Airbnb Photography: a Godsend for the Gross Apartment

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With Airbnb‘s growing popularity comes growing competition. Gone are the days when you could throw up an Airbnb listing with a few vague sentences and an iPhone photo that conjured struggling bachelor at best and invoked Silence of the Lambs–level creepiness at worst. Actually photos like that still exist, but now they:

  1. Don’t get booked
  2. Get booked less than they should
  3. Get booked for less than they should.

There’s good news for people with creeper apartments, though: Airbnb is here to help you present a less-embarrassing lifestyle.

Enter Airbnb photographers. This service is available for most places for free, and it’s a Godsend. (For the record, this is also true for nice apartments. Professional photographers just make your place look better and this is an important step when you’re competing against pages upon pages of listings.)

Related: The Upsides & Downsides of Airbnb: A Landlord’s Perspective

Why You Want One

First, the photographers know how to arrange your furniture in a way that’s most appealing to the eye. They also know nuanced photography tricks that the average person just doesn’t, like shoot from the hip and not somewhere else (like your chest or your face or wherever you normally hold a camera.) Second, they have amaaaaazing filters. Models-in-magazines-level filters that lighten and brighten your place until your garden-level bachelor pad looks like the SoHo pad of a rich kid. Here’s proof:



Related: 13 Mistakes New Vacation Rental Owners Always Make

Some people wonder if this is ethical or is somehow a misrepresentation of what they own. I can’t answer that, but I can say, that’s our place/was our place (let’s be honest, James’ place) and, in my opinion, it looked closer to the first photo than the second, and we never had a single complaint about it. No one ever said to us that the photos were misleading. We had outstanding reviews on the place. It’s not that I don’t think people noticed the discrepancy, but I think we got them to consider us based on the photo, and then won them over with customer service.

The best thing about the Airbnb photography is that it’s free and available for most listings. Simply Google “free Airbnb photography” and a host of options will come up. If your place doesn’t qualify for photography, it’s still worth shelling out the $100-$150 to get your place professionally photographed. Trust me when I say it’ll be worth it.

[Edit: Airbnb no longer officially offers free photography, and availability depends on your area per this update on their site. We still advise that hosts upgrade their photos, whether for a cost or by informing yourself on basic photography strategies.]

What tricks have you used to make your photographs more appealing to Airbnbers? Let me know in the comments section below!

About Author

Erin Spradlin

Erin Spradlin co-owns James Carlson Real Estate. She loves working with first-time homebuyers for their enthusiasm and excitement, and loves working with investors because she's a fellow spreadsheet nerd. She and her husband own three properties in metro Denver and are currently in the process of acquiring a duplex in Colorado Springs. You can find Erin's blogs here: and her airbnb video series here:


  1. Actually, the photographers don’t rearrange nor clean the place. That’s not our job. When I show up and the place is a mess or it just outright sucks, I make notes so AirBnB knows the condition of the place. I’ve also have told the host/owner that it needs to be cleaned and to let me know when it is so we can reschedule. I will not shoot a dirty or poorly arranged unit.

    As for taking and using the photos off the Airbnb website for other things, those are copyrighted and Airbnb does pursue copyright infraction. I’ve had to tell many owners that as they always want copies but we are not allowed to send them

    Good photography is an investment to sell/rent your home or apt. so it is worth it to get your place professionally photographed.

    • Erin Spradlin

      @Paul Conrad – Thanks for your comment. I didn’t mean to imply they would clean or act in a design capacity. I only meant that the one that helped us moved magazines out of a photo or shoot to best show the room. By no means did I mean they cleaned or moved stuff around, nor did we need that.
      I can also tell you, we have repurposed our Airbnb photos in the past without running into an issue- not saying you should, just saying we have.

  2. There are contradictory statements going on as far as what the article states Airbnb photogs will do and what an actual photographer for Airbnb will do as noted above by Paul Conrad. I don’t see a photographer showing up to help be your interior designer.

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