Snap happy: top tips for photographing your French holiday let

Take external shots on a sunny day with blue skies

Take external shots on a sunny day with blue skies - Credit: Archant

As the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words. With this in mind, Sarah Bing shares how to take the perfect photos to show off your holiday let to online viewers

Turn lights on to give the photo some warmth and highlight any important features

Turn lights on to give the photo some warmth and highlight any important features - Credit: Archant

When thinking about where to go on holiday, most of us head straight to our computer, phone or tablet to do an online search. And the first thing most of us will look for is photos, investigating where we might stay, the different destinations and local hotspots we’ve heard about to see if we like the look of them.

If a holidaymaker is choosing a self-catering villa or cottage, images are more important than ever. Properties can vary so much, in both style and facilities, and people want to be sure that what they’re choosing is what they have in mind – and no words can convince them like a photo can.

So how do you make sure that your photography is selling your property to its best effect? Here are some of my top tips.

Quantity and quality

Quality is obviously important, but so is quantity. It’s all very well reassuring a potential visitor that the master bedroom and outside of the property are nice, but the fact that you haven’t included any images of the lounge, kitchen or bathroom may leave them wondering what’s wrong with those rooms.

From our own experience we see that properties with more than three images on their website entry achieve, on average, an additional three weeks of extra bookings per year. When there’s so much choice out there, it doesn’t take much for someone to decide they won’t take the risk on an unknown when it comes to their long-awaited holiday.

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Size matters

Make sure the quality and file size of the images are sufficient to be used for all marketing material. Print materials will require higher quality files than online and you might as well get the highest quality you can first time around. This means:

• Images taken on mobile phones or tablets will not be of the quality you will need.

• Any camera of six megapixels or above will produce large enough files to meet the necessary criteria for print.

• Set the camera to its best quality by selecting the highest pixel count available.

• When taking external shots, leave enough space around the property so the image can be cropped if needed. Make sure the roofline can be seen.

Variety is the space of life

Make sure you have a good variety of shots – you never know what might come in useful at some point. Aim to have a photo of every room and unique selling point or key feature. If in doubt, take a photo. It’s always better to have too many.

• Portrait orientation is best left for taking portraits. It is best to only use landscape shots.

• Think about your photo composition. Try to ensure the focus of the picture is in the centre, whether it’s a beautifully made bed or lit fireplace. Be aware of the marketing photos you come across in style magazines. It may be worth taking a few close-ups of finishing details as well.

• If you have certain tourist destinations or landmarks nearby which are a big selling point, or lovely views from your property, make sure you include those within your marketing images. Caption these shots so people know what they are.

• Don’t just use someone else’s images without permission as they may be under copyright. If you are using a photo someone else has taken, you will need written permission from them.

Setting the scene

This will help people imagine themselves in your property. Consider doing the following:

• Turn on all lights, particularly bedside lamps – this gives the photograph warmth.

• If you have an open fire, light it – this can increase low-season bookings when guests are looking for a cosy retreat.

• Set the dining table and put fresh fruit or flowers on display.

• Make the beds as neatly as possible and use cushions and throws to enhance the look.

• Open any outdoor parasols and ensure any important facilities and features (such as hot tubs or barbecues) are visible.

• Don’t have cars or other unsightly elements in shot, like bins, pets or people, which may make it look untidy. Do bear in mind that permanent fixtures such as postboxes or telegraph poles can’t be removed in photo editing due to trading standards.

• Most properties look better with blue sky above them so try and take the photos in good weather if possible. However, an overly sunny day may cause issues with glare on photography. You can always try a combination of different days for the external shots and see which works best. Blue sky can be added digitally if needs be.

Sarah Bing is a regional manager for cottages4you based in Pas de Calais

Tel: 0845 268 0760

www.rentmycottage.com