As an Airbnb host, photography can make or break you. A great property with bad photography is a bad listing. So what do we do? Hiring a photographer is a great choice. There are several talented real estate and property photographers out there. If your budget allows, you should do this. No doubt. Another option is to take your own photos. "Hey," you may be thinking, "that's why my pictures suck in the first place." And you're probably right. But with a little time and effort ... and these pointers ... you can learn to take amazing pictures. Even with your phone.
If nothing else burrows its way into the shutterbug region of your brain, let this tip resonate. Turn off all of your electric lights, open your windows (and doors if necessary), and let the heavens shine through. Your electric lamps and overhead lights steal the natural light's thunder. They cause ugly (often yellow; gag city) highlights and unwanted shadows. Your camera's lens craves sunlight and your photos will sing you praises for it. It's important to note how a room or property looks at certain times of the day. It may be a good idea to shoot in the morning and then in the early afternoon, as these times will give you distinct options. This blog post from Digital Photography School talks more about shooting indoors with natural light.
Take Several Photos From The Same Angle
This should be a no-brainer. In an age in which storage is cheap and omnipresent, there is zero reason to ever shoot one or two pictures and move on. You are trying to sell your space. It is worth your time and effort to take a few dozen of the same picture to ensure that you get a great shot. Camera's don't care about your day. They honestly don't care about anything. They are inanimate objects. Patience will produce better still photography every time.
As mentioned in the above point, lighting changes. Not only from morning to afternoon, but from moment to moment. Taking a lot of photos for every angle should mitigate your lighting's fickle ways.
Be Conscience Of Framing
What's the stereotypical image you get in your head when you think of a film director? Is it a guy looking through an impromptu frame he made with his fingers? As silly as it looks, there is a good reason for this. He's framing the shot. You don't just want to take a picture of the kitchen. You want to capture everything that's great about your kitchen in a photograph.
And now...a visual aid:
Both of these pictures are taken of the same subject, in the same room, within seconds of each other. Now, we're not saying either of these are great. In fact, one is an abomination of a photo and the other is.... slightly less so? But it gets the point across. There is a clear winner. And framing makes all of the difference.
Another thing to consider is keeping your horizon straight. Whether your horizon is a white wall or a towering mountain range, nothing will ruin a photo faster than an off-kilter horizon. Darren Rowse of Digital Photography School wrote an amazing piece about this here.
It is said time and time again: photos sell. They sell beauty products, they sell food, they sell magazines, and they sell your inventory on Airbnb. So why is it that so many listings still have horrid pictures? Look at the photos on your listing, maybe compare them with your peers. If you can't honestly say they are good pictures, then chances are you are losing bookings because of them. I think that alone is worth putting in a little time to become a better photographer.
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