Step-By-Step Guide to Taking Beautiful Airbnb Listing Photos

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Your Step-By-Step Guide to Taking Beautiful Airbnb Listing Photos

The key to taking exceptional Airbnb listing photos (either on your own or with a professional photographer!) is planning ahead. Read on for a quick guide that’ll make taking your Airbnb listing photos a breeze.

I'm Sabrina, a short-term rental host coach who knows starting your own Airbnb biz can quickly get waaaay too complicated. But it doesn't have to be. I help first-time Airbnb hosts like you go from overwhelmed to "Yes!! Another  booking!"
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The key to taking exceptional Airbnb listing photos (either on your own or with a professional photographer!) is planning ahead.

You need to plan everything from your decor to the weather. From being ruthlessly clean to writing captions that convert.

That’s why this post is your step-by-step guide on what to plan for before you snap a single photo.

Read on for a quick guide that’ll make taking your Airbnb listing photos a breeze.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure policy here.

How to Take Exceptional Airbnb Listing Photos (Step-By-Step Guide)

Getting this ONE photo takes a lot more planning than you’d think… | The Realist

1. Do competitive research

Before you do any work on your own Airbnb listing photos, you need to have an idea of what’s already out there.

So, take a look at other Airbnb listing photos to see what you think works well and what doesn’t.

Ask yourself:

Which angles make each room look the most spacious?

What’s important to capture and what’s not?

Then, build a list of all the photos you want to take for your own Airbnb.

I recommend including at least 1-2 photos of each room (yes, even your bathroom!), the exterior of your property, and any local amenities.

Airbnb Hosting Tip: At this point, I’m assuming you’ve already completely set up your Airbnb. If not, check out this blog post: 100+ essential items every Airbnb needs.

2. Stage your property

Staging your Airbnb makes your property appear warm and welcoming in listing photos.

(By ‘staging’ I mean adding decor and other pretty things in a way that turns on-the-fence guests into guests that immediately hit ‘book’. You can get TONS of staging tips in this blog post.)

Staging is important because potential guests need to be able to envision themselves enjoying your Airbnb before they’re ready to book.

Airbnb Hosting Tip: In this post, we’ll focus on how to achieve this through your listing photos, but there are many other aspects of your listing that are important for success. Make sure you check out this blog post for a full guide to setting up your first Airbnb listing.

Getting ready to start your first Airbnb?

Here are several simple (but high-impact) ways to stage your Airbnb listing photos:

  • Create a full dining table setup
    • Set your dining table for your maximum occupancy. (If you’re anything like me, you’ll also need to Google how to properly set a dining table.)
    • You can get high-quality (and inexpensive!) dishessilverware, and water glasses on Amazon
Airbnb Dining Room
I fully set up my dining room table so that potential guests can envision themselves enjoying meals here. | The Realist

Get tons more decor secrets (that make staging a breeze!) in this blog post.

3. Thoroughly clean everything

Before you take photos, your Airbnb needs to be spotless.

And I mean spotless.

Have your cleaning crew come (I know, I know, that’s a whole $200!)

It’s worth the cost.

(Plus, you can write it off as a business expense on your taxes.)

And expect that you’ll need to rearrange things after they leave. (Get that throw blanket in the perfect position. Karate chop the heck out of those pillows!)

Airbnb Kitchen Oven
My (very clean) Airbnb kitchen | The Realist

If you’re staying at the property while taking your photos, you’ll also need to touch up anything that you accidentally get dirty (mirrors, countertops, etc.).

So, before you start snapping away, use the below cleaning supplies to touch up anything that’s needed:

  • A reusable lint roller (honestly my favorite invention ever at this point)
  • A vacuum with attachments (this is the inexpensive one I keep at my Airbnb and it’s perfect for small touchups)
  • A Swiffer mop so you don’t end up with footprints in your photos
  • Spackle, paint brushes, and paint for minor wall damage (that, let’s be real, you probably won’t notice until it’s too late)
  • Magic erasers for scuff marks on your walls
  • Furniture touch up markers to cover up any scratches on wood furniture. (This is an absolute must if you’ve already had guests… and still a good thing to have on hand if you haven’t had guests yet.)
  • Windex for smudges on windows, mirrors, and glass. (These should all be sparkling clean after your cleaners come, but you might get them dirty while you’re there. A quick spot check is sooo worth it.)

I know, you’d much rather ignore these details now and focus on the more fun aspects of taking your Airbnb listing photos.

Just know that a small spot on your rug…a dirty wall here or there… these types of things might go unnoticed while you’re taking your Airbnb listing photos.

But, after you’ve taken all your photos and think you’re finally done…you’ll notice the imperfections. And once you see them, you can’t UN-see them.

So, set yourself up for success by tackling these issues before they’re captured on your Airbnb listing forever.

4. Check the weather (Seriously! This is important!)

Having natural sunlight in your Airbnb listing photos is crucial
Having a warm, sunny backdrop in your Airbnb listing photos goes a LONG way | The Realist

Quick storytime.

I can’t tell you how lucky I got when I took my own Airbnb listing photos.

Less than a year into hosting, I decided to retake my listing photos (for the third time) and actually put some effort into it this time around.

So, I visited my Airbnb during off-season (by the way, off-season is literally the only time you’ll want to visit so that you’re not missing out on meaningful revenue).

And, although I spent tens of hours planning and hundreds of dollars on decor, I severely overlooked the fact that the weather was expected to be awful the week I was visiting.

We’re talking snow or rain almost every single day I planned to take photos…except one.

And if it weren’t for that ONE sunny day, my potential guests would be looking at a bunch of listing photos with snow-covered-everything in the background when thinking about whether or not to book my Airbnb for their SUMMER vacation.

I got lucky (and hectically rearranged my plans to make sure I could take photos on the ONE sunny day I had). But YOU should plan ahead.

The point is, weather really really matters.

No matter what season your guests are booking for, warm and sunny never looks bad in photos. (Snowy and dark, on the other hand, would make it hard to sell your Airbnb just about any time other than winter…)

Plus – a warm, sunny backdrop makes your Airbnb feel more inviting, fun, and spacious.

Airbnb Hosting Tip: If you can update your listing photos for other seasons as well (especially winter), that’s great! But start with warm and sunny.

5. Brighten your photos

Ensuring your photos are light and bright makes your Airbnb appear spacious. | The Realist

Another important aspect in making your Airbnb appear inviting, fun, and spacious is having the right lighting inside your property.

The good news is, you can do several different things to achieve the right lighting inside your Airbnb:

  • Turn on every light (both within the room you’re shooting in and, importantly, any other room in the background)
  • Turn on every lamp (even the small one in the back corner)
  • Play around with extra lighting (I used my Ring light, but you can use anything)
  • Shoot during the day (an absolute must)
  • Afterward, while editing your photos, make sure to increase the exposure

And, don’t miss these 10 Lesser-Known Ways to Perfect Your Airbnb Listing Photos.

6. Use a camera that zooms out

In addition to everything above, it REALLY helps to have a camera that zooms OUT.

Zooming out lets you capture an entire room, take layout photos, and makes your property look more spacious.

(That said, it tends to distort your pictures, so don’t overdo it.)

The best part is that you don’t need a fancy camera. New-ish iPhones do just the trick.

7. Write compelling captions

Potential guests will likely look at your listing photos before anything else.

So, make sure to include key information in the captions. (Which you can do super easily by repurposing parts of your listing description.)

Get your comprehensive guide to creating a listing that converts in this blog post.

8. Include local amenities

A guest’s ability to envision themselves at your property doesn’t stop with the property itself.

Including photos of nearby attractions helps guests associate those amenities with your property (think: local beaches, hiking trails, and other tourist attractions.)

Convince your potential guests that by staying with you, they’ll not only have a great experience at your property but throughout their entire vacation as well.

When booking my Airbnb, you can get access to our local private beaches. This is a huge amenity that I make sure to highlight in my Airbnb listing photos (like the one above). | The Realist


Look at you go!

I just know you’re going to crush it with your Airbnb listing photos.

We’ve covered a lot about planning in this post. Make sure you also get all of my secret hacks for taking beautiful listing photos in this blog post.

And, bookmark this post so you can quickly pull it up when you need it.

Getting ready to start your first Airbnb?

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Airbnb listing photos

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I made $85,000+ my first year Airbnb hosting. Now, I’m sharing all my Airbnb hosting tips so you can build your own insanely profitable business.


I'm Sabrina,
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