12 Reasons to Take Your Own Photos

As a vacation rental owner, you may know that listing photos greatly affect rental bookings. And you may think of hiring someone else to do the trick. But before you do, why not consider taking your own photos. Here are 12 reasons why:

1. You know the strengths of your place

Professional photographers have a limited amount of time at your place. They will be focused on the technical aspects of the job - setting up the equipment, deciding what gets photographed and what doesn’t, etc. 

If they’re good, they’ll be eager for your input as to what to focus on. But truthfully, there is no way that you will be able to convey the entirety of what you know and feel about your vacation home in the allotted time.

Your home should tell potential guests a story about the type of vacation they can expect to have. And beyond that, how they will FEEL while there. The photographer is the middleman, between you and your potential guest. Things can get lost in translation, particularly when the photographer has their own preconceived notions that will influence what and how they photograph.

2. Your smartphone can take professional-level photos

Not too long ago, professionals were practically the only ones in possession of the cameras capable of producing great photos. That is less the case every year.

These days, we would propose that even if your best camera is the one in your smartphone, that can be sufficient for creating irresistible photos. Expensive gear is sometimes the biggest mental hurdle owners have. Once you have seen that you actually do have the right equipment for the job, right in your pocket, a new world of massive advantages opens up to you. One of the biggest is no.3...

3. You can take unlimited photos

In nearly all cases, a professional photo shoot will include delivery of a specific number of photographs. Maybe 10, maybe 20. Occasionally more, but more photos nearly always means more money.

On the other hand, if you’re taking them yourself, there is literally no limit to how many you can take. In the “old days”, film and processing were expensive. Now, a few extra seconds can translate into 20 extra shots, from slightly different angles, or exposures etc. And the more you have to choose from, the more likely that “the perfect one” will be in the mix. Also, FlipKey documents that listings with 20+ photos get 83% more inquiries than those with 5 or less.

4. You own the photos and can use them anywhere

Many, if not most, professional photographers will ask you to sign a contract indicating that they, not you, own the photographs and you are being given permission to use them under certain circumstances. With Airbnb photographers, you not only don’t own the photos, you are not allowed to use them on any other vacation rental listing site. This is a significant limitation.

5. You can take photos of other scenes around town

Your vacation rental is much more than just the physical structure your guests will be staying in. Your photos should cover anything relevant to their vacation experience. Far too many owners miss out on the powerful impact of photos of local attractions (beach, amusement park, museums, zoo, etc.). If it’s a potential reason for someone to come to your area, it’s worth a good photo or two.

It is unrealistic and prohibitively expensive to expect a professional photographer to go all over town and get these photos for you, no matter how much they would enhance your listing. This is one more substantial benefit that you could experience if you were handling your own photo shoot. Knock off these other locations at your own pace, over time. And each one makes your listing more valuable and irresistible.

6. You can improve your photos by doing your own "staging"

One study showed that less than half of professional photographers are willing to take part in “staging” (adjusting items and/or furniture in a room for optimum effect). Owners can’t always be there for the shoot. But good staging can absolutely make the difference between an average photo and one that’s irresistible to potential guests.

If you’re taking your own photos, you can take your time and try different variations in order to create the best look for a room. In fact, there are many aspects of a shoot that can benefit from not being on a tight deadline.

7. You can photograph rooms one at a time, at your own pace

Photo shoots are almost always scheduled for one block of time, on one specific day. But when YOU are the photographer, you can space things out more. You could spend as much time as necessary to get the living room shots just right.

And if that seems like enough for the day, tackle the kitchen tomorrow. You could literally spread the shoot out over a week or more if you wanted to. Besides convenience, the main advantage is that no room is rushed, and you never have to move on to the next for any reason other than total satisfaction with the room you just finished.

8. Time is your friend, not your enemy

Pros are always hired for a specific amount of time and photos are taken when it’s best for the photographer, not for the room.

Sometimes, your living room is in the best light around 5pm but the kitchen at 10am. Is the photographer going to be onsite for 5 hours+? Not likely. Not to mention those gorgeous sunset photos with glowing indoors against a sunset sky. They require planning ahead and specific timing and can amount to significant additional charges. If you’re taking your own pictures you can plan ahead at your own pace and spread the whole shoot over several days instead of cramming it into an hour.

9. You can take new photos whenever anything changes

Seasons aren’t the only things that change. Sometimes you’re the one responsible. What if you get new furniture, or you paint the bedrooms or you add a deck? Wouldn’t it be great to know that you can update your photos every time your vacation rental changes, with no cost but your time?

10. Some pros may make choices you won't like

Each photographer has their own personal style and preferences. Some VR owners are concerned about their home looking “bigger” than it really is, or in some other way “too nice”. The way to make sure those things don't happen is to take the photos yourself. You can make a project out of thoroughly researching the portfolios of all potential photographers before hiring them, but that has issues of it’s own…

11. You will avoid research time, vetting, and risk

Any time you hire a highly skilled professional, there is time and risk involved. The more time you spend researching (or “vetting”) them, the more you can minimize the risk. You can spend hours comparing and contrasting multiple photographer’s portfolios, but what if that same time could instead be used to actually LEARN the limited, critical techniques necessary to create those photos yourself? Because you really can.

12. You'll learn a valuable skill that will make you more money now AND in the future

The skills you’ll be honing can also be applied to photos that you may post on Instagram, Facebook, etc. If a pro takes your listing photos, but you take promotional photos with no training, people are liable to see the quality gap between yours and theirs. If you have learned the keys to great listing photos, your promotional photos on other sites will be consistent and compelling.

Top 5 Vacation Rental Photo Mistakes ebook cover
​Make sure your listing photos send the right message!
  • ​​Eliminate basic mistakes that repel guests.
  • Come across as professional and trustworthy.
  • Get more bookings and make more money!

Overlooked 2 Overbooked