15 vacation rental photography tips to boost views and bookings


A picture is worth a thousand bookings.

Well-shot photos are key to standing out (and succeeding) in a competitive vacation rental market and on popular channels, such as Airbnb and Vrbo. After all, travelers are unlikely to book a vacation home that underwhelms on-screen or doesn’t catch their eye in the first place.

Our team has shot attention-grabbing photos for thousands of homes around the country. Here’s how we create photos that make travelers click more, look more, and book more.

floor-to-ceiling windows provide gorgeous views of lake michigan

How professional photographers take vacation home pictures

Our photographers don’t simply take pictures. Every shot and every angle is intentional. The goal: inspiring, authentic, and accurate images that attract potential guests and compel them to book. Follow these photography guidelines when planning your own vacation home photo shoot.

1. Shoot to thrill

Start with your vacation home’s remarkable amenities. Is it an outdoor deck to barbecue and watch sunsets? A firepit for cold winter nights? A game room full of family-friendly fun? Make it a priority to shoot those areas and amenities from various angles.

Photograph community amenities, such as a shared pool or hot tub, from several angles to avoid duplicating a photo posted by a neighboring home.

2. Ditch distortion

The goal is to showcase your space as naturally as possible, so don’t use lenses or filters that will make your vacation home look bigger, brighter, or better than it actually is.

Modern style vacation rental in Palm Springs, CA with floor to ceiling windows and desert views.

3. Balance your photo composition

Your images should show one-third floor, one-third middle, and one-third ceiling. This depicts the most realistic and natural view of a room.

4. Utilize gridlines to keep photos straight

To help create a strong composition, use the gridlines tool on your camera or phone. This will help you keep all vertical lines as straight as possible and avoid tilted or skewed images.

5. Help guests determine accessibility

Shoot the entrances to front doors, back doors, showers, and bathtubs to show accessibility.

Vacasa tip
When you manage your home with us, you can look forward to a professional photo shoot of your entire home (at no extra cost) before you even get your first booking. We'll coordinate it all for you—and make sure the photos shine everywhere your home is listed.

6. Show your home’s layout

Capture the flow of your vacation home by including adjoining rooms in some of the same shots.

7. Forget about the flash

Dark rooms are tricky to take pictures of. Turn off the flash, as this can create harsh highlights in some areas and unnatural shadows in others. Vacasa photographers only shoot with natural and ambient lighting. If needed, they can adjust lighting for darker rooms in post-production.

Modern vacation rental management.

Your home is a success waiting to happen. We'll show you how.

8. Shoot outdoors during golden hour

Every photographer knows the best time to shoot images is right after sunrise and right before sunset. These times of the day give off a soft, glowing light that emphasizes the appeal of a place.

9. Pair a view with a room

When shooting the view, our photographers capture both the home and view in the same shot—such as a portion of an outdoor deck or a bedroom overlooking the coastline.

10. Show off nearby attractions

Your destination is just as much part of the guest experience as your home is. At Vacasa, our photographers always try to capture photos of the surrounding town or attractions, like a nearby beach, lake, hiking trail, golf courses, or other landmarks. Avoid taking images of individual restaurants or stores. Plus, don’t shoot at night.

11. Stop zooming on your smartphone

Planning to take your vacation home pictures on your smartphone? Avoid using zoom. Smartphone cameras don’t have the same quality of lenses that normal cameras do and instead can make your photos pixelated and fuzzy. Our photographers aren’t only experts at shooting and editing, they come armed with the right camera equipment to create stunning images that drive bookings.

12. Take home exterior shots

Give guests a sense of setting and your environment by taking several exterior shots, including front lawns, porches, and even backyard areas.

a resort pool and lounge chairs in palm springs

13. Take more than you think

The more angles and images you capture, the better. Our research shows that Vacasa.com visitors scroll through an average of 18 photos when researching future getaways. Our vacation home profile usually consists of up to 25 images, taken from a variety of perspectives.

14. Select a scroll-stopping primary image

Your primary image is the first look a potential guest will have of your vacation home. In fact, we’ve found that 54% of travelers don’t scroll past the first image. So, make it a good one. And, make sure it stands out from the other vacation homes in your area. The best primary images have colors that pop and showcase something unique about your home.

Vacasa tip
For more insights like these, check out our 2021 Vacation Rental Search Report, which analyzes what millions of guests look for in a vacation rental. Find out the features, photos, and amenities that prompt them to click and book.

15. Keep your photos fresh

Your photos should always depict your vacation home’s current condition and decor. So, take new images as needed to keep them up to date. This is especially true whenever you make major improvements or changes—such as adding a hot tub, redecorating, or updating your home’s exterior.

Want help marketing your vacation home so it stands out from the crowd? Let’s chat about all the ways to get your home more visibility.

wood-burning fireplace accented by minimalist design and ocean views

Vacation rental photography FAQ

Get your vacation rental photo-ready by first eliminating clutter and tucking away unsightly items in each room, such as TV wires and trash bins. Let in as much natural light as possible and turn on all lamps to illuminate your photos. Hide any personal items, such as family photos or personal collections. In the bedroom, smooth out any wrinkles and tuck in sheets. Finally, hire a housekeeper to professionally clean your home to make it spotless.

This comes down to goals. Consider your intentions for your vacation home. Is it an investment that you’ll rarely visit? Or, is it meant to be a second home where your family will vacation? Then, think about what ambience you’d like. You’ll want to design a cozy cabin much differently than a modern, high-end lakefront haven.

How to furnish your vacation home like an interior designer >

While smartphones have certainly made it easy to take high-quality photos, it takes more than a great camera to create images that drive bookings. The best vacation rental images require logistics. This includes shooting flattering angles, using the right exposure, balancing light and shadows, capturing the most appealing composition, and perfecting details in post-production. Your vacation home images are too important not to hire a professional photographer. That’s why we work only with local professional photographers to create all our homes’ imagery.

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California licenses
Vacasa Seasonals Inc.
California DRE #02160171

Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc.
California DRE #01523013

Vacasa offers property management and other real estate services directly through Vacasa LLC and through Vacasa LLC's licensed subsidiaries. Click here for more information about Vacasa's licensed real estate brokerage/property manager in your state. Vacasa’s licensed real estate brokerages/property managers include: Vacasa Alabama LLC; Vacasa Arizona LLC; Vacasa of Arkansas LLC; Vacasa Colorado LLC (Micah Victory); Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Illinois LLC 481.014072, Micah Victory Managing Broker Lic# 471.021837; Vacasa Louisiana LLC, Dana MacCord, Principal Broker, ph 504.252.0155 (Licensed in LA); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 602-330-9934; Vacasa Missouri LLC, Vicki Lyn Brown, Designated Broker; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC,45 NH-25, Meredith, NH 03253, Susan Scanlon, Broker of Record; Vacasa Minnesota, Broker: Micah Victory, license #40877637; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Oregon LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc., California DRE #01523013, Mark Graham, California DRE #00700720; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Texas, Debra Brock, Designated Broker); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa Seasonals Inc., California DRE #02160171, Lisa Renee Stevens, California DRE #01485234; Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa South Dakota LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr. Ste. #2F17, Waikoloa, HI 96738; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Terah M. Young, Licensed Property Manager; Vacasa Virginia LLC; Vacasa Wisconsin LLC; Vacasa Wyoming LLC. In Canada, this advertisement is provided by Vacasa Canada ULC, CPBC lic. number 75826, 172 Asher Rd. V1X 3H6 Kelowna, BC.