Real Estate Investing Basics

Your Real Estate Photos Suck. Here’s 7 Tips for Making Them Awesome.

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties
61 Articles Written

Note from the Editor: Although this post specifically talks about vacation rental photos, the tips in here can benefit any real estate investor, agent, or anyone just looking to take better photos of real estate! Enjoy!

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It is often said a picture is worth a thousand words.

Pictures of your vacation home are the single most important tool you have to get the most rentals. If your vacation home has low quality or low resolution pictures, it will be very difficult to get customers to book your home.

The best way to get the best photos for your vacation home is to hire a professional photographer, but this can be really expensive. In fact, I talked to a photographer here in Orlando just the other day, and he told me his fee was $450 per house — ouch!

If you do decide to do the pictures yourself, I’ve compiled a few tips to make sure your vacation homes stand out.

Related: 6 Ways to Save Energy (and Money) on Your Vacation Home Rental

7 Steps to Professional-Looking Vacation Home Photos

1. Have the Right Equipment:

The first thing you will need is a good digital camera and a wide angle lens. If your vacation home has smaller bedrooms (like many of the vacation homes in Orlando), you really need a good wide angle lens to capture the room.

2. Stage Your Vacation Home:

It is amazing the difference that a few fresh cut flowers will do for a photo of a room; they add color and height to the pictures, which is key.

Remove all the little knickknacks from the rooms — these trinkets are usually very cute, but they oftentimes make the pictures look cluttered. Another thing you will want to pay close attention to is to make sure the bedspreads are pulled tight and the pillows are fluffed. It is a good idea to take 5 to 10 minutes in each room before you start taking pictures to make sure there is no clutter and to tidy everything up.

3. Pay Attention to the Weather:

When taking pictures, natural light is your friend, and if it is an overcast or rainy day, chances are there will be less natural light coming in. Wait for a sunny day to take your pictures — the natural light will enhance your photos.

4. Pictures, Pictures and More Pictures:

FlipKey did a survey, and the homes that had at least 20 photos are the ones that rented the best on their site.

I recommend taking a picture of all the rooms, the exterior, the views of your property, as well as the amenities of the resort. In the study that Flipkey did, they showed that a house with at least 20 photos rented 83% better than a vacation home with less than 10 photos.

5. Shoot the Exterior at Dusk:

The best time to shoot the exterior photo of your vacation home is 15 to 20 minutes after the sun has set. Professional photographers call this “the magic hour.”

6. Look for Different Angles:

Don’t be afraid to stand on a chair or even the counter top to get the best picture. The art of taking great pictures is to find unique angles and have a lot of natural light.

Related: Buying a Vacation Home as an Investment: Fun, Sun, and Income?

7. Photoshop Your Pictures:

I want to be cautious here because Photoshop is a great tool — and you can make a 2-star vacation home look like a 5-star mansion. Use Photoshop to enhance the colors, but be sure you are giving the guest a realistic representation of the house. If not, you could be getting a lot of bad reviews and complaints.

I hope this article is helpful to you, and I welcome all comments. If your vacation home is not renting as well as you think it should, go check out your pictures, and compare them to the pictures of other homes you are competing with. Chances are their photos may be better than yours.

Have you taken your own photos of your property? What techniques or tips would you add to this list?

Please leave a comment below.

Trey Duling is the President/CEO of, a large travel company specializing in Florida getaways. He has over 27 years of...
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    Replied over 6 years ago
    Trey, Thanks for taking the time to write the article and help others. I just this year for the first time used craigslist to advertise rentals. I did not include any pictures. I was actually the only one posting an add in my town. It took awhile for folks to start replying but 80% asked for me to post pictures. The other 20% were already living in town and wanted an address to run by and look at the properties. When I sent some pictures I always got immediate feedback.. I find that I have to change the way I view things sometimes to really understand them. You can make money in real estate even if you use outdated methods, but you will make a lot more if you keep up on current trends.
    Scott Billingsley
    Replied over 6 years ago
    The tips are good and I am here to say that unless you love architectural and landscape photography, creating entertaining virtual tours and investing thousands in equipment, software and hours in creating tours, then hire a professional. For a few hundred dollars, you can get a professional tour that will last for years and when you consider the cost of an empty vacation rental for even a few nights versus the investment in a tour that will pay dividends there should be no question. I am saying this as I used to be a professional photographer (meaning I could be hired) and have tens of thousands in equipment, software and websites and decades of experience. For a few hundred dollars for a good tour to several thousand for a truly professional job. For a vacation rental? A few hundred dollars.
    Remy Heerema
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Hey Trey, Really love this post. Thank you for the awesome tips!
    Remy Heerema
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Hey Trey, Really love this post. Thank you for the awesome tips!