Airbnb and vacation rental photography

How to get great photos for your Airbnb or vacation rental.

The vacation rental market has exploded, to put it mildly! In Coeur d’Alene alone there have been hundreds of new units coming available each year. I have a love-hate relationship with this as a local born and raised, while also being an Airbnb owner and real estate photographer. But getting on my soap box about this issue isn’t what my creative work is about, at the moment, so while I have you let me share what I do know about photography and vacation rentals.

As an Airbnb owner/Superhost and a real estate photographer in Coeur d’Alene, I’m amazed at how few listings have professional photos. Whenever I travel and use Airbnb, I always give the places with great photos my attention first as I’m pretty sure you do as well. So why do so few listings have the photos they deserve and can usually easily afford?  I think three main reasons.

1. Hosts don’t think photos really matter

Through a lifetime of billboards, magazines, movies, and 24/7 advertising we are conditioned and may be required to subconsciously rate the quality of a business or service based on the quality of their visual advertising. Guests are more likely to view and share your listing if the photos meet a certain standard of quality in their view. There is a reason the big brands usually just have a full-page photo with a tiny logo at the bottom. The photo is worth 1000 words!

Your photos have the potential to communicate what it feels like on a perfect day to be in your space. It communicates that you have invested in your property and that you will be professional in your interactions. Great photos are your replacement for being face-to-face and being able to show them the space yourself.

2. Hosts think professional photos are too expensive.

Being a photographer in this very industry, and host myself, I can tell great photos are not too expensive when compared to their potential on return. 

Another reason for this same vein is that hosts don’t know a real estate photographer personally and they think it might be hard to find a good one. This can be true as real estate photography as an industry has a wide range of talent and varied consistency. My advice would be to look for someone who has vacation rental galleries as examples to make sure they understand the difference in styles.

3. Hosts don’t want their photos to look like “Real Estate” photography.

This is totally fair and smart. Real estate photography has sadly sometimes gotten a name of being overexposed, HDR-looking, overly wide angles, etc. You want to find someone who either doesn’t only do real estate photography or someone who specializes in a more “lifestyle” type of home photography. This can be hard to find but even if you know a great photographer that doesn’t normally do photos of homes they might be able to help. As long as they have 16mm lens they can do a lot!

Here are a few more tips to make your photos stand out. 

Wide shots are great but make sure to include some focused “creative” photos that help highlight the special features of your listing.

Drone photos can really help sell the location and close attractions. 

Airbnb's in Kelloge Idaho
Coeur d'Alene lake drone photography

Lifestyle photos go the extra mile to help sell the feel of being the space. 

Vacation rentals in Coeur d'Alene
Family at a vacation rental in Coeur d'Alene

Bottom line? Don’t skimp on your photos after putting so much hard work into creating a welcoming space for your guests. 

My name is Teuvo and I’m a designer and photographer based in Coeur d’Alene Idaho. I specialize in website design and creative content. When I’m not on my computer or using my camera I love to work in the garden, hike with my family, and ride my bike.