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Taking Better Vacation Rental Photos With Suzi Pratt of Intrepid Freelancer

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Suzi Pratt is an internationally published event, concert and architecture photographer based in Seattle. When she isn't shooting photos, Suzi can be found designing websites and writing for Intrepid Freelancer, her blog aimed at finding freedom in freelancing.

We recently asked Suzi about her experience as a travel photographer and got her advice for property managers on shooting better vacation rental photos.

Here's what she shared:

What do you love about shooting pictures of architecture and design on your travels? How does it inspire you and help you connect with a destination better?

In college, I studied abroad in Spain and became completely enamored with my European Art History classes and traveling. Learning about the history and intent behind buildings, and the vast impact of architectural trends gives you a new sense of wonder and of intrigue behind everything from small houses to towering skyscrapers. Having now traveled to 29 countries, I love seeing and documenting the spread of influence between cultures and regions that at face value seem totally different, but actually have a lot in common in terms of their design and architecture.

How do you approach taking travel photos? What do you look for to really capture the essence and/or feelings of a particular place?

Before every photo shoot, I do research in the form of simple Google image searches. Seeing the iconic shots that others have taken in the area help form an itinerary of spots I want to visit, and they also give inspiration for the types of photos that are possible. I don't see this as replicating or copying the creativity of others since it's actually quite hard to capture the exact same travel photos as someone else. There are always unpredictable elements that will make every travel photo stand out in its own way.

What do you avoid when taking photos on your travels? What are your travel photo pet peeves?

What annoys me most about travel photography is reaching a destination only to be surrounded by hundreds of people with their cameras out, all taking photos of the exact same thing. This is particularly common throughout Asia, and I've learned to embrace these situations by pointing my camera at the crowd of people. There's a story, or a photo, by capturing a spectacle of people, and I love capturing the energy of a crowd.

What are some good guidelines and rules novice photographers can follow to take better pictures of their vacation rental properties? What do they need to know about lighting, composition, subject, etc.?

I could write a whole book on this subject! My main advice is to search for basic photography videos online or pick up a basic photography book.

What are some of the challenges of shooting beautiful interior shots?

My No. 1 challenge for interior photography is controlling ambient or natural light. Here in Seattle, photographers are blessed with constant gray skies that produce balanced, diffused light. But in locations with ultra sunny days, controlling those harsh beams of sunlight can be a real challenge.

How can property owners help overcome these challenges?

The best thing property owners can do is consider when sunlight shines into certain areas of their property. Take note of the times of day when the sunlight and shadows are the most neutral, and schedule your photo shoot around those times.

How can property managers better stage their vacation rental properties to capture better photos?

The best way to stage a property is to pull out your cell phone and take a few snapshots from every corner of the room. Take advantage of the ability to instantly preview these photos and make adjustments as needed. Also, make sure trash cans are absent from the room. These are never photogenic!

What are the ideal conditions for shooting both the interiors and exteriors of a property? What's the best time of day?

Dusk and sunset are generally the best times of day for capturing property exteriors as the sunlight is generally not harsh and the sky can be filled with beautiful colors. Typically you want to avoid shooting in the middle of the day or when the sunlight is the strongest.

What tips do you have for taking awesome pictures with your mobile phone? How can property managers take more professional-looking photos without investing in an expensive camera?

The only time I ever take interior photos with my mobile phone is when I'm scouting out a location and I want to quickly see how a room photographs. Other than that, I find that the quality of mobile phone photographs generally suffers because you can't control enough aspects of the phone camera like you can on a DSLR.

What types of attractions/subjects should property managers consider shooting near their properties to entice travelers? What types of photos attract your attention when browsing for places to stay while traveling?

This is actually a pet peeve of mine. When browsing a property listing, I don't care to see photos of nearby attractions, as I can find those by doing a simple Google search. Additionally, the presence of photos of nearby attractions rather than photos of the property itself suggests that there's something visually wrong with the property. In property listings, I only want to see photos that relate specifically to that property.

Looking for more advice on marketing your vacation rental property? Get even more great vacation rental marketing tips and news on Kigo.

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