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list your property on Airbnb


It’s hard to overstate the importance of photos. Again, potential guests are flipping through page after page with 18 listings per page, and they’re making a snap judgement. So, how do you make sure your photo catches their eye?

Use Airbnb's photographers

The easiest way to do it is … let Airbnb shoot the photos. The company offers free photographers to new listings. They know how to adjust filters and lighting to amplify your space’s best qualities while minimizing its worst qualities. Simply Google “Airbnb free photography” to learn how to request a local photographer come shoot your place.

Need an example? Here are three pairs of photos of an Airbnb listing taken at night by a Samsung Galaxy S6 and the same-angle shot from a professional Airbnb photographer.

A bad Airbnb photo of a basement apartment in Denver
A well-lit Airbnb photo of a basement apartment in Denver
A bad Airbnb photo of a basement apartment in Denver
A well-lit Airbnb photo of a basement apartment in Denver
A bad Airbnb photo of a basement apartment in Denver
A well-lit Airbnb photo of a basement apartment in Denver


You may ask yourself, is this lying?


A couple points on that question. The truth of this place’s light probably lies in the middle of the two sets of photos. The host made sure to turn on all lights before guests arrived. And no one ever complained to the host or to Airbnb about a misleading ad. As with a lot of this, you have to assess your own comfort level.


Do it yourself


Now, if you’re dead set on taking your own photos, here are a few tips and tricks.

First off, let there be light! The more light, the better. Open all window shades. Turn on all lights — yes, every single light in your home. People don’t want to stay in a dark place.

Now, while framing your shot, rotate your camera slightly up and down, and left and right, while looking at the preview to see where the best light is.

Look at these two photos.

Dark Airbnb photo of a Denver apartment
A bright Airbnb photo of a Denver apartment


They’re shot on the same day at the same time. But the second one looks so much more inviting. We were simply rotating my camera in slight gradations until the lens caught enough light to showcase the room but not so much that it washed out the frame.


Also, you should shoot from the hip. Taking photos from waist level often give the most flattering photo for real-estate interiors.  The top photo is from eye level. The bottom photo is from waist level.


In a discussion about the need for light, it should go without saying then that you don’t take photos at night when you’re getting no natural light into your space. (The one exception is if you have a nice patio with café lights where guests might spend time at night. In that instance, you should capture that.)


Also be conscious of what shows up in your photo and what doesn’t. Proper framing can make a big difference.  Not too wide, not too narrow. Capture everything you want and none of what you don't.


An example of poor photo framing of an Airbnb in Denver


This photo has nice light, but it’s cutting off items at the edges. Now, maybe you only want a photo of the couch, but in that case, get in closer (or cheat a little by moving the periphery items away a little) and get only the couch. As this picture stands now, the chair on the left, the lamp on the right and the painting at the top are distracting.

A well-framed Airbnb photo of a Denver apartment


The second picture is better. It captures all that you want and none of what you don’t. Hey, who knew there was a hanging lamp up top?

The picture here is another example of bad framing.

A badly framed Airbnb photo from Denver


Sure the light is terrible. But for our discussion on framing, what is the focus here? Is it the kitchen? If so, the right side of it is cut off. And it’s showing some other small area to the left. There’s a lot of rug in this photo. And there’s a black computer chair barely jutting into the frame from the right. (Also, is there a telescope in the window pointing to the next door neighbor? Creepy.)


This could be improved by moving in tighter and rotating the camera to the right to capture the kitchen and only the kitchen.

When we talked about staging, we talked about staging for how the guests will live. That only works if you can then capture that in the photographs. Here’s an example. 

How to take an Airbnb photo that shows how guests will live


So don’t just show the city view. Show the chairs and table from which they will enjoy the city view.

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