Sid Was Here

Step by Step Guide to Photography for your Short Term Rental Home

Sid Was Here

A lot of money goes into getting your short term rental ready to rent. By the time the house is ready, you will be shopping your kidneys online or putting your kids’ electronics on eBay. There is one final expense that you need to save up for, and that’s professional photography.

Chances are you know someone with a camera. You’ve been hemorrhaging money, you need to save a buck, I get it. It’s important to keep in mind that the photos you post of your listing are the single reason that a guest is going to book your place. Just the photos. That’s it. You can have a catchy title, an Oscar winning description of the neighborhood and offer a free puppy, but the most important part of your listing is the photography. The better the photography, the better the bookings. The worse the photography, the worse the bookings. See Sid’s recommendations below for getting the absolute best photos for your short term rental.

  1. Use a professional who photographs houses. Someone who typically photographs babies and weddings is not your guy. Houses are their own specialty, and beautiful photos will serve you for years to come. Probably the most important part is getting the spacing right. It’s not easy to get a comprehensive photo of a small room. Photographers that do this for a living have things like fisheye lenses and the best filters for poor light, etc. You’d be amazed at the nuances of photography for homes.
  2. If you don’t know a photographer, get a referral from a real estate agent. 
  3. Always attend the photo shoot. There are many things that need to be done before the photo shoot so help the photographer out and have these items done before they arrive. (See below)
  4. Be sure to get multiple angles of the outside of the home. More about this later, but I had a guest once state that I was lying about the home because of the image of a historic home/tourist destination nearby (literally photo 32 in my stream of photos). I quickly pointed out photos 24-21, which were of multiple angles of the outside of the home and reassured her that I in no way was dishonest in my listing. Guests also like to know what they are getting and this gives them a lot of relief to see a bit of the area, especially if they will be arriving at night. Don’t stress about the crazy lady obsessed with photo 32, this only happened once, but I was glad to have a very strong argument for my side of the listing thanks to my very thorough photographs.
  5. Photograph the inside of some of your cabinets and closets, especially if they contain necessary items. Guests don’t always read the listing. Show them in photos that dishes, kitchen items, towels and linens are supplied and any other little details that might encourage the guest to choose your home. Photographers used to working with homes for sale typically close all closets and hide all of these personal things, so be sure to mention this. These photos will save you a lot of questions from guests before booking.
  6. Ask the photographer to send you both high resolution and web use photos. Some web sites will take high resolutions images. Others will not. Do yourself a favor and ask for both from the beginning. This is a very typical request and I have never had a problem receiving both versions of the images.
  7. Be sure to establish what kind of turnaround time the photographer can do for you. By the time you are ready for photos, you will also be ready to get your home bringing in some revenue, so a 7 day turnaround might be quite expensive. Most photographers will deliver the photos within 24-48 hours, but it never hurts to ask just in case.
  8. Ask the photographer to photograph a few attractions located near the home. This is a great way to attract guests to your neighborhood.


Things to do before the photographer arrives
  1. Open all curtains and blinds. Light is a big deal. Hopefully the day will be sunny and bright, adding even more light. The better the lighting, the better your house will look
  2. Turn off all ceiling fans. A spinning fan looks funny in pictures, so plan ahead.
  3. Every light and lamp in the room should be turned on for photos. The photographer may turn things off if the light is too much, but typically the more light, the better.
  4. Hide electric cords. Walk through the home looking for little items like cords that catch your eye. These will stand out in photos. Unplug these items and hide the cord, then plug them back in before you leave.
  5. Make sure all pillows are fluffed and staged well. Beds are a big draw for guests, so have your beds looking their best when the photographer is shooting the.
  6. Toilet seat closed for photos.

Must Have Photos

  1. Multiple angles for each bedroom and bathrooms.
  2. Kitchens sell the home. Multiple shots of the kitchen and seating areas.
  3. Photograph the inside of your cabinets and fridge.
  4. Photos of extra linens and toilet paper and amenities. These things show that they are included in the rental.
  5. Any extras that you offer should be in the photos, such as games, an Xbox, grill, hot tub, etc. Most guests don’t read your listing, they just look at the photos.