6 Vacation Rental Photography Tips from the Pros

Vacation Rental Photography Tips from the Pros

It’s no secret that having quality photographs of your vacation rental property will help increase bookings. The influx of vacation rental homes on listing sites requires you to do more to stand out. That means more professional looking photography — not dark and blurry smartphone photos. High-quality photos of your place can make all the difference in someone choosing your rental home over another. Here are 6 vacation rental photography tips from professionals to help turn your “homemade” photos into top-notch selling points.

To start, let’s do some photography 101 and review some key industry terms. The three most important settings on your camera that are used to take a well-exposed photo are Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.

  • Shutter speed: this is how long the shutter is open, which is the length of time of the exposure. Longer exposures equal brighter images. Exposures lasting several seconds (on a tripod) are common.
  • Aperture: this is the size of the shutter when open. Smaller numbers like f/2.8 are larger apertures and larger numbers like f/22 are smaller. Yes, that’s confusing, but that’s what it is.
  • ISO: this determines how sensitive the light sensor is. Higher ISOs are needed to brighten darker shots, but generally adds more noise, or graininess, into the image.

Other photography terms to understand include:

  • DOF/Depth of Field: this refers to how much is in focus, from front to back and is directly related to aperture. Smaller apertures have a shallower DOF.
  • White Balance: is color temperature. Until you’re ready for more advanced controls and editing, best to leave this at “auto” and let the camera decide for you.

Ok, now that we understand our terms and photography jargon, here’s six pro tips to make your vacation rental home’s photography stand out from the crowd. 


Download Your Vacation Rental Photography Cheat Sheet


1. Light it Up

Make rooms look bigger and brighter by shooting from the corners of the room and using as much light as you can. That usually means turning on every light available and opening all the blinds. Even light up the adjoining rooms if that brightness spills into the one you’re capturing. If possible with your camera, use a slower shutter speed to pick up more natural light. Get more tips on camera equipment by downloading our Vacation Rental Pro Photography Cheat Sheet here.

2. Cut the Clutter

Get rid of most of the “knick knacks” on the walls and shelves and keep the room’s styling very simple. Taking just a few minutes to remove items on counters or to straighten pillows can make a big difference. And please, whatever you do, do not leave used cups around and close the toilet seat.

3. Post Only the Best

Post only the best shots. Five stellar images won’t look nearly as impressive when diluted with 15 bad or mediocre shots.

4. Invest in the Lens

While even a smartphone can take good images, grabbing an entry-level consumer camera will elevate your photography. However, don’t get hung up on megapixels. Quality images are born more from good technique, composition and good lenses rather than huge sensors, so don’t waste your budget on a 40-megapixel camera. Instead, find an interchangeable lens camera in your budget and put any extra money into better lenses or editing software. For the best interior shots, a wide-angle lens in the 15-28mm neighborhood is a must. 

5. Let the Camera Do the Work Sometimes

If you want the camera to do the work for you, play around with its creative program modes. Your camera likely has several shooting modes and you should pick the one to fit your comfort level. Manual mode will give you complete control over every setting but will easily frustrate a novice. Aperture Priority allows you to set the aperture and the camera will adjust everything else. Shutter Priority automates everything to match the shutter speed you select. 

6. Turn it Sideways

If you don’t have a camera and are just using your smartphone to take pictures, remember to shoot horizontally and download popular smartphone apps, like “Manual” for the iPhone, that enables lots of photo control. Also, there are some great free editing apps for your phone like Snapseed. Lightroom even has a free mobile version.

The bottom line: there’s a big difference between “good” and “great” photos. Great photos sell. Paying attention to these simple 6 hacks will elevate how your rental home gets noticed on all sites and we are confident you’ll see your bookings rise! Click Here to download our Vacation Rental Pro Photography Cheat Sheet for even more advice from professional photographer Andy Hagedon!

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