Take great photos of your space on your phone

Here’s how to adjust your camera settings, compose a photo, and curate a story.
By Airbnb on Jul 2, 2020
6 min read
Updated Oct 4, 2022


  • It's easy to capture what makes your space great

  • Just follow these steps, including some do’s and don’ts

  • Use our checklist to make sure you've covered the basics

Whether you’re taking photos for the first time or want to update your listing to showcase changes you’ve made to your space, snapping great images with your smartphone is easier than you may think.

1. Prepare your space

Before you get started, identify the best lighting and stage your space using strategies from our photography tutorial. Set aside time to take five to six photos of each room.

While taking photos, it’s important to understand how your listing photos are displayed on Airbnb:

  • Your first image is your cover photo, the main photo on your listing page and the one that shows up in search results.
  • Your first five photos, including the cover photo, appear as a collage displayed at the top of your listing page and get cropped as square, so remember to center your photo.
  • Your image gallery contains all your photos for guests to browse.

2. Check your settings

Many phones can take great photos. Here are some helpful features and how to use them.

Turn on grids
Grids can help you frame an image and tell if it’s straight. To adjust your grids: 

  • For iPhone: Go to Settings > Camera and toggle your phone’s grid to On.
  • For Android: Launch the camera app, go to Settings, scroll down, and switch the Grid lines option to On.

For more tips on using grids, check out the rule of thirds section below.

Turn off flash
Using a flash can create a harsh look, so bright, natural light is ideal. If your space has windows, try photographing it during the brightest time of the day. If the space doesn’t have windows, turning on lamps can create a cozy atmosphere.

To turn off the flash, open your Camera app, find the lightning bolt icon, and select Off.

Check the image resolution
The sharpest photos have a resolution of at least 1024 x 683 pixels. Your settings may be optimized to only store low-resolution images, so check that you’re saving high-resolution images for your photo shoot. You can always go back and switch this after you’ve taken your photos.

3. Compose a pro photo

Here are some do’s and don’ts for capturing quality images.

Keep lines straight
DO: Hold your phone straight and parallel to the floor. To center the main piece of furniture, you may need to raise or lower your hands. In bedrooms, focus on the bed; in living rooms, perhaps the sofa. A good rule of thumb is that the camera should always be high enough to capture the tops of beds, tables, and countertops.

DON’T: Raise your phone above your head to get a better view or hold it at an angle, which often results in unwanted distortion.

Follow the rule of thirds
The rule of thirds is a photo composition principle that divides an image into thirds horizontally and vertically, creating nine squares and four places where the lines intersect. By turning on the grid feature on your phone and using the rule of thirds, you can help ensure your photos are straight and have good composition.

DO: Place the subject of the image where the grid lines intersect, which is slightly off-center. For example, position your phone so that the focus of your shot—your couch, bed, or table—is where the lines cross at the left or the the right of your screen.

DON’T: Put the central focus in the bottom or top third, or you may cut out important info.

Get focused photos

DO: Use autofocus so that you don’t have to adjust the focus manually.

DON’T: Take photos with one hand. Using both hands will keep your hands steady and help you take a clear image. You can also try bracing your elbows against your ribs in order to steady your hands.

Understand when to zoom
Newer phones often have pre-set modes for certain settings—for example, portrait, landscape, and wide. If your phone’s camera has these options, use them instead of physically moving the camera.

Zooming your lens is most successful when you're capturing thoughtfully styled parts of your space, like framing the image to focus on just a portion of the coffee table, couch, and a painting hanging above.

If your phone doesn’t offer those modes, use your default setting to photograph the room as a whole, and only zoom in to get close-up images, like a floral arrangement on the bedside table, or the couch with art hanging above it.

4. Tell a story

Demonstrate why guests should get excited to stay at your place. While your listing description provides important details, a picture really is worth a thousand words on Airbnb.

    Highlight amenities
    Guests appreciate knowing about special extras in your space, so make sure to photograph noteworthy amenities. It’s helpful to capture them in the context of your greater space—for example, a wide-frame image of folded towels on a bench by a bathtub, rather than a close-up of the tub’s fixtures.

    Here are some examples of amenities you might photograph and mention in your captions:

    • A laptop-friendly workspace
    • Family-friendly items, like a high chair or crib
    • Outdoor space, like the patio, garden, or balcony
    • An espresso machine, coffee pot, or tea service
    • Premium toiletries, like plush bath towels, bathrobes, or slippers

    Orient your camera
    Use horizontal images for your first five photos, because those display best in the grid on your listing page.

    DO: Use vertical shots for tight spaces, like walk-in closets, small bathrooms, or balconies.

    DON’T: Use a vertical image as one of the five photos in the grid, since it will be cropped to fit the horizontal design.

    Vary your composition
    You can help guests imagine themselves in your space by showing not only where they’ll sleep, eat, and relax, but also including photos of interesting details. 

    Aim to have a mix of compositions for each room, a variety of wide, mid-range, and close-up photos, some horizontal and some vertical. Here’s when to use each composition type:

    • Wide photos serve as establishing images, helping people understand the size of a room and everything it has to offer.
    • Mid-range images work well from a straight-on perspective, and not at an angle. This image helps guests get a sense of the main feature of the room.
    • Close-up photos help illustrate the personality of the room, like books on a bedside table. When you’re taking close-ups, pay extra attention to what’s in the frame: Remember to fluff pillows, hide wires, and smooth sheets.

    DO: Show how rooms connect to one another within your photos—for instance, show the living room in the background of a close-up image. Treat your image gallery like a guided tour to give guests a sense of the floor plan.

    Photograph more than you’ll need
    You’ve gone through all the work of preparing your space, so make sure you take photos of everything. You can decide later which ones to share.

    When making your selections, keep in mind that your photos should tell the story of your space and let guests know what to expect. Here are some suggestions:

    • Feature enough photos to help set guests’ expectations
    • Include two to four photos of each room that guests have access to
    • Photograph from different corners of each room to give the full picture
    • Take close-up photos to showcase the personality of your space
    • Clearly capture any accessibility features

    Use this checklist
    To help you get started on your photo shoot, we’ve created a list of recommended photos and angles.


    • Wide photo of each bedroom
    • Alternate angle of rooms for more context
    • Mid-range image of primary elements, like the bed and side table
    • Close-up photo showcasing personality, like a book or flowers on the side table

    Living room

    • Wide photo of the whole living area (including light from a window if possible)
    • Mid-range image of a couch or seating area 
    • Close-up photo highlighting personality, like a fireplace


    • Wide photo of the primary bathroom
    • Mid-range image of a secondary bathroom, featuring a bathtub or shower and sink
    • Close-up photo of stacked towels or a window view


    • Wide photo of the entire kitchen or kitchenette 
    • Mid-range image of the oven, next to neatly organized countertops
    • Close-up of a flower arrangement in the center of the table
    • Close-up of a welcome basket of cleaning supplies for guests


    • Wide photo of a balcony, garden, patio, or entire deck
    • Mid-range image including any outdoor sitting areas (and potentially their view)
    • Close-up photo of any thoughtfully styled decor, like potted plants next to outdoor furniture
    • A wide photo of the path to your entryway

    You know your space better than anyone, so make sure to photograph all your favorite details and anything that guests appreciate in their reviews. And before you wrap up your photo shoot, take a few minutes to scan through all the images you captured to make sure you’ve addressed everything on your list.

    Information contained in this article may have changed since publication.


    • It's easy to capture what makes your space great

    • Just follow these steps, including some do’s and don’ts

    • Use our checklist to make sure you've covered the basics

    Jul 2, 2020
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