No photo studio? No problem! Let Kiyah C. help you find the perfect Airbnb home for your next indoor photography session.
Need to Shoot Indoors? Try an Airbnb!
There are endless options for photography session locations these days, but have you ever been completely stuck with where to go or what atmosphere you want the session to have? Try introducing a new and unconventional location like an Airbnb! I’ve grown to love in-home Airbnb sessions because they allow for fun and unique indoor photography. Here are a few tips to help you master your next indoor photography session.
Start Your Search for a Great Airbnb
The process of finding a great Airbnb for your photography session starts with a simple search either on Google or directly on Airbnb. Google will show you great options if you search for “best Airbnbs in Los Angeles” or whatever city you will be shooting in. If you search directly on Airbnb.com, you can filter based on your available dates and price range.
The main thing to pay attention to in this initial search is the images shown on the listing. It’s ideal for the home to lend itself well to both beautiful imagery and what your clients are envisioning. For example, if your clients have a modern and sleek style, you will want to find a home that has updated features and elegant decor, rather than a bright, colorful, and rustic space.
Regardless of style, you will also want to find a home with lots of windows to let in beautiful natural light!
What Makes the Best Airbnb for Photography?
It may feel overwhelming to narrow down the thousands of Airbnb options down to one, but here are some key elements to look for in the listing that will make for the best indoor photography session:
- Ample amount of windows and light
- An open concept floor plan
- Decor that is minimal and visually interesting
- Neutral color scheme with pops of color
- Spacious master bedroom
- Usable outdoor space
- A bright and clean kitchen
Decide Who will Book the Vacation Home
In most cases, it’s best for your client to directly book the Airbnb. This ensures that they are paying for the space and handling communication with the host.
I recommend my clients to share the listing with me prior to booking so that I can approve it based on my checklist described above. This also lets the client to use the home however they would like after the session is over. Most of my clients like to have a mini getaway or staycation at the Airbnb since they have already paid for an entire night’s stay. Alternatively, if you as the photographer want to book the Airbnb yourself, be sure to include the booking price into whatever you are charging your clients.
Communicate with the Airbnb Host
It’s always best to be upfront with the host that you’re planning to photograph a session at their property. Some hosts may not be okay with it, but most of them will be! Have your client ask the host before booking if they allow indoor photography on their property.
In some cases, it’s appropriate for the photographer to handle this communication as they can better outline what the photographs are for and how they may be used later. For example, if the indoor photography session is for a commercial advertising shoot, inform the host that the images will be circulating in different publications and platforms and that their listing will be shared publicly with their permission. You can even share images from the session with the host afterward to further thank them for providing the space.
Make the Most of Your Booking
One Airbnb can go a long way! By reserving a home for a full stay, you have the opportunity to maximize the time for multiple indoor photography sessions of different types. An Airbnb could work for a day of photographing mini sessions each lasting 20 to 30 minutes. Family portraits or an indoor newborn session would be ideal to photograph in an Airbnb if your client isn’t comfortable with their own home being used for pictures or if they are visiting from out of town.
Protect Yourself and Your Clients
The safety of your clients and your business are also very important when using an Airbnb for a photography session. It’s best for photographers to have liability insurance in place so that you are covered if something is broken or stolen or anyone is hurt. To be extra cautious, it’s wise to take a few phone photos of the Airbnb when you arrive and before leaving. These photos will come in handy later if the hosts claims there was any damage on their property.
Must-Have Photos for Every Airbnb Photo Session
A beautiful Airbnb can be a photographer’s dream! With a full home at your fingertips, there are so many ways to infuse your unique photography style and your client’s relationship into a well-designed space.
Maximize the Natural Light
The ideal place for an Airbnb indoor photography session is a location with a lot of natural light. Like… A LOT. The more, the better. It’s great to also have updated finishes, minimal style, and cute decor throughout, but light is the most important factor, especially if you’re a natural light photographer like me. The apartment from this session was PERFECT. I loved the light that came in through the main windows! Feel free to ask the host at what time of day is the house most well-lit.
Don’t Waste the Space
Reserving an entire home for your Airbnb session gives endless possibilities for what to photograph. Here are some ideas for what to shoot in which room:
- Snuggle on the bed in the master bedroom
- Play with a dog on the floor of the living room
- Watch the sunset on the front porch swing
- Wear pajamas and make pancakes in the kitchen
- Light a bonfire and roast s’mores in the backyard firepit
- Float on fun inflatables in the pool
With an indoor space, it’s also great to highlight the unique or intriguing parts of the house or apartment. Airbnb hosts often put a lot of effort into the details of their listings, so including pictures of items like books, candles, or furniture is a great way to narrate the full story of the session and the host will love getting photos of their decor if you choose to share!
Include a Fun Activity In the Session
Prior to this session, the couple told me they are natural homebodies, but love to explore cute coffee shops whenever they can. They actually met for the first time at a Starbucks years ago! Since coffee is a part of their relationship, it was a perfect activity to include in their indoor photography session. Even if your couple isn’t the coffee-drinking, cooking, or baking type, it’s a great idea to find something that makes them feel 100% comfortable and forget your camera is even around. Snuggling on the couch or the bed is always a good idea!
- Cook a favorite meal
- Make your morning green smoothie
- Finish a puzzle you’ve started
- Enjoy a bottle of wine and a cheese board
- Have a fun pillow fight
Head Out Into the Neighborhood
Whether you are at home or renting an Airbnb, don’t just stay inside — explore! Plan the indoor part of the photography session to end around golden hour so that you can spend some time wandering around the city or neighborhood.
To ensure that the area is walkable before booking the Airbnb, just use Google Maps to find what parks, landmarks, or nice areas surround the listing’s general location. If the area has great spots in walking distance, you can also photograph your clients walking through the neighborhood to a new location. This gives a really fun change of scenery and variety to the images in their final gallery.
I will always be a big fan of Airbnb indoor photography sessions because of how versatile, comfortable, and unique they can be! Have you had a great experience photographing at an Airbnb? Share your ideas in the comments below!
Written and photographed by KIYAH C. PHOTOGRAPHY
Kiyah C. is a published wedding and portrait photographer based in Atlanta and Washington DC. She enjoys traveling the world, eating ice cream, and hosting game nights with friends and family.