Master the art of vacation rental photography with your smartphone. Learn how to capture stunning images that attract guests and increase your bookings.

Vacation rental photography is the visual proof that what you describe in your property listing is accurate. According to Airbnb, 75% of hosts who invest in professional photography pay it off in one night from future bookings and can charge more per listing.

However, not all vacation rental owners can invest in a professional photographer, especially when starting out. The solution? Smartphone cameras! All hosts possess a mobile phone with a decent camera lens, so capturing photos of your property will be a breeze.

That's not to say take your phone out of pocket and start taking pictures of your rental. Property images require some preparation and thoughtful planning for high-quality results. In this guide, we'll share our top vacation rental photography tips to get you started.

How to Capture Stunning Vacation Rental Photos With Your Smartphone

1. Clean Like You Expect the President

Visitors today are too particular about a clean home. I mean, who can blame them? The last thing you want is for potential guests to zoom in on your listing photos only to discover stains, dust, and dirt. So get your best cleaners in town and scrub surfaces until everything's bright and shiny.

Before you snap any photos, ensure things are stored, dried, organized, and folded properly. Think about welcoming the pickiest guests and trying to please them. Your house will only be ready for your rental property photography session when it's spotless.

2. Stage Rooms to Maximize Aesthetics

Once your vacation rental property is immaculate, it's time to decorate and stage your aesthetic photos. Storytelling is vital here, as you want potential guests daydreaming about their stay from the pictures. Focus on the luxury, quaintness, hi-tech, or other unique characteristics that make your vacation rental stand out.

For instance, a morning breakfast in bed with colorful local delicacies against the white sheets can create a sense of relaxation and slow living. The warmth of the fireplace next to a curated library of books and a warm blanket on an armchair can inspire a warm atmosphere. Or a luxury espresso in the outdoor patio can make guests drool with anticipation.

Vacation Rental Photography: Capture Photos With Your Smartphone
Real estate photography for vacation home

3. Find the Best Lighting

Wait for the perfect sunny weather to capture high-quality photos of your vacation rental. A gloomy or rainy day can be reflected in pictures and create a negative vibe. Natural light is all you need for your vacation rental photos, but don't be afraid to experiment with artificial light, such as hidden lighting or an aesthetic lamp in your house.

The golden hour during sunset or sunrise is also a great time to photograph your house, especially if you have stunning views to showcase. Avoid night pictures unless you want to showcase a specific amenity, like a jacuzzi under the stars. Daylight will make your space look bigger and the furniture brighter.

4. Choose the Right Smartphone Settings

You don't need the latest iPhone to capture great photos, but a Pro or a Max model in the right light can do a fantastic job. Before you film anything, wipe your camera lens. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Always use the back camera for better quality
  • Make sure your photos are well-focused by tapping on the screen where you want the focus to be
  • If you record videos of your property, shoot at 4K at 60 FPS (if your phone supports it) and turn off the HRD video. Also, use cinematic mode prudently, as it can significantly blur your background and hide important information your guests will want to know.
  • For iPhones, adjust the exposure by sliding the sun icon that pops in your screen next to the focus
  • Turn off the flash, as it can reflect on surfaces and give you bad lighting
  • Use the panorama feature to capture wide exterior shots and showcase expansive views from balconies. This technique will add depth and scale to your photographs.
  • Upload on good internet because a bad or interrupted signal can infringe on your photo quality
Vacation Rental Photography: Capture Photos With Your Smartphone
Professional photos of vacation home

5. Try Different Angles

Take various pictures from different angles, and don't be afraid to experiment. In fact, turn this into a full-blown photoshoot, from wide photographs to close-ups. Guests will want to know that your home is as good as you say it is, so test multiple angles to showcase everything in your house. Consider capturing pictures from the water with a waterproof smartphone case if you have a pool.

At the end, you'll have a bunch of vacation rental photos to choose from and upload the creme de la creme for your listing. Remember to take more pictures than you need, as cleaning and preparing your property again to capture additional shots will be tricky.

6. Edit Photos, but Don't Overdo It

When editing vacation home pictures, keep things as natural as possible. Heavy filters and rough edits will push guests away, thinking you display a fake picture of your house and possibly have something to hide.

We recommend using editing programs like the Lightroom app to fix the exposure, sharpness, and color saturation. Of course, you can crop, rotate, and straighten photos for an even look. And if you want that extra pizzazz, you can add subtle filters that add an oomph factor.

Remember to stay consistent with editing—apply the same settings to all photos to maintain brand identity. Natural light also comes in handy here. If you neglected it during the photo shoot, no amount of hardware can help.

Vacation Rental Photography: Capture Photos With Your Smartphone
Real estate photos for property managers

Your Turn to Capture Stunning Vacation Rental Photos

What's the point of having a stunning vacation rental home unless you know how to showcase it to potential guests? Vacation rental photography can be the reason why someone books with you and not a competitor, and it can highlight your property's unique features.

No camera? No problem! Our smartphones are more than capable of capturing stunning pictures and will be your best ally in boosting your vacation rental business. Once your shots are ready, upload them to your book-direct website and watch users convert into sweet guests.

At Houfy, we ensure you earn the total profit from your bookings without the cuts from large OTAs like VRBO. Join us today and become part of an extensive community of 80,000 hosts and guests!

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