9 insights to photograph your Airbnb listing like a Pro


An Airbnb listing with high-quality, bright pictures attracts a lot more attention to your than dark, blurry pictures. Simple right? But, do you know how to take great pictures of your Airbnb? In a crowded Airbnb market like Chicago, it's super important that you make a big first impression on guests searching for an Airbnb in Chicago (or anywhere!), and pictures are the best opportunity that you will have to do just that.

The truth is that more guests using Airbnb are becoming more savvy, and homes without high-quality pictures are often passed up immediately. Why? Well, imagine that you are looking for a vacation home in Chicago and you are checking out what’s available in your West Loop or River North or Wicker Park area. Would you bother to click on a listing with blurry pictures? Your first thought might be, “How is this really going to look when I get there?". And that uncertainty forces guests to move onto the next listing.

First things first

One of the most common mistakes on Airbnb is that listings have poor picture quality. Top-of-the-line equipment is not necessary to take good pictures of a house, but the average cellphone camera won’t cut it either. It’s worth the investment to buy decent equipment or at least follow some fundamental DIY photography tips. Even better, Airbnb offers free photography if your home qualifies. Most Airbnb management companies will also take your units pictures for you. HelpHost offers this service built into our fee.

Airbnb Listing Conversion Jedi Mind Tricks

Plant the seeds of action in prospects’ minds. It seems that professional photographers recommend no less than a 5-megapixel camera to get clear and crisp pictures. Most of these cameras are inexpensive today and can be purchased at any electronics retailer for a low cost. Of course, you can spend whatever you like. You’ll get good pictures for your Airbnb and you might even find other uses for your new camera. A tripod will help to keep you from ending up with blurry pictures due to a shaky hand, but it’s not an absolute necessity.

Take pictures of what really counts

Keep in mind that people want to see the all the facets of your Airbnb. That means, ALL that is in and around it. The listing should be free of clutter and clean. Allow the guest who is searching on Airbnb to imagine him/herself, and friends, in the home. Remember, this is not a real estate photo shoot, this is an Airbnb photo shoot! Include colorful items , thematic items, pictures of the balcony, the view, nearby restaurants, brightly colored artwork, flowers, etc. It’s amazing what a dash of character can add to any Airbnb listing in Chicago.

The brighter the better

Professional photographers agree that nothing is better than natural sunlight. Try to schedule picture-taking day on a sunny day (tough to find in Chicago winter!), and be sure to open curtains to allow as much natural light in as possible. A dark, cloudy day produces very dull and gloomy pictures that aren’t appealing.

Some friendly Airbnb photography reminders:

  • When photographing a room it almost always looks better if the shot is taken from the doorway looking into the room, as when your Airbnb guests will see it for the first time.

  • Exterior pictures of homes look better if shot from an angle instead of directly from the front. This allows viewers to see the depth of the home instead of a “flat” two-dimensional view of the front.

  • Try not to include obstructions on the outside if possible. Items such as telephone poles, electrical wires and dumpsters do nothing to make a home look appealing and actually detract from what should be the center of attention — the house itself.

  • Take A LOT of photos. That way you can pick and choose which pictures look the best, and paint the story when you post them onto your Airbnb listing. That’s one of the advantages of today’s digital cameras: Pictures are disposable and of course there are no printing costs involved, so click away!

Lastly, make improvements if needed

If you have a computer, or laptop, then you likely have free software to enhance pictures. Basic editing software is typically installed in Macs and PCs. This software allows you to easily make simple changes to pictures to make them brighter or crisper for your Airbnb listing. Remember, the pictures tell the story for your Airbnb listing. Bring in more guests with high-quality photos!