpse of what I produce with all this gear!

No Furniture? No Problem With Virtual Home Staging!

By: Kelly Presbrey

Virtual Staging Rachel Carter Images Topsail Island Real Estate Photographer

When preparing to sell your house, home staging is a must! If furniture is out of the question, consider virtual home staging.

Your photos are the first thing home shoppers will see. Furniture and decor will be digitally and realistically placed into photos of vacant or furnished properties. Give buyers a reason to love your photos and you’ll be on your way to selling or renting faster and for top dollar.

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Pecan Grove: 102 South Sea Lily Ct

Written by: Elizabeth Giles

A picturesque home in the waterfront community of Pecan Grove, this beauty was made for elegant entertaining.

102 S Sea Lily Ct Pecan Grove Hampstead, NC

With exquisite finishes including Swiss Alps Granite from Brazil, the tremendous chef’s kitchen beckons you to host a small family gathering or a huge celebration with all your friends.

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Scandinavian House  |  NC Modernist Houses  |  B+O Design

Written By: Scott Ogden

“Architects live and die by the images taken of their work; as these images alone are what people see.  For every one person who visits a private house, there may be ten thousand who only view it as a photo.”

-Julius Shulman, father of modern architectural photography in LA throughout the 40’s to the 80’s.

This sentiment couldn’t be more true with Pinterest, Houzz, and design blogs and plan websites as the prime way many people ‘shop’ for home ideas, be they full residential designs, spatial ideas, new materials/colors, or objects such as furniture, appliances or lighting.

Many of Shulman’s images are the reason that architects like Charles & Ray Eames, Richard Neutra, Rudolf Schindler, Pierre Koenig and others became household names after WWII.  There’s a great documentary about him; (Visual Acoustics; The Modernism of Julius Shulman– which is available on AmazonPrime and sometimes shows on PBS and Sundance Channel)
julius shulman black white modern architecture photographer

B+O Design Studio

In eleven or so years here in Wilmington, our office, B + O design studio, has developed a specialty of designing custom, contemporary, ‘green’ houses and buildings.   As an architect and landscape architecture firm on the coast, we get to work on some wonderful, unique sites and neighborhoods in North Carolina.  These are one-off, special residential buildings that need some planning and thoughtfulness in terms of capturing those photos that take it from the owner’s day-to-day, intimate use and understanding to sharing as spaces that communicate & encourage others to think ‘outside the box’- even if it is in actuality still a rectangular volume.

It’s also fun to document the process.  Working with an architect is much different from that of a design/build/development or buying stock home plans; the process creates the product and each result is as different as the specific site and the arrangement of rooms & spaces of the program.  This image is a GIF of an early rough perspective rendering of the house, bled into the house as finished.

scandinavian house rendering


Scandinavian House West Exterior facing channel

West Exterior- facing channel

Shulman had the luxury of LA’s mountains & Palm Springs deserts for the contrast of houses with clean lines to jagged mountains, exotic landscapes & sandy vistas.  We’re in a flat relatively urbanized coastal plain with less distinctive natural topography, but when the subject, a simple grey & white box (that’s been nicknamed the ‘Scandinavian House’) is juxtaposed to the surroundings, the uniqueness of the architecture can stand out.  Given that Wrightsville Beach is known for simple salt-box & mid-Atlantic vernacular forms, having the two adjacent houses in this shot shows contrast and difference at all levels.  Windows (black vs. white), (big vs. single), trim (none vs picture framing), siding (lines/texture vs. flatness), accent color (grey vs white), Roof (flat vs. pitched), etcetera.

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Presets for Beach Photography – Review of Sleeklens Presets for Lightroom with long exposure & sunset images of Topsail Island, NC. 


Lightroom presets are ever gaining in popularity due to the simple, consistent variety it allows a photographer to apply to each photo.  With the rise of this popular Adobe program, other experts have stepped into the mix, adding a plethora of new and exciting presets.  One such expert, is Sleeklens.


Sleeklens provided me with a the package they call Through the Woods Workflow.   I was thrilled to jump in and see how well it enhanced the photo (common for all presets) while actually maintaining a natural look (uncommon for landscape, nature, and environmental photography).  

sunset south topsail beach edited sleeklens lightroom presets

Image 2548: (South Topsail Beach)
Edited with SleekLens Through The Woods Presets (Version 2)


I was looking for some specific traits:


  1. Is it intuitive?
  2. Do the landscape presents stay true to nature?  
  3. Do the presets require excessive tweaking?
  4. Do they add a wow factor?

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