Got 30 Minutes? Fast Steps to a Clean Home Photo Studio

portrait studio

The grandparents just called and good news! They want to take your kids out for the afternoon. YESSSSS!

You’ve been meaning to have some quiet time in your home photo studio to download the wedding you shot this weekend and to catch up on some retouching.

You’ve tied the kids shoes, kissed them on the head and are settling down in front of your computer with your fresh coffee when….IT HAPPENS.

BAHH! The dreaded text comes in from your client:

“Hey I’m actually going to be with my realtor looking at some houses in your area in about 30 minutes. Do you mind if I stop by and pick up the framing and wedding album for my mom?”

You look down at your yoga pants and can’t help but suddenly notice all the Hot Wheels, books and cracker crumbs decorating the carpet. And of course this is all right in the path your client will walk through to get into your photo studio.

Your thirsty houseplants are BARELY hanging on to life and the dust bunnies are clinging to all the trim and baseboards.

Why did you let the kids play beauty salon in the bathroom this morning?!

You are about to launch into sweaty panic mode, but first take a deep breath.

You’ve got 30 MINUTES to get your photo studio client ready.

Crank some tunes, it’s time to hustle up. You’ve got this! Here’s a timeline and plan of attack.

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Tip #1: Photo Studio Clutter Busting

photo studio, portrait studio

Clear the clutter in your home photo studio in just 5 minutes.

Time it takes: 5 minutes

Grab your emergency photo studio cleaning and client prep supply basket and you’re off.

I recommend using 2 laundry baskets.

Fill basket #1 with emergency cleaning supplies:

  • Extended reach duster
  • Windex wipes
  • Magic Eraser (to get the scuffs off the walls)
  • Spray bottle of plain water
  • Scented candles and a lighter
  • Vase
  • Clean throw pillows
  • Container of cleaning wipes
  • Sticky roller for lint and pet hair
  • Clean bathroom hand towel
  • Clean bathroom mats
  • A few favorite client album samples for the coffee table
  • Rolled up welcome mat
  • Clean, simple but nice outfit that doesn’t require ironing
  • Dry shampoo

Nest a second, empty laundry basket underneath your emergency cleaning basket.

Use this empty basket to stash all the clutter in areas your clients may access in your home photo studio (bathroom, client area, etc). Then tuck it away in the closet.

If you have bulky kids toys in your house, purchase a really cute play tent or teepee that flows with your house decor. When clients arrive, throw all the random kids toys inside and close the flap.

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 25 minutes

Tip #2: Speed Dusting

Time it takes: 3 minutes

Don’t waste time with finding and dragging around a step stool.

Use your extended reach duster to quickly hit anything up high in your main client area and photo studio.

Think crown moulding, house plants, the clock and artwork, your light fixture, bookshelves and their contents, etc.

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 22 minutes

Tip #3: Shine On

photo studio, portrait studio

Quickly polish the noticeable flat surfaces around your portrait studio with windex wipes or like products.

Time it takes: 3 minutes

Don’t waste time with paper towels and a spray bottle of window cleaner. When you are in a rush, just use Windex wipes.

Make sure you get all the glass around the front door and on all your framed photography in client areas and in your home photo studio.

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 19 minutes

Tip #4: Erase the Grime

Time it takes: 3 minutes

Did the kids use the wall as a napkin AGAIN?!

Grab that magic eraser and look around at all the main areas you commonly touch and your clients will when they come to your photo studio, too: Door knob, banister, light switches.

Wipe off any accumulated grime that we become blind to on a daily basis. No one wants to touch a crusty door knob.

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 16 minutes

Tip #5: Perk up the Plants

photo studio, portrait studio

You want the plants in your portrait studio to look lively. A quick spritz of water and a little primping should do the trick.

Time it takes: 1 minute

Quickly spritz the thirsty house plants with plain water to give them shine and life. Whisper to them your apologies and promise to give them a hearty drink later.

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 15 minutes

Tip #6: Flip and Fluff

Time it takes: 2 minutes

Reserve one side of your couch cushions to be kept safe for clients when they come to your home photo studio. Keep this side flipped down. When clients arrive, flip them over to reveal a clean, crayon and dog hair free side. Just remember to flip them back over when they leave.

Next, grab those reserved throw pillows from your emergency basket and place them on the couch.

Use the sticky roller to hit any spots on your other chairs or ottomans.

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 13 minutes

Tip #7: Arm Your Table with Samples

portrait studio

Placing a few sample albums around your photo studio can add a pleasantly subtle marketing touch.

Time it takes: 1 minute

Grab the cleaning wipe container and wipe down the coffee table.

Then grab your client sample albums out of the emergency basket and put them on your table. Voila! Photo studio / your house is almost client ready!

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 12 minutes

Tip #8: Prep the Powder Room

Time it takes: 4 minutes

ALWAYS assume your client MAY need to use the bathroom. Attack it with the cleaning wipes, throw everything under the sink, or into the bath tub with the shower curtain pulled.

If you need to, throw dirty towels into your de-cluttering basket.

Hang the fresh hand towel from your emergency photo studio cleaning basket.

And finally, place a candle from the emergency basket on the counter.

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 8 minutes

Tip #9: Suck It Up

portrait studio

Run a vacuum the floors in your home photo studio. Pay special attention to the bathroom(s) and other ‘client areas’.

Time it Takes: 4 minutes

Last and MOST IMPORTANTLY, run that vacuum in the bathroom and the client areas of the house.

Nothing makes a house seem cleaner faster than a clean floor. When you are done, place those clean bath mats and front entry rug from your emergency photo studio cleaning kit down on the floor in their respective areas.

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 4 minutes

Tip #10: Cut and Arrange 

Time it Takes: 2 minutes

Finally, take your vase from your emergency basket into the backyard and trim anything that looks visually interesting.

Branches with spring buds, tall fall grasses or flowers in the summer.

Place those in a focal area of your home photo studio client space and light another candle.

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 2 minutes

Tip #11: Hydration Station

photo studio, portrait studio

Take a minute to set some bottles of water around your photo studio for your clients.

Run to your client mini fridge and grab two bottles of water and set them out in your photo studio client area to be offered to your client and her realtor.

TIME LEFT before client arrives: 1 minute

Tip #12: “Me” Time

Time it takes: 1 minute

What’s that?! You have one minute left for yourself?

Luckily it won’t matter that all your nice clothes are in the dryer or you haven’t hit the showers after yoga class that morning.

Your simple black pants, cute shirt and statement necklace are in your emergency photo studio cleaning and client prep supply basket.

No ironing needed!

TIME LEFT until client arrives: 0 minutes

Look at that, you did it!

You were able to greet the client and her realtor in style.

You collected a balance from the client and the realtor got to see your professionalism and beautiful photography, too.

Didn’t she mention that she was looking to find someone to take her family holiday card picture this year? Cha-ching!

The ability to be ready for a client within thirty minutes notice could mean the difference between saying YES to that last minute consultation and booking a session, or missing out.

It could mean the difference between getting another payment from a photo studio client who owes a final payment, or having to tell them to come by next week and missing out of your monthly goal.

Take time this week to prepare your emergency photo studio cleaning and client prep supply baskets so you’re ready when the unexpected text or call comes in.





Working photographer, coach, mama, and wife. Whether you’re looking to take your photography business full-time or simply make good money on a very part-time basis so you can contribute to your family financially and be your best self, we’ve got something for you.

I’m Sarah Petty

Hey, there!