A home is often still lived in by a family prior to its listing on the market, even if it has already been staged. Of those families, 37 percent include children under the age of 18 still living under the roof.

Real estate photographers must take professional, quality photos of homes even when families — some with pets, children, or both — are still occupying them.

But pets and children don’t always care — or understand — that a home must be kept neat and clean during the selling process. They (rightfully!) want to play, but that means photographers must learn how to shoot a home even when pets and children are around.

Thankfully, real estate photographers can make use of a few tips and tricks to make things a little easier for everyone.

Give Your Client a Prep Cheat Sheet

When you schedule an appointment to shoot a client’s home, provide them with a pre-shoot prep cheat sheet. The cheat sheet should list:

  • General tips for how to clean the home
  • Advice to use the same type of lighting across fixtures
  • Instructions to remove personal belongings, like toiletries and photos
  • The need to clear away clutter, including toys and sports equipment
  • Booster chairs, dog beds, and other non-necessary children/pet furniture is out of sight
  • Children’s bedrooms are cleared of personalization, including decals and photos
  • Pets are crated, brought outside, or kept somewhere off-site
  • And other recommendations and suggestions you feel are warranted

A pre-shoot cheat sheet will give your clients an easy-to-follow guideline to prepare for your arrival. Not only will it mean the home is ready for you to start shooting, but it will also provide suggestions for how to minimize the impact of pets and kids during your appointment.

Call Ahead

The best-laid plans sometimes fall apart. A child or pet might be ill, prompting a homeowner to schedule a doctor visit — and throwing a wrench into your appointment to photograph the home.

Thankfully, all but the most last-minute cancellations and reschedules can be avoided by calling ahead to confirm you’re still expected and that all is well with your client.

Confirming an appointment is a great way to protect your time and remind some of the more forgetful clients that you’ll soon be on your way. If something unexpected has come up beforehand, you’ll know ahead of time and can adjust your schedule.

Walk Through the Property

Upon arrival, ask the homeowner or agent to take you for a brief tour through the property. Not only is this a great time to visually scope out aspects of the home to feature in your photos, but a walkthrough will give you an idea as to the cleanliness and presentation of the property.

After all, kids and pets aren’t known for picking up after themselves. Request that any toys and other items are put away prior to the shoot. If children or pets are present, respectfully suggest letting them play in a room you won’t be shooting in, or that you’ll shoot in first or last, so that they’re kept entertained and out of the way for the rest of the shoot.

Show Up Prepared

Selling a home is hectic and stressful. No matter how hard your client tries, it’s totally possible for them to overlook or forget something.

You can help them out — and clean up a shot — by coming prepared with lint rollers and bins.

If a pet has recently laid on a piece of furniture and left some hair behind, pass a lint roller over it prior to taking your photos. And if you come upon a veritable treasure trove of action figures, collect them into a bin to clear them from your shot.

Be Patient and Professional

Children and pets don’t often understand what’s going on when their home is up for sale. “Strangers” (agents, possible homebuyers, and photographers like you) may be visiting with increased frequency. Furniture may have been moved or temporarily replaced. And many of their belongings may have been sold or boxed up already.

It can be stressful, to say the least.

While their presence during a shoot might be stressful for you, you’re the professional in the situation. Speak with kindness and be patient if the home isn’t 100 percent ready for you to start snapping photos immediately upon arrival.

Try to understand that, despite your client’s best efforts, a pet or kid may very well run across the scene while you’re shooting. Laugh it off while your client gets them situated again, then continue taking photos. No harm, no foul!

After the Shoot

With proper preparation and a professional demeanor, shooting a piece of real estate in which pets and kids are present doesn’t have to be unduly stressful. Clients and agents alike will appreciate your patience.

By acting professional and respectful, you may even earn repeated business through referrals or the chance to recommend your other services.