Vacation Rental Photography vs Real Estate Photography

Vacation rental photography and real estate photography are both types of property photography, but they have some key differences. Here are some distinctions between the two:

Purpose: Vacation rental photography aims to showcase a property’s features and amenities in an enticing way to attract potential renters for short-term stays, such as vacationers or tourists. The focus is on creating appealing images that highlight the property’s vacation-like atmosphere and the experience guests can expect during their stay. Real estate photography, on the other hand, focuses on presenting a property in the best light to attract potential buyers or long-term tenants. The focus is on accurately representing the property’s layout, size, and condition to help potential buyers or renters make informed decisions.

Emphasis on Lifestyle: The style of vacation rental photography tends to be more artistic and inviting. Real estate photography tends to focus more on the property itself, highlighting its architectural features, room layouts, and functionality and often follows a more straightforward and factual approach. The images aim to accurately represent the property’s appearance and layout.

Composition and Staging: Vacation rental photography typically involves more attention to the staging of the property and often times features close-ups of the furniture and staging elements. Real estate photography, while it often involves staging, it focuses more on presenting the property as a blank canvas to allow potential buyers or tenants to envision their own style and preferences. The saying in real estate photography is “they are buying the space, not the stuff.”

Marketing Channels: Vacation rental photography is primarily used for online platforms such as vacation rental websites, Airbnb, VRBO or as well as on the property owner’s personal website or social media channels. Real estate photography is commonly used on an Multiple Listing Service (MLS), property listing websites such as,,, as well as the agents website, on brochures, and other marketing materials targeting buyers or long-term tenants.

While these differences exist, it’s worth noting that there can be some overlap between vacation rental and real estate photography, especially when it comes to showcasing properties for short-term rental or vacation home sales. Both types of photography require different approaches to cater to their respective target audiences and serve distinct purposes in the real estate market.

In the example below, I photographed the same property utilizing both styles of capturing the property. Note: for Vacation Rental photos as an approved Airbnb photographer I follow the Airbnb Style Guide.