Upgrade your listing photos
Choose a cover image that showcases your space’s personality
Clear clutter, shoot at eye level, and thoughtfully frame your composition
Did you know photography is one of the main deciding factors for guests when choosing a place to stay? The quality of your photos can also affect how often potential guests find your listing in search results—which means that high-quality photos are essential to your hosting business.
Jeff and Candida are professional photographers and Superhosts who use their creativity to attract more bookings to their desert dwelling, El Rancho, in Joshua Tree, California. Their secret is making their space appear as beautiful in photos as it is in person.
Here, the couple share their expert tips to improve your listing photos.
1. Clear out the clutter
When photographing your space, be sure to tidy up. “We are sometimes surprised to see how many people forget to clear their spaces of random objects before taking photos,” says Jeff. “We try to keep our living spaces free of clutter, so capturing the photo we want—without distraction—becomes a lot easier.”
However, that doesn’t mean your space should be completely bare. “Add a human component to the shot,” says Candida, like a blanket, or a small stack of books. “It makes a place so much more welcoming.”
2. Frame your cover image
The cover image of your space is the first thing travelers discover in search results and on your listing page, so try to make that first impression count.
“Think about what sets your space apart from others. What makes it special? Do you think people would be able to see themselves here? Explore other Airbnb listings for inspiration and to find what works,” Candida recommends.Be sure to also capture any special areas that might be enticing to potential guests, like a wide-frame image of your property’s outdoor space.
3. Find your light
“The secret to great listing photography is the light,” Candida says. Here are a few suggestions for capturing your space with the right glow:
- Observe your light. Experiment and explore what the natural light looks like inside and outside of your home throughout the day.
- Take photos at dusk or dawn. When shooting outdoors, snap photos just after sunrise or before sunset—the golden hours. The lighting is softer and less direct, and it’ll give your property a nice, warm tone.
- Go natural. If you’re taking photos indoors, find the time of day when you get the most direct, natural light. Artificial lighting should always be a last resort, as it tends to appear too harsh in photos.
- Turn off the flash. Just as with other artificial lighting, using a flash can create a harsh effect. If the space you’re photographing doesn’t have any natural light, turn on a lamp to create a cozy feeling.
4. Craft your composition
When it comes to photo quality, composition—factors like orientation, photo size, arrangement, and symmetry—is as important as the subject of your photograph. Here are some tips to consider when crafting your composition:
- Center your photos. Remember that Airbnb crops photos to fit in your listing and search results. Place your main subject in the center of the frame so nothing important gets cropped out. “If you have any special pieces that you love in your home, try centering them in the photography so they stand out,” says Jeff.
- Shoot at eye level. Snapping your photo at a neutral angle—without distortions, or angling up or down—helps ensure that the image is well-balanced, and allows guests to experience the space closer to how they would in person.
- Use the rule of thirds. “If you divide your frame into thirds, you can use them as guides to arrange the elements in your composition,” Jeff says.
- Include a variety of shots. Wide photos are ideal for helping people understand the size of a room, while mid-range photos are best for focusing on particular subjects, like a TV or an exercise bike. Reserve detail shots for small touches that share the personality of your space.
- Make connections. Think of your image gallery as a guided tour, and show potential guests how rooms connect to one another in photos.
5. Showcase your space
As you choose what to photograph—and what to leave out—try thinking like a guest.
“It’s important to curate and choose a range of images that best tell your story,” says Candida. “What will your guests love about the space? What surprises might they need to know? How can you show the details but still give an overall idea of what the room looks like?”
Remember that part of telling your story is zooming out and presenting your surrounding area. “Not every image has to be about your home,” Jeff notes. You might include photos of a nearby hiking trail, for example, or the cute coffee shop on your corner.
Above all, as you share your space and neighborhood, use high-quality photos to help potential guests envision their stay—and, hopefully, to book your place for a stay they’ll remember.
Information contained in this article may have changed since publication.
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