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The 12 Attributes that Make or Break Airbnb Photos

Ever wondered what objectively makes vacation rental photos attractive to guests?

Well, a recent study from Carnegie-Mellon University isolated twelve factors that separate high-quality Airbnb photos from low-quality ones.

Do high-quality photos drive demand? Sure looks like it.

The team of talented data scientists combed through 13000 listings in 7 cities... and over half a million photos.

They estimate listings could record over 60 extra nights booked each year as a result of displaying such optimized photos. We'll let you do the maths.

One thing before we name those key parameters:
Kati is VERY familiar with them. And she's a great teacher.
She'll show you how to take photos and optimize them using ALL 12 of these attributes in our video course. You can do it. Really. Good things will happen.

You can preview some of the chapters for free any time, with no enrollment required.

As Promised...

The 12 Attributes For Bankable Airbnb Photos:

The attributes are broken down into 3 components: Composition, Color and Figure-Ground Relationship. 

​Composition
​("Wait, isn't that the title of a chapter in the course?" Why yes! Yes it is! Well spotted, friend.)

1. Diagonal Dominance
This comes down to the ability of the photographer to guide a viewer's eye in a way the space being shot appears more spacious. Leading lines, in other words.

2. Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a composition technique used to give structure to photos, making them more appealing. The photographer imagines (or not) a grid and frames elements in the grid strategically.

3 & 4.  Visual Balance - Intensity & Color
​"Humans subconsciously consider visual balance to be aesthetically pleasing and it raises visual interest" (Arnheim 1974, Bornstein et al. 1981)

bad visual balance intensity color attribute

Image without Visual Balance

good visual balance intensity color attribute

Image with Visual Balance

Straightforward, right?

Color

5. Hue   (RGB)
The paper tells us that warm hues elicit higher levels of excitement. Colder hues elicit higher levels of relaxation. We think the key is to make your photos look just like the real deal.  

Have you ever looked at photos of your place and thought "Why can't the colors just look the same as I see them??" They can!
Same thing goes for...

6. Saturation
​Saturation refers to the richness of each color. Things can get pretty boring if you get this wrong. Or look totally blown out of proportion.

7 & 8. Brightness and Contrast
​We've all been there. Dark rooms. Blown-out windows. Ugh. And bathrooms. Aren't they the worst?
Understand exposure, learn to adjust brightness and contrast...  Get high and uniform illumination in your photos.

9. Image Clarity

quote image clarity dull hazy airbnb photos

Why did you put a vintage filter on those shots? Looks odd.
You didn't? My bad.

Make sure to check out our Top 5 Vacation Rental Photo Mistakes for more listing photo tips.

​Figure-Ground Relationship

10, 11 & 12. Area Difference, Color Difference and Texture Difference.

Relationships are always complicated. Bare with us.

The figure-ground relationship reflects the ability to show a clear separation between the elements within a room and the ground.

Things that share similar attributes belong together in the viewer's mind. If you want a specific area of a room to stand out, the size, color, or texture (or all 3) of that area should clash with the surrounding elements (and the ground).

Have a look at the pictures below, you'll know what we mean.

Bad figure-ground relationship separation photos

Unclear figure-ground separation - "Where do the walls end and furniture begin...?"

good figure-ground relationship separation photos

Clear separation - "​That's the bed, that's the wall."

Right... There you have it! These are the 12 photo attributes that will help you get more bookings for your Airbnb. In case you'd like to dig deeper, you can find the full paper here

Was that a bit intense? We don't blame you.

But you don't need to understand every detail of every photography principle to leapfrog ahead of your competition.

Do you know about the Pareto principle? Simply put, all you need to do is learn the 20% that will make you as good as 80% of your peers.

Guess what?

A while ago I convinced Kati to create a video course that would teach her 80/20 version of vacation rental photography.

It needed to be something that could:

Be done by a novice.
With only a smartphone.
In just a few hours.

She pulled it off.

​Not sure where to get started with your own photos? ​
We've gathered some simple, condensed photo tips form the course ​below. Anyone with just a smartphone (and no photo skills!) can begin applying those right away.

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