Instagram Worthy Shot List Tips

Take potential guests on a virtual tour of your property through your Instagram feed.

Table of Contents

Are you marketing your vacation rental on Instagram?

Wonder what kinds of photos you should be posting? Begin to tell your property’s story. You want to take potential guests on a virtual tour of your property through your Instagram feed to show them each space they will have access to, each amenity they will enjoy, and how they can use these spaces.

Virtual Tours

When purchasing your vacation rental, think about what steps you took. You may have toured in person, but more and more home purchases are starting online with virtual tours. I like to think of a virtual tour as if I’m buying a home. Take your guests from the curb appeal to the front door, and every space (and amenity) inside and out of your vacation rental that your guests will be able to enjoy.

You can hire a professional photographer, but you can totally do this on your own with a few tips to create a go-to file of content for your social media posts that your followers will engage, share, and interact with.

Home Staging 101

Home staging applies to your vacation rentals, too! You want your future guests to imagine themselves in your rental. Following the 3 D’s of Home Staging in your photography will set the tone for anyone scrolling through your Instagram feed. You want potential guests to imagine themselves living in your property while they are on vacation.

3 D’s of Home Staging

  • Declutter
  • Deep Clean
  • Depersonalize

Look at your property through the eyes of your guests. Top vacation rental properties are not only clutter-free, but they are spotless (which is often what guests rave about on their reviews).

Take photos with your phone and show them to a friend and ask what the first thing they notice is. If what they notice are garden tools piled up in the corner of the yard, all the small appliances on the kitchen counter, or worse – grime in the shower or your unicorn collection in your beach-themed vacation rental, then it’s time to declutter, deep clean, and depersonalize!

Really take a good, hard look at your spaces because in doing so, you will be creating spaces that attract your target audience.

Once you’ve decluttered and depersonalized, review this vacation rental cleaning checklist then proceed with planning your shot list.

Here’s a list of the spaces you’ll want to photograph:

Interior Spaces

  • Master bedroom & bath
  • Guest bedrooms & baths
  • Kitchen & each dining area
  • Each living/family room
  • Unique rooms:  office, library, game room, loft, sunroom, gym, etc.

Exterior Spaces

  • Front door/face of your property
  • Side view
  • Back view
  • Aerial view (if possible)
  • Exterior spaces: pool, hot tub, garden, fire pit, bbq/outdoor kitchen, yoga spot, deck/patio, outdoor dining spaces, etc.
  • Parking areas
  • Views!

💡TIP: Photos taken from different heights (not standing the same way for each shot) create interest. Kneel, bend, or lie on your belly to get a different view of your property. The more angle variety you have, the more interesting your Instagram feed will be. For example, if all your photos are centered, there is no variety. Close-up photos of featured artwork, decor, and extra amenities are also important (don’t get too close, you want to be able to crop photos in different sizes).

What’s In A Shot?

Show your guests how to use all the spaces waiting for them. It’s a simple idea, but setting a scene with lifestyle photography helps your guests visualize themselves in your vacation rental. Light the fireplace, drape cozy throws over large armchairs with a steaming cup of tea nearby, or light candles around a bubble bath – all these ideas create a vibe and stir up emotions which will create the fear of missing out (FOMO) in your potential guests.

Details & Lifestyle Photography

Have an empty property or some downtime? Plan on spending time in each property creating photos of all the little details. Get creative by “showing up” in your own property photos and adding props or just making your space feel lived in by fluffing pillows, setting a market basket next to the bed with a pair of flip flops, or showcasing your special amenities like rods & reels stacked in the corner of your porch or special toiletries you offer with rolled hand towels on a tray next to the sink. Remember to include your furry friends in your detail shots if you are a pet-friendly property – guests LOVE their pets!

💡TIP: Create a #hashtag for your vacation rental or for each property. For example, let’s say your vacation rental name is Villas of Vermont. Your hashtag would be #villasofvermont. Now let’s say you have more than one property at Villas of Vermont – create a hashtag for each property: #villanumberone, #villanumbertwo, etc., and place a sign throughout your vacation rental asking your guests to use it when posting their vacation photos to their Instagram profile! #winwin

Dos & Dont’s

We’ve discussed all the right things to do. Now, let’s touch on the things to avoid with your vacation rental photos.


  • Leave toilet seats up!
  • Leave plungers, trashcans, or cleaning supplies out
  • Take dark interior or poor lighting photos
  • Showcase your electronic cords (hide them)
  • Post outdated photos (if you decorate for the seasons, make sure your photos are of the current season)


  • Use natural light (open shades, blinds, or curtains)
  • Take multiple photos of all your interior & exterior spaces from different angles
  • Is your property pet-friendly? Feature your pets in your VR
  • Have fun!

Final Thoughts

Engagement takes time, but if you are thoughtful about the content you share, genuine in the way you interact with your followers, and reach out to people who like, comment, and follow you, you will have a steady growth of people who are actually interested in you, inspired by your photos, and will book direct.

Social media is about building relationships and having fun – so have fun with your content as you watch your following grow! If you’d like help with your social media strategy, reach out to me for professional vacation rental consulting or join my Book Direct Pros Membership Program to gain access to online training and the complete Instagram Worthy Shot List Guide!

Want more book direct vacation rental marketing, branding, and business tips? Download the FREE 5-Step Guide To A Book Direct Vacation Rental Business and start building an independent, hospitality-focused, professional business today.

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