Worth Paying A Photographer?

I rent out a room on Airbnb and for the past year, the photos have just been ones I took myself with my phone. They’re not particularly good looking, but I’ve still remained as booked as I’d like to be.

I’ve been thinking of hiring a photographer to take actual good photos of my listing and wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the matter. This photographer said they’d be willing to do the project for $85. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to get professional level photographs for my listing and whether its worth doing?

Note: Airbnb does NOT offer photography in my area. I’ve checked this.

First thing to do is stop using your cellphone camera! No matter how good they are, a cell camera just does not take as good of photos as a real digital camera.

Second learn to use some sort of photo editing program to fix your picture’s lighting, color balance, cropping, etc. You don’t have to become a PhotoShop wizard, but knowing how to ‘tweak’ your photos is very useful.

These are skills and technology which you will find useful as you move forward in life. Too many people today accept poor composition, poor lighting and generally bad photos taken with a cell phone as “the way pictures are supposed to be.” Photography has not been this bad, or this popular, since the advent of the Instamatic camera in 1963!!!

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@KenH has some good suggestions, but not everyone will want to learn how to do photo manipulation. To actually get good at it takes quite a bit of time. You might consider taking the photos, and then finding someone [I would try Craigslist] who can do the manipulation for you for a decent price. Since manipulation doesn’t need to come onsite, you can save quite a bit of money and get better results.

All depends on how much money the hours learning a new program could make you at your “regular” job.

So…I don’t think you really answered my question.

I suppose the question to ask you then is, would you say pay a photographer $85. Or should I spend hundred or thousands of dollars to buy a camera myself and many hours learning how to digitally edit photos? The other option is do nothing and keep the status quo. Let me know your thoughts!

I think I’d also have to buy a high-end camera, right?

This will probably be a controversy thing to say, especially since I’m a host, but I feel the trickery with pictures just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I know a lot of people do it, and I surely know my way around Photoshop, but there has to be some honesty. I feel very cheated when the real thing isn’t even nearly as gorgeous as the pictures. Always. This would affect my rating giving for sure. I wouldn’t say my pictures are bad, but they’re surely not edited.


I agree with you. I think it would be worth it for the original poster to pay a photographer $85.00 to take professional quality photos, but they shouldn’t be misleading. When the Airbnb photographer came to my listing I told her that of course I wanted the house to look nice, but I didn’t want her to use any tricks (for example a wide angle lens to make the rooms look bigger than they are). I want people to believe that they’ve gotten what they signed up for.

I agree. I prefer to under-promise and over-deliver. Our photographs are taken on my iPhone and are certainly adequate. But they are accurate. The rental is actually better that it appears in the listing but guests are usually delighted and say ‘but this is lovely! So much better than the photographs!’

If you really want to pay a photographer $85 don’t expect too much. Most professional photographers would charge way more than that, so you could well be disappointed with the results.


I think it is definitely worth paying a photographer. I paid $125 for my 3 bedroom house. The results are amazing.

DEFINITELY worth the $85–it pays for itself in increased bookings, hands-down! I paid $120 for mine and I like to think they’ve contributed to the generally steady bookings. Most people who post here have commented on the positive difference in business pre and post-photo shoot.

My iPhone’s camera is great, and I know how to edit photos myself reasonably well… but real estate photographers know how to shoot angles, capture light, reveal what’s outside of windows (phones always blur sunshine in a ball of light), and they capture alternative and interesting views of the home. There’s of course a limit and even in real estate listings I notice crazy/ridiculous use of HDR. But tastefully done is the way to go.

I’ve never had a guest claim my listing is dishonest. My place has some drawbacks and it ain’t perfect, but I’m certain the interior is one of my home’s best strengths since we did serious renovation and everything is practically new… so I like to think the photos enhance that hard work!

If anything, I browse listings all the time and think, “wow, this looks like such a gorgeous place but the photos aren’t doing them any favors.” And I’m sure there’s a subconscious impression that professional photos = professional care = pride of ownership = good host and stay.

Also, @smtucker: do check out PicMonkey! My Photoshop skills are subpar, but this site is absurdly easy to use for anyone wanting to enhance their photos.

This is the best idea. I think making sure your photos are well lit is important but using a mobile is fine. People are used to evaluating items/products/services from photos from an iphone ect and will be pleasanly suprised when the room is as promised but better in person given your camera skills or lack thereof.

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My parents took a photograph, they paid 250 dollars (in France), amazing results and increase of booking.

We will also soon get one coming (don’t know yet the price).

In all case I think it’s worth it by far.

I am going to answer with my perspective as a long time realtor. It pays ten fold to have pro photos taken of a home. I do it for all my listings. Some people won’t even consider looking at a home with bad/dark photos.

I am about ready to close on a house that I will use as an airbnb. As soon as I have it fully furnished and set up, I will be bringing in my trusted real estate photographer to shoot the photos!

A very good point. Late last year we added an important piece of furniture to our rental. (New photos required). Minutes before our current guests arrived, we added new artwork. (New photos will be required.) Next week we will be adding replacement sofas. (More new photos needed).

It’s easy for me to go into the rental, take iPhone photographs and two minutes later they are on our listing.

Yes, that’s exactly what they say, :slight_smile:

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I’ve said that also to hosts, it’s polite and maybe the only thing I could think to say. I confess if the host can’t be bothered to take a decent photo I wonder what other corners they’ve cut, or details they’ve forgotten to mention. A snappy listing suggests the host knows what they are doing and I have more confidence in them.

disclosure: I am a photographer so I am biased, yes, hire a photographer! :wink: it just hurts my eyes so much when we are researching listings for a trip. :slight_smile:

You can always add your own updated pics in with the mix of “better” pics.
I think the advice about requesting your photographer not to create misleading imagery with WA lenses is excellent. I hate that trend and it’s why I don’t do real estate photography.