AirBnB Plus photo shoot

This time I photographed a lovely, brilliantly located holiday let property in Brighton’s Kemp Town near the sea. The owner was typically friendly and accommodating for this fine city – maybe even more so than average.

On the ground level there is a spacious living room area that expands through the building from the street to a little patio area in the middle of the block.

There’s a super comfy, big sofa which hides a foldable double bed inside it.

On the higher two levels are two bright bedrooms and a bathroom.

Another through-the-building area is in the basement where there is a well equipped bright kitchen, and a cosy dining area with a beautiful solid wood table and exposed brick wall.

This shoot would have been as much fun as any other property photography assignment, only if it wasn’t for the AirB&B Plus’ rather strange guidelines. This was my first shoot for them via an agency so everything was new to me.

The agency lured local photographers to sign up by saying there will be lots and lots of shoots, and the pay sounded fine for a couple of hours’ shoot. But when I did this first shoot, I soon realised that things are not quite a good as they sounded.

First of all, the photographer was expected to do the thorough house inspection as well as take the official images for the property that is applying to be in the “Plus” category. This meant using an app on the mobile phone to take photos of everything that wasn’t perfect about the holiday let property: marks on the walls, ceilings and floors, etc.

Well, that’s what I thought first, as it wasn’t really clear, but realised as I went along that I’m supposed to take photos of everything that was mentioned in the app, even if there wasn’t a problem. I had to inspect skirting boards and test all lights that they are in working order. Check that the broadband is working and test its speed (!). Check inside all cupboards that every listed thing was there from a sauté pan to an ironing board to exact amount of spare bedding and blankets in the bedrooms. And take a photo of everything. About 300-400 photos in total.

The agency people said that it would take about half an hour to do the inspection. As it was my first time to use the app – and it really wasn’t clear to use – it took me almost two hours to go through the inspection only, including taking and uploading the 300-400 photos with the mobile phone. It was getting obvious that I had been hired to do two people’s job for one person’s salary.

After the property inspection, I finally got to start the proper photography part of my assignment. There were exact instructions for taking photos of every room. Three different focal distances for three sets of photos: straight-on wide angle shots of every wall + one angled shot from each corner of the room, mid range shots for part of room and 50 mm for detail shots. Wide angle shots had to be perfectly horizontal from 120 cm height so as to avoid any distortion due to tilt of the camera.

…which is fine. Except, some of the advice was conflicting. There were clear instructions NOT to take photos with furniture in the foreground because it will be too distorted in the photo. So I didn’t take those shots. However, I did take just one photo (below) to demonstrate that the area in question was not possible to shoot straight-on as there was no room to get further away from the large dining table – a type shot that apparently could not be used.

After the shoot (that took me almost three hours on top of the two-hour inspection) I uploaded my photos to the agency’s website. I was told that they looked good, but that I hadn’t taken all the photos I was supposed to take. Apparently, I should have also taken the photos the instructions specifically said I shouldn’t take. Silly me! So unfortunately I was told that I have to go back and reshoot the property, or I won’t be paid the £140 for the five hours’ work I did. When I asked whether I can just go and take the photos that were “missing” from the first shoot, I was told that they are not sure; I may have to reshoot everything, and also redo the inspection of the property on the app, including all the hundreds of mobile phone photos.

So I thought sod that.

As I suspected from the beginning, if something seems like too good to be true, it usually is. What the agency said in their initial email was along the lines of “£140 for two hours’ work, 5-10 shoots a week”. That would be a nice little additional income for someone who has the time to do all those shoots. But not if it actually is £140 for five hours’ on-site work, and you only get paid if you guess correctly which conflicting instructions to follow.

Anyway, luckily I do a lot of property photography in Brighton and Hove for sensible rates and sensible photography briefs. Here is a beautiful example of a quirky holiday let property in Brighton.

And if you’d like to hire me to take professional photos of your property -without asking me to do a full house inspection as well – I would be more than happy to help! :-) See contact details below.

While you are here, why not have a look at some Brighton hotel photography?