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Blog > The Ultimate Photography Checklist for Your Vacation Rental

The Ultimate Photography Checklist for Your Vacation Rental

Macaulay Gidado | Monday, 24 August 2022


When looking to turn your property into a money-making vacation rental home, professional photography is one of those things that really aren’t an option. Do you want potential guests to give up their hard-earned 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 counterparts.

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 ensure everything (both interior and exterior spaces) is properly spruced up and set up. The goal here is to make the property look its best. This means your furniture and amenities must have been set up, all beds meticulously made, all personal belongings and non-essential items removed from guest space, landscaping refined, etc.

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 ensure you hire someone who knows what they are doing.

I have two recommendations:

Try Airbnb’s professional photography services

I have to say, they are 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 it from the listing and use it on other booking channels.

Hire your own photographer outside Airbnb

With this option, you will obviously get print-ready and digital versions of your property photos.

Set the Scene

studio setting

Lighting is to photography what butter is to bread. Okay, I know that sounds cheesy, but not only will good lighting add unique colors to your space, but 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, 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, 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 photos, depending on the orientation of your home. The key is to have the sun at your back.

Don’t Miss a Room

high-rise apartment

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 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

  • All single bedrooms. The photo(s) should show features like the bed, TV, closet, and others.

  • 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.

  • Full view of the kitchen from multiple angles, capturing its rich facilities.

  • Also, full view of the dining room, 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 more.

  • 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

colorful bbedroom

Of course, a professional photographer would know the best way 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 always back up to the doorway or into a corner, so you can get as much 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 your 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 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 you polish your photos with a little editing, or not, you need to get the file format and size of each photo right. Otherwise, the booking channels you want to upload to may reject them. If not, 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 color

If you are using software like Adobe Photoshop, CorelDraw, or Corel Photo-Paint, you should 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 are 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 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 by 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 minimize 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, and windows… are located. What’s more, your floor plan can also show the sizes of your rooms.

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