Taking great pictures of your Vacation Home is no easy task but it is absolutely vital to driving your property's success. It's the difference between standing out and blending into the masses. Clean, appealing, and aesthetic photographs of your vacation rental are one key element that should not be overlooked as you work to boost your Vacation Rental's occupancy.
In this article, we've highlighted 12 easy tips that will help you take the best pictures of your Vacation Rental.
1. Start with a killer hero picture
A hero picture is the first picture your guests will see when landing on your listing and so naturally it's extremely important. First impressions last and if the first picture your guests see isn't appealing, the odds of them browsing further and booking are greatly diminished. Having a killer hero picture isn't hard, just make your selection with the below in mind:
Use the most beautiful picture you have (remember... first impressions!)
Use a picture that most accurately represents what staying at your property feels like. It's generally better not to use a detailed close-up picture, but rather a wide-angle ensemble picture
If possible, use a picture that showcases one of your property's unique selling points
Finally, use a picture that is clutter-free and that only focuses on passing on the message of what your property is all about. Avoid pictures that include persons, pets, or just have too many distractions from the main topic - your property
2. Demystifying the "expensive" camera element
You've probably heard from everyone around you that taking great pictures without an expensive camera just isn't possible. That is not true! Naturally using a DSLR camera will help in the process but given how advanced smartphone cameras have become today there really is no excuse in snapping great ones anymore. More than how good your camera is, how you take pictures, in what setting, and under which light will have a much greater impact. Nevertheless, if you're thinking about getting a DSLR there are loads of affordable/starting options out there for you to choose from.
3. 📷 settings and technique
Generally speaking, a great way to start is by using a tripod (you can find really cheap ones on which you can even fix your smartphone nowadays). It helps avoid those unappealing blurry pictures you sometimes get when shooting handheld.
If you're using a DSLR, a good way to start is to use the "auto" mode (without flash) but if you're interested in perfecting the art, here are a few extra tips:
White balance: outdoor: 5600K, indoor day: 4000K to 5000k, indoor night: 3200k to 4000k
ISO: the usual sweet spot is between 400 and 800 when you've got a lot of light. In low light conditions, you can go up to 1600 but avoid going any further to limit the amount of grain your picture carries
Aperture: for wide-angle shots avoid having a too open aperture in order to make sure that most of your shot is focused. If you're going for a medium to close-up shot (i.e showcasing your awesome coffee brewer) and want to bring that depth of field look use a very open aperture
Shutter speed: this really depends on your ISO and aperture settings. So the best way forward is to do a few trials, find something you like and that isn't overblown or completely dark and stick with it
4. Landscape vs. Portrait
Most commonly you'll be shooting in landscape mode (even from your smartphone, just tilt it sideways) as that is how your pictures will best be displayed on your listings. Avoid taking pictures in portrait mode unless your listings actually support and can properly display portrait pictures.
5. Prep your set 🌅 and think angles
Make sure you clean, properly organize and polish the look and feel of each of the rooms of your property you're going to shoot. There is nothing worse than taking pictures of messy areas - that's just a no-no. Once you've got that covered think angles. For example, taking a wide-angle shot of your living area is a great way to go. But, if you have a dedicated workspace area in your living, also take a more focused shot of just that. Your guests will be delighted to be able to better understand what their workspace will look like if that's something relevant to them. So, use wide-angle shots to give your guests a general feel for the room and atmosphere and complete that with closer, more focused shots of what is worthwhile highlighting.
6. The importance of lighting (don't use a ⚡)
Lighting is arguably the most important factor, yet it's so often overlooked. No need to be a professional photographer to get this part right, there are just a few rules of thumb that are good to know.
Never shoot against your biggest source of light (usually the sun). Take the picture below, all the beauty in it comes from that wonderful natural sunlight that hits the cabin. The same picture with the sun behind the cabin would not look half as good.
Avoid shooting at night (especially indoors). Even if you had a whole suite of shooting lights there is just something about natural light that always wins a shot.
Pick the best time of the day for each room. With the above points in mind, if your living and kitchen area gets natural light in the morning, shoot these rooms in the morning. Likewise, if your bedroom and bathroom get natural light in the afternoon, shoot them then.
Avoid shadows. Play around with your camera location and time of day to get the least amount of shadows in your shot. While shadows can bring greater character to a picture, when shooting your property you'll really want to avoid them and keep the focus point on an area or feature you're shooting as opposed to any other form of clutter (creative or not).
If you are shooting at night, do not use a flash. Simply try to create as warm and bright an ambiance as possible, boost your ISO settings, and use a slow shutter speed.
7. Create emotions 😍 and a sense of desire
The more your guests can get a feel for what staying at your property will be like, the higher are the chances that they'll book. In today's era of Social Media, the concept of sharing experiences visually couldn't be more relevant. Creating pictures that not only look good and accurately reflect your property is as important as creating pictures that create a sense of desire and emotional connection to your property. Think of it this way: if you were a guest and saw a picture of a patio, or a picture of a patio during sunset with a small outdoor fireplace going in the background which one would you prefer?
8. Highlight unique selling points and top amenities 🏊♀️
If you've got top-notch amenities and notable unique selling points, highlight them. Taking the right picture of an outdoor jacuzzi, pool, incredible terrace overlooking the mountains, or a bean to cup coffee machine could be the difference between getting a new booking or a pass. At the same time, properly showcasing more essential amenities such as your shower, TV set, and hob are as important and should not be overlooked.
9. Represent reality and don't mislead your guests
While you should put in the effort to take beautiful pictures for your listing, you should not mislead your guests with your pictures. There is simply nothing worse for a guest. Your pictures should accurately represent your property, its rooms, and its amenities. If you feel like a picture doesn't, or make a room look much bigger than it is (this usually happens when using fisheye lenses) avoid using the picture and opt for a more authentic one instead.
10. Quality over quantity
There's a ton of resources out there that stress how important having a lot of pictures on your listing is important. Well, we couldn't disagree more. Naturally, having too few pictures isn't a good way forward. But at the same time, having multitudes of pictures of poor quality and reflecting irrelevant parts of your property is just making it harder for your guests to know what is what and whether your property is a match for them or not. Focus on uploading to your listing pictures of high quality, that are visually appealing, and that actually help your guests understand what staying with you is all about.
11. Get some aerials 🛩️
If you can get your hands on a drone, or know someone who has one definitely get some aerial shots done. It's a powerful way to illustrate to your guests your property layout, its immediate surroundings, what the garden looks like, etc. Also, an aerial shot of your property would make a killer hero picture.
12. Compress before you upload 🤏
Loading speed is really important. If your listing takes forever to load, your guests will just go elsewhere and you've just lost a booking. Make sure you compress your pictures before uploading them to your website or OTA listing. A general rule of thumb is to keep each picture below 250KB. There are tons of good tools out there, but one of our favorite free ones is JPEG Optimizer.
Taking great pictures isn't difficult, it just requires a bit of effort and putting thought into the process. And given the important role pictures play in your listing, it's definitely worthwhile putting in the effort. Keep things simple and focus on passing on to your guests a visual representation of what staying at your place feels like. Try to create emotionally charged pictures, highlight your unique selling points, and keep in mind the importance of lighting and angle with every shot you take. Finally, don't forget to regularly update the pictures on your listing in order to always reflect the latest version of what staying with you is all about.