How to Avoid Blurry Images

Updated: Feb 27

Did you know:

Pictures are one of the top 3 reasons Airbnb guests choose to book, alongside location and price. Airbnb

As a guest, do you agree or disagree?

As a host, are you surprised?

As a fellow host and guest on Airbnb, I know that images are like the first impression of the space. Well-done photographs can convince an interested guest in booking your space, likewise, if the images are of poorer quality in comparison to other listings nearby, your images will un-sell your home/room.

So what makes for a great Airbnb listing image?

The easier answer is probably what makes it terrible? Sometimes it’s harder to put our finger on what is it that makes a certain photo score higher on our personal aesthetic scale, but it should be easier to agree on what details can quickly push a photo to the back of the winning pack.

Today we’re going to address the issue of blurriness in images, which makes the image grainy or unclear to the eye.

Here are Top 10 tips to get rid of blurry images:

Tip #1

When taking a photograph, make sure to clean your camera/phone lens. Think of it as eyeglasses – you want to frequently wipe it to get rid of dust and other gunk. The best way to do that is to use a soft cloth, like cotton or glasses cleaning cloth.

Secondly, taking off any filters on your camera or phone will also ensure a clearer shot because any additional filters also reduce the overall clarity of your desired picture.

Tip #2

Always use‌ ‌both‌ ‌hands‌ ‌to‌ ‌take‌ ‌the‌ ‌picture.‌ ‌This‌ ‌way‌ ‌your‌ ‌camera‌ ‌or‌ ‌phone‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌more‌ ‌steady‌ ‌and‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌likely‌ ‌eliminate‌ ‌the‌ ‌shake.‌ ‌When using a phone, use a timer, click the shutter button and wait, as you place both hands on your device.

You‌ ‌can‌ ‌also‌ ‌take‌ ‌the‌ ‌picture‌ ‌when‌ ‌you‌ ‌exhale,‌ ‌this‌ ‌makes‌ ‌sure‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌movement‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌inhalation‌ ‌doesn’t‌ ‌also‌ ‌disturb‌ ‌your‌ ‌perfect‌ ‌shot.‌

Tip #3

Use‌ ‌your‌ ‌camera‌ ‌or‌ ‌phone‌ ‌in‌ ‌horizontal‌ ‌orientation,‌ ‌so‌ ‌the‌ ‌Airbnb‌ ‌platform‌ ‌doesn’t‌ ‌crop‌ ‌and‌ ‌reduce‌ ‌the‌ ‌quality‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌image.‌

We always have to keep in mind the intent of our photo and what is the best orientation to have (horizontal vs vertical). If you’re in doubt, always take both, horizontal, then vertical, so you’ll always have an option. Luckily for us, digital photography is practically free, so endless shooting is encouraged!

Tip #4

Always‌ ‌shoot‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌high‌ ‌Shutter‌ ‌Speed,‌ ‌low‌ ‌Shutter‌ ‌Speed‌ ‌creates‌ ‌unwanted‌ ‌blurry‌ ‌images.‌ ‌ 

Shutter speed is the speed at which the camera’s shutter opens and closes to bring in light to the sensor.

The rule of thumb states that when shooting handheld, use shutter speeds equal to or faster than one divided by your focal length. That is when you are shooting handheld with a 50mm lens, you should use shutter speeds equal to or faster than 1/50 of a second.

100 mm lens = not slower than 1/100 200 mm lens = not slower than 1/200 80 mm lens = not slower than 1/80

Tip #5

In‌ ‌your‌ ‌phone’s‌ ‌or‌ ‌camera‌ ‌settings,‌ ‌choose‌ ‌the‌ ‌highest‌ ‌quality‌ ‌image‌ ‌possible.‌ ‌And‌ ‌when‌ ‌exporting‌ ‌the‌ ‌picture,‌ ‌make‌ ‌sure‌ ‌to‌ ‌maintain‌ ‌the‌ ‌high‌ ‌quality,‌ ‌because‌ ‌Airbnb‌ ‌platform‌ ‌will‌ ‌reduce‌ ‌it‌ ‌further‌ ‌to‌ ‌save‌ ‌their‌ ‌space.‌ ‌

The same point goes if you share a photo on Facebook or other SNS platforms, which usually reduce the quality of your photo for their storage purposes. So if you’re downloading the same image later, don’t be surprised to find the size greatly reduced.

Always keep a backup of your images in high size/high resolution on your own computer/backup drives.

Tip #6

Understand‌ ‌how‌ ‌to‌ ‌focus‌ ‌properly‌ ‌on‌ ‌your‌ ‌camera‌ ‌or‌ ‌phone to avoid blurry images.

You‌ ‌may‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌touch‌ ‌the‌ ‌screen‌ ‌on‌ ‌your‌ ‌phone‌ ‌in‌ ‌order‌ ‌to‌ ‌set‌ ‌focus.‌ ‌

On‌ ‌the‌ ‌camera,‌ ‌study‌ ‌your‌ ‌manual‌ ‌to‌ ‌understand‌ ‌where‌ ‌to‌ ‌find‌ ‌your‌ ‌focus‌ ‌and‌ ‌how‌ ‌to‌ ‌change‌ ‌it.‌

Tip #7

Another tip to avoid a blurry image is to use‌ ‌a‌ ‌larger‌ ‌f-stop‌ ‌number,‌ ‌also‌ ‌known‌ ‌as‌ ‌Aperture‌ ‌in‌ ‌cameras‌ ‌in‌ ‌order‌ ‌to‌ ‌get‌ ‌more‌ ‌items‌ ‌in‌ ‌focus‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌space.‌ ‌

Aperture is the opening in the lense’s diaphragm, through which the light passes. This circle dictates not only the amount of light that enters the sensor(the camera) but also how much of the image is in focus (also called the depth of field).

This one took me a while to learn, but the smaller the Aperture number f1.2, f2, f2.8 the larger the aperture, aka the bigger the circle opening inside, aka the more light enters the camera, which makes for a shallow depth of field aka more blurriness. What?! Yeah! Let’s have graphics do the explanation.

Tip #8

To avoid blurry images such as the ones taken in low light, don’t‌ ‌shoot‌ ‌your‌ ‌Airbnb‌ ‌space‌ ‌at‌ ‌night‌ ‌or‌ ‌in‌ ‌low‌ ‌light.‌ ‌Always‌ ‌have‌ ‌open‌ ‌curtains‌ ‌and‌ ‌plenty‌ ‌of‌ ‌natural‌ ‌light.‌ ‌Mid-day‌ ‌time‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌best‌ ‌when‌ ‌the‌ ‌sun‌ ‌is‌ ‌at‌ ‌its‌ ‌highest‌ ‌and‌ ‌brightest‌ ‌point.‌ 

When your phone or camera auto-adjust for low light situations, they tend to raise ISO. ISO is the amount of light that enters the camera (alongside Aperture and Sutter Speed, so think of these 3 items as the 3 equal sides of the Exposure Triangle).

So, while ISO controls the amount of light that enters the sensor, it is also in charge of noise. Noise, also known as grain are small speckles or dots that you’ll see more of if you continue to increase your ISO from 100 to 25,000.

Ideally, to keep your photographs blur-free, keep your ISO on the lower side (smaller number). Depending on the camera, increasing it slightly can have significant grain vs barely noticeable. If you do find yourself in a grainy situation, you can always try to fix some of it in post-production with Noise Removing Software.

Tip #9

Use‌ ‌a‌ ‌tripod‌ ‌or‌ ‌something‌ ‌steady‌ ‌to‌ ‌hold‌ ‌your‌ ‌camera‌ ‌as‌ ‌you‌ ‌take‌ ‌the‌ ‌shot.‌ ‌This‌ ‌way‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌use‌ ‌a longer‌ ‌Shutter‌ ‌Speed‌ ‌to‌ ‌bring‌ ‌in‌ ‌more‌ ‌light‌ ‌into‌ ‌your‌ ‌camera.‌ ‌

Don’t‌ ‌own‌ ‌a‌ ‌tripod?‌ ‌No‌ ‌worries,‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌is‌ ‌your‌ ‌tripod,‌ ‌just‌ ‌be‌ ‌creative‌ ‌and‌ ‌have‌ ‌fun!‌

Tip #10

To avoid blurry images, you‌ ‌can‌ ‌always‌ ‌choose‌ ‌a‌ ‌professional‌ ‌photographer to‌ ‌take‌ ‌your photos ‌for‌ ‌you.‌ This way you can avoid that expensive camera and lenses purchase, tripod, learning how to use it all, how to edit, what size to export, etc.

Avoid spending time trying to figure things out, and instead, save time and money by spending a few hundred dollars on a professional, who not only has the technical skills but also the creative eye to take a great, clear, non-blurry shot!

If you enjoyed reading about these tips, check them out in a video I recently made, where you can see some terrible examples of blurry Airbnb listings pictures.

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