The Ultimate Guide to Photoshoots for Short-Term Rentals

In today’s digital age, where first impressions are made within a fraction of a second, the importance of stellar photography for your short-term rental can’t be overstated. Great photos can exponentially boost your listing, captivating potential guests and translating into more bookings.

This comprehensive guide aims to assist short-term rental owners with standard operating procedures for preparing photoshoots, satisfying essential requirements, adding specialty shots, and a critical consideration—why hiring a professional, especially an architectural photographer, can make a monumental difference.

A picture of a guy with a professional camera to his eye, takin photos.

Preparing for the Interior Photoshoot

Creating a sense of beauty and comfort indoors is pivotal for your listing. Here’s how to set it up:

  • Maximize Natural Light: Open all blinds and curtains and turn on all available lighting to create a bright, welcoming environment.
  • Eliminate Distractions: Switch off ceiling fans and TVs unless the latter have aesthetic screensavers to boost the ambiance.
  • Bathroom Settings: Close toilet lids, open shower curtains, and remove toiletries that can distract from the room’s aesthetic.
  • De-clutter: Tidy up spaces by removing items like dish soap, cleaning products, refrigerator magnets, and laundry detergent.
  • Fine Details: Ensure that bedding, pillows, and towels are neatly arranged to enhance the guest’s vision of their stay.

Setting the Stage for Exterior Shots

The exterior of your rental is what potential guests will see first. Make sure it’s love at first sight:

  • Avoid Unsightly Objects: Remove distracting items such as garbage bins, empty planters, and hoses.
  • Capture the Angles: Comply with the photo count requirements outlined in the following section, focusing on varied and engaging angles.

Minimum Photo Requirements

Every rental property, regardless of size, should aim for:

  • Total Images: At least 25 photos.
  • Angles: Four different angles for each room or space—bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, living room, and common or exterior areas.
  • Building Facade: At least one photo showcases the front of the property, and additional shots capturing each side and the rear when feasible.

The Professional Touch: Architectural Photographers vs. Real Estate Photographers

While it might be tempting to snap some pictures yourself or hire a basic real estate photographer, investing in a professional architectural photographer can significantly enhance your listing. Architectural photographers specialize in capturing the essence, design, and nuances of a property. Their expertise goes beyond the rudimentary, focusing on details like lighting, lines, and compositions, which make your rental stand out in a crowded marketplace.

So, how do you go about finding the right professional? Here are some tips:

  • Portfolio Review: Inspect their previous work to ensure it aligns with the aesthetic you want for your property.
  • Specialized Experience: Inquire if they have experience shooting short-term rentals or similar spaces.
  • Understand Your Needs: Make sure they understand the kind of shots you need, especially if you have unique amenities and features you wish to highlight.
  • Budget and Timeline: Discuss budget constraints and the timeline upfront to avoid misunderstandings later.

Adding a Touch of Hospitality

Elevate your listing by adding photos that capture hospitality-focused elements:

  • Coffee bar setups
  • Rolled or folded towels in the bathroom
  • Closets stocked with extra amenities
  • Desk setups for working guests
  • Welcome signs (avoid any sensitive information)
  • Extra pillows and blankets
A picture of the linen closet with different amenities included.
A picture of rolled up towels on the bathroom sink.
A picture of the coffee bar at a short term rental airbnb.

Showcasing Amenities

Highlight your property’s unique features to give your listing a competitive edge:

  • Hot tub, switched on and bubbling
  • Recreational areas with pool tables, ping pong, or foosball
  • Child-friendly features like a Pack N Play or highchair
  • Kitchen essentials such as pans, grills, utensils, and coffee makers
A picture of a hot tub at a vacation rental.
A picture of the pan set at an Airbnb.
A picture of a grill on the deck at a short term rental.

Bonus Shots: Twilight, Aerial, and Floor Layout

If possible, go the extra mile with twilight shots for a magical atmosphere, aerial views to display property expansiveness, and floor layouts for a complete sense of the space.

A twilight photo of two chairs overlooking Lake Michigan.
An aerial drone picture of the Lake Michigan shoreline.
A picture of a floor layout.


In the competitive world of short-term rentals, every detail counts—and that starts with the photos you display. This guide arms you with the tools and insights to set your property apart, right from the preparation stage to the final shot. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, but the right picture can be worth thousands of dollars. So whether you’re wielding the camera yourself or hiring a pro, it’s time to put your property in the best light possible.