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3 Steps to Prepare for Your Vacation Rental Photoshoot

You've heard me talk before about how important I think it is to hire the professional photographer. That is always my first recommendation—if you can do it, hire the professional photographer, and really seriously prepare to make sure that you get the most out of this investment and that your pictures come out as good as they possibly can.

Now, all of these tips should also be applied if you've decided to take the photos yourself with your own DSLR or even your own smartphone. But my first recommendation is to hire the professional. So, if you are interested in learning what you should do to prepare for your photographer, then keep reading (or watch the video!).

1. Finding the right photographer.

This will vary based on what area you're in and some areas even have photographers that specialize specifically in short term rentals or vacation rentals. So, if you can find one that specializes in this industry, then that's fantastic. Now, if you can't, you can also find a good real estate photographer. If you can't find these by searching in your area for area plus real estate photographer, then maybe reach out to a local real estate agent. Ask who they partner with and do a little bit of networking to find who the professional is in your area that really knows how to capture a home in its best light.

Then, inquire about packages that they offer. Some photographers will also include drone shot images and video walkthroughs. Those can be really helpful as well to provide more context of your space. The drone shots really help differentiate your place, also, and your future guests can get an idea for the area, especially if you're really close to a prime location. So, that's area number one is find the right photographer.

2. Assess and prep.

Before you have the photographer come out, you really want to take inventory of what shape your home is in. Look at things like the bedding, the pillows on the couches, and just in general—does anything need to be replaced or renewed? In particular, I find that the bedding really comes across as worn out in photos. So, if you've had your bedding for a little while, then this would be the perfect opportunity to invest in some new bedding, and make sure that it is really ready for the photo shoot. Think about if there's opportunities to refresh beds, add new throw pillows to your couches, maybe some throw blankets. You'll also want to think about what items you will stage your home with, and what you need to purchase in order to prepare for that stage. We'll talk about that more in a little bit.

Scheduling out and blocking your calendar for the photo shoot.

You'll definitely want to block out a full day. Don't try to do this in between your cleans—you'll make yourself crazy. You want to block out a full day and possibly even the day prior, depending on how much work you have to do before the photographer comes. Then, think about what season you're in and when you schedule that photographer. If you're in a more seasonal location where your home is fully booked during the summer and that's when people are coming, you don't want to necessarily schedule the photo shoot in the fall or winter when the trees aren't alive and your house isn't really in its best summer light. So, think about what makes sense and schedule the photoshoot around that. Usually, right before peak season or right after peak season is the best time. You're not as busy, yet the season still looks like it's in the middle of summer.

Create a shot list.

This is so helpful just to stay on track and make sure that you have all of the images that you want. Your photographer will take several pictures of every single room, and I like to go as far as to really write down which particular angles I want of every single room. Write down which exterior shots you want. If you have amenities that you offer, make sure that you're capturing those amenities as well. Put that in the shot list.

You also want to think about which areas of your home you will be staging, and you'll probably want to get pictures of that area both staged and un-staged. So, write that all down in your list and make sure that you've got the complete shot list, and you'll have that while your photographer is there so that you can check it off as your photographer is getting all of the necessary shots.

3. The stage.

So, this would be the day of the shoot, and you want to make sure that the home will be shot in its best light possible. You'll want to make sure the home is clean. You'll want to make sure the windows are clean, that countertops are sparkling, the mirrors are sparkling— just that really thorough once-over and making sure that there are no smudges or fingerprints anywhere. And then, you'll not only want to make the beds in a pristine way, but I also recommend watching some tutorials on how you really make a bed. Here's a link to one from my friends, Melinda and Anna at Olive and Opal Interiors. I also did a series with them, which you can find here. They have some great design tips!

You definitely want to make sure that you know how to stage a bed, how to fluff the pillows, and how to put that in its best light, because people do stop and put some focus on those bedroom photos. They want to know where they're sleeping and what that looks like. So, pay attention here, and make sure those rooms look really great. You might even want to stage the foot of the bed with some towels, if you're good at folding towels or can learn how to do that to make that look really nice. That's a really nice touch I see often.

I typically recommend that the areas you stage are the parts of the home that people get most excited about and where they tend to spend most of their time. So, this might be out on a deck, or a patio, maybe it's where your best view is. This is where you will want to take some time to think through question like, what is my guest—my ideal guest—doing when they're enjoying this part of the home? If that is having a glass of wine, then set this scene for them. Get the wine glasses, get cheese, crackers, whatever that looks like. Help them envision them enjoying that part of your home.

On the day of the photo shoot, you will prep those areas to make it look like it is staged. Make sure your photographer gets the photo of that area, both staged and un-staged. I always like to have a nice bouquet of flowers as well. This can even travel around the home with you. If you've got a large home, you might be able to put it on the kitchen counter, and then you might be able to use it again on the outside table to get a couple of uses out of that. A nice bouquet of fresh flowers also adds a lot of personality and warmth to the photos, as well. Think about what you'll be doing to stage those key areas of your home.

And then finally, do a once over for making sure that all cords are as hidden as possible. The TV should be off during the shoot. Open up all of those blinds. I often see that the blinds are closed and the house looks really dark, and you want to let as a much natural light into the home as possible. So, make sure that you've assessed the home to make sure that you're getting in as much natural light as possible.

So, that's what I have for today. The three areas you'll want to consider before you have that photographer out for your photo shoot. I hope that that was helpful for you! If you want to dive even deeper into this topic, here's a video that will be helpful for you.

I would love to hear from you if you used any of these tips, and if you've scheduled your photo shoot yet!


Need a Little Marketing Help with your Vacation Rental?

Whether you're just getting started with your vacation rental or you've been in the game for a few years but need a little help with the marketing, I'd love to help you on your journey.

That's why I created the Vacation Rental Marketing Roadmap.

This is a seven-step guide to help you walk through all of the essentials that you need to do when setting up an optimized listing (as well as the most common mistakes I see vacation rental homeowners making).

Grab your free copy of the Vacation Rental Marketing Roadmap!

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