The Honest Truth About Holiday Rental Photography in Kiama


Image if you will the following scenario...

You’re a holiday rental owner. It could be in Kiama, Gerringong, Shoalhaven Heads or anywhere on the South Coast. For the purpose of this story, it doesn’t matter.

You're sitting back in your chair, dumbfounded, as you stare at the numbers assured that this couldn't be right. 

You're thinking your accountant will definitely question this big of an increase over last year’s numbers. No longer are you struggling to cover the costs of owning your holiday property, you are now making a profit on it.

You double checked the numbers one more time and then called your partner. Tonight you're going to celebrate. Why? Because your holiday rental property income has increased by 39% this past year, and that was no small amount.

A smile spreads across your face until you're beaming. Your goal of having a supplemental income for retirement is now a reality.

You already know exactly what made the difference from last year to this year and you're happy you had listened to the sage advice of the holiday rental owners who had been around a lot longer than yourself.

The defining change that has resulted in the dramatic increase is the professional photos you decided to get done for your property.

When you now think about those first images of your holiday rental property that you had uploaded to their HomeAway and Stayz listing, you now cringe. Previously you had thought your iPhone 5 photos were absolutely good enough to give holiday makers a good idea of what your property is like. After all, the biggest marketing hype of ANY new phone is it's fantastic new camera right?

So you're not to blame.

Photo of dining and kitchen taken by owner

Photo of dining and kitchen taken by owner

Photo of dining and kitchen taken by Shutter Speed Studios

Photo of dining and kitchen taken by Shutter Speed Studios


Don't be naive...

You now understood that your previous “good enough” mentality had not only lost you guests but also ultimately lost you money. You decided that enough was enough and stopped treating your rental property like you were simply renting out spare rooms in your house. You began treating your holiday rental property like a proper business and making the proper investments, beginning with hiring a professional photographer. Not just any photographer, but one who specializes in this type of work.

Your ROI on the pro photos now speaks for itself. 

When you're now looking at future reservations in your booking calendar you can see that you're already quickly filling up for next holiday season.

Now you can do something you never really believed was possible. I mean, you HOPED it was, but you never really thought it would happen.

Increasing your prices.

Your old, low quality iPhone shots indicated low quality to holiday makers, but your new professional photos communicated a high quality, a new quality that deserves a new rate.

Photo of living room taken by owner

Photo of living room taken by owner

Photo of living room taken by Shutter Speed Studios

Photo of living room taken by Shutter Speed Studios


Image is everything (quite literally!)

Professional photographs will do a lot more than simply increase your bottom line.

Professionalism Is Trustworthy

Kiama, Gerringong and the South Coast is prime real estate and big business for holiday rentals.

Before someone rents your property, you need an engaging image. (According to this study), visuals have 20 seconds to capture an audience’s attention. How will your photographs appear to renters in under 20 seconds? Will holiday makers read more about your property? Or move on?

Dark, blurry, and unappealing holiday rental images affect bookings. Poor quality images suggest that the property is unreliable or has negative qualities. A positive first impression can book a rental with a professional photograph.

The most valuable part of the professional images is that they increase the holiday maker's perception of you and your holiday rental property, ultimately building and creating trust. Trust is one of the keys to a successful online business (heck trust is essential to ANY business), and the photographs that you use will either build trust or create doubt in you as an owner.

Heck I'll even go as far as to say that "photos" are the LAST thing that you need. I mean, you have photos, right? What you need are images that sell. Images that attract people to YOUR holiday rental instead of someone else’s. Images that make YOUR phone ring and images that make people want to come back and encourage others to stay with you.

Impressive, professional images will communicate that you care about your property AND your guests experience at your property. The renter trusts you and feels safe in paying you, a complete stranger over the Internet, for a stay at your lovely place.

The first-class guest experience is then reflected in your reviews, which are further proof to holiday makers of your amazing holiday rental property.

On the other hand, dark images will make you look sketchy. Tilted walls will make you look unreliable. Messy rooms will make you look unpleasant. Are you a sketchy scammer, an unreliable flake, or an unpleasant twit who is one French fry short of a Happy Meal?

Your property listing photos are a reflection of you as an owner, not just a representation of your property. Will you be pleasant to deal with? Will you be easy to get a bond back from? Is the property in need of repairs and you just haven't told us? All of these things are questions that holiday makers can, and do, wonder.

Is “good enough” still a good idea?

No? Good! Keep reading because I'm here to help you.

Photo of rear yard taken by owner

Photo of rear yard taken by owner

Photo of yard taken by Shutter Speed Studios

Photo of yard taken by Shutter Speed Studios


Finding the perfect photographer to get the job done right

If you look back through my blog posts you will see I did an article on how to find the right photographer for you. You can find that article here.

Essentially, professional photography is an investment that will deliver real & measurable results to your booking numbers, and should be treated as something more than just an afterthought. Ideally, you want to seek out a photographer who specializes in holiday rental properties. The last thing you want is a "jack of all trades" photographer who spends half their time shooting weddings and babies and the other half working on properties. How many people do you know who are experts in multiple fields? It's ok, I'll wait.

Yes, a wedding photographer, a family photographer, and a food photographer will all be able to create a properly exposed image. There's no denying that. However, you want a photographer who understands that you need images of your holiday rental property that are more than photos.

You need marketing images, and your photographer is your marketing partner. 

When looking for your perfect photographer, there are several things you will want to do:

  • Browse through his online portfolio

  • Contact her for an estimate (in fact if they just throw numbers at you without asking YOU some questions, here's a hint. That's kind of a red flag. How can I price a job without first finding out what the job involves?)

  • Be clear on what you need

If you can't find a specialist in your area, then expand your search and be willing to invest in travel costs to bring the right photographer to your property.

The right skill will be the difference between killer images and mediocre ones.

You may not want to block a day, or even a few days, out for a photographer to work, but it would be a wise choice. Once you make the decision to invest in a pro photographer, consider going a step further to really maximize the photographer’s skill.

You could keep your investment smaller by doing only a basic shoot of your property. However, what if you also had the property further staged to emulate your guests’ experiences while on holiday?

Draw your guests to your property by tapping into their emotions with photographs that display a scene ready for a guest to experience. Live near the beach? Think about sunrise/set photos or aerial images to show how close to the water you are.

Do you want to REALLY stand out? Talk to your photographer about the different options for doing a video of the property. It's easy to photoshop an image but you can't photoshop a video. A video will further help show the viewer exactly what it is like to stay at your property.

Photo of dining room taken by owner

Photo of dining room taken by owner

Photo of dining room taken by Shutter Speed Studios

Photo of dining room taken by Shutter Speed Studios


Let's crunch the numbers

I know, I can already hear you. "How much is this going to cost me?" And that's a perfectly understandable question.

The price of a professional photographer may seem outrageous if you're used to seeing ads from hobby photographers for $50 for all images shot in an hour. Fantastic work and all your trust in 1 hour? Really?

Professional comic book artist James Raiz has a great little video to give an insight on exactly why if you want great work done it HAS to take more time. You can check it out below.


So now you know that good work takes time let us first take a look at how a holiday maker might view your $250 per night property. To a holiday maker used to paying $100 per night for a hotel room, your price may seem a little outrageous. This holiday maker doesn’t understand the value in a holiday rental property and is comparing apples to oranges.

The holiday maker may think further on the price breakdown and realize that since your holiday rental property sleeps 10 people at the $250 per night, that it breaks down to $25 per person per night. If the same group had to get 5 hotel rooms, they would be looking at $50 per night per person.

The light bulb goes on in the holiday maker's head, and he sees the value in the holiday rental property.

Now look at a photographer’s value. If the photo shoot for your property is $500, you would only need 2 additional nights booked to cover the cost.

Going back to our story above since getting professional images taken you have seen an increase of nearly 50 nights. Your investment of $500 brought in more than $10,000 in additional income.

Photo of living room taken by owner

Photo of living room taken by owner

Photo of living room taken by Shutter Speed Studios

Photo of living room taken by Shutter Speed Studios


The true value of good, professional holiday rental photography

Your story may not be as dramatic as the one I have depicted, but it is possible. How about a high cost scenario…

You find the perfect professional photographer, and the quote for your 4-bedroom property is $750. This is the basic photo shoot of the interior, the exterior, and the outdoor areas on the property.

You decide to have the photographer stay two nights at the property for a full shoot that includes the sunset view from the great room, evening photos of the swimming pool at blue hour, and coffee on the deck at sunrise. This is an additional $350 to the photographer, writing off $500 for the two-night stay, and covering the $150 cleaning fee to your housekeeper.

To round out the entire marketing campaign, you send the photographer out and about to get shots of area activities your guests’ experiences, adding $400.

Lastly, you couldn’t find a local photographer, so you chose to fly in an outstanding photographer. Travel expenses for the photographer and an assistant add $1200.

Total out-of-pocket investment is $2700 to the photographer and $150 to your housekeeper. At $250 per night, you only need 12 additional nights booked to cover your costs. That’s it. Twelve.

Last year you only booked 125 nights, and the new photos have you at 195 nights this year. Your $2,850 investment turned into $17,500 additional income

If you already feel as if you are at full occupancy and you think you couldn't possibly book any more nights, then you can raise your rates. If you raise your rates by $25 per night with the professional photos - a quick 10% increase across the board - and your full occupancy is 250 nights, you have more than doubled your investment with the pro photos

Photo of games room taken by owner

Photo of games room taken by owner

Photo of games room taken by Shutter Speed Studios

Photo of games room taken by Shutter Speed Studios


Is my story at the start of this article true?

Yes, it is. This is exactly what happened to a client of mine with his real property, real occupancy and average nightly rates. I simply went from making it about them, to making it about you, because you and your property are what matters.

Be brilliant. Abandon boring images and get professional photos of your holiday rental property as soon as possible.

P.S. If you're wondering where you can find a professional for your holiday rental... there's a contact button at the top of this website. Just saying ;-)