Advice from a Philadelphia Real Estate Photographer

Do professional photos really make a difference?

Whether you are in the real estate business or in the process of selling your home, you have probably come across the challenge of creating an online presence for your property. Now, we will all agree that the presentation of the home is important but there is also a huge temptation to cut corners and save a few bucks in the process. We get it. When it comes to photography, you might wonder if hiring a professional is really worth the effort and expense, thinking a few snaps from a smartphone might just do the trick. Well, we polled some of our top-notch agents and our very own staff photographer, Kate Devlin, to see if going with a pro is really worthwhile. The response was a resounding yes for a multitude of reasons.

Making the First Impression

We all know that in business and in life, making a good first impression matters. This applies to homes as well. Almost all homebuyers begin their search online and, with hundreds of homes on the market, they may only view your property for a matter of seconds. If you want to grab their attention in this short time span, a series of professional photos is definitely the way to go. Our very own, Mike McCann, swears by professional photography. He states, “Professional photos are the first impression one gets when viewing homes. As we all know first impressions are lasting ones. Nothing is more important in this day and age of the internet than using professional photos to market and represent a property. It will increase the actual activity on the home dramatically, help sell the property and create desire and appeal to the buyers and their friends or family who view it.” In Fact, Kate Devlin states that her greatest success has been “shooting homes that have been on the market with amateur photos that have gotten offers within days after the new photos have been posted!” Clearly, the first impression matters.


Kate Devlin, received a BFA in 2 Dimensional Fine Art from Moore College of Art & Design. She spent years studying different realms of photography and has extensive experience photographing homes all over Philadelphia. She knows all of the quirks of the trade and is skilled in presenting a property in a manner that adds rather than subtracts from its appeal. Though she was very resistant to flaunting her expertise or pointing out the flaws she sees in amateur photos from RE agents, she did craftily state, “I wouldn’t try to fudge my way through writing up a real estate transaction,” adding a subtle, matter-of-fact smirk.  Mike McCann Team agent, Lauren Acker, wholeheartedly agreed with Devlin’s gentle subtext, adding that “professionals produce quality, beautiful photos that show the house in its best light and would be very difficult for a nonprofessional to obtain. Especially in Philly homes which are often more difficult to shoot because of their narrow layout.” Simply knowing how to take a quality and professional photo, not to mention all of the work pros put in before and after each shot, leads to an appealing presentation of your property that showcases its beauty. If you want your property to stand out from the rest, we recommend using someone with experience in making them look their absolute best!

Check out some of Kate’s Splits of amateur vs. her pro pics!


Kate Devlin offered us a little insight on the basics of what can make or break a real estate photo. One of her biggest concerns was an utter lack of staging, causing homes to look cluttered, dirty or out-of-date. She explained that “homeowners who care and a home that is ready to be shot make all the difference” and urged sellers to.

Put it all away!  Stash the stuff! Get rid of all the extras for the day of the shoot. Clear the fridge of magnets, take down the kid’s artwork, take the bathrobes and hanging junk off of doors, clear almost everything off the bathroom counters except a few well-chosen things.  It may take an extra hour, but you just have a swipe or a click’s worth of time to make an impression on buyers.

Devlin was adamant about this issue and the potential for a few ill-placed items to ruin a quality photo.


Do you know how to set up flattering lighting for a photography shoot? That’s okay, we don’t either. This is just another reason why hiring a professional matters. Kate Devlin even confessed that this was something she had to learn to perfect in the field. As one seasoned real estate professional simply states, “lighting matters.” Unless you have time to read Photography for Dummies or enroll in a photography course (we don’t) we recommend that you let a pro handle this vital element of presenting your home. Mike McCann Team agent, Paul Chin, noted that “better lighting and wider images bring out sharper colors and contrasts leading to better presentation of the property and the agent.”

Space and Scale

Let’s face it. In the real estate business, size matters. When people are viewing a home digitally, they want to get a good sense of the scale, layout and usable space in the home. Julie McCann a real estate professional with extensive experience in presenting and perusing properties, explains that amateur photos tend to be “choppy, showing less of the full space of a room, and ultimately less of a clear understanding of the layout.” Devlin agrees, stating that many people unintentionally shrink their properties. She explains, “Scale is important. Sometimes over-sized furniture or accessories can really throw off visual perception of a room. An extra-large towel hanging where a hand towel normally would go, and an over-sized wastebasket can really give someone the impression that a room is much smaller than it is.” Devlin also makes a point to emphasize unique and exciting spaces such as “a craft corner or a breakfast nook so people can understand how they could use the space.” Yet another benefit of using a pro is their ability to use their artistic eye to capture the highlights of a home and present them to possible buyers. Julie McCann explains that professionals have the ability to make people.

fall in love with a property, get a real feel for the place and even start envisioning morning coffee on the deck!

Customer Service

The mark of a real professional is their ability to interact with clients and add to their level of comfort during the active and emotional process of listing their home. Kate Devlin recalled numerous instances when she was required to really talk clients through the process and connected with them by discussing the major transition occurring in their lives. Local RE Photographer and Owner of Plush Image Corporations, Matt Robnett chimed in on this important issue as well, stating that “an experienced real estate photography team will be expertly trained to interact with sellers. I encourage my clients to let us shoot alone with sellers because we are experts at representing their business in a friendly and professional manner, and make great use of our one-on-one time.” Clearly, pros know how to impress your clients and properly represent your business, showing customers that they are valued and respected.

Next time you are confronted with the temptation to take a shortcut and skip out on professional photos, keep this advice in mind and consider what a difference quality photos make.  Using a pro can help you avoid embarrassing blunders and prevent you from undermining the quality of your property. As Kate Devlin states as her personal mission and the number one benefit of hiring a professional photographer, “A professional knows how most effectively to present your home or investment.”

About Kate Devlin

Kate Devlin is a graduate of Moore College of Art and Design. She has a passion for photography and has traveled abroad, taking photos all over the world. She is equally passionate about photographing Philadelphia and capturing all of its culture and eccentricities. She found herself working in real estate after agreeing to help a friend present a number of properties. Word of her professionalism and talent quickly spread and she found herself with a number of clients and daily real estate photography assignments. Kate also does occasional head shots, family photos, engagement shoots, and wedding photography. She is extremely grateful for her success and takes great pride in getting feedback from satisfied customers. One of her favorite aspects of the job is seeing her work on display in different formats. In the future, Kate plans to establish her online presence, take on new clients and continue doing what she loves, taking high-quality photos.

Written by Patrick Kaisinger (Mike McCann Team Blogger Extraordinaire)

Photos by Kate Devlin (Mike McCann Team Photographer Extraordinaire)

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