Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book More Weeks with Great Photos

Light at dawn or sunset provides interesting
and memorable effects.

It's simple: great photos will get you more bookings and poor photos will cost you bookings. Photos are what draw travelers in. They can picture themselves by your pool or in your hot tub. They can clearly see a vacation rental that offers views and amenities that they don't have at home. Great photos enhance the value of your property, so you can charge more for rent, or at the very least stay a step ahead of the competition.

To get great photos, some property owners and managers believe they need a professional photographer. Others believe investing in a nice camera will do the trick. Both can be right, but both can be wrong. Not all professional photographers are created equal, and you can still take poor photos with even the most expensive camera.

Here are three tips on how to get great photos of your vacation rentals.

Don't trust the LCD. These displays, located on the back of digital cameras, show a small image. The photo will look much different on a computer screen. If you've hired a professional photographer, ask if he or she bring along a laptop to review the images as they're taken. That way, you can check their work as the photos are taken. This might cost more in terms of the photographer’s time, but the relatively small expense will be worth it in the long run. If you're taking your own photos, hold yourself to the same standard. Either have a laptop handy or view the photos on your computer as soon as possible.

This photo makes use of the Rule of Thirds.
Notice how the left pillow on the couch is close to
the intersection of straight lines drawn from top to bottom
and left to right. 
Use good composition. The most important composition technique you can use is called the Rule of Thirds. It's pretty much the first thing any aspiring professional photographer learns about, and is the basis for balanced and interesting photos. Basically, the Rule of Thirds says that for a visually appealing photo, you need to break the image down into thirds, horizontally and vertically. Imagine equidistant straight lines drawn across and up and down the image area of the photo. You can use your LCD screen to gauge how well you're following the Rule of Thirds. Just imagine the lines drawn across the screen. As you're framing the shot in your viewfinder, place important points of interest in the intersections or along the lines. Your photo will have more visual balance. Contrary to what your instincts may tell you, a viewer's eye does not go directly to the center of a photo when viewing. The eye naturally goes to one of the intersection points of the horizontal and vertical lines.

Another example of a setting with a lot to
look at, yet good composition balances the image
It's easy to put the Rule of Thirds into action. Before taking a photo, simply ask yourself two questions: What are the points of interest in this photo, and where am I placing them? If you're taking a photo of a whole room with a lot of items, try to decide what the most important feature is, or at least the most important group of features. For example, in a photo of a living room with a lovely fireplace, the fireplace may be the best point of interest.

Dawn or sunset provides the most unique lightEarly morning light, just after the sun has come up, is filled with soothing blue hues. Evening light, near sunset, is filled with vibrant reds. Either way, those times of day give you the most distinctive lighting. While afternoon light is great and should be used, you can get a unique effect by taking photos at dawn or dusk.

Take a look at the sunset photo at the top of this page. The infinity pool is beautiful any time of the day, but it takes on an otherworldly beauty at sunset, which the photographer captured. Now, the property manager or owner could have simply used a photo of the infinity pool, and that would have been good. But by watching for the right lighting and having a camera ready, a truly stunning and memorable image was captured.

Since photos are so vitally important to booking as many weeks as possible, it's worth spending time not just taking them, but improving them over time. While you may have hired a pro five years ago to take photos of your property, they may be outdated, or you may be able to get a better shot in different lighting.

One of the best investments you can make is in great photography of your property. However, spending a lot of money won't guarantee a great photo. Put these tips to work for you for the best results.