how to take professional photos

How to Take Professional Photos of Your Vacation Rental

Given that so many travelers are booking their accommodation online, vacation rental owners need to know how to take professional photographs to accurately showcase their property and the service they offer.

Vacation home pictures are equally as important as a listing description and can either make or break future booking opportunities. They’re the most basic elements to persuade guests that your home is right for them and that’s why it’s essential that you invest the time and money needed to go above and beyond.

We always recommend hiring a vacation rental photographer to take photos of your property. Whilst the cost may be high initially, you will easily cover the investment with the increase in bookings.

To help you out, we’ve created a free vacation rental photography guide. Before you know it, your listing and vacation rental website will be top-notch and you’ll have a stream of new clients pouring in. 

Tips for the Best Vacation Home Pictures

Say goodbye to blurry, over-exposed, and boring holiday rental photography! It’s 2021, and visuals are everything. Stay ahead of the game with these 11 tips: 

1. Clean First

First things first – before taking any pictures, you need to do a deep clean in your property. This includes cleaning all the surfaces, floors, kitchen appliances, replacing towels and bedsheets, etc. Everything should be straightened and intact, such a framed paintings and curtains.

For the exterior, remove any fallen leaves or branches from outdoor areas, trim bushes, and mow the lawn. Don’t forget to clean any exterior furniture too.

Vacation Home Pictures

For more detailed instructions on how to clean your vacation rental property, download our vacation rental cleaning checklist.

You need to ensure the photos convey exactly what renters will see as soon as they come in: a sparkling clean property. 

If your appliances, furniture, or amenities look broken or out-dated, it might be time to upgrade your property.

2. Use a High-Resolution Digital Camera

It’s best to use a good quality camera with high definition when taking photos of your property or properties. This will prevent the photos from being pixelated when listing on your vacation rental website or other OTAs.

You can use a tripod to avoid blurry photos and test out the different settings on your camera for the ultimate results.

High-resolution cameras have specific settings that enable you to shoot indoors, as with shutter speed and aperture, you can control the lighting straight away. What’s more, these cameras have optical zoom lenses that are super easy to use.

3. Try Different Angles

Guests want to know exactly where they will be staying, so you need to show your visitors that your home is as good as you say it is. By taking multiple photos of the same room at different angles, you can showcase everything in your rental.

Turn it into a full-blown photoshoot. You can then look back and select the best photos to portray your business. This way, you’ll save time in retaking them.

If your vacation rental includes a swimming pool, you can even take photos of the pool underwater with a GoPro. 

Vacation Rental Photography

4. Use Lighting to Your Advantage

Take advantage of lighting to make your photos look not only professional but also bright. To do this, open the curtains and turn on all the lights. Make sure the lighting is even and consistent throughout the rooms. For best results, take photos during the daytime with natural light as well. 

If you’ve included fairy lights in one of your rooms, wait till it gets darker, turn off all the lights and take the photo with just the fairy lights on. It will make your rental look charming and magical.

Be careful to avoid reflections from windows and mirrors, and make sure you don’t get included in the photo yourself! Avoid using flash, as this will interfere with the natural lighting.

5. Wait for the Perfect Weather

As well as using natural light when taking photos, it’s recommended to wait for the perfect weather to get shooting. If it’s grey, rainy, and cloudy, the vibe is not going to appeal to potential guests. Rather, it’s going to give off a negative image of your property. However, when it’s sunny outside, it will immediately make guests feel the warmth and the vacation feeling.

Good weather also impacts the interior of your property as the sun will highlight the furniture and make the rooms naturally brighter. 

Holiday Rental Photography

If your rental is in a location where there’s snow, such as a cabin, use this to your advantage! Wait for snow to pile up outside and go go go! It’s a perfect way to sell that cozy and snowy experience visitors are so longing for.

Don’t forget that guests will see the outside weather through the windows in the photos as well.

6. Take Photos According to Holidays

Boast your property all year round according to the most popular and important holidays. For Christmas, take photos of your festive décor – preferably showing sofas with heaps of blankets and a small gift such as a cocoa basket. Don’t forget to include the Christmas tree and snow if you have any!

This will bring you more bookings in the long run, as guests searching early in the spring will see a photo of Christmas in your vacation rental. They will remember it and come back to book it closer to the time. Use the same technique for Valentine’s Day, 4th July, and Thanksgiving accordingly.

Also, take photos according to the seasons. For example, during the fall or winter, think of outdoor images that show fall leaves or a light dusting of snow. In the interior, highlight a cozy log fire, spice-scented candles, and a selection of board games and books.

For summer, focus on the backyard with its plants, flowers, trees. Include the barbecue, outdoor table, chairs, sofas, and any other outdoor amenities.

7. Edit the Photos

Once you’ve got your photos, it’s time to get editing. You don’t need to be a Photoshop pro, as you can easily edit photos on your computer without having to pay for the software.

The best way to start is to adjust the brightness according to the lighting, tone down the shadows, and increase the highlights slightly. Play around and see what works for you. You can always just go with auto-enhance which does all the work for you.

Remember to stay consistent with the editing, meaning you shouldn’t edit a photo completely differently from another. The same goes for the saturation – don’t go overboard! It may very well result in the photos looking unnatural and fake.

It’s advised to avoid putting on filters too, as you need to portray the property as naturally as possible. It may actually backfire and look like you’re trying to hide something.

8. Display and Highlight Your Key Amenities

Scroll through your current photo gallery and ask yourself if your vacation rental photos are still an accurate representation of your property? If you’ve added any upgrades, amenities, or even changed the color scheme of one of your key rooms, it’s time to add the photos to match.

If you include additions such as shower gel, soap, coffee capsules, or teas, take a photo and include this in your listing. Let guests know what you’re offering them by visualizing it. Unsure what else to include? Check out these 47 must-have amenities for every vacation rental home.

Remember to get rid of the less appealing items such as the trash can and cleaning products.

Vacation Rental Photography

9. Hire a Professional Photographer

Seek out a photographer who ideally has experience shooting interiors and architecture. The photographer must understand that you are not marketing a property, but an experience.

This will be an investment that will have an excellent return. Even if you are already fully booked, professional photos will also allow you to raise your rates. Travelers will see that you have invested in your property and will be willing to pay more because your investment shows you care about your guests.

10. Hire an Amateur Photographer

You may not be ready to invest in a professional photographer, but do not let that stop you from improving your images sooner rather than later. An amateur will most likely still be learning the compositions for a vacation rental and how to communicate effectively with you, so extend the necessary grace as you explain your vision and what you need in your images.

11. Balance Emotions with Facts

Emotion sells. If your photos do not elicit emotion and invite a traveler to the experience of your property, then try again.

You will need a “hero” shot, the image that makes the traveler say, “I want to be there right now”. These are the photographs that transmit a peaceful night’s sleep, a dreamy evening by the fireplace, or an exhilarating swim in the pool.

Vacation Home Pictures

Now note that not every single one of your photos will be emotional. In fact, most of your images will be factual. These photographs will show the TVs in the rooms, the sizes and locations of the beds, the appliances in the kitchen, the fence around the swimming pool, and the amount of space for parking.

The goal is to get the right balance by including both types of photographs. Emotion sells and facts justify.

Doubling Your Bookings with Vacation Rental Photography

It’s no secret that vacation rental photography can double your bookings if done correctly. Still doubtful of the impact it has? We’ve prepared a few reasons why you should invest your time and money into taking great pictures: 

Good Vacation Rental Photos Build Traveler Trust

The old cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words is true. In fact, you could write twice as many words describing your home in great detail, but travelers (especially millennials) would still be unlikely to take your word for it if there aren’t photos to back your claims.

Photos breed confidence. They allow travelers to build their own opinion of your property and proves to them that your home is as good as you say it is.

What that cliché fails to capture is that there’s a powerful difference between a picture that’s just OK and one that’s great. OK photos prove your vacation rental exists. Great photos go beyond that and help guests picture themselves living out the experience.

Professional pictures reveal whether your home is warm and inviting, or cool and modern. They establish that your home is actually spacious and has a lot of natural light. They capture the beach views you can see through the dining room windows, which you mention in your property description.

High-Quality Photos Make Your Vacation Rental Look Even Better

Put simply: great photos capture the details that make your rental property stand out. They show the special touches that will make guests want to book your property over another in your area. They give guests a clear idea of not just the look, but the feel, of your rental.

Vacation Home Pictures

Great Photos Prove You’re a Professional

High-quality photographs of your rental property don’t only create a more enticing image of your home, they also say something about you as the property owner. They prove that you’re invested in the rental and that you’re dedicated to creating an amazing experience for your guests – starting with the very first impression they have of your property.

When guests see immaculate photos of your home, they will understand a few things immediately:

  • You take pristine care of your vacation home
  • You have welcoming spaces and nice furniture
  • Your home is spotless and ready for guests

Not to mention that the nicer your property looks, the higher you set the bar for good guest behavior. When guests can see that you keep your vacation rental well-organized and clean, they have a better idea of how they’re expected to leave it at the end of their stay.

Consider the reverse: if your photographs are grainy or dark, guests may think your home is not cared for as well. They may not have as clear of a picture (pun intended) of how the property will look when they arrive, or how it should look when they check out.

Your photos speak volumes about how you handle your vacation rental business and how you expect your guests to treat it in return.

What to Take Away

If you only have a few photos, or your photos don’t portray your vacation rental very well, this can lead to non-converting guests. Remember that your vacation rental property relies on your photos. What’s the point of having an amazing property if guests don’t know what it looks like?

Have the maximum amount of pictures possible on your vacation rental website and other listing sites, and ensure that the images are professional and display all amenities included in the home. The more, the better! Don’t forget to update your photos and listing descriptions regularly to reflect these benefits to potential renters.

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Show Comments (2)
  1. Photos are no doubt one of the most powerful factor that helps in increasing the booking. Chances of someone checking out your listing highly depends on the kind of pictures you upload. I have been doing real estate photography for quite a while now myself. 🙂 Enjoyed reading your article. It was very informative.

  2. Excellent points here! One of the best is revealing how, even fully booked hosts can benefit from using pro style photos by listing at higher rates.
    As a professional architectural photographer, I’d add a few more to your list that are massively helpful.

    12/Use a wide angle lens, or if using you’re using a newer iPhone (with built-in wide angle lens), set it to 0.5x under photo settings. This will widen out your shots, making the interior spaces look & feel more like they do live, in person.

    13/For the BEST possible natural light, shoot during the hour right around sunrise, or the hour around sunset. The special light you’ll capture will help set that “relaxing vacation” vibe sure to attract potential guests.

    …and this doesn’t even get into what kind of advantage you can gain by offering pro style video walk thrus, 360 interactive tours and aerial visuals!

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