Use Staging to Add Character
The primary difference between real estate photography and vacation rental photography is the use of props and staged items. Prospective guests aren’t looking to buy your property — they’re looking for somewhere to spend their vacation.
Rather than highlighting cabinets, countertops, and flooring, focus on the amenities complementing those features. Fruit bowls, plants, coffee mugs, laptops, wine, and guide books go a long way in making your vacation rental photography stand out. As a general rule of thumb, make it seem like the property is currently being rented (by some extremely tidy guests).
Include Photos of Local Attractions
No matter how nice your accommodation is, guests are likely traveling to experience local attractions. For this reason, consider including photos that show the experiences your guests can have nearby. Beaches, amusement parks, nice restaurants, downtown walking malls, famous buildings, and public parks are always good to have. Including photos like these builds a subliminal link between your listing and fun things to do in the area.
However, be sure to only place the photos towards the end of the listing’s album. Hosts who start their album with stock photos of the surrounding city risk being perceived as dishonest. Be entirely transparent by starting off with photos of the house, and then move on to photos of the surrounding scenery.
Keep the Camera Low and Horizontal
Most vacation rental hosts take their photos standing up, which produces an angle that is less than ideal. Photos end up showing too much ceiling while shrinking the true size of the home or apartment. The best photos are taken from a low vantage point — about waist-height. If you don’t opt for a professional photography service, consider investing in a tripod.
Also, be sure to not angle the photos up or down. Doing this gives an unwanted effect that skews the size of the room. If needed, get a level to make sure the camera is completely horizontal and parallel with the floor and ceiling.
Use 2-3 Photos of Each Space
This one is more a matter of taste, but the point here is to strike the right balance of your number of photos. Hosts should have enough photos of each space while not going overkill. Five pictures of the same patio area are too many. Shoot for the sweet spot of two to three of each space. Overall, aim to have around 25 photos of each listing. Anything significantly more than that may get redundant.
Include Close-Up Shots
Tap into your artistic side and include some close-up photos of your listing’s best amenities. Having a few zoomed-in shots (ideally an effect that blurs the background) gives some nice contrast to your album. If all photos in the album are taken from a similar distance, it could get boring. Include some close-ups of a coffee maker, high-class bed linen, a welcome basket, a barbecue, and anything else worth highlighting.
Eliminate Blank Walls
While there is something to be said for minimalism, advertising rooms that have nothing but a mattress and a nightstand don’t give a good impression. If there is absolutely nothing on the walls, it may beg questions from potential guests. Are the beds going to be comfortable or is it just furnished with cheap mattresses? Is the kitchen actually fully equipped, or is there only enough supplies to prepare ramen for two? Filling walls with art, plants, or a bold color is an easy way to avoid these questions. And if funds are limited, just try to angle the shots to eliminate blank white walls.
Flick the Lights On
Dark, blurry, grainy, and unfocused photos do far more harm than hosts may think. While they fail to bring out the best qualities in an accommodation, they also convey a sense of deceptiveness. Making sure photos are well-lit (and taken during the day) actually puts forward a sense of transparency and trust between hosts and potential guests. Especially if your listing has some intimate mood lighting, definitely flick these on to display the various ambiances.
Include People in Your Photos
If done right, adding a few people to your photos gives an additional layer of character. However, before launching into portrait mode, keep a few things in mind. Traditionally speaking, real estate and vacation rental photography are void of people. Guests are meant to imagine themselves in these spaces without the distraction of other people. So as a rule of thumb — keep people subtle.
If you’re going to include people, make sure it’s candid. Make sure they’re in action and using the amenities the guests would be using. Be sure to put them at a distance (the room/patio/yard should still be the focal point, not the people), and make sure their faces are unrecognizable.
Editing photos demands just as much attention as taking the photos themselves. Especially if you’ve spent lots of time rearranging things in your house and meticulously setting up staging areas, you don’t want your photos to fall flat. The best part is that you don’t need to be a photoshop wizard to make photos stand out. Here are the best free photo editors for 2019 from TechRadar.
Choose the Right Lens
The truth about vacation rental photography is that manual tools can only go so far. At some point, it’s the type of camera and lens that really make listings shine. When selecting a lens, be careful about wide-angle options. They are able to capture an entire room, but they often distort its true size and leave guests underwhelmed upon arrival. As far as resolution, Airbnb recommends using photos with at least 1,024 pixels wide.