If you’re going to perfect anything in your advert, perfect the photos. These can make or break your ad, so it’s worth deliberating over which ones to use. An image can show a customer in an instant, what a phone call could tell them in ten minutes.
Photos are proof of excellence, and customers will use them as their guide. So whatever gives your property that edge, needs to be captured in an image and put on your website. It is worth knowing that the amount of photos you use on your page determines where your advert ranks in the search results, about 24 photos is the most advantageous number.
This need for high standards may seem overwhelming, but you can approach it very simply. Have a look through some adverts and see which ones you are drawn to. Why is this? Think of what you look for in an image, whether it is colour, setting, angles, lighting or their position on a page. As someone so familiar with holiday properties, you will be a great judge of what guests will like to see.
What should my photos include?
In short, everything. There is little point putting money, time and effort into a property which will only be showcased in fractions. At the very least make sure you have images of
- The living space
- The dining space
- The kitchen
- The master bedroom
- All other bedrooms
- Focal points (home cinema, tennis courts, attic rooms)
- The view (try and a get a shot that is framed by the window/part of the house to contextualise)
- Outdoor space/Garden
Bathrooms are more of a grey area; unless it is luxurious and beautifully decorated, don’t feel obliged to publish images. People understand that toilets are functional rather than attractive, and won’t be using the photo for the postcard home.
Although it may seem facetious, thinking about the order of your photos is highly advisable. If you have a picture of your garden spliced between your living room and dining room, the browser may feel it is jarred and disjointed.
A bombproof order you can follow is;
- Garden and/or outdoor features/ the view (not mandatory, your call)
- Living space
- Dining space
- Bathrooms (optional)
It’s not worth taking shortcuts with photos; no matter how stunning a room is, if it is badly photographed then a potential guest will be left none the wiser. Conversely, quality photography will capture the good side of almost anything. There are some easy ways to ensure this is the case for you
Staging the Photo
Staging is very important; a room that looks cosy and rustic to the eye can look cluttered through a lens, so make sure you take the camera’s view into consideration. When arranging a room for a ‘shoot’, you want to create a clean but welcoming ambience. A few ways of ensuring you do this are as follows;
- Consider the depth and perspective of your shot, what looks good through a lens is the most important thing at this moment.
- A bare dining table won’t say much, but if you set it with some of your best crockery, it will give the browser a much better idea at what they are looking for. A prettily set table will set of the room.
- Soft furnishings make a room look homely and stylish. By adding cushions, throws and rugs you can set a tone to each room, which can be specifically targeted at your customer. For instance, a sheepskin rug next to a log fire will ooze country retreat.
- Take the time to flick through interior design magazines. This need not be laborious; once you familiarise yourself with them you will very quickly be able to pick up on room settings that work well.
Lighting can transform a room, for the better and for the worse. What you don’t want on your advert is a dark image that makes your home look dank and dingy. Be dynamic with the lighting you use; you might want some bright ceiling lighting to show off a modern kitchen, but softer light from lamps for the lounge. Natural lighting is always a winner, so if you have a south facing room then photograph it when the sun is at its highest and light pervades the room. Of course, a sunny day is best to shoot the outside of your property; an overcast afternoon will never capture it at its best. If you create the best lit environment possible, the room’s feel, colours and space will be highlighted to their optimal effect.
Your command of the camera will have a huge effect on the final image; no matter how stunning a room is, if it is photographed badly then this won’t come across the customer. This is easy to avoid though; wonky images should immediately be discarded, ensure your image has a focal point (if you have a unique selling point such as a plasma telly, use it), take off-centre diagonal shots and experiment with levels. Images that are taken square on and straight down the middle will rarely be the most eye-catching, and a bit of height gives a more impressive effect.
You really want a high resolution camera, because otherwise you could be landed with shots that are pixelated and grainy. Something like this will not only look unprofessional, but it will look like it was taken ten years ago, which makes your property seem outdated. If you know someone with an SLR camera, borrow it!
Colour sells, as it draws attention to focal points and brightens up a room. Use it cogently; to add a splash of variety to some neutral décor with some flowers for example, or a strategically place a striking red velvet cushion to highlight a rich mahogany pew. The two things you are trying to do are to make your home stand out, but also to convey the natural feel of your home, to the screen. Consequently, don’t make a modern flat look too oldie worldly and vice versa.
The thumbnail image holds a lot of sway; along with the title, it is what a browser will use to determine whether or not they want to read more about your property.
This image’s role is to let your customer know, with immediate effect, what your property has that others don’t. It must enthral and entice, encouraging customers to find out more. Needless to say, a bad thumbnail image can render a good property description pointless.
Detail is always helpful for a pondering customer, so adding captions to your photos is a good way forward. If you have an image of a games room, be specific and let the customer know that this is actually additional to the living space. It is also easier to skim captions than a property description, so make sure your selling points and highlighted in them. Key words are important for search engine purposes, and if you have something as reputable as a Mac computer station, be specific and name drop brands!
The photos are often all the customers can see, so you need to make sure you include everything that can make a sale, and ensure your home is displayed to its best potential. It would be a shame to fall short with the photos, and people who do tend to do it by;
Missing things out
Travellers will rarely take anything for granted, so if they see an unfurnished home then they will assume this is what they are getting. Publish up to date images, and show off all the interior work you have done.
Potential guests don’t need to know when the photographs were taken, if anything, this will put them off as time goes by. On a similar note, keep up with any alterations to your home and shoot more photos if needs be.
Take the time to perfect your camera angle, don’t be afraid to use a tripod to get the best image possible
Promote a shambles
No one likes clutter, especially not when they are paying to live in someone else’s. Unnecessary day to day paraphernalia does not need to be part of the guests experience, so make sure it isn’t in your photos. This includes things like your plentiful collection of china ornaments, paperwork or copious amounts of family portraits. Other things to look out for are distracting and unprofessional mistakes such as leaving a television on, catching your reflection in the mirror, having rubbish or tangles of wires in view, having pets wandering around and cutting off the ceiling with your camera.
Holiday home rental is probably not the business to start a modelling career. You are selling a location, not a person. Any extra bodies will detract attention from what you are actually trying to photograph, and will add to the clutter problem. If you stage a room well, it is a shame to disturb it with a person, who isn’t at all relevant to the customer. Your potential guest wants to be able to imagine themselves sitting on the sofa, and seeing you there will make them feel like they are intruding into someone else’s home.
Unless something has gone very wrong, the customer is paying for the home, not you. And you are paying to advertise your home, not yourself, so keep it simple and, with the best will in the world, stay the other side of the camera!
Great photography is easy to mess up, but it isn’t difficult to get right. Spend some time looking into how to do it well, and you should have people flocking.