Vacation home owners used to count on the location of a property to make a good first impression on potential vacationers. If a home was situated in a desirable location (like San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County) then guests would be happy. Now, with 80 percent of vacation guests starting their vacation house hunt online, a home’s “pix appeal,” (how good it looks in photos on the Internet) is taking over as the top way to impress guests right off the bat. You can easily hire a professional photographer (Airbnb offers this service), but you can just as easily do it yourself. So how do you stand out among your neighbors?
Photo Tips for Online Vacation Rental Listings
1. Light it up
Shoot during day time, turn on all interior lights, and open curtains to let in as much natural light as possible. Most digital SLR cameras will adjust for bright spots by darkening the rest of the interior, so focus your camera away from the windows if possible.
Light is a photographer’s best friend. It brings out natural depth, color, and contrast in a setting. Great lighting makes your photo look more professional overall, which makes you look professional as well.
2. Aim at the corner
This technique shows a broad range of space and adds dimensionality to the photo. Shooting flat onto a wall can make a space seem smaller than in real life, while corners help give a sense of true perspective.
3. Clean the space
There's nothing worse than finding a vacation rental listing in your ideal location, only to discover photos showing cluttered rooms, a disorganized layout, or general messiness. Take some time to remove the clutter from your living space. It’ll be less distracting to the viewer and generally make your place seem more inviting and spacious. Pretend you’re an interior decorator—arrange some flowers, fan some magazines, dust those surfaces. Be as tidy as you’ve ever been. Clean up, but be sure the photo aligns as closely as possible to the actual space when they arrive. Let photos be a true reflection of how guests will find it.
4. Highlight interesting spaces or amenities
Do you have a sweet backyard patio? A barbecue? An awesome chef's kitchen? Toys in a room built just for kids? A jaw-dropping view? A washer-dryer? A fireplace? Each of these items is a selling point, setting your place apart from your neighbors that don't have them. Let guests know they exist with photos! People love the little details too—things that fill your home with life and personality. If you have a guitar signed by Tom Petty, or a collection of US Civil War-era china, or chickens in the backyard, add pictures of them to your listing. Don’t be shy—people love interesting spaces.
5. Shoot the outdoor space
What's outside is just as important as what's inside. Help set people's expectations of their arrival by photographing your place from the outside. The best time to shoot outdoors are the first and last hours of sunlight, known as the "Golden Hour." This is the time of day where light is softest and brings out the broadest range of color. And don't forget your neighborhood! People get excited about their destination as well as the home they're staying in, so take pictures of your locale. They'll brag about what was within walking distance, so if you live near a local attraction, a great restaurant, or a gorgeous scene, post pics of it.
Generally speaking, more is more, so the more photos you have the more excited people will be to browse them. It provides your guests the most reference with which to make their decision, and allows them to spend more time with your listing. This doesn't mean you should shoot the same room or amenity a hundred times; rather, capture a variety of subjects. Go broad, go details, and go get 'em!