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MLS Photography
for Real Estate Agents
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20 Minute Class

The class objective (goal) is to give tips and suggestions for better MLS pictures.  This is a 20 minute class - meaning you should be able to finish in 20 minutes.  I recommend about 10 minutes to finish the outline on this page, and another 10 minutes to go over the comprehensive example.  There is an optional final exam at the end.

The class is free.


  1. The subject of this class is the one primary MLS photo.
  2. The photo at the top of your MLS listing says a lot about you.
  3. How much effort/energy/money did you invest in the photo of your smiling face that appears on your business card?
  4. The first impression of your property is the MLS photo.
  5. Take a minute to look at this actual example from MLS.

Camera Set Up

(Not all cameras use the same terminology.  My camera is Kodak LS443 with dock.  You may need to refer to the user guide for your camera). 

  1. Keep your battery charged.
  2. Exposure Metering = Center Weight (this is very important)
  3. Image Size - I use the medium setting which produces an image of 1,800 x 1,200 pixels.  The file size varies - about 700 KB.   I recommend you set your camera to at least 800 x 600 pixels.
  4. On Camera File Storage = Anything that is not internal memory is OK - I use an MMC/SD Card which gives me a capacity of about 120 pictures.
  5. When I turn the camera on, I use auto mode i.e., point & shoot.
  6. Zoom Lens - I (usually) use the default = max wide angle
  7. Everything else is idiot proof - I leave it alone

Artistic Considerations

  1. Close the garage door, and remove all "clutter" (the best driveway is an empty driveway).
  2. If there is a trash can in front of the house, move it out of the picture.
  3. A rainy day can be a good day for a picture.  Snowy day is always bad.  Soft light is better than a bright day with intense light.  You have no control of the light - all you can do is come back at some other time.
  4. Time of Day -  You want the light (sun) at your back.
  5. Time of Year -   Spring is best.  Autumn and summer are both good.  Winter is the worst season for MLS photos.
  6. Where?  Proper distance from the subject (house).  Start near the house and walk backwards until you can just barely get the entire house in the photo - then take 2 more giant steps backwards (literally, not figuratively).
  7. Where?  Get at least one photo from each of the 3 angles.

Dark Room

  1. You must crop.
  2. I use the Photoshop crop tool.  I recommend that you do too.  Photoshop is high tech and expensive.  It will require a few hours of learning curve.
  3. Kodak Easy Share is free, easier to learn, and will allow you to produce an acceptable end result.
  4. Crop according to your MLS aspect ratio.  With Photoshop you can get it exactly right.  With Kodak EasyShare, you will have to settle for "close enough".  Aspect ratio is determined (set) by your MLS.  Denver MLS is 448 x 290 pixels (129,920 total pixels) for an aspect ratio of 1.5448:1.  In Massachusetts, the MLS file is 512 x 400 pixels (204,800 pixels) for aspect ratio of 1.28:1 (Massachusetts is more like a square, less like a rectangle).  This does make a difference. You need to get this part right.
  5. Optimize (reduce) image size and file size.  Keeping the file size small will save you time uploading.  If you submit a file that is too big, MLS will change it for you.  Your best option is to submit a file that MLS will accept with no changes.
  6. It's OK if your file size is a little too big.  It's never OK for your file size to be too small.
  7. Leave everything else alone.
  8. Take 10 minutes to study the comprehensive example

File System Considerations

  1. Never lose or modify the original file - always work on a copy
  2. Transfer and copy from the camera to your computer right now while you are thinking about it.
  3. Keep your camera memory card tidy/clean.


  1. Make a periodic (careful and critical) review of your listings - including the MLS photo.
  2. Update (replace) your MLS photo for improved market appeal.
  3. A system that generates good MLS photos costs no extra money and very little extra effort.
  4. Bad MLS photos (including the dreaded no-photo) may damage your reputation and act as a "referral repellant".
  5. Your good photos will generate word of mouth and Internet referrals - for your property and for you.
  6. As an example - read this quote from the Hewlett Packard (HP) Website:

Phil Hoover, a real estate agent in Boise, has used digital photography technologies to create a powerful competitive advantage over his competitors. "Despite being a relative newcomer to the Boise market, I have built a deep level of name recognition," says Hoover. "I recently had a seller who called all seven offices in our region to find me and list his home with me.

Final Comments:

  1. The single most important thing you can do to improve your MLS photos is to pay attention - if you are reading this it means you are already 87% of the way there.
  2. In order to wind up with 1 good picture -- take 6.  Experiment and test.  Compare the results.  Select the best.
  3. You can do this.

Are you interested in generating referrals for yourself?  Take a minute and look at the alumni page.  This is an easy and effective way to generate positive publicity for yourself and a link to your Website.  I urge you to take the exam and submit your answers via email.  You can do this.  It costs nothing, and it just might work.


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