Ethics of Using Photo-Editing Software on Photos of Your Vacation Rental

    As a vacation rental owner or manager, you know how crucial good photos are to your listing page. You may turn to a photo editor (such as Adobe Photoshop) to enhance your shots at some point. This is usually acceptable, and even recommended, but what are the ethics to using a photo editor? For those of you who have previously worried about using Photoshop, you are not alone.
    Some of the questions the Community has received include:

    “By making my photos more colorful, am I misleading potential renters?”
    “If I crop out a staircase or unsightly wall, aren't I essentially lying?”

    Photos are vital to your listing for many reasons:
    • To show your property's features and amenities,
    • To give prospective renters all of the information they need to decide if your property is for them,
    • To highlight why renters should choose your property over the others in your area, and
    • To make your listing more eye-catching.


    It's perfectly okay to edit photos to make them a better representation of what your property actually looks like.

    It's Time to Use a Photo Editor if Your Pictures are…

    Dark and shadowy
    improve dark photos
    If you're an amateur photographer (and most of us are), you will undoubtedly end up with some photos that aren’t exactly flattering. By turning up the brightness on this photo, it’s instantly a more accurate portrayal of the home.

    Highly tinted one color (green, blue, yellow, etc.)
    The green or blue-ish tint you can sometimes get from a digital camera gives off a cold and uninviting feeling. A slight tweak to the color balance field can help you restore your home’s warmth (and natural paint job!).

    Much less colorful than the real life objects
    make your vacation rental photos more colorful
    The bright sun in this photo is washing out all of the color from the foliage and cabin. A brightness and contrast adjustment will have this home looking brand new once again.

    Poorly framed
    Be sure to pay special attention to cropping and framing. This photo may seem fine at first glance, but a closer look reveals that it's off center, there's an unnecessary piece of furniture coming into the frame on the left side, and a ceiling fan was left on. A simple crop fixes all of these problems at once.

    However, it's not okay to edit photos to make your property appear better (cleaner, nicer, better located) than it actually is. As a rule, it's fine to improve the lighting and color, but not to change any aspect of the property itself.

    Six Signs You've Gone Overboard with Photoshop

    1. The color of the sky does not appear in nature.

    2. A past renter would not be able to recognize your property from the photos.

    3. Your photos show your mountain property's “beach view.”

    4. You've removed major objects from the frame that will be there when renters arrive (a prominent staircase, large shrubs in front of the house, unsightly furniture, etc.)

    5. You've added objects to the picture that will not be there when renters arrive (a
    flat-screen TV, pool table, scenic view, etc.)

    6. You have a feeling in your gut that you're misrepresenting your property.

    You shouldn't edit a photo with the intention of misleading renters. You want to showcase your property's best side but you don't want renters to be unhappy when they arrive and your property is not what they expected.

    © Copyright HomeAway, Inc. 2011