In the share economy, more and more people are finding their side hustle in the form of renting out extra rooms or vacation homes through services like VRBO and Airbnb. Earlier this month, I did a quick and easy property shoot for one such hopeful side hustler. Using a minimal photo kit and about an hour of editing, I created a nice set of images, sure to help them get bookings. Here’s how I did it.
Step 1: Gear and Settings
Start with a wide-angle lens and mount your camera on a tripod just above waist height for the cleanest lines and best perspective. Shoot in the 10mm to 24mm range; anything wider gets too distorted and screams: “I’m a walk-in closet pretending to be an apartment,” while anything narrower will fail to get full room shots. Ideally, the property will look spacious while maintaining a realistic sense of scale.
Step 2: Bracket
Step 3: Shoot Squares, 45s, and Details
Step 4: Stack and Merge in Lightroom
A recent Lightroom update allows you to run HDR on multiple stacks of images at once. This will save you a ton of editing time. After importing your photos, highlight your bracketed images and hit Ctrl+G (Command+G for Mac) to stack a set. Side note: if you want to, you can have Lightroom auto-stack images by time elapsed between brackets of images. It works pretty well, but it isn’t foolproof. If you had any interruptions in your shoot or if you moved at a varied pace, the timing issues will throw off the whole stacking process. Either way, once all of your images are stacked, select all of the stacks and hit Ctrl+H (Command+H for Mac). Select “Auto-Align” and “Auto-Settings” as well as your desired de-ghost amount, then hit “Merge” to start running the HDR process.
Step 5: Other Tweaks and Edits
Ideally, you want a neutral white balance and a pleasingly bright overall exposure. I like to use the eye-dropper tool for consistent white balance. Bring down the highlights and whites and bring up the blacks and shadows to create a nice, even exposure. Add a pop of contrast, and you’re ready to transform.
Auto Transform is a great starting place for transforming your images. It works really well 80% of the time. Unfortunately, you have to go through each HDR image and select "Auto" for each photo individually. If you copy and paste settings or sync auto-transform, there are often errors, and you’ll have to hit “Update” in the corner of the Transform panel for each individual shot anyway.
Have you picked up any personal tricks for Airbnb photography? Share in the comments!