top of page

The Difference Between Traditional Real Estate Photography and Vacation Rental Photography


In today’s digital landscape, high-quality photography is crucial for showcasing properties online. Whether you’re selling a home or listing a vacation rental on platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, or, the photos you use can make or break a potential guest's decision. But did you know that the photography strategies for traditional real estate differ significantly from those for vacation rentals or short-term rentals (STRs)?

As the owner of Virtual House Media and a dedicated short-term rental host, I’ve spent countless hours perfecting the art of capturing properties at their best. My experience with managing my own Airbnb property, a Superhost favorite with 45 all 5-star reviews, has given me unique insights into what makes vacation rental photography distinct. My property consistently appears on the first page of search results for its category, a testament to the power of great visuals and strategic listing. In this blog, I’ll share the key differences between traditional real estate photography and vacation rental photography and how these nuances can impact your success on platforms like Google Vacations and various OTAs (Online Travel Agencies).

Traditional Real Estate Photography

Focus on Selling a Home

Traditional real estate photography is primarily aimed at helping potential buyers envision themselves living in a property. The goal is to capture the essence and layout of the home to facilitate a sale. Here are some key elements:

  • Wide-Angle Shots: Real estate photography often utilizes wide-angle lenses to showcase the size and flow of rooms. It’s about providing a comprehensive view that highlights spaciousness and functionality.

  • Neutral Presentation: The focus is on the architecture and structure of the home. The styling tends to be neutral, aiming to appeal to a broad audience by allowing them to imagine their personal belongings in the space.

  • Highlighting Key Features: Key features such as modern kitchens, luxurious bathrooms, and open living spaces are emphasized. The intention is to showcase the property’s best assets to attract potential buyers.

  • Professional Lighting: Natural light is often complemented with professional lighting setups to ensure each room is well-lit and inviting.

Vacation Rental Photography

Creating an Experience

Vacation rental photography, on the other hand, is all about selling an experience. It’s not just about showing the space but about inviting potential guests to picture themselves enjoying a memorable stay. Here’s how it differs:

  • Ambiance and Lifestyle: Unlike traditional real estate, vacation rental photography focuses on capturing the ambiance and lifestyle a guest can experience. This includes cozy corners, inviting outdoor spaces, and details that evoke a sense of relaxation and adventure.

  • Twilight Photography: One of the unique aspects of vacation rental photography is the emphasis on twilight or dusk shots. These photos capture the property in a warm, glowing light, creating a magical appeal that can attract guests looking for a unique and intimate stay.

  • Attention to Detail: Close-ups of thoughtful amenities like a well-set dining table, luxurious bedding, or a beautiful pool area are essential. These details help to sell the experience and highlight what makes the property special.

  • Guest Perspective: The photos should be taken from the perspective of a guest. This means capturing angles and views that potential renters would find appealing, such as a beautiful sunrise from the bedroom window or a scenic view from the patio.

  • Staging for Comfort: While traditional real estate might focus on neutral styling, vacation rental photography embraces the property’s unique character and style. It’s about showcasing how the space is set up for relaxation and enjoyment, often incorporating vibrant and inviting decor.

Client Testimonials

Hearing directly from satisfied clients can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of specialized vacation rental photography:

  • Adam Miller, Airbnb Investor: "I've had three other photographers out to the house in the last year, and these are by far the best pictures I've received."Check out Adam’s listing here.

  • Paula Damour, Vacation Rental Owner: "Since we updated our vacation rental listing with Charlie's photos, our bookings have improved. Some of the standout photos were the twilight shots. The property now looks more inviting and professional online, which has made a difference. Charlie was professional, easy to work with, and really understood how to bring out the best in our property. If you’re looking to boost your rental’s appeal, Charlie at Virtual House Media is the way to go!"Check out Paula’s listing here.

Why Choose Virtual House Media?

At Virtual House Media, we understand these differences deeply because we live them. As a seasoned professional in both real estate and vacation rental photography, I’ve helped numerous property owners elevate their listings. Beyond that, as the owner of a successful short-term rental, I’ve obsessively researched OTA algorithms and learned how to optimize listings for maximum visibility and bookings.

My own Airbnb listing consistently ranks on the first page of search results and is recognized as a guest favorite with a perfect 5-star rating across 45 reviews. This success is a testament to the impact of strategic, high-quality photography.

Furthermore, I’m excited to announce my upcoming venture into co-hosting, where I’ll include professional photography as part of the package to help other hosts maximize their property’s potential.

Understanding the distinct approaches to traditional real estate photography and vacation rental photography can significantly impact your property’s success. For vacation rental owners, it’s about more than just capturing a space; it’s about telling a story and inviting potential guests into an experience they won’t forget.

If you’re looking to enhance your vacation rental’s appeal or need professional real estate photography, Virtual House Media is here to help. With our expertise, your property will not only attract more viewers but convert them into bookings or buyers.

Contact Us

Ready to take your property’s photography to the next level? Contact Virtual House Media today and let’s create stunning visuals that will captivate and convert your audience.

9 views0 comments


bottom of page