rental unit
It’s that time again—time to advertise your rental unit and look for new tenants. And this time, you’re hoping for a smooth and easy process.

So what can you do to maximize your odds of quickly attracting qualified renters who will be a good fit for your property?

You can ensure that you’re providing high-quality photos.

While a thorough and well-written rental description is important, images are even more so in today’s fast-paced reality. Serious renters are likely to skip right over listings that don’t include visuals, and poorly lit, incomplete, or otherwise inadequate photos will be equally detrimental.

While you never want to deceive potential renters in any way, showcasing your unit in the best possible light is just good business. It allows you to highlight your listing on social media platforms, give people a thorough overview of the space, and will enable them to visualize themselves living it.

Professional rental property photos are your best option. They’re guaranteed to be stunning and can be used over and over again each time you need to find new tenants. But taking listing photos of your rental property yourself is also an option if you’re looking for a do-it-yourself solution.

Below we’ll offer some hands-on advice and tips for photographing rental properties. We’ll consider equipment, set-up, and staging, as well as some general real estate photography best practices:

Equipment You Need To Take Good Rental Photos

The first decision you’ll have to make about photographing your rental property is what type of equipment you’ll use. Newer smartphones do have impressively high-quality cameras, but there’s no doubt you’ll achieve the best results with a DSLR. Don’t own one yourself? Consider borrowing one from a friend or even renting one for a day or two.

No matter what camera you’re using, ensure that you’ve turned the flash off, are shooting with a clean lens, and have your aperture set between F8 and F11 (if you’re not on an automatic setting). You may also consider experimenting with wide-angle lenses or settings, but be careful not to overdo it.

We strongly recommend the use of a tripod, which can be inexpensively sourced for a smartphone. A tripod eliminates blurriness caused by your shaky hand and ensures that all of your photos will be uniformly straight.

Taking Rental Photos With Existing Tenants in Your Unit

If your unit is occupied at the time you’re hoping to photograph it, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A furnished space looks bigger in photos, and people can imagine themselves living there more easily.

That being said, you don’t want to capture images of a dirty, cluttered, or otherwise unappealing space (see staging tips below). These types of images can seriously detract from your property’s appeal.

The best approach is to give your tenants advance warning that you plan to photograph the unit (often, this is a legal requirement) and ask them to tidy up. You may also consider asking their permission to clean and/or stage the space yourself or to hire a professional cleaner before the shoot at your expense.

Taking Photos of an Empty Rental Property

Taking photos of an empty rental unit certainly simplifies things, but it can also have its drawbacks. Empty spaces tend to look smaller in photographs, and potential renters may have a tougher time orienting themselves and imagining themselves living in the space.

When photographing an empty unit, seriously consider staging it with minimal furniture to increase its appeal. In addition, try to highlight unique architectural features such as hardwood floors or moulded ceilings.

Staging Your Unit

Staging is the art of enhancing your property’s attractiveness to potential renters. It involves decorating and setting up spaces to strengthen their visual appeal.

While some property owners choose to go all out with staging, there are also plenty of simple and affordable ways to effectively catch prospective tenants’ eyes.

Try these ideas:

  • Add throw pillows to couches, chairs, and beds.
  • Add an area rug.
  • Put out a potted plant or a vase of flowers.
  • Hang a curtain (including a shower curtain).
  • Put a laptop out.
  • Put up a mirror.
  • Put a couple of books or pictures on shelving units.

For rental units, keeping it simple is usually best practice. Your staging should essentially highlight the natural features of the space and help people to imagine themselves in it.

General Photography Tips

While not everyone may have an eye for photography, it is possible to drastically improve the quality and impact of your photos using the tips below. Keep these top of mind, and you’ll be well on your way to finding new tenants:

Use Natural Lighting

For interior shots, try to take your photos in the middle of a bright, sunny day. Open curtains and blinds and turn on all lights to maximize lighting for the best effect. Potential renters want to see a well-lit space, not dark windows or closed blinds.

For exterior shots (which you should definitely include in your listing), you may consider more muted lighting or even a sunset shoot with lit-up windows—for which a tripod is an absolute necessity.

Keep Your Space Clean

Clutter reads terribly in real life, but it’s even worse on camera. The last thing you want is a potential tenant zeroing in on a pile of laundry on the bed instead of the generous dimensions of the bedroom.

Do a thorough clean-up before you start taking pictures. Tidy clutter from floors and surfaces such as counters, beds, and shelves. Remove footwear and coats from entrances, take dishes and dish rags out of the kitchen sink, and replace distracting or overly personal artwork or wall hangings. Outside, sweep walkways and mow/rake lawns or shovel snow if it’s winter. Store toys and tools out of sight as much as possible.

Capture the Entire Room

Often, standing in the corner of a room is the best vantage point for capturing the broadest view possible. Ideally, you’ll want to include two walls, not three, in your final images. Capturing three walls can make a space look small and confined.  

Get Low

While it may be practical, a birds-eye view of a room doesn’t provide a relatable perspective for most potential tenants. Instead, try getting your camera low (about 1.5 m off the ground) to draw gaze upwards and expand viewers’ focus.

Use a Colourful Focal Point

A vase of flowers, a bowl of oranges, or a colourful cushion can all provide a cheerful splash and also help to draw the eye. While too many colours can be overwhelming, a few strategically placed focal points help unify the viewing experience.


High-quality images are a vital aspect of successful rental listings, and capturing inviting photos is a priority for property owners who want to attract qualified and responsible tenants. While you can take your own photos using the tips in this post, hiring a professional real estate photographer is an investment in your future as a landlord.

Once professional images of your property have been captured, you can use them time and again as needed. Potential renters will always appreciate accurate and appealing photos, especially paired with an iGUIDE virtual tour.  

At Calgary Real Estate Photos, our experienced professional photographers can have photos of your rental property back to you in just 24 hours. Book online or contact us directly by phone to make an appointment today!