Photographing your holiday home can be tough, especially if you know it inside out and can’t take a step back. Hiring a professional is the best choice, but if you want to have a bash yourself or need an interim solution, these tips can help.
The first two go without saying:
1) Use a camera rather than your phone.
2) Never show people in your property shots.
Guests like to imagine themselves there, and other people in the photo can be distracting and off-putting.
3) Choose a sunny day.
You don’t want your sunshine escape to look like winter in the Outer Hebrides, and a sharp blue sky contrasts better with pristine white snow.
Your brand new air conditioner might be top of the line, but your guests will be far more interested in your private pool, terrace or sea view. Think – what attracted you in the first place?
5) Show more of the inside than the outside.
Many holiday home sites show several different angles of the exterior. All well and good, but even in a climate where sunbathing is king, your guests will want to know the layout and size of the inside.
6) Always show the bedrooms.
Unless you own a mansion with more than five of them, try to photograph all of the bedrooms in your home. Not only is this an opportunity to show off, but it can reassure families and other groups that there is enough space and whether they need to steel themselves for the “who gets the top bunk” argument.
7) Focus on specific areas.
If you can’t fit a whole room into one shot, break it up into sections. This also works if you’re offering a studio or small flat. Individual shots of the coffee table laid out with coffee, maps and magazines, and a shot facing into the sofa with plumped up cushions, can give people a sense of the atmosphere and help them imagine spending time there. If the bedrooms are small, focus on the head of the bed, ideally at night, with soft lighting and fluffy pillows or throws.
8) Set the scene.
One of the best things about self-catering holidays is that you can choose what, when and how to serve your food. Lay any indoor tables for lunch, breakfast or dinner – ideally with local produce or treats – or with a welcome pack (if you offer this). If you have a log fire, take a shot the next time it’s roaring, and if you have a playroom, set out some toys and games.
9) Include the kitchen sink…
Many guests will want to know the state of the kitchen if they’re planning to cook at any point. Clear away any dirty plates or clutter, and add some colour with a bowl of fruit, or by laying out teas and pastries to give a flavour of the holiday.
10)… and a bashful bathroom.
Showing the bathroom can be divisive. Some guests don’t want to be reminded of it, while others won’t book without seeing it. The best solution is to take a photo without the toilet, but if it’s unavoidable, always have the lid down! If you have a bath tub, a row of candles around the edge can give it a warm and cosy feel and bring even the most modest bathroom to life.
11) Outside angle.
The importance of exterior shots depends on the location and type of holiday home you have. For a city apartment, one or two shots of the outside building will suffice – use the rest of the space to show off the attractions, views and activities. For a countryside or seaside retreat, make sure you photograph all of the good viewpoints from windows and balconies, and show all gardens or pool areas. Speaking of which:
12) Swimming pool.
If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, take photos on a sunny day and without anyone in sight. Night-time shots are tricky to get right, so only attempt this if you have a high quality camera and there are other interesting features around such as pergolas or lighting. If you’re even luckier and have a separate jacuzzi, a bottle of champagne or mugs of hot chocolate (for après-ski) can look great laid out beside it. In case it needs to be said, never take shots of a pool or jacuzzi without any water in it.
13) Al-fresco dining.
Similarly, whether you have a quaint little balcony or an expansive roof terrace, a table laid out for a meal – especially in front of a view – can remind people exactly why they should love self-catering holidays.
14) Garden games.
If you’re aiming at families, show games in the garden, such as a tennis set, footballs or frisbees. If your home is pet-friendly, show a photo of a dog, cat or other animal cavorting on the lawn.
15) Local area.
Shots of local beaches, attractions, markets and theme parks (absolutely vital for Disneyland properties, for instance) give an idea of the type of holiday your guests can expect. Make sure you explain what and how far they are in the captions, so that newcomers to the location know what there is to see and do. A photo of the Eiffel Tower for a Paris apartment may seem condescendingly obvious, but some guests may have never been to France or realise how close the home is, so don’t assume everyone knows the area as well as you do. If your property is off the beaten track, add a photo or two of the nearest well known cities or attractions to give it context.
Good luck, and remember to refresh your photos every season!