Have you heard the Airbnb photography story? Once upon a time, the founders of Airbnb were wondering why Airbnb was not taking off. They quickly figured out that one of the major problems was that people had very bad pictures of their listings. By bad pictures, I mean these amateur pictures that can make a million dollar penthouse look like a real bat cave. Scary! So, the Airbnb founders flew to New York (their most successful city at the time), rented cameras, and met with their top Hosts to reshoot new pictures of their best listings.
Can you guess what happened?
Featuring professional Airbnb photography on their best listings instantly doubled Airbnb’s monthly income overnight!
Professional imagery is one of the most important aspects to sell anything online, including rentals of your home on Airbnb. Generally speaking, listings with beautiful photos receive more interest from Guests, which leads to more bookings and which leads to making more money for you and Airbnb.
All of these explains why Airbnb is now offering a free photography service for all new Hosts. This service is currently only available in bigger cities around the world. In the AirbnbSecrets course, I have a full class dedicated to “Photos” and regardless whether you can use this free service or not, I delve deeper and explain how you can tell a visual story with photos to boost your sales.
How can you get free photos you might ask?
First, log into your Airbnb profile and click here to see if you qualify for this free service.
If you are an ellegible Host, Airbnb will detect the location of your listing(s) and will tell you if this free service is available for you or not. If so, you should be able to book a photographer directly on that page for free.
After you request a photo shoot, Airbnb will reach out to independent, local third-party photographers to handle the request. Due to high demand, their availability can’t be guaranteed at all times so you should kickstart your listing by uploading your own images while waiting for professional photography.
What to Do if a Photographer is Available?
If a photographer is available, they should reach out to you via the Airbnb messaging system within 7 days of your request. All Airbnb photographers have a verified badge on their profile. You’ll also receive their contact information when they accept the assignment. Once a photographer accepts the assignment, you’ll work together to set up a time that suits you both. Be sure that your contact details are up to date and to schedule the shoot for a date when you don’t have guests.
How Much Time Does it Take To Do a Shoot?
A shoot of an apartment typically takes 30 minutes, while larger spaces can take up to an hour. Check with the photographer to see how much time they think they’ll need for your home. Making sure to set aside enough time for the shoot will help ensure that you get the best photos possible. You’ll also want to clean and tidy up your space in preparation for the shoot.
What Happens After the Shoot?
After your shoot, photos are typically uploaded, reviewed, and made public on the Airbnb site within a month. Airbnb will review every photo taken by their photographers and only accept shoots that meet their standards. By the way, take note that Airbnb can’t provide your own copies of these photos because they’re copyrighted by Airbnb.
How can I shoot pictures myself?
If the free Airbnb photography service is not available in your area or if you need pictures until an Airbnb photographer shows up to your home, you should kickstart your listing by shooting your own pictures today.
I haven’t told you this yet but in a past life, I once was a photographer shooting million dollar properties in Vancouver, British Columbia. All pictures that you see on all my listings were shot by myself. I also love staging homes. My friends and family always find it hilarious when I chill at their place and start moving furniture around to rearrange their space. Most of the time, they end up loving what I’ve done and they can’t imagine going back to their old layout.
So before you hire a photographer, I’d love to give you a few tips on how to kickstart your listing by shooting your own photos with your smartphone, tablet or digital camera. Here are six awesome photo tips that will make your space and your listing look better than ever on Airbnb – all by yourself.
Tip #1: Cleanup Your Home
It might sounds like a basic tip but you’d be surprised at how many listings I’ve seen on Airbnb with dirty dishes and dirty clothes laid out all over the place.
I know, it’s kind of gross and it’s a total turn off for Guests.
So before taking pictures your space, make sure to take some time to clean your home, do your dishes and put down the toilet seat. Cleaning and staging your place for Airbnb photos will make your pad seem more inviting and spacious for your potential Guests.
One of my favourite interior design websites is Houzz.com and you can go on it to research photos to inspire yourself if you want to do a little Airbnb make-over. When I’m in the mood, I can spend hours on this website just researching new looks for my space. Doing a little Airbnb staging doesn’t have to be costly. Just remove the clutter, arrange some flowers, put some magazines your coffee table, and dust the place to make your home as tidy as it’s ever been.
Tip #2: Let the Sun Shine In
Natural light can be a photographer’s best friend. It brings out depth, color, and contrast in a setting. Great lighting will make your photos look more professional overall, which will make you look more professional as a Host. Avoid shooting your pictures at night. Instead, shoot during the day, turn on all the lights, open the curtains and let all of the natural light in. Most cameras will adjust for bright spots by darkening the rest, so make sure to focus the camera away from the windows any other light source if possible.
Tip #3: Shoot Your Space With Angles in Landscape Mode
Instead of shooting a room flat in front of a wall, try shooting the space in angles. It usually gives a broader range to your space while adding a 3-D effect to the photo. Actually, shooting flat onto a wall can make your space seem smaller than in real life, which is not very appealing to potential Guests. Composition in a photo is also very important. Consider the rule of thirds for balance and visual queues to keep the eye moving. Also, for the resolutions of your camera, make sure to take photos that are at least 1024 x 683 pixels. When in doubt, bigger photos are simply better. Finally, always shoot in landscape format since vertical photos are the worst option for Airbnb photography.
Tip #4: Shoot Several Photos & Only Keep the Good Ones
Shooting digital photos is free and you should take advantage of this. When I shoot real estate properties, or anything for that matter, I always enjoy shooting many photos of a specific angle. I then download everything on my computer and I look at all the pictures side by side. If I have 5 pictures of the same angle, there’s always one picture that will stand out. I then erase the bad pictures and keep the best one for my listing.
Tip #5: Highlight the Uniqueness of Your Space
Do you have a gas stove? A sweet rooftop patio? A new stainless steel BBQ? A cool Ikea kitchen? Is there a gym in your building? What about the million dollar view? Do you have a dishwasher and washer-dryer? A fireplace? Or even a grumpy cat that is included in the rental? If so, why not showcase all of these details in your pictures?
The internet is a visual medium and your Guests will discover your home online via your photos. Make sure to highlight the special details of your place that sets your home apart from other properties on Airbnb.
If I look at our properties, they are filled with my boyfriend’s art and since I’ve shot all our places, I’ve made sure to feature it in our pictures. Guests actually love to mention how they love Brad’s art in their reviews and even sometimes in private messages when they check-in. People simply love the little details – things that fill your home with life and personality. So if you have a collection of teapots from China or cows living in a field behind your house, showcase these stuff in your pictures.
Guests love interesting spaces.
Tip #6: Speaking of Cows, Take Some Photos Outside
What’s around your home is just as important as what’s inside of it. Guests love to see what surrounds your place. If you look at my Stylish Country Home by the Lake listing,
I took the time to shoot photos of the entire area, during all seasons of the year. I love taking pictures and I love the scenery surrounding where we live. I know that seeing these landscape pictures will have a great effect on our potential Guests, inciting them to book with us.
And you know what? It works.
By the way, the best time to do Airbnb photography outside is during the “Magic Hour,” meaning the first and last hour of sunlight of the day. This is the time of day where light is softest (most diffused) and brings out the broadest range of color. Of course, shooting during a sunny day is usually better than in a cloudy day. In general, people are attracted to sunlight and if you shoot pictures during a rainy day, it will make your area look kind of depressing.
If you live in a lively neighbourhood, you can also take pictures of it. Guests get excited about their destination, as well as the place they’re staying, so why not include pictures of your ‘hood in your listing? If you live close to a local attraction, a great restaurant, or gorgeous scene, show it to the world!
My Airbnb Photography Conclusion
Generally speaking, more photos is better.
That said, you do not want be redundant with your photos. The more beautiful pictures you have, the more people will get excited about your listing. More quality imagery will also provide your potential Guests more references to make their decision to book with you or not. Having several pictures also allows them to spend more time on your listing. Actually, it might even incite more people to put your listing in their Airbnb Wishlist which can even have a positive effet on your Airbnb ranking overall.
As a final advice, if an Airbnb photographer is not available in your area, I highly suggest you consider hiring a professional real estate photographer to take professional pictures of your listing once you start making money on Airbnb. It might cost a few hundred bucks but having great Airbnb photography could easily double your Airbnb income overnight.
As you can see, Airbnb has a steep learning curve and it will cost you lots of time and money to try to learn everything on your own. I currently offer a lot of free Airbnb Host tips via email to empower all levels of Airbnb Hosts. There’s so much more to know and there’s so much we can get into on the tactics.
So I’ve created this free email course. It’s totally free and you just need to enter your email below to sign up.