When looking to turn your property into a money-making vacation rental home, using professional photography is one of those things that aren’t really an option. You want potential guests to give up their hard-earn money to stay in your place (a stranger’s house)? Then you need to inspire an emotional connection between them and your property. The best way to do this is by using visually striking photos of your place. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Let’s face it, visual intelligence is constantly on the rise. Humans prefer digesting visual information to reading text. Images on the Net generate 650% more engagement than text. Even on Airbnb, listings supercharged with professional photos receive twice more bookings than their regular counterpart.
So what are you waiting for? Here are some powerful photography tips that can turn your vacation rental into a money-making unicorn.
Clean & De-clutter
Don’t just jump into photography. The first thing you need to do is make sure everywhere (both interior and exterior spaces) is properly spruced up and set up. The goal here to make the property look its best. This means your furniture and amenities must have all been set up, all beds meticulously made, all personal belongings and nonessential items removed from guest space, landscaping refined, and so on.
USE a Professional Photographer
Certainly, if you are not confident about your photography skill (most of us aren’t), a professional photographer should be your other option. While photographers are everywhere, you want to make sure you hire someone that knows what they are doing.
I have two recommendations:
Try Airbnb’s professional photography services
I have to say, they are very thorough and professional. The only caveat is that only eligible hosts can apply and you won’t get your photo files. They will be uploaded directly to your Airbnb listing. Thus it will be up to you to download from the listing and use on other booking channels.
Hire your own photographer outside Airbnb
With this option, you will obviously get the print-ready and digital versions of your property photos.
Set the Scene
Now that you are done cleaning and decluttering, it’s time to set the stage. Imagine you or your photographer is a movie director. You just don’t start shooting. You need to specify a full-scale scenery and have the set construction manager execute your specifications. The goal here is to set a scene that guests can imagine themselves being in. This is why in some professional rental photos you see a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen island or a bunch of vibrant flowers on the center table of the living room. It’s all about making your space catchy and giving your guests a vicarious experience through photos. However, be careful so as to not overdo it.
Lighting Is Everything
Lighting is to photography what butter is to bread. Okay, I know that sounds a bit cheesy, but not only will good lighting add unique colours to your space; it will also make your place appear more spacious. If you are hiring a professional photographer, they should have lighting recommendations for you. If you are taking the photos yourself, then remember that a nice sunny day can work to your advantage.
- For your interior, you want the sun to be near its apex, usually between 10 AM and 2 PM.
- Avoid over-exposing the windows though, as direct sunlight can take away pertinent details from your photos. What you are looking for is a balance.
- For your exteriors, mornings and afternoons are the ideal times to take the photos, depending on the orientation of your home. The key is to have the sun at your back.
Don’t Miss a Room
To encourage potential guests to book, you want to give them as much information about your property as possible. Therefore, be sure to capture and upload at least one photo of every room or space that will be available to guests. If there’s one way to convince prospective guests that they will get what they pay for, this is it. Feed their eyes. There’s no overkill in this case.
Here is a checklist of spaces to shoot
- Every single bedroom. The photo(s) should show features like the bed, TV, closet, and so on.
- All bathrooms. Don’t stop at one if there are three bathrooms. Be sure to capture all the features of the bathrooms in your shots.
- The kitchen in full view and from multiple angles, capturing its rich facilities.
- The dining room, also in full view and from multiple angles.
- The living room. Certainly, you need multiple wide-angle photos of the space, capturing the couches, TV, and other important features.
- Don’t leave out the entryway and corridors.
- Get photos of your local neighborhood. Focus on important amenities, activities, and other unique aspects of the neighborhood.
- Your property’s exterior and surroundings shouldn’t be left out. Capture that gorgeous landscaping, reserved parking spot, a view of the property from the street, and so on.
- Lastly, be sure to shoot other special amenities within and near your property. For instance, if your property has accessible parking, entrance, stair lift etc, don’t hesitate to show them off in your shots.
Overall, your photos should make potential guests want to vacation in your place and neighborhood. Achieve that and you are in for a world of vacation rental success.
Shoot Level. Shoot Wide
Of course, a professional photographer would know how best to shoot in this case. But for owners and hosts looking to do the shooting themselves, remember to always keep your camera level. You would only produce a warped low quality shot if you shoot from beneath or above your focus. You aren’t a professional photographer. Trying hard to get creative might ruin the result.
Also avoid shooting up close. The goal here is to strategically show off your space and its features together. So alway back up to the doorway or into a corner so you can get as much of the space as possible in a single shot. You can, of course, have multiple photos of the same space taken from various angles. Just be sure to always shoot wide. This will even make your space feel spacious to viewers.
In addition, avoid shooting verticals (in portrait mode). Most online photo platforms are designed for landscape (horizontal) photos. Plus, you capture more with horizontal shots than in portrait mode.
Show Off the Best Features of Your Vacation Rental
The goal of photographing your vacation rental is to attract guests. What better way to do that than by showing off the best features of your property? In this case, I would advise you not to hold back. You want to show your guests that you property boasts amenities that guarantee their comfort and delight.
Does your house have an infinity pool? Be sure to get a photo of that. Does it have a smart fireplace? Get a picture of that too. Does it come with a picturesque landscaping with a hammock hanging from the middle tree? Get shots of that too. The aim here is to show off unique features that set your property apart from its competition.
File Format & Size Matter
Whether or not you polish your photos with a little editing, you need to get the file format and size of each photo right. Otherwise, they may be rejected by the booking channel you want to upload to. If not that, they may appear low quality to guests.
Your photos need to be
- At least 1200 x 800 pixels wide
- At 72 DPI (dot per inch)
- In RGB colour
If you are using software like Adobe Photoshop, CorelDraw, or Corel Photo-Paint, you should be able to set these parameters when exporting the pictures for use.
More Photos of Your Vacation Rental Is Good
Don’t limit your vacation rental listing to just a few photos. More photos is always better. You can upload multiple views of the same room to give potential guests a more comprehensive and convincing idea of what the room actually looks like. If a booking channel only allows hosts to upload 24 photos, then don’t stop at 10. Shoot and upload more. In fact, it’s said that uploading more photos can greatly improve your search ranking on booking sites. And that can translate to more bookings.
Don’t Forget the Floor Plan of Your Vacation Rental
You can go the extra mile of allowing guests to view the layout of your vacation rental home by uploading a floor plan. It may well help guests learn where in the house the room they booked (or want to book) is located, among other things. This can minimise the chances of guests calling you and pestering you with questions a floor plan could have easily answered.
Creating a floor plan is actually easy. You can use free tools like RoomSketcher and Homestyler to create a floor plan clearly showing where rooms, staircases, windows… are located. What’s more, your floor plan can also show the sizes of your rooms.
I hope you had fun reading and experimenting with the tips above. If you are a professional photographer or a host and have more tips to share with us, please do leave a comment below. If you need help with your vacation rental photography, click here. In the end, you will have only good tales to tell.
Until next time.
This post also appeared in Macaulay Gidado Medium Publication.