VRS013 – Creating Killer Vacation Rental Photos with Tyann Marcink

Tyann Marcink is one very busy person.  A mom to 3 boys, web designer, vacation rental owner and professional photographer, she balances a lot of activities and still had time to talk with me in episode 13 of The Vacation Rental Success Podcast.

I’m a mediocre photographer and rarely stray from automatic mode on my Canon T3i which is a complete waste of an extremely good camera.

I was scared of it.  There are so many options and functions and I really know nothing very little about photography and how to use a camera.  So, when I read Tyann’s book, Creating Killer Vacation Rental Photos I was surprised that getting a better photo is not that difficult once you have a basic understanding of what the different functions can do.

In our interview Tyann explains very simply and effectively:

  • Why the 12 inches behind the camera are more important than the camera itself
  • The 4 key features you need in your camera equipment
  • What size of lens works best
  • Why you need to ‘go low’ and use a tripod
  • The secrets of staging a kitchen
  • The best time of day to take your pictures (Hint..it’s not what you think)
  • Why you should avoid using flash
  • How to use different light settings in different situations
  • Why your thumbnail photo is so important
  • How to set light balance to lose the yellow tinge in a bathroom image

This image helps to explain what Tyann was indicating regarding white balance.

Tyann is giving away 3 copies of her book to listeners who comment on this post and let us know what they would like to change about their photographs.

Sites mentioned in the episode:

Tyann’s website – http://www.marcinkdesigns.com/ebooks/index.html

Tyann's properties – Canyon Retreat & Natures Retreat

HDR Photos – Photomatix

Pinterest – Staging for Vacation Rentals

Ralph M

Very timely pod-cast as our photos http://parisnicevacations.com/ are getting a bit tired and are a mix of professional and self-made point & shoot. I think the biggest take-away for me was need for tripod and DSLR camera.

Our biggest challenge is capturing the outside view from living room in Nice while keeping the inside visible. In fact we were talking to a friend in Paris who is a professional photographer & he talked about the technique of ‘stitching photos together – perhaps something like “photomatix” – in other words camera on tripod to shoot the room then adjust stops etc to capture the view outside in all its glory and finally put the two pictures together – cunning and simple IF you know what you’re doing.

Lots of good pointers in pod-cast and e-book. Heather, as fellow ex-pat Brit, I understand completley about your obsession with weather ;-).

    Heather Bayer

    I see what you mean about the living room photos…it would be great to be able to get that shot showing the view from the windows. You might find that engaging a professional photographer would be well worth it but you could have a go at the HDR shots. I’m going to have a play with it – after all if it doesn’t look good you don’t need to to use them.
    And, by the way, it is still snowing here……

      Ralph M

      We will probably have our friend the professional deal with the living room photos in Nice – his quote was cheaper than buying equipment AND he is a relative of our on-site managers [ fugitives from Montreal & the Canadian winter!!].
      Having lived in the NE US for some time, I don’t miss the snow – of course we try to escape Houston in July/Aug [35-40C and humidity to match + mosquitoes the size of eagles 😉 ]

    Tyann Marcink

    Thanks for listening and reading, Ralph! Yes, stitching the photos together is a good solution, also referred to as HDR. It does take quite a bit of work to make it happen, but when you do it well, it can have fabulous results.

      Ralph M

      If my friend can’t do it, then i will get a tripod and go to work when we are next in Nice. Thanks

Glenn Belton

Informative and timely post

    Heather Bayer

    Thanks Glenn – do you think you’ll be able to use any of the tips?

    Tyann Marcink

    Hi Glenn! Thanks for commenting! Are you headed to your VR soon? Which photos do you most want to work on?


      I’ve gutted it and then tiled, painted, added new appliances, lights, toilets, and faucets. I still have quite a ways to go before I can take pictures. I am definitely missing the decorator gene


I thought it was a great podcast with lots of helpful tips. Our challenge with one of our rental houses is that its a very “busy” house. We just purchased the house in December furnished. We uncluttered it a lot. but there is just a lot going on. Trying to figure out the best ways to make the photos more “simple”. http://www.vrbo.com/507895

    Heather Bayer

    Thanks for the comments Ria. You house is stunning and I can see that great photos will really sell it. Did you check out my Pinterest page? There are some great ideas there for staging bedrooms to make them really stand out. Tyann’s recommendations to ‘get low’ were very useful to me. I would love to see the after photos when you re-shoot them. Email me and I will give you some more suggestions.

    Tyann Marcink

    Ria, your place looks fabulous! One change with the photos you can do immediately – move the 3rd to last photo in the listing to your lead photo. The house is bathed in delicious light and is just stunning! Each time you visit, pay attention to the light and have your camera ready.

Holly Quinn

What great information! Thank you so much for the awesome tips!

    Heather Bayer

    Glad you enjoyed it Holly – thank you for listening.

      Holly Quinn

      http://www.vrbo.com/278275 for my “before” pics

    Tyann Marcink

    Thank you for listening, Holly! I look forward to seeing your after pics!

Debi H

Heather & Tyann, I loved this interview!

So many good tips that inspire me to do more. Pictures are frustrating for me, because I am a nincompoop behind a camera, could never understand f-stops etc, and it’s impossible to get a photographer out to our properties in good weather – because they are booked. I ask guests for their favorite photos and have gotten some charming ones, but they are generally not the quality that I’m looking for.

The local community college is offering a class on how to take video from your iphone. I’m signing up! Also, I love the pics you took Tyann of your family enjoying your houses and the local attractions. I also like the close-up shots of decorative pieces.

I have worried about overwhelming potential guests with too many pictures on our websites. How do you feel about that? Do you limit yourself?

    Heather Bayer

    Debi – a great place to showcase photos would be on Pinterest. Do you have a Pinterest account? You could have a board for Seal Rock and Lincoln City, one for restaurants, one for beaches etc. The possibilities are endless.

    Tyann Marcink

    Thanks, Debi! The only limit I put is to make sure the photos are the best of the best. There is no need to show 4 photos of the bed if one is enough. Generally, I aim for 2 photos per bedroom, 1-2 per bathroom (depending if it is a master bath or small bath), and 2-3 for each living area.

    For exterior, maybe front, side, and back. Then 2-3 for the porch, deck, and yard. But of course each property will vary on what is available.

    Photos of popular area activities that include descriptions and the distance to your place are good as well. You are not just selling a guest on your individual property but also on the experience of being at your property!


Heather and Tyann –

When we first started with VRBO we used pictures we took with our Canon Rebel XT, but after listening to Matt Landau, we hired a professional photographer, and contracted with Web Chalet to help create our own website. You’ll find it here: http://www.poplarsedge.com

We are always looking to improve, so would appreciate any feedback about our photographs, the order in which they appear, tags associated, etc.

Thanks for the great podcast!


    Heather Bayer

    Your site is testament to the benefit of having professional photographs done – they look really great.


      Thanks, Heather. Appreciate the feedback!

    Tyann Marcink

    Thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast, John! Your photos look fabulous! The only drawback was that on my iPad they weren’t loading before the slideshow moved to the next photo…but then again, that could be my connection 🙂


      I’ll find someone with an iPad so I can test. I suspect most people are like you – using an iPad – so I best make sure they cycle appropriately. Thanks for the heads up!

        Tyann Marcink

        You’re welcome, John! 🙂

Marie-Louise D

Thank you Heather, I’ve read your posts on LMH, but never read your blog and this podcast really helped solve a problem that I’ve had.
I’ve been trying to google for vacation rental photography information, but never found any books on just that subject before – thanks for helping me out Tyann!

All the pictures on my website http://www.annamariabeachcondo.com are taken by me except for some exterior photos of the building that a pro took – I’m sure you can tell which ones. (Some of the pictures of condo#1 need more staging, they were taken during time pressure while we renovated).

I have a nice camera, a tripod, knowledge about bracketing (which I forget between each time) and using the saturation button on Picasa for that tropical feel (maybe too much :-).
Fiverr.com makes it possible to get the pictures stitched for $5, so that people can see the view as well as the unit.

What I feel I lack most is technical knowledge – the white balance I’ve read about and never understood the use for….your explanation was an eyeopener. Thanks!

I would greatly appreciate some pointers from a pro!



Thanks Heather and Tyann. Even the pics on my add I thought were good are looking bland to me. I have a picture of a toilet! Flat bedspread, two pillows, bare wall….yikes!


I’m a bit late to this party, but found the podcast really useful. Our website is at http://www.patrignone.com and a lot of the photos are several years old, most taken by me from up high (!) with a point and shoot. I’m about to upgrade my camera and start the slow process of upgrading all my photos, so the information here was timely.

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