Select and edit photos for your listing
Select your favorite images based on their ability to attract guests, inform them about your space, and showcase your personality
Edit photos like an expert using auto adjustments
Use captions to explain important details about your space and help potential guests imagine themselves there
With millions of listings on Airbnb, you can help yours stand out by learning how to edit and curate your images. After preparing your space and taking quality photos on your smartphone, you’re ready to polish your pictures.
Here are some tips for choosing and editing photos using just your phone—no professional equipment required.
- A smartphone
- The images you took in the second part of our photography tutorial, “Take quality photos on your smartphone”
- 1-3 hours to select, edit, and upload photos with captions (depending on the size of your space and how many photos you display on your listing)
1. Select your favorite photos
To give your guests a sense of your space without overwhelming them, select two to four photos of each room that guests have access to. The photos you’re choosing are a guest’s first tour of your space and should give them the feel of each room—and inspire them enough to want to book your place.
The cover photo is displayed in search results and is also a part of the grid of five photos on your listing page. Because it’s so important, it should be the most flattering and attention-grabbing photo of your space.
Grid of five photos
Your listing page features a grid of five images at the top—which are also the first five photos in the image gallery of all your listing photos. Since many guests want to quickly assess a listing, be sure that your top five photos show the most interesting parts of your space.
When selecting images for the grid, consider focusing on one thing per picture:
- Photo 1: Pick a cover photo, which is the largest image displayed in your listing’s grid
- Photo 2: Inform by providing more context about your space
- Photo 3: Confirm by reiterating your space’s theme, layout, or special features
- Photo 4: Personalize by highlighting an image of what makes your space unique
- Photo 5: Entice by giving a wider view of the space, like a great exterior photo, an image of the surrounding view, or the patio
Keep in mind that you can still upload more photos to your listing’s image gallery, which contains all of your listing photos—so any of your favorites that don’t make it into the grid can be uploaded there for guests to view.
Cleanliness is especially important to guests, so consider featuring a photo of your cleaning checklist or any cleaning supplies that guests can use.
Composition styles to remember
When you’re selecting what to feature in your grid and image gallery, you want to have a variety of compositions to add interest to your space. Your images should include wide, mid-range, and close-up images.
2. Edit like an expert
Now that you’ve picked your favorites, here are a few photo editing tips for professional-quality results.
Select “Auto Edit” for smart adjustments
Pick a photo in your camera roll, and select Edit. After clicking on Auto (or Enhance), you can take advantage of your phone’s automatic adjustments to brightness, contrast, and highlights.
Brighten dark areas
Use the Shadow setting to brighten darker sections of your image—especially corners. You can usually find this setting in the Exposure section of your photo editing program, but avoid using it at full strength, which will often create overpolished images. Aim to replicate what you see in person. The goal is to authentically represent your space, so you don’t want to drastically alter an image.
Tone down bright sections
If the automatic adjustments weren’t enough, Highlights can tone down parts of your image that are too bright—like windows, sunlight, or lamps. Similar to the shadows tool, adjust highlights in moderation. You can usually find this setting in the same place as Shadow.
Crop and straighten
In Part 2, we covered how to use grids to get straight photos and how the zoom feature can capture details. If an image isn’t what you were going for, there’s still hope. The crop tool allows you to change the center and straighten the photo if you need to.
Here’s how to use it:
- Click the crop button to make adjustments to your photo. Try to maintain the same proportions of the tool as you resize.
- Drag the corners of the crop tool down and in as needed to remove distracting decor, empty space, or anything else that takes attention away from the main object
- The grid can help you adjust your photo so that your lines are as close to vertical and horizontal as possible (for example, adjust the dial until the table or bed is straight)
- Double-check that your images are right-side up before you upload them. If an image is sideways or upside down, simply rotate it 90 degrees in either direction and you’ll get there eventually.
3. Write informative captions
After you’ve edited your images and uploaded them to your Airbnb listing, it’s time to explain them with captions that inform guests about your space—and showcase your personality.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Highlight any accessibility features in your space—like a flat path to the entryway or a wide bathroom door frame that’s 32 inches or more
- Explain what isn’t visible in the photo, like a view of nature from the deck where you can enjoy morning coffee
- It’s not always clear to guests where each room fits into a floor plan, so captions can help provide more context—for example: "Bedroom 1 is on the second floor and has an en-suite bathroom"
- Be clear that features displayed in the photo are available to your guests—like a kitchenette that guests are welcome to use
To help inspire you, here are some examples of informative captions:
Jorge Antonio, Mexico City
After you’ve finished uploading your photos and writing captions, take a moment to review your listing as if you were the guest—or have a friend help you—to make sure you’ve delivered a comprehensive guided tour of your space.
It can also be helpful to review your image gallery each season to ensure the first photos are the most relevant—for example, a cozy fireplace will be more appealing in the winter than outdoor space. And if you add any new amenities to your space later on, remember to update your listing photos so guests know all about it.
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