Forget the fact—if you’re lucky enough to be able to—that real estate today is dominated by talk about dropping prices, shaky derivative products and foreclosures. Instead, think positive, and about the central role photography plays in shaping what “home” means to us, and in driving the real estate market. Think about all the glitzy, art-directed, carefully lit and retouched photographic images that you’ve seen in magazines, real-estate supplements inserted into your newspaper, on the vinyl banners that wrap buildings under construction, and illustrating multiple listing services online. Well, in a 180 degree turnaround, consider how photography might help you if you’re forced to sell your house in a down market. A recent article by June Fletcher in, of all places, The Wall Street Journal, collects tips from architectural photographers about how to make the house you’re going to leave or lose look great in pictures. Here’s a sampling, but be sure check out the full list of tricks to understand how much photography shapes our perceptions about what home-sweet-home looks like: -Use props such as fruit, drinks, magazines and towels. This will make the space look as if someone was just there. -Always use a tripod. -Take interior photos at twilight when the light coming through windows better matches the interior levels. -If a room is empty, bring in a prop like a chair to give it a sense of scale. -Keep the camera straight and level. Tilting it makes side walls appear slanted. -Draw blinds so they are horizontal and windows look transparent. -Outside, remove garbage cans, cars, seasonal decorations, flags and plaques. Inside, put away toys and clothes on hooks. -Shoot at chest-level so you show less ceiling. -Use odd numbers of accessories, like three or five, in different sizes. For instance, on a bedside table, put flowers, a few books and a small clock. -Take exterior pictures from a ladder, or the top of your car, especially if you are using a wide-angle lens. Got it? Good. Ready, snap, sell.