Use your photo gallery to boost bookings

The Tower House, Muriwai

When someone is searching for a property online they have hundreds of options available at the click of a mouse. They will select or eliminate possible properties within seconds, based largely on the photos they see.

Your property photos should create an instant emotional response, where the viewer can imagine being there on holiday and think, “Wow! That looks idyllic - relaxing - romantic - secluded - stylish - great for the kids.”

Of course it’s also essential that they’re true representations of your property. Real estate listings might occasionally try to reel people in by concealing undesirable features of a house; do that with a property listing and you’ll only end up with renters who won’t return or, worse, will post what they saw as unpleasant surprises in your online guest book.

Our advice

Take a look at other listings on Bookabach and decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t.

The first step is to consider your property’s best features. Is it the view? The cosy fireplace? The children’s outdoor play area? Proximity to the beach? The double-headed shower with a view to the stars? Whatever it is, you’ll need to figure out how to best capture this feature.

Secondly, you can display up to 12 photos on your listing or 24 if you’ve got a featured listing.  Take as many as you can, and show the best. The more photos you have, the more engaging you’re listing is likely to be.

Include both interior and exterior shots.  Leave big gaps in your gallery and you could miss out on bookings because people may think you’re hiding something.  People expect some detail about where they’re staying, too. Include photos of each bedroom, the main living area, kitchen.  If the bathrooms nice include a picture of this, but don’t bother with pictures of toilets.

If your property has great views, show these off - and make it obvious that they are views you can enjoy from the lounge, or bedroom or deck, rather than a generic scenery shot. If the scenic shot is not taken from your property then make it clear where it is, e.g. “Onetangi Beach, 3 minutes walk away”.

Call in the experts

If you’re not a great photographer yourself, think about delegating the job to someone who is. That could be friend or family member who’s handier with the camera than you are, or a professional.

When you’re hiring the services of a photographer, ask to see their images and get verbal references from people who had similar requirements to yours. Ensure your photographer is competent at shooting interiors.

Expect to pay around $200-$400 for a professional shoot — which works out to a couple of nights’ rental for the average holiday house. In remote areas, if there are no local photographers, you may need to pay extra for travel time.

Shooting outdoors

Photographs taken in the early morning or late afternoon will often look more enticing as the light is softer. The hours before sunset and after sunrise produce a romantic light with an ethereal edge — perfect for getting that emotional reaction from your viewers.

A reasonable quality point-and-shoot digital camera may suffice for outdoor shots. Have the sun behind you and try to have your subject in the sun.

Set the camera on the highest resolution. You won’t need high-res images for your online listing, but you may be asked to provide them for an article in a magazine and it’d be a shame to miss out on the free publicity. You can always reduce the size of the photo but you can’t increase it.

Mow the lawns before your shoot, advises chief photographer of NZ Listener, David White, a multi-award winning photographer.

“People seem to love clipped grass, and always do your shots in summer when the flowers are in bloom and there are no damp patches,” he says. When shooting your house, David suggests waiting until the sun is shining directly on it. A bright photo of a property, close to the water, with a fenced section is enough to entice the father-of-two for a weekend away.

Interior images

Interior shots are more difficult to get right, but they’re just as important.

“Too often we see photos of a bedroom showing a corner of a room or a bathroom showing a slice of a vanity and a few shampoo bottles,” says Kane Murray of Photoplan. “This does not help sell a property.”

When photographing your interior, he suggests you take photos of your home’s selling points.

“Remove clutter and let as much light as possible into rooms. Shoot from the corner of a room and include just two walls in your shot. Include dining table or lounge suite etc if appropriate, but don’t make them the centerpiece of your photo.”

“Remember you are not selling your furniture, you are selling the lifestyle,” Kane says.


It’s really important you own the copyright on any images you post online. The easiest way of doing this is to take the pictures yourself!  If you are using a professional photographer please be sure you have something in writing from them that clearly indicates that you own the rights to the images.

If you include people in your photos make sure you tell them you plan on publishing the pictures to market your property. Ideally you should have their written consent.

When you supplying Bookabach with images these are governed by our Owner/Manager Website Terms of Use.

The Dos and Don’ts

  1. DO use a tripod to avoid ‘camera shake’ when you want soft lighting instead of full flash.
  2. DO place the main focus point one or two thirds up or down the photograph for a stronger image.
  3. DO ensure your horizon is straight. A building that looks as though it’s on a slope doesn’t convey the right impression to anyone.
  4. DO include photos of people enjoying themselves.
  5. DO refresh your gallery. When you add a new feature to your property, add it to your listing. This could be anything from a new kitchen to a show of spring bulbs.
  6. DO consider updating your technology. Every couple of years, update your photos, especially if you have access to a better camera. If your listing currently has 280 x 210 pixel photos, now’s the time to replace them. Small, grainy images will compare unfavourably to high-resolution photos on other listings.
  7. DO choose the best feature photo - one that’s the best advertisement for your property.
  8. DO add captions to your photos.
  9. DON’T take Portrait Format pictures (camera on its side). Bookabach does not currently support ‘portrait format’ photos.
  10. DON’T use a mobile phone to take your photos - unless it has a good quality built-in camera.
  11. DON’T bother with pictures of the toilet - unless it has spectacular views or is amazingly unique or interesting.
  12. DON’T modify your images. Don’t add border, effects, text, images, date-time stamps or logos.  It just detracts from the picture - and Bookabach doesn’t accept modified images.  Also, be cautious when playing with image filtering effects. Images that don’t reflect reality can get you into trouble.

Technical stuff

  • Bookabach currently supports a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. If the photos in your listing are smaller than this, they’re not doing your property justice. Replace them with shots that will.
  • To get quality interior shots, you may need a wide angle lens and portable flashes to balance the light, avoiding over-exposed windows. To achieve this you’ll need a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera so unless you’re planning on taking up photography, you may want to leave it to the experts.

More info

Help: How to upload photos to your listing

Help: Why are modified digital photos unacceptable?



If you’re lucky enough to have an amazing view then you’ll want to flaunt it. Try and get the property in the shot to give the building it’s context.

View and lawns
The mowed lawn in this shot implies this view IS from the back yard.

Cob cottage high country stations
Makes you want to go there doesn’t it!

Clever bedroom shot
This clever bedroom shot shows context with exterior


It’s the oldest real estate trick of the trade: Take your pictures of exteriors at dawn and dusk, and with interior lights on.  It gives a warm and cozy look.  Interiors with windows and exterior views can be tricky due to different light levels inside and outside.  Get some help from someone in the know (or, if you have an iPhone use its HDR feature!)

Shoot at dusk or dawn
Shoot at dusk or dawn

Well balanced interior shot
A well balanced interior shot with window/view. Harder than it looks!

Morning sun
Great lighting opportunity. Great shot.


Use the “rule of thirds” for composition; where you divide the screen vertically and horizontal into thirds and compose your shot accordingly. Also, strong diminishing lines from corners tend to lead your eye into the picture and can be quite attention grabbing.

Rule of thirds
Using the “rule of thirds” really makes this photo work

Strong lines
Strong lines draw your eye

People and action

Properties…properties….properties…. Make your listing stand out by including pictures of people and activities.  If you can tie the picture back into the property all the better.  Make sure you have permission from the people you’re photographing to use the pictures online!

People and action
This shot has it all: People and situation.

Happy guests
Happy guests!

Highlight features

If your property or “offer” has specific features - a hot tub, kayaks, bikes, a vehicle - then be sure to include a picture of these. Try to make the shots look interesting and in context though.  We don’t want to look like an online auction website!

Showing what's on offer - hot tub
Showing hot tub - in context with house

Water toys
Caption: “All available for guests use”. Nice!



Piwa perched