They say that a picture tells a thousand words, and Airbnb is no different. Including photos of all the spaces a guest can use helps them imagine what it’ll actually be like to stay at your place.
Your photos are the first thing prospective guests look at and are frequently the decisive factor in determining with whom they wish to book.
Listings with bad photos will struggle to even stand a chance. And the best copy in your listing descriptions will count for nothing if your photos aren’t appealing enough to make them want to learn more.
Compare the following example listings:
Which listing would you prefer to stay at? Guess what… they’re the same place!
Having professional-grade Airbnb photos from day one is therefore highly recommended. This becomes especially important with the knowledge that many of your competitors have all but likely already done so themselves.
Airbnb listings with professional photos tend to get booked 24% more often than listings without professional photos.
Airbnb offer hosts the option of a paid professional photography shoot for their homes, providing them with at least 12 photos of their space.
The shoot varies in price depending on the size and location of the home. Hosts receive a quote online prior to committing to the service. Once Airbnb match the host with a photographer, the shoot is scheduled directly with the photographer.
After the shoot, the review process can then take up to a month. Hosts can still list their space with their own photos while they wait for their professional photos. Once the photos are approved, Airbnb will deduct the total cost of the photo shoot from the next scheduled payouts until the full amount is collected.
Airbnb listings with professional photos tend to earn 40% more than other listings in their area without professional photos.
To get a quote and schedule a professional Airbnb photo shoot for your place, visit www.airbnb.com/info/photography.
Preparing Your Home to be Photographed
Whether you’re booked in for a professional Airbnb photography shoot or taking the snaps yourself, there are a number of things you’re able to do to optimize the way your home presents and ensure your photos come out looking great.
If a professional Airbnb photographer turns up to your place, they’ll spend somewhere between 30-60 minutes doing their thing. It’s still your responsibility for ensuring that you set your photographer up for success by preparing your home to have it shot looking its best.
Below are tips for preparing each key area of your home to be photographed…
The Exterior of Your Home
- Landscape (mow the lawn, trim the shrubs, rake the leaves, pull weeds, etc.)
- Remove garden hoses, sprinklers and garden tools
- Move garbage and recycling cans out of sight
- Move cars from the driveway
- Close the garage door
- Do not stuff things under the bed if it’s in any way visible
- Remove bedside table items (e.g. books, tissues, etc.)
- Ensure any open closets are neat and tidy
- Make beds like they do in hotels
- Add decorative pillows
- Remove dishes, cleaning products and dish towels from the sink
- Clean major appliances and wipe down counter-tops
- Remove everything from the fridge (e.g. magnets)
- Remove everything from kitchen counter-tops
- Remove visible child-proof equipment
The Dining Room
- Set the table using good dinnerware and decorative place settings
- Add a centrepiece (e.g. flowers or candles)
- Dust and polish tabletop
- Conceal electrical cables
- Space chairs evenly
The Living Room
- Arrange furniture in a way that shows off any communal and connected space
- Remove newspapers and magazines
- Hide remote controls from sight
- Conceal electrical cables
- Fluff furniture pillows
The Local Neighborhood
Whilst not part of your home, make sure to include a few photos (two to three) of key landmarks or attractions from your local area. These can be of any points of interest that showcase your neighborhood in its best light.
Taking Photos Yourself
Airbnb’s professional photography service may not be available in your local area. Even if it is, you may still wish to take photos yourself, or do so while you wait to receive your professional Airbnb photos (which can take a few months).
If you decide to take photos yourself, here are a few tips used by the pros when taking professional photos…
- De-clutter your space: That collection of magazines from the last three years might be sentimental to you, but probably not to guests. Create an environment that maintains your personality whilst still remaining “generic” enough for guests to imagine themselves living in.
- Get clever with angles: Photographers typically take photos of rooms from the doorway, capturing any windows and room features from this angle. Keep this in mind also when arranging furniture and styling the room in preparation for your shoot.
- Brighten up the inside: Shoot during the day and open all blinds and curtains. Make sure to turn on all lights before taking any photos (including surface lights like those on your stove) and replace any burned out light bulbs. Focus the camera away from windows wherever possible and ensure that flashes do not show up as reflections on reflective surfaces.
- Fake it till you make it: Your guests can’t turn up to a place that looks different to the pictures they’ve seen. But putting your best foot forward is absolutely fine. Little staging tricks like displaying fruit bowls, flowers and coffee table books go a long way in taking things up a notch.
- One picture per room: As a rule of thumb, take one picture of each room that guests will have access to. Remember that guests aren’t familiar with your place, so make sure they understand the space and everything it has to offer.
- Highlight unique features: Take pictures of anything that sets your place apart from other homes and hotels. Highlight unique amenities and capture anything that fills your home with life and personality.
- Composition: Use the rule of thirds – the idea that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. Important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.
- Shoot into a corner: Do not shoot flat onto a wall. This will make a space seem smaller than it is in real life. Shooting into a corner will show a broad range of space, add some depth and help give a sense of true perspective.
- Vertical lines: Ensure that all vertical lines such as door frames and cupboards remain vertical and do not appear to lean on an angle. Using a tripod to ensure your camera is 100% level when shooting will achieve this.
- Resolution: Take high-resolution photos that are at least 1024 x 683 pixels. Bigger is always better.
- Take photos outside too: The best time to shoot outdoors is the first and last hour of the day’s sunlight. Include photos of your local neighborhood too, including things like key attractions and places of interest that are close by to your place.
- Orientation: Wherever possible, take photos in landscape (in favor of portrait) format. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with portrait-oriented photos, a photo should ideally be composed based on its intended display medium. In the case of Airbnb, photos simply look better when displayed in landscape orientation.
Equipment you’ll want
Have a friend that’s an amateur professional photographer? Recruit their help in exchange for a home cooked meal or nice bottle of wine. Try get your hands on photography equipment essentials:
- A good DSLR camera
- Electronic flash
- Wide-angle lenses (faster lenses are preferable for photographing indoors)
Photo captions help prospective guests imagine what sort of experience they will have in your place. They can be just as important (if not more!) as the copy in your listing description, and help prospective guests imagine themselves actually staying in your place.
Using the previous example pictures, compare the following photo captions:
Before they know it, guests are picturing themselves staring out at the Empire State Building whilst unwinding on an oversized lounge as they hit the Book button.
Sequence and Number of Photos
The order and number of photos matters. You’ll want to use your photos to create the closest thing possible to a guided tour of your place. Do so by sequencing your photos in an order that makes its way logically through your house.
Hosts frequently start with the most captivating photo which is commonly the master bedroom or lounge room. Remember that the first photo will also be your “showcase” photo that gets displayed in search results and at the top of your listing page. Make sure it counts!
Do not duplicate photos of the same room unless the extra photos show-off additional features or selling points not seen in other photos.
Typically, 15 photos (give or take) is considered a good number to include.