Vacation Rental Pictures: The Before & After

OK so you’ve heard me say it time and time again: photographs are perhaps the most defining factor in setting yourself apart from your competition and booking more nights.

But you still haven’t quite made the jump to get professional photos taken of your property?

Well here are some examples from a subscriber of mine who realized she needed better photos, tried on her own, and ultimately hired someone for under $200 to produce some real magic. According to Paula, the owner of Casa Paloma (a neat Spanish villa in San Diego):

“I wanted to THANK YOU for your advice (more like your mandate….) to get professional photos of our vacation rental – we found a couple who specialize in real estate photography – only $190 for 10 to 12 photos of our house, and the results speak for themselves.

We originally took some (admittedly) BAD photos when we first listed the house for rent in mid-November, then updated the photos in early December after furnishing & decorating the house and researching proper lighting/staging methods.

Then, we had the professional photographer come last week.”

As you can see, there is a marked improvement from photo #1 to photo #2. The owner simply did some reading online about lighting and staging. And just about anyone could probably make this jump simply by putting forth the effort. But photo #3 is a serious upgrade. Here’s Paula’s take:

“I didn’t think my amateur photos were all that bad, heck, we got 4 months booked within 6 weeks of posting our listing. But I can definitely see the improvement in the professional shots. I’ve practiced the “Theory of Constraints” system toward Continuous Improvement in my professional life for the last 10 years, and will apply this same process for our vacation rental business – thanks again for sharing your tips & advice with newbies like me.”

Here is a another before and after example of Paula’s vacation rental photo makeover (this time, the living room):

As you can see, there is a small (but very defined) difference between professional photos and those which owners choose to take themselves. It’s the difference between GOOD and GREAT. In terms of cost, this investment was equivalent to one night’s rental at Paula’s Casa Paloma. Which is to say, the first booking she got from her new set of pics, she’d made her money back. And from the looks of it, she’s already generating more bookings than before.

I would encourage all owners to give their rental the gift of professional photographs. If you think your amateur photos are “good enough” you’ll be letting that mantra seep into your entire marketing portfolio. And I refuse to let subscribers of mine be “good enough.” They can and will be “the best!”




About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings. Google+ | More Posts (230)

  • Hi Matt,

    Another great article. It is a lot of fun to see the before and after, We first took some photos ourselves, then had our realtor take photos for free (part time hobby of his), then went for a professional photographer. It was SO worth it.

    Also, just as a side note, if you sign up with airbnb, they will come and photograph your apartment for free, with a professional photographer. These photos will only be allowed on, but you will get to see the major difference for FREE, before you make the investment yourself.This really is a no-brainer! Not only will you get photos, but you will make a connection with someone who is a photographer, who has been screened by airbnb, and deemed worthy of their stamp of approval.


  • loscuatrotulipanes

    From a client:

    “I just wanted to let you know that after only a couple of weeks posting on
    VRBO, and 2 other smaller sites, I’m in process of finalizing 4
    reservations. The difference in my opinion is the new professionally
    taken pictures I used. As a comparison, I left my old pictures w/ the
    agency’s website postings through Homeaway and Flipkey, and have not
    heard a peep from them regarding any inquiries. Yet, I’ve probably
    received a couple dozen through those other 3 websites I posted to.”

  • Yanna

    As for me, whenever I book for a vacation rental ( just like what I did when I decided to have a vacation in Stonehurst Manor) I basically rely on the photos of the place like if its really clean and the place looks good. So I wouldn’t be surprised if your vacation rental will be fully booked this year, since your photos are really catchy, it will definitely attract more potential clients.

  • italivi

    Hi Matt
    Well said Photograph definitely makes a difference if you need to go for vacation rental homes. Your all pics are looking very good & neat. Actually all do prefer the places like you’ve shown here. I need you to look after my vacation villas in Itlay at

  • loscuatrotulipanes

    Your villas look great!

  • Lindsay

    A really necessary article Matt, and great to see examples of before & after shots – the results just speak for themselves! So many owners believe they cant afford/can do without professional photos, but if the cost is paid back at least twice with just one extra booking then its crazy not to! Another benefit is that properties that are professionally staged and presented are able to charge more than the competition as potential guests are naturally drawn to them, so owners see a better return over time too

  • Oh Matt, so true! A small investment into a one time professional photo shoot can’t be more rewarding. Many owners are so blind sided by saving an extra buck while they are loosing thousands of dollars in potential bookings, just because their photos do not speak well for the value. We were writing about the same things on our blog:

  • tuscanvi

    Awesome vacation villas matt. It looks great matt as if in photos, these are most preferabble villas to get on rent with such luxirous facilities. I wish if u take a look at my villas too here at

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  • tokillamockingbirdfromtexas

    A little late to discussion. Has anyone had issues with a professional real estate photographer wanting to make all the pictures so the rooms “look bigger than they are” because it “helps sell”? I do not like my professional pics I just received as they look distorted to me. I do not have a huge home but it’s not small either and I want my guests to have a true representation of what they will be getting.

  • Enzo Zamora D Alessandro

    Hi Matt! I know this post is old. But I was wondering if you have ever read or new something about the best order in which the pictures should be displayed? I.E. First the common areas, or the kitchen, etc.

    • Matt Landau

      Hey Enzo, what’s your email, I’ll send you the inner circle PDF that has all the best statistical practices for order of photos.