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Why High Quality Vacation Rental Photography is important.

Destin Florida is a hot market for vacation rentals.  Destin VRBO offers 5800+ rentals alone!  Between VRBO, and the 20+ vacation rental companies, I estimate there to be at least 7000 vacation rentals in Destin and South Walton.   Rental properties range from the stunning ocean front mansions, to the humble 1 bedroom condo.   How can a vacation rental owner remain competitive in the market?  What can make a property stand out from the crowd?  High quality vacation rental photography can, and here is how.

How Photography Affects Perception.

Some ask, what does vacation rental photography have to do with perception and bookings?  Before we answer that question, let’s dissect the process a renter goes through to find a place to stay in.  First, they enter an app or browser from their home in Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, etc. and begin searching for Destin Vacation Rentals.  They will methodically search for the number of bedrooms they need, amenities they want, and luxuries they prefer. Once the field is narrowed down, they begin looking at the photography of the home or condo.  The rentals they are visually comfortable with will become the ones they solicit.  Eventually settling on the best match for their needs and value.

Imagine vacation rental shopping as window shopping at a mall.  You stroll along viewing the store front presentations, and the one that catches your attention you will enter and perhaps buy something.   Viewing vacation rental photography from a phone or computer is like virtual window shopping and in my opinion, the most critical stage of the rental process for the vacation rental owner.  In literally a few seconds of viewing the vacation rental “store front”, the customer will be impacted either positively or negatively solely by the pictures they view.  In those critical few seconds, the renter will either move on to the next listing, or click the inquire button.  Don’t lose them just because they were turned off by inadequate rental photos.  Let’s take a look at examples.

Before and After Samples of Vacation Rental Photography

Let’s do some virtual vacation rental photography window shopping.  These sample images are from a condo shoot at Tops’l Resort, in Miramar Beach Florida, at the Beach Manor condo.  Keep in mind how you feel and what you think about this condo when you see the image (aka, store front).

Sample #1 –  No Editing, One Shot.

This first image is simply one shot, from a tripod, without any editing.

Before Sample of Vacation Rental Photo

This sample image is straight out of the camera with no editing. ©2015 Nick Zimmerman.

Take notice of the various color casts around the light fixtures and windows.  Around the lights you will see a dingy yellowish orange from the tungsten light bulbs.  Around the window is a white/blue from the natural light.  In the kitchen there is also dull orange and yellow color cast from the over head can lights.  Also do you notice how you cannot see out of the windows?  Keep in mind, this is one image from the camera without any editing.

Sample #2 –  Edited, One Shot.

This is the exact same image as the first example, but with a few editing adjustments.

Vacation Rental Photo simple editing.

This is the best you get when editing one image. ©2015 Nick Zimmerman.

Not much better.  I was able to bring out a very faint view of the water, but couldn’t do much with the color cast.  The problem with this image, is that my eyes did not see this when I was in the condo.  In fact, my eyes, (and yours too), instantly adjusted to see out of the windows, as well as the correct colors of the room, all with proper focus.  So how do you achieve a picture that represents what your eyes saw in real life?

Sample #3 –  Edited, 70 Shots

This is the final version I delivered to the client.

Vacation Rental Photography in Destin Florida

This ocean front condo in the Tops’l resort over looks the Gulf of Mexico and the Tops’l State Park Reserve. A very special view. ©2015 Nick Zimmerman.

I used over 70 images to create one photo that is accurate to the eye.  The process is fairly advanced time consuming and often referred to as HDR Photography.  HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and insinuates the ability to collect (with a camera) and display (as a photograph) the full range of light.  By applying HDR techniques to vacation rental photography, I can effectively reproduce what your eye sees in real life.  To compose and capture the 125 images (only used 70 of them), took approximately 30 minutes.  Back in the lab, I spent another hour editing the images into one.  With the goal of reproducing what I saw with my eyes.  This is the way vacation rental photography should represent a vacation rental.

The Clear Winner

Which image do you think captures and commands attention?  Without doubt, a vacation rental shopper from Kentucky, Michigan, Alabama or anywhere else, would be compelled to put this condo at the top of their list.  The opposite however, how would they perceive this condo if they only had the first or second image?  Do you think they would give this vacation rental much thought and attention based on the first two images?

If you are a vacation rental owner, I encourage you to highly consider vacation rental photography as one of the best investments you can make.  Seek out a professional photographer that has experience and not just the lowest price.  A set of high quality vacation rental photos might cost the equivalent of one weeks rent, but they will bring you more attention and ideally more bookings!


If you are a current vacation rental owner, or considering buying a vacation rental in Destin, and have questions, let me know in the comment section below.  I’ll be glad to answer.



Author nickz

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