How To Photograph Your Vacation Rental Like A Pro

“A picture is worth 1,000 words.”  Never has the adage rang more true than in the cutthroat vacation rental industry.  The photographs of your vacation rental property are arguably the single most important factor on the mission for 100% occupancy.  Renters scan over thousands of listing by just browsing the pictures before they even begin to read the written description you worked so hard to write.

So the first thing we recommend is to hire a professional photographer.  Wait, actually I would need to change the title of the article if that was my advice. So for all you DIYers out there, here’s how to fake it, ‘til you make it.

  1. Get your hands on a decent camera.  Your photographs should have clarity, high resolution, and little noise (it’s a pro term, learn about it.)  Seriously though, ask that friend who bought a $1,500 DSLR and never uses it to bring it over and get to work.  Oh, he knows how to use it too?  Great, if not just use the Automatic setting for now.
  2. Take and post a lot of pictures.  I mean at least 20 photos of your vacation rental property.  I remember reading about a study that stated: “Travelers are 83% more likely to make an inquiry on your property listing if you have over 20 photos vs. less than 5 photos.” Well fact-checker Frank may be skeptical, but I’m telling you, more is better. Some listing sites limit how many photos you can post, but your own website does not.  So click away.
  3. Photograph your vacation rental on a cloudy day.  Bright sunlight can actually be a pain when dealing with shadows and harsh lighting so wait until those clouds roll in before you channel your inner Liebovitz.
  4. Wait until dusk for the outdoor shots.  There’s a magical time of day that photographers cherish and it occurs about 20 minutes after sundown.  Time it right and you’ll notice the difference.
  5. Stage your setting.  Cleaning the floors and neatening up the place goes without saying, but there are specific guidelines you can follow to make your place irresistible.  First, match the tone of your place. For example, if you own a cozy mountain retreat light candles, have a fire going, turn off the overhead lighting and put some throw pillows and big, warm blanket on the couch.  Or if it’s a beachy place, open the windows, place some fresh fruit and flowers on the table and (neatly) arrange flip-flops or a surfboard near the door.
  6. Turn off the flash.  Try your best to avoid using your camera’s flash during your photo shoots.  It looks artificial and can sabotage even the most welcoming of vacation rentals.  Instead, use a combination of natural lighting and floor lamps AKA, non-overhead, non-flourescent lighting.  Also, try to avoid those energy efficient light bulbs (sorry planet earth).  It’s just for the photo shoot. You can go back to being green in a minute.
  7. Photograph every room, the outside and the view (if you have one).  This one is mission critical to increasing your inquiries.  People want to get the entire experience of staying at your place so give them what they want. Take them on a virtual tour of your place and you’ll be blessed with more bookings.

What did I miss?  Please send me your photography tips and I’ll add them to the list.