VRS037– How to get a Professional Photoshoot at No Cost with John McElligott

We all know the value of great photos, and as listing sites become more sophisticated and WordPress themes offer greater choice, higher quality images are going to become necessary in order to compete in this market. Dwellable is leading the way with this and owners who are listing with HD photography are blowing the competition out of the water.

Finding a photographer to do a shoot and then scheduling them in on an appropriate day, works.

To a degree.

What about the local interest shots that would be great to have on a listing? The farmer’s market (only open one day a week); a local festival (great evening images but the photog will only be there for the afternoon); the local wildlife (good luck with getting bambi to appear on cue) – all of these images would be superb but are hardly likely to be within the photographers remit if you are only paying for half a day of his time.

So what about having a professional photographer actually stay at your vacation home for a couple of days – or even a week? If they had enough time to become familiar with the location, to understand what your guests feel when they stay there, and to appreciate the surrounding area too?

Let’s also say they pay your cleaning costs and provide a damage deposit (if that is what you normlly collect), and it costs you nothing to register. Sound good?

Enter Shootstay.com

tweetJust found out how to get pro #vacationrental photos for free! Thanks @cottageguru @ShootStay for your great idea

I first heard about Shootstay from one of the pre-launch videos from the Vacation Rental World Summit. I was transfixed by the idea immediately, not only because we had exchanged some of our expertise for some additional days at our Bahamas rental in February, and love the concept of barter, but this deals with a pain point many owners have. Getting professional photography and videography for our properties is expensive and actually finding someone to do it can be really tough.

[ois skin=”In Post Sign Up”]

John’s concept of trading off-season time with free stays for a professional photographer is stellar and in this episode he explains how the concept became a fully fledged exchange of professional photography with free stays at vacation rental homes.

We talked about:

  • John’s background in music and photography
  • How choosing a vacation rental in the Poconos was the catalyst for the idea
  • Why the expression ‘the photos don’t do the place justice’ started it all off
  • The Shootstay concept and how professional photographers are screened
  • How this happens at no cost for the owner or manager
  • Why photographers are encouraged to read reviews before their stay
  • The nuts and bolts of the process
  • Contractual arrangements and copyright issues
  • Why this is a complete no-brainer for owners with down-time in the low season



Vacation Rental World Summit


Antonio Bortolotti

John’s a genius and ShootStay is in my opinion a true no brainer! I predict it won’t take long before ShootStay will become the #1 choice for lots of VR owners and managers worldwide.

    John McElligott

    Thanks Antonio and you’re the genius! I learned so much from the Vacation Rental World Summit. Definitely check it out if you haven’t

Heather Bayer

I so agree Antonio – this is a no-brainer. Unless you have 100% occupancy (and if so you should be buying the next one!) why would you not trade an empty week for a pro photo shoot. Kudos to John for the concept and execution.

    John McElligott

    Heather, Thank you so much for the opportunity, it truly was a pleasure! You were so easy to talk to, no wonder folks are clamoring to be on the podcast. Can’t wait to have ShootStay help out some of your property owners too!

Amy Blomquist

Definitely a no brainer and brilliant idea! I would happily block off a week during our busy season for this.This would be an incredible time saver as I’m always taking new photos and then I read a review of ours that says the photos do not do the place justice! Argh! HUGE return on investment here!

    John McElligott

    Thanks Amy, I saw you just signed up, excited to have you on board!

John McElligott

Thanks Antonio and you’re the genius! I learned so much from the Vacation Rental World Summit.

Naomi Saunders

I’d be really interested to know whether John operates Shootstay in the UK.

    John McElligott

    Hi Naomi, Thanks for the question and appreciate the comment (and email!). We’re expanding rapidly and have photographers all over so I’m sure we can find a great fit for your home!


Great idea and would love to offer either of our homes in Montana or Costa Rica. But I have not been able to successfully sign on John’s website or connect with him. John, are you still on line?

    John McElligott

    Hi Kalli,
    I got your email and we’re setting you up right now. Thanks so much and happy to have you!

Brian Greene

Hi Heather, I know I’m quite late to the party (2yrs!) but just stumbled upon this today. Do you happen to know what ended up happening to Shootstay? There is no forwarding url. If it no longer exists, did anything spring up to fill the gap? Thx

Comments are closed