A picture is worth a thousand words, and in the vacation rental business, a picture is worth thousands of dollars!


Hiring a professional photographer to capture the images of your short-term rental is the ultimate vacation rental photo tip we have to offer, however, sometimes that’s not possible.

There could be any number of reasons why you can’t hire a professional (budget, time constraints, accessibility, etc.) but with our expert vacation rental photo tips, you’ll enhance your property photos, leading to more clicks and bookings.

Expert vacation rental photo tips

Start with staging your vacation rental. Photos can only be as attractive as their subjects, so, before you take any photographs to share on your vacation rental website, or across channels, make sure that the space is clean, decluttered, and tidy. To take this to the next level, stage your vacation rental before photographing it to give travelers an idea of what it would be like to stay in your space.

It’s best to use items you already have, so if someone is interested in your property based on the photo, they won’t feel disappointed that it isn’t included. For instance, you may not want to stage a balcony with a telescope pointing at the stars if you only rented the telescope for the day. Style your rental with items that reflect the vibe you’re going for, like an arrangement of flowers on the table or a basket of fresh fruit on the counter, and then start photographing.

Don’t shoot the interior on a sunny day. While many people think the best photos are taken on sunny days, that’s not so. The best time for taking interior vacation rental photos is on a cloudy day. When it’s cloudy outside, light coming into your rooms will be more even which prevents any harsh shadows from appearing in your photographs. If you live in a very sunny place, you can also shoot at dusk.

Shoot every room but don’t forget the view and the exterior. When taking vacation rental photos, don’t forget to photograph every area of the space including the exterior, because you never know what exactly will entice someone to choose your property for their vacation.

Maybe it will be the patio, the view from the bedroom, or your inviting entryway - the first thing guests will see when arriving at your property. Besides, the more photos of your vacation rental you have, the more confidence you’re giving a possible renter that your place is the one they want. If you have a beautiful garden, include a photo. If you have a breakfast nook, include a photo. If there are charming architectural features, include a photo.

Shoot the exterior after sundown. This vacation rental photo tip is especially helpful if you have a porch or other attractive outdoor lighting. If you can, shoot your exterior within the twenty minute period after the sun goes down. The lighting in the sky at this time of day makes for beautiful photographs.

Optimize your photos for your website. After carefully photographing your vacation rental, be sure to optimize them for your website. This means saving images in high resolution and inserting the appropriate meta data to optimize your images for SEO.

Photographing pools can be tricky

There's no doubt about it - pools are a great amenity to attract more travelers, but if they aren't photographed properly, you might not be taking full advantage of its magnetic property.

Let's look at an example...

photo collage comparing two photos of swimming pools (credit: Tyann Marcink)

Here are two photos of the same swimming pool. However, one is not like the other. Which pool would you rather be spending your time? The one in the second photo, obviously!

Comparing the two photos

Both photos showcase picturesque pool weather. But there are three noticeable differences between the two photos.

For a pool to have it's utmost effect, it must be free of people, choppy water and strewn accessories.

  1. People. Travelers prefer not to share their time at the pool, and your photos should reflect that.
  2. Water. Choppy water makes the weather seem windy and cold. Calm water, on the otherhand, beckons to be stepped into. Even if the conditions at the time of your shoot don't mirror it, you should strive to make your pool seem like an oasis in a desert.
  3. Accessories. Fences are a must for safety, but visually, the fence creates a barrier between the traveler and the pool. The second photo does a great job placing the chair at the traveler's fingertips, making it all the more desireable.

You can show guests that your property is the ideal choice simply through the way you photograph your vacation rental properties. Set the scene, enticing them to step into the photo to their getaway.

Showcasing your vacation rental properties in the best possible light will ensure more clicks and more bookings for your portfolio.