Phase One of a Hotel Photoshoot:

Establish Your Hotel Photography Needs

Can you truly get everything you need from a hotel photoshoot? Well, if you plan it right, you’ll be amazed at just how powerful and valuable one photoshoot can be.

Working with a hotel photographer on a great shoot designed to capture all of the elements that make your hotel unique is about as fun and rewarding as work can be (unless your actual job is to cuddle pandas – we can’t top that). However, for that great shoot to happen – and to be driven by the exact, individual needs of your hotel – you need to dedicate time and effort to really thinking about what those needs are.

In this blog, we’re breaking down the steps you can take to really understand what you need from a hotel photoshoot – including your technical needs and the stories you want to tell – so that you can find and hire the perfect photographer.

This blog will help you:

  • Work out what you need from your hotel photoshoot

  • Create your hotel photography shot list

  • Look for opportunities to get more value from your shoot

This piece is part of a larger guide to The Six Phases of a Hotel Photoshoot, and provides a breakdown of Phase One: Establishing Your hotel photography needs. You may also want to read: 10 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Hotel Photographer

Download these free guides to help you thru every step of the process:

Create Your Draft Shot List

A ‘shot list’ is simply the list of images that the photographer will capture during the shoot. Your shot list will evolve throughout the planning process, however, starting with a draft list which identifies your needs will inform a lot of the decisions that follow, including which photographer you hire.

When drafting your shot list, we recommend asking yourself:

What are your goals for the shoot?

These are the overarching reasons you need to shoot. You may have rebranded, or renovated, or maybe you simply need fresh images.

What shots you need?

This is a list of the core, or main, shots you need to capture. The list can be as simple as:

  • Front of hotel at sunrise – show new sign
  • Hotel lobby with fireplace and signature cocktails
  • Views from west facing balconies- sunset
  • Bathroom renovations in suites

You may decide you need a few versions of the same shot, for example: front of hotel with car and bellman; front of hotel without car.

How important is each image?

Identifying the priority of each photo will help you decide where to dedicate the most time and resources. We recommend using a force rank system of 1 – must have, 2 – very important, and 3 – nice to have.

Where the photo will be used?

This is also referred to as use case, and simply identifies where the photo will be used. Is it intended for the website? Or an advertisement? Or can it be used across multiple platforms?  Knowing where a photo will be used will make a difference in how the image is shot and the formats it’s optimized for. It may also affect which photographer you hire and the priority you give each image (for example, if a low priority image can be useful in a lot of different places, you may decide to rethink its priority).

What category of photography is this?

There are many types of photography that fall under the umbrella term of ‘hotel photography’, such as architecture, destination, food/restaurant, hotel photography, interior, lifestyle, and even conceptual photography. Identifying the categories of photography that your needs fall under will help you choose the right photographer for the job.

What additional considerations are there?

For each photo we recommend jotting down any additional considerations for the shoot. For example, do you need to hire models? Could weather be a factor? Do you need to hire a helicopter or shoot off-site?

As you make your list, don’t forget to take a look at your marketing plan and calendar, and thinking about what other needs you might have over the next 6-12 months. For example, will you need images for an annual report, a summer pamphlet, or a website refresh?

(Use this link to download a blank template you can edit to meet your specific needs)

What does your image say? Global Image Creation is a top hotel photographer for some of the world’s best rated hotels. How can we work together?

Get Input from Other People/departments at Your Hotel

There may be other people in your organization in need of photos, so make sure you ask around. If you can incorporate their needs into your shoot you’ll get more bang for your buck (you might even be able to pool your budgets), and having photos with a consistent look will help build a strong visual brand.

We recommend sharing your shot list with anybody at your hotel who uses media in their work, and asking if they have any additional needs that you haven’t already captured in the list.

Look for Opportunities to Get the Most Value from Your Shoot

Once you’ve written down your draft list, start thinking about what other goals, needs, or wants you might have. If you’re arranging for a photographer to come to your hotel anyway, you may as well kill a few birds with one stone (don’t really kill any birds, birds are nice). We recommend that you:

Look for opportunities to dovetail projects

Next, ask yourself how you could dovetail projects to get more out of your shoot. For example, if you’re arranging to shoot a newly renovated room, could you also bring in a few models or influencers and capture lifestyle images to use for your social media, printed materials, or blog? Because different channels require different crops, compositions, styles, and stories, identifying these opportunities early will mean that your photographer can work with you to create images that have a broad set of uses.

Think about any other marketing assets you would love to have

Do you want to create a series of videos marketing your destination, or some kind of one-off, unique marketing project? Part of the fun of a great hotel photoshoot is creating those assets you always wanted, but that always seemed too hard. There are some hotel photographers (like us) who offer additional services, and who can not only help you get the most value out of your shoot, but work with you to create other incredible assets. With the right photographer, you might be able to get more from the shoot than you originally thought.

Look for marketing opportunities to leverage the shoot itself

Hotels are accustomed to keeping photographers and other service providers out of the way of their guests, which is exactly as it should be – nothing should disrupt your guests’ experience. However, audiences on social media (including your potential guests) are craving more authentic marketing, and a glimpse behind the scenes on a hotel photoshoot could be a great opportunity to deliver just that. We recommend giving some thought to how you could use the shoot itself as a marketing opportunity in a way that aligns with your brand. For example, could you post a video of a room being prepped for a shoot to your Instagram or Facebook story? Could you use this opportunity to introduce your chef, hotel manager, or concierge to your potential guests in an authentic, simple way? If this is something you decide could be a great marketing opportunity for your brand, it’s worth thinking about early.

You might not be able to get every single asset on your list, but knowing every asset you could want and prioritizing according to your goals will mean that you don’t overlook an opportunity, and that you get the most value possible from your shoot.

Your draft shot list will help narrow down the list of photographers you speak to and ask the right questions. For more guidance on finding and hiring the right photographer, head over to our guide to

This piece is part of a larger guide to The Six Phases of a Hotel Photoshoot, and provides a breakdown of Phase One: Establishing Your hotel photography needs. You may also want to read: 10 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Hotel Photographer

It’s Easy To Say Hello

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