Airbnb photo tips: 7 mistakes to avoid

Excellent Airbnb photos can increase bookings by up to 40 percent. The same goes for other booking websites. The best part is that you can learn to take fantastic pictures by yourself by following a few Airbnb photo tips.

Without the need for professional photographers.

No expensive cameras.

No fancy equipment. 

All you need is your smartphone. So why do some hosts suck at taking Airbnb photos and get much fewer reservations than they should?

 Why is John’s vacation rental overbooked while Jim’s is half-empty?

An example of a good photo for Airbnb listing
A professional real estate photo

Consider this: What makes a photo attractive

A good camera is one reason, but the second reason is technique. 

To master the technique, no need to attend a photography school or spend ages trying to figure it out. You just need to know a few simple tricks, which are more than enough to showcase your rental in a positive light.

Moreover, it is not only about the photos themselves but rather about the way you put them together. Photos tell a story about your place.

Sometimes, to recognize what makes a good photo, we need to look at bad examples. So let’s explore hosts’ most common mistakes when taking photographs of vacation homes.

Your main profile photo should be eye-catching and make people curious. It’s also known as the hero picture, and it’s the reason people click on your listing. What’s unique about your apartment? Is it the hot tub outside, the terrace with a beautiful view, or the cozy living room? Some people even include a picture of the building’s exterior and surroundings.

Here are the 7 most common mistakes host make when taking photographs.

1. The main profile photo doesn’t evoke curiosity

Your main profile photo should be eye-catching and make people curious. The first photo people see while scrolling through your listing is also known as the hero picture, and it’s the reason why people click on your listing. So, what makes your apartment unique? Is it the hot tub outside? The terrace with a beautiful view? The cozy living room? Some people even put a picture of the building’s exterior and surroundings as their hero picture.

Make sure your hero picture stands out and showcases the best features of your rental. It’s your chance to make a great first impression and entice people to keep scrolling through your listing. 

2. The first few photos are placed randomly

On each listing, 3 photos are enlarged. They are crucial for showing your rental’s best features. However, the mistake you don’t want to make is leaving them randomly placed. It’s not necessary to show multiple pictures of the same room, no matter how beautiful it may be. Instead, aim for a variety of photos that give people a full sense of the property.

Quality is more important than quantity. Pick the best ones to be the first thing a person sees.  The rest of the photos serve as visual storytelling to guide people through your rental.

3. Bad lighting

Lighting can make people look ten years younger or older in the pictures. It also makes a huge difference in how the interior of your rental looks like. That’s why it’s important to have plenty of light. Natural light is the best, so try to take your pictures during the brightest part of the day. However, some rooms may not have a good source of natural light. In that case, you can use a lamp that disperses light evenly behind the camera as a secondary source.

For exterior Airbnb photos, a cloudy day is usually better than direct sunlight. This is because direct sunlight can create harsh shadows that lack the soft, pleasing quality that you want in your photos. By waiting for a slightly cloudy day, you’ll be able to capture the exterior of your rental in the best possible light.

4. The wrong angle: Too much space

One trick you can steal from professional real estate photographers is to always position your camera at the same height. They achieve this by using tripods to hold their cameras, which creates consistency. Do the same for each Airbnb photo you take.

You don’t necessarily have to buy a tripod for this purpose, but make sure to hold your phone or camera at the same height for each shot. Center properly so that the ceiling or the floor doesn’t dominate the picture. The camera should be held straight, perhaps slightly upward.

Never take photographs from a high angle looking down. This is called the bird’s eye view and can make objects seem smaller and insignificant. Instead, go for a very slight frog’s perspective, which will give the objects a more powerful look.

5. Isolated individual pieces of furniture in Airbnb photos

All objects in the photo contribute to the overall composition of the space. It’s important to show how the furniture fits into the room and how each object interacts with the others. Take a step back and look at the entire composition to make sure everything looks together harmoniously.

With these Airbnb photo tips, we don’t mean you shouldn’t take pictures of specific details. There are particular elements that you can highlight. Make sure it’s something special, rare, or attention-grabbing. 

This could be a unique texture, a special decoration on the wall, or an interesting object on a table.

6. Apartment is not staged for the Airbnb listing

A common mistake hosts make is not staging all the amenities of their short-term rental. Important is to give potential guests a complete and accurate representation of what they can expect during their stay.

One way to do this is by staging your space. Arrange the kitchen table with plates, glasses, and silverware as if someone is just about to have lunch. For a romantic touch, set up a view from the terrace with two glasses of wine for an evocative aperitif.

Staged kitchen

If you have nice towels, show them off in a visible place in the bathroom. Turn on the TV, place freshly cut flowers on the table, or prepare the hot tub to make guests feel welcome. You want to leave nothing to the imagination.

7. Too many similar photos

Platforms offer you the option to upload numerous photos, but in reality, you only need around nine or ten to enhance your listing’s ranking. If you upload too many, say 40 Airbnb photos, many of them will be captured from the same angles, and potential guests are unlikely to browse through all of them.


To get photographs right, take a look at the listings that are appearing at the top of the search results and try to replicate their composition and techniques. Learn from your competition. Follow a few simple Airbnb photo tips and avoid common photography pitfalls. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel or become a professional photographer to take photos that sell.

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