Photography - some basic tips

I’ve seen a few discussions about photography on here, and hope
some basic photography tips from an Airbnb photographer (that’s me, folks!) may be of use for anyone who can’t get hold of one of us to do a (free!) shoot for you.

For most interior shots, you will need a wide angle lens - commonly around 16mm on a full-frame camera, 12mm on a crop-sensor - and a small aperture, perhaps f/16, to get everything from front to back of the picture in focus. This usually means you need a shutter speed far lower than can be hand-held. Trying to shoot hand-held below about 1/30th of a second will probably result is a photo that is blurred from camera shake. I often use an exposure of over 1 second when doing Airbnb shoots.

Best solution is a tripod, but you can improvise with a high stool, or even a stool perched on a chair. The camera height to aim for is around half the ceiling height. This minimises distortion. Shoot either into a corner, or with the camera parallel to a wall. This again minimises distortion.

Use the shutter delay on your camera. This is a setting that sets a gap of a few seconds between pressing the shutter button and the shutter actually tripping, which means the camera isn’t moving from the pressure of your finger on the shutter when the shot is actually taken.

The Airbnb website is configured for landscape images in a 1:1.5 ratio of height vs width. Many cameras allow this to be set.

While you can use flash, natural light is generally better, and flash photography is a skill all of its own.

A bit of editing can make a massive difference to the final result; a programme such as Photoshop or Lightroom, or one of the free programmes such as FastStone is worth learning to use.

That’s a very basic outline. Do feel free to ask any questions.


Hello Airbnb photographer! I’ll agree these tips will make lovely pictures (I really like the ones on my listing) but I personally have had issues with people feeling my photos (taken by an Airbnb photographer) are inaccurate.

Why? Because the rooms appear bigger and brighter than they really are.

I’ve had to write a disclaimer on my listing, though I still see issues with accuracy. What do you suggest ?


Hi Zandra,

Could you post a link to your listing? That way I’ll be able to see what you mean

Looks nice! I wouldn’t say it’s been distorted in the way that some estate agents ‘exaggerate’ properties, but there is little in shot to give context. The simple solution would be to give the dimensions in your description. Adding a pic or two shot parallel to the walls rather than into the corners would probably give a more accurate idea, but unless this is a serious issue with your guests, I wouldn’t worry too much.



Thanks so much for these tips since I am getting ready to retake my photographs for my listing. So I used an Airbnb photographer (not you of course) and the result was very unsatisfactory. The pictures were flat and didn’t capture the character of our riverfront location and were generally poor. I had our neighbor’s son take some photos and these were much better. One comment I hear all the time is the rooms are much larger than they appear in the photos and brighter with natural light so your tips are very helpful.

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Thanks ! I think they’re nice photos too! Personally I don’t think they’re unrepresentative so I shall not worry.

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Of course you can always commission a photographer to photograph your letting. Naturally you would have to pay, but the plus side is that you would then be able to use the pics on any other sites where you may list your property.

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I have to say that I am always leary of interior shots taken with a wide angle lens. They really can distort the view of a space, and as has been mentioned, suggest that the room is bigger than it is. Same with the amount of light. Boosting too much can make it seem that there is more or less natural light than is actually available. I actually prefer to have my guests “oooh” that the rooms are even better than the photos, and don’t want to risk disappointing them upon arrival.


I completely agree. Most of our guests are pleasantly surprised when they enter our place. I suppose that some people would argue that you might get more bookings with ‘misleading’ photographs but we do just fine and I’d rather have happy guests than disappointed ones.

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Unfortunately, guests don’t read the listing. In our listing we state the dimensions of the guest room both in feet and meters. We’ve still been told more than once that the room appears larger in the photos.

Just after writing the above I received a review notification and the review started:

This property is perfect for a relaxing getaway. The view and location is gorgeous - the pictures show exactly what you get.

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We had this once or twice.
The problem is that some guests do not have any notion of furniture size, and cannot properly interpret the picture.

A good example is your picture #6. The rocking chair is very stretched, so it looks huge. Most people would be able to interpret the real room size from that. Some don’t.

For a photographer it is hard to and capture both the atmosphere and the size of a small room.
With small rooms you will have to use wide angles, but in that case you need to put in references for size, so people kan accurately judge it.

PS: I used to be a “pro” and make my own pictures, and I love to use flash in interior shoots. Lighting is everything.

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Air ask us not to use flash. Sometimes it’s necessary, but I can usually manage with reflectors, and judicious use of curtains and blinds :slight_smile:

Thanks so much for your tips, Jon! What time of day do you Recommend? I love the light in the golden hour… the regular mid morning or high noon has a ho hum look to it.

I’m often told that my studio turns out to be way bigger than expected!!! I guess that is a good thing. Although some jerk marked me down on accuracy because to was bigger than advertised.

I think the wide angle you see on real estate shots and the fake lighting is getting old. I’m sure it oversells the place a bit.

Time of day is probably less important than intensity of light. An overcast is good - hard beams of sunlight coming through windows wash everything out where they fall and are a nightmare. If you have windows at different compass points, you could shoot different rooms at different times (a luxury not normally available to me - I get about an hour max. to do an Air letting :anguished:). The beauty of digital is that it costs nothing to experiment. Decent pics can make a big difference to some lettings, so taking time is a good investment.

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Ah but one of my most recent reviews say the exact same thing! That the listing and pictures are accurate.

Then the next person comes along and complains. It can be hugely frustrating!


You can please some of the people some of the time… :slight_smile:


On Airbnb that’s not an option.

We hosts are under huge pressure to please everybody all of the time.



If you should ever come to Tromso, Norway. (There are direct flights from Gatwick to here.)
I will let you stay for free two nights in one of our apartments, and free rental car is also included, if you photograph our two small apartments.


Ahhh very nice @BandB, totally Skandi. And lovely photos ! You don’t need new ones surely?

Ps I’m not a photographer so you might be somewhat disappointed.

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