Photos mean a whole bunch on Airbnb. You can have a great location and a great price, but if your photos suck, you’re not going to get booked.

Photos are so important that Airbnb used to offer free photography on all listings. Nowadays, they offer discounted professional photos that you can pay for with the money from your first booking. We 100% using either Airbnb or hiring a professional to take the base crop of your photos.

But, you may at some point find yourself needing to take some on your own. Maybe you’ve just added a new TV, updated your bedding, or the seasons have changed and you want to showcase garden. No matter the case, follow these tips to make sure your listing’s photographs look just like the professionals’.

1. Make the Space As Bright As Possible.


Ever notice how all the listing pictures on Airbnb are extremely well lit? Great lighting is the most important thing when it comes to photography.

Take your pictures during the daytime. Open up all your windows and make sure all your curtains and blinds are up. Turn on every light available to you and then some. The brighter your rooms, the more enticing your photos will look.

2. Set the Scene


Ever notice how magazines show spaces set up for just the perfect occasion? Be it a simple book and a steaming cup of coffee on a kitchen table, or a bedside table stacked with guidebooks and a pair of glasses. Make the photos you take have a realistic scene that your guests may find themselves in.

Get creative and set each room to maximize its potential. And remember to take photos that will be of interest to your audience. If you’ve got a space that would be great for people on business trips, showcase that. If you’ve got a space that is great for romantic weekends away, then showcase that.

3. Aim at the Corners


Professional photographers use a wide-angle lens to make things look bigger. If you don’t have a wide-angle lens, you can accomplish similar by shooting into a corner of a room.

What shooting into a corner means, is that to show as much of the room as possible, you’ll take the picture along the diagonal of that room, photographing each room’s corners. So, instead of taking a picture of your bed from the foot of the bed, you would take the photo from one of the corners of the bed. This will make the bed look larger.

Travelers like to have more space, so the larger your listing looks, the more likely you are to be booked.

4. Use Basic Photography and Interior Design Principles

Pick up any book on photography or interior design and you’ll always find two principles listed, the rule of thirds and the rule of odds. Use these principles when taking photos.

The rule of thirds just means that your focal point should never be in the middle. You always want to cut the image into thirds and place the focal point in one of those segments. So, if you were taking a photo of a guitar, for example, the guitar should not be in the middle of the picture. It should either be on the left or right side of the photo, with most of the picture consisting of the environment around the guitar.


The rule of odds means that there should always be an odd number of things displayed. So if you’re going to place some objects in your space, make sure they are of an odd number. Three cups of coffee, five apples, 7 pairs of shoes, etc.


5. Clean the Scene

It seems obvious, yet we see listings all the time that aren’t clean. If you are taking photos make sure your listing is cleaner than it has ever been before. And hide anything that doesn’t need to be in the photo. Things like chargers or cords should be hidden, beds should be made, and the entire place should be dusted.

6. Show What Makes You Unique


Anything your listing has to offer that other listings don’t should be a focal point of photographs. If you have a hot tub, or swimming pool, don’t just tell potential renters, show them. The same goes for any other amenities that may set you apart.

A big sought after amenity for travelers is guitars. If you have a guitar in your listing that someone can jam on, make sure you include a few photos of that.

7. Photograph Everything and Anything

There’s no reason that you should just be photographing each room’s corner and calling it a day. Take the time to highlight objects, people, and/or animals. Have your listing’s photos tell a story of the space.

Figure out how you can play with people’s’ emotions by making them subconsciously feel that they won’t have a great vacation unless they stay at a great place- yours. This also includes taking photos of the outside of your listing, especially the neighborhood. Whatever you have to offer that is within walking distance, showcase that. Also, make sure to showcase any views from the windows that are worthy of a glance. You can never have too many photos of your listing, as long as they all show something different.

Killer Examples

Here are a couple examples of listings who did their own photos and crushed it.

This listing in Venice, CA took their own photos. They took them from the corners with plenty of light. They included things that make their listing unique, like surfboards and bikes. They also included images of the beach they are right down the street from. As a result, they’ve been booked over 300 times!


This listing in Rio is phenomenal. They took photos of something that made them unique (the breakfast they serve), used great lighting, and included some of Rio’s nearby attractions in their photography. As a result, they have 35 5-star reviews in a city where it’s pretty hard to get booked.


Last Thoughts: Equipment Matters

This step is important, but we definitely understand that not everyone has access to cameras.

Taking photos with your iPhone following the principles above will still turn out some great photos compared to the average on the Airbnb site. But, the quality of them won’t compare to what you can accomplish with a true camera. If you have any friends who are photographers, now would be a great time to call in that favor and borrow their camera before you start listing your space!

If you can get access to a quality camera, like a DSLR or Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, your DIY photos will appear professional. You will also most likely need a tripod. Since you will be photographing indoors, you might have to have a very long shutter time set in order to allow in enough light. Because of this, you will absolutely need to, first of all, have a camera that allows you to manually set the shutter speed, but also a tripod to sit it on. Remember to also take these photos using a timer so that your hand does not move the camera in any way while the shutter is open.