Perfect Holiday Rental Photos

Good news: the number photos you display can now impact where you rank within your subscription level. We recommend you display a range of attractive, high quality (we recommend a minimum 1024x768 pixels size) photographs that represent your home.

Learn more about HomeAway Sort and the other criteria that contribute to your search results ranking.

If there’s one thing you absolutely have to get right, it’s choosing the right photographs to upload to your advert. A picture really does tell a thousand words. Your photographs have to show travellers why they should choose hire your second home for their holiday. If you don’t display an advantage over the competitors in your area, you will miss out on enquiries and bookings.

Top Tip: Get started by leafing through the different adverts we display online. What works for you? What doesn’t? Try and find a standard you would like to achieve and work towards creating it. We have thousands of beautiful properties listed online. See below for some of our favourite photos that we have online at the moment to get you inspired.

So what Photographs should I include?

First of all it’s important to make sure you represent your entire holiday home. Too many adverts only focus on a small part of the property. It seems unbelievable that owners will invest a considerable amount of time and money in buying their holiday home and maintaining it to the high standards that a rental business requires, but won’t upload enough photographs to show the public what they’ve got.

A traveller wants to see what they are going to get for their money. A successful holiday rental advert should at minimum include photographs of:
Exterior picture of house with pool the exterior of your home
living area
dining area
master bedroom
each additional bedroom
special facilities and features (your swimming pool, exercise room or home entertainment system) 

You might want to consider showing:

the view
your garden or outdoor living area

Top tip: If you want to show a picture of your view, prove it’s yours by showing a bit of the window frame or balcony as well.

Unless you have a luxury bathroom, we don’t think showing it is a priority. The Facilities Table will tell the traveller what they can expect to find in it, and some travellers will find pictures of toilets and other private spaces off putting.

Top tip: A little known trick is to consider the order you display your photos in. Most advertisers simply upload their photographs in the order they are stored on their hard drive. Sometimes this can be confusing; a traveller can feel they’re upstairs one minute, and outside the next. Instead why not pretend you are guiding a traveller around your home, and display your photos in this order. This will help them to focus on your images.

1. the exterior
2. the garden, any outdoor features, or your view (if applicable)
3. the living area
4. the kitchen
5. dining area
6. bedrooms
7. bathrooms (if you choose to show it)

All right so now I know what to include. How do I make sure my photographs are any good?  

The property adverts with the best photographs get the most enquiries and bookings. The trick is to put some time and thought into taking photos. Here are the key qualities that every photo you display should have.

Dining Area Correct staging
Staging your room is the easiest way to make your pictures stand out from the crowd. Remember you’re selling a dream holiday experience, not daily life. Arranging your room in an appealing way will really sell your holiday property.

Top tricks include:

1. Arrange the furniture so that it fits the picture, not the room. This means angling it to create a sense of depth and perspective in your shot. This is an industry trick used by professional photographers when they shoot interiors for magazines. 

2. Set your dining table. Use your best china and cutlery, and arrange the tableware as if you were about to serve a lovely meal. This will help potential customers imagine they are there. It’s also a chance to show off the lovely tableware you supply.

3. Use cushions, throws and pillows. Staging your chairs, sofas and beds with these will make your pictures more inviting. Make sure your cushion and pillows are plumped up (even your sofa cushions) and your blankets and throws are ironed.

For more great tips about how to stage a home, just pick up a high quality interior design magazine. Find a look you like and copy it.

Well lit
Too many property photographs on are dim, dull and gloomy. Turn on your ceiling lights, wall lights and lamps. If you have a fireplace, or allow candles light them too. If you’re lucky enough to have a South facing window, take your photographs when the sun is at its highest and reams of beautiful, natural light is flooding in. A well lit room will make your photograph appear warmer and more colourful.

Top Tip: Lighting also applies to the exterior of your property. Don’t take your picture when it’s grim and overcast. Choose a bright sunny day, when the sky is blue and cloud free.

Don’t ruin your photographs by taking them at a wonky angle.
Try different angles to see which viewpoint shows your room in its best light. Be sure to make a top Unique Selling Point (USP) your top feature. Don’t take pictures that focus straight down the middle of the room. Try to stand as far back as you can, and take off centre, diagonal shots.
Try taking photographs from different heights. This really can make a dramatic difference. If you're standing on a step ladder or a chair make sure you have someone to keep it sturdy!

High resolution camera
grainy, low pixel photographs don’t look attractive. Also, because digital camera technology has moved on so quickly over the last few years, a low quality photograph looks like an old photograph. Travellers want to see what your home looks like now. If you have a friend with an SLR camera, borrow theirs.

Dining Table Colour
Using colour is a great way to draw attention to your photographs. One good idea is to focus on areas that are particularly eye catching. If you have a lovely neutral interior then you’re bang on trend, but it might be an idea to add a vase of flowers or some bright cushions to grab the traveller’s attention? Choose an object that compliments your colour scheme and will make your pictures stand out from the rest.

And most importantly the photos must represent the feel of your home.

Please note: On the standard format for photographs is landscape. It is possible to upload portrait, or panoramic photographs, but please be aware that they will be displayed smaller to fit the given space. We do not recommend selecting panoramic or portrait photographs for your thumbnail image. The image will not fit the given space, leaving a large blank area, and it will also show up smaller than the other images.

And what about my thumbnail photograph?

Like your Advert Headline your thumbnail photograph is essential. When a traveller lands on a property listings page for their desired destination they will see stream of thumbnails for property adverts, which match their search criteria. Along with the headline, The Thumbnail Image will probably be the first thing they notice about your property.

It’s important to choose an attractive, compelling image. A good Thumbnail Image will to tell the traveller what makes their property unique or special. If the traveller likes what they see, they will click through to your advert. Choosing a bad image means you could be turning travellers away before they’ve even seen your advert.

And the photo captions?

Adding Photo Captions is another chance to provide specific details about the contents of the photograph. It’s likely a potential customer will skim over these before they read the Property Description, so highlight your USPs. If you have a prestigious or high quality item in your photograph, point it out, mentioning the brand if necessary. 

Remember to use Keywords to attract search engines towards your advert. Make sure you provide a caption for each photograph.

All right, if owners are selling themselves short with their photographs, what are the main pit falls I should avoid?

It is very important to remember at all times that potential customers only know what they can see in the advert. If you don’t show your holiday home in its best light you will be underselling your property to customers. Here are a few common mistakes.

Missing out essential items
Travellers assume that what they see is what they get. So many owners show pictures of beds with nothing but bare mattresses on them or upload photographs taken before the holiday home was properly equipped and furnished. Travellers worry about booking a property that is under equipped. Even if your facilities table says other wise, photographs that look sparse will put people off.

Date stamps
These look unprofessional. Also as times goes on, showing the date makes travellers suspicious that your property is no longer up to date.

Top tip: Your photographs should always be up to date. Make sure your record every change you have made to your home or you could get in trouble for false advertising.

Bad composition
Make sure you stand back and the camera is straight when you take your photograph. Use a tripod if necessary. Also make sure you are shooting the most attractive angle of the room.

Clutter looks awful in a picture. Even little knickknacks that mean a lot to you can make your photograph look messy and chaotic. Is there unopened letters on your coffee table? Are there post-its on your fridge? Remove any unnecessary items from your shelves, counters and surfaces. Only include objects that are going to sell your home.

And make sure you don’t fall into any of these traps:

Is the television on?
Is your reflection showing on a mirrored or glass surface?
Are your pictures straight?
Is the rubbish bin, or any other waste on show?
Are your pets in the background?
Are there any cords or wires on show?
Is the top frame cutting off your ceiling fans or lights?

Existing Customer? Read the FAQ: Learn more about photos
© Copyright Christine Karpinski, 2006

Last updated December 2010