First: Why are Photos so Important?
Two words that are magic to any property owner's (or homeowner's) ears: more bookings! A top-notch set of photos can, quite simply, help you maximize revenue from your vacation rental. Photos are essentially your sales pitch—they’re a quick way for you to make an impactful first impression on potential guests.
Your photos should showcase the uniqueness of your property, and at the same time, they should help set guest expectations. So before you step behind the camera, ask yourself some questions. What kind of vibe are you aiming to achieve? What are your property’s coolest features? Where will your guests spend the most time? Once you’ve developed a plan, you can begin prepping your property for its moment in the spotlight.
A Little Prep Work Goes a Long Way
Fluff those pillows. Wipe off that dusty desk. Vacuum those rugs. Put some flowers in that empty vase. Believe it or not, these small pieces of prep work make a big difference in vacation-rental photos. Potential guests want to see clean, uncluttered spaces, which means you need to put on your interior design hat and set the scene with an appreciable level of care. Prior to pulling out your camera, make sure you spruce up your property as though you’re about to welcome your first visitors. Your photos will undoubtedly reflect your efforts, and when they view your listing, potential guests will expel a series of Oohs and Ahhs that typically precedes a click of the “Book” button.
Your Camera, and How to Maximize its Potential
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to snap enticing pictures. In fact, you don’t even need an actual camera. If you have one, great! If not, though, the camera on your smartphone can be equally effective—so long as you utilize the proper techniques:
- Make sure your photos are taken horizontally, or in landscape format. This is imperative: photos in search results are displayed this way, and vertical photos flat-out do not display well.
- The resolution of your photos should be at least 1024 x 683 px, and the Width-to-Length aspect should be set at a 3:2 ratio.
- Use the High Dynamic Range setting, also known as the HDR setting. It helps your camera process photos with the proper amount of exposure while darkening bright spots and sharpening details.
- Turn off the flash!
- On a smartphone, you can generally adjust the exposure of a shot by tapping the screen in a darkened area. As the exposure shifts, your photo will brighten up accordingly.
- Lastly, focus on a deliberate item, whether it’s the king-sized bed or a throw pillow on the bed. In any case, consider where you want the viewer’s eyes to go and set the focus—again, it’s usually just a tap of the finger on a smartphone.
Take Some Pictures!
It’s about time. But where do you start? Consider how you’d go about creating a “portfolio,” of sorts: a colorful depiction of your property as told through a set of prudently snapped pictures. You want variety—photos of the inside, photos of the outside, and even a few photos of cool spots around the neighborhood—and you also want to take more photos than you’ll actually end up needing. That way, you’ll have plenty to choose from later. Now, grab your camera and be sure to…
- Take photos during the day: Open the blinds and turn on every—yes, that means every—light in your home. Light coaxes natural colors, depth, and contrast from photos, not to mention, good lighting makes your photos (and you) look professional.
- Highlight unique amenities: Guests love properties with “character,” whether it’s an antique fireplace or a wall of exposed brick. Similarly, don’t be shy about showing off your own personality by sharing things that bring your rental to life, such as the chickens out in the yard or your table crafted from old bottle caps.
- Shoot into corners: This is a photography technique that adds dimensionality to your photos. If you aim your camera at a flat wall, the resulting pictures will make a space appear smaller than it is. When you shoot into a corner, though, you can broaden a viewer’s perspective.
- Showcase accessibility features: If your vacation rental has features that are helpful for guests with limited mobility, you should absolutely photograph those, including wide doorways, step-free floors, and grab rails.
- Remember the outside: The best time to take photos of the outdoors is during a day’s last hour of sunlight—that’s when outside light is softest, and colors truly pop. Another good tip: open the front door and grab a shot from outside your home’s entrance, inviting guests inside. In fact, keep all doors open during your shoot so guests can see how spaces are connected.
Organization and Captions Pack a Punch
Last, but definitely not least, you have to organize your photos for your listing. This is a critical step! After selecting your best shots, cropping, and adjusting for brightness and contrast where necessary, you can choose the order in which you want your photos displayed. Order is important: studies have shown that the first four or five photos are crucial, meaning they can make or break a potential booking. Those initial photos should showcase the best shot of every space around your home, and the first image—also known as the hero or cover image—has to be an eye-catcher. All told, strive to use somewhere between 20 and 30 pictures, and make sure not to double-up on any.
Captions, meanwhile, are often overlooked as an afterthought. In reality, they’re just another place for you to infuse your listing with color and creativity. You can use captions to add context to photos, or you can spice things up by interjecting other pieces of useful information—perhaps snippets from positive reviews, or endearing stories you’d like guests to know about your home’s spaces.
And that’s a wrap. Happy snapping!
Before you go…
If conducting your own photo shoot sounds like a headache, MyVacayHome can help! You can win a multimedia marketing package that includes a free professional photography session for your home, as well as a complimentary revenue assessment. Simply complete this 30-second survey and we'll get back to you!