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Vacation Rentals And The Rrights And Wrongs Of Photographs
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Vacation Rentals And The Rrights And Wrongs Of Photographs

Photographs of your property are critical in today’s competitive world of vacation rentals. Anyone looking at your property online will most likely see it in a list next to others. Your photograph at this point can be critical as to whether someone looks further or not.

You do not need a professional to take your photos unless you have neither the equipment nor confidence to use a camera. If your property is going to be presented in specialist media then they will dictate the photography rules and may use their own people anyway. Digital cameras come in all shapes and sizes but most these days are capable of delivering great photographs suitable for use online.

Taking photos can be time consuming. I have taken thousands of property and related tourism photos and when you factor in, time of day, sunlight, shadows, state of property, and other factors then often photos are taken on multiple occasions and updated as time and conditions justify. It is unrealistic to think that It can be done in one go quickly.

So here are some tips and advice which should help

(a) Before taking any photos of a room or area, prepare it! Tidy things away, Polish furniture, open curtains, turn lights on, if there is a fire – light it, turn the TV on. If you can add a few finishing touches like flowers, wine glasses and a bottle of wine. You should consider that you are creating a scene, a mood which should make someone want to be in that room.

(b) If the subject matter is tatty, fix it! A quick coat of paint to cover cracks, or filler in small holes in the wall can make a big difference. Online pictures are getting bigger, cameras are improving and more detail can be seen.

(c) If a room has a great view, make sure you include the view.

(d) Try to take exterior view photos in sunshine at a time of day where shadows are minimal.

(e) Use height to take “area” photos. Height helps give a much better perspective.

(f) Usually your photos must be horizontal - the width is longer than the height. Bathrooms can often be challenging in this respect. Sometimes they are small and the only way to take a photo is through the door. Just remember that most sites are designed for horizontal photos. They will usually allow vertical photos but their inclusion can often ruin the “look” of a page.

(g) You usually do not need to resize your photos. However bear in mind that most digital cameras will take photos which are “huge”, for example 5000 or more pixels wide. Most websites are 800 – 1250 pixels wide and the photos used are smaller than that. Size and internet speed are related. The more pixels a photograph has the longer it takes to load. Usually a good website will resize your photo for you. But uploading your original photo will take longer than one you have already resized. Worth considering if you are uploading lots of photos. Often it is worthwhile resizing the photo yourself. You can use tools like Microsoft Office Picture Manager (if you have access to Microsoft Office). This like other similar products has a resize function. All you need to do is select the size, for example 800 x 600 and then save the image. 800 wide by 600 pixels high is the size I recommend for most sites unless the site specifies otherwise.

(h) The defacto format for photographs used online is “jpg”. Make sure the library of photos you create is in this format. Other popular formats are “gif” and “png” but “jpg” is used everywhere.

(i) Do not copy your photos from another site. This can create “copyright” issues if you did not take the original photo. The size of the image on one site may be different than on another. It is always best to upload you own “master” photo.

(j) Take as many photos as possible and be ruthless with regards to deleting ones that are not perfect. For most sites you will need at least four photos but you should create at least ten or more if possible. The order of your photos is critical. Photos 1 and 2 must create the best impression. These are usually the ones which appear in search results and listing. These should be one of the following

i. Master bedroom

ii. Main living area

iii. External area, for example swimming pool

iv. Amazing view if there is one

Photos 1 and 2 are used in search results and are the ones which will attract someone to your property. Of all your photos these two must be the best.

(k) Toilets! Photographs of bathrooms are useful, especially to present nice baths or showers. However, Toilets are usually not important.

(l) Order of importance. Anyone viewing your property will be presented with all the photos you have uploaded. In reality you should consider the first as the most important and the last as the least.

(m) Every photograph should have a word or description for it. Not all sites have this facility. If they do, you should use it.

• Search engines require this and may “de-value” a page without this information

• The description/hint will be shown with each photograph

• It is considered bad practise to not provide this

• The visually impaired use special software tools which “read out loud” hints for photos. This helps them understand what they are looking at, even if they can not see it properly

• This can help improve search engine ranking as these hints may be used by search engines. So hints should include references to property type, location, room type etc, as these reinforce the words used in your summary and main text

• Many social networks use photographs so when sharing the “hint” becomes its title of reference.

If you follow the above guidance your property will be well represented and its visual appearance should not let you down when listing online.


Street Talk

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