Hotel Photography: Tips To Get It Right

The human brain can process entire images in as little as 13 milliseconds – that’s much less time than it takes to read a review or watch a video. In fact, it’s much less time than it takes to even blink your eye. Your hotel’s images are the first chance you have to attract and delight potential guests, and having great hotel photography with incredible hotel room lighting gives you an opportunity to grab travellers before they can even finish blinking.

In this article, we’re bringing you some tips for choosing a great hotel photographer and ensuring that your hotel’s photography is as engaging as possible.

Your Hotel Photography Shot List

Your hotel is more than its rooms and its architecture. It’s the experience that you offer your guests. It’s the long summer afternoons when families play by the pool until well past their normal bedtimes, and the anniversaries spent hiding away in suites made for two. Your photos should reflect everything your hotel has to offer, from the impeccably chosen bed linens to the way the morning sun catches architectural details. Your hotel photography should be an invitation; a scene that guests can dream of stepping into.

We often work with our clients during this stage to develop a “shot list”: a list of images that will best reflect your brand and speak to your guests. However, we are fortunate to have a team that includes experts in visual branding and marketing, which is highly unusual. If you are planning to hire a standard hotel photographer, then its important to work with your marketing team or agency to start your shot list.

To begin the process, we recommend that you write down a list of the things that you and your guests get the most joy from, then think about the kind of images that would reflect that joy. For example, if your guests love late afternoons by the pool, then a photograph of a family enjoying a late afternoon by the pool might be the perfect hero image for your website. Consider this list of images as the first draft of your shot list. It’s also a good idea at this stage to ask your IT and social media teams what their needs are. They might have great ideas for photos, or need some of the image to meet certain technical specifications.

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Choosing the Right Hotel Photographer

If you haven’t already chosen your photographer, once you have your rough shot list together make a note of the type of photography that each photo falls into. For example, a family by the pool would be a lifestyle image, while the sun catching a detail of your building would be architectural.

While you’re exploring the galleries of different photographers, keep your list of ideal images with you, and check whether or not the photographers you’re looking at excel at each type of photography you’ve identified. Do they have a good range of lifestyle photography and architectural images? Does their hotel room photography look exceptional? Is their gallery consistently excellent across all of the types of photography you might need?

There is an incredible range of photography categories that fall under the umbrella of “hotel photography”. Some photographers may not excel at in every area you need, while other photographers and agencies like ours have years of experience across the board.

Once you have shortlisted a few hotel photographers or agencies, reach out and start a conversation. The best hotel photography requires a high level of collaboration between the photographer and the client, so it’s important to choose someone whose ideas and personality you like, and who you will enjoy working with. You also might want to ask if your photographer has connections for makeup artists, stylists, art directors, and how they cast and work with models, as you will likely have to hire people for these roles. The more that the team you put together know each other and the better they already work together the more seamless the shoot will be. There are also some agencies, like our own, that can provide an entire team for the shoot.

Introduce Your Photographer to Your Hotel

Once you’ve chosen your photographer or agency, invite them to your property to discuss your ideas. Take time to explain what you want to communicate through the photographs, and what your needs are. Show your photographer the best parts about your hotel and the things you love the most. The more you share with your photographer about your hotel and your brand, the more suited their images will be to you. This first meeting with your photographer is a great time to discuss ideas and refine your shot list. If you’ve got the right photographer this process can be highly creative, collaborative, and fun.

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Hotel Photoshoot Video - Hotel Photographer Jeremy Mason McGraw Shooting in Vals Switzerland for Luxury Hotel 7132

Working With Your Photographer

Every photographer has their own process for how they work during a shoot. Many hotel photographers rely on post-production techniques to create High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. It’s an effective process in some circumstances but it can make the client feel anxious as the final image comes together later in Photoshop rather than in the room on the day. It also relies on the existing lighting conditions of the spaces and can produce flat looking inconsistent images with mirky colors and textures. Photographers who work using only natural light will be limited to those windows of time when the light is at its best, which means they have to work very quickly during those small windows, and can be delayed by imperfect conditions. There are also many situations where natural lighting in the space is not enough to give the room consistent illumination.

When we shoot we use a signature lighting technique developed by our CEO and Creative Director, Jeremy Mason McGraw. Jeremy previously worked as a lighting designer in live theatre and as a painter, and his experience has given him a rich understanding of the technical aspects of light as well as its creative uses. The way we use light to tell a story is one of the reasons that clients hire us over our competition to capture their incredible properties. The way we work also means that we do most of the work to create the perfect image in-camera on the day, which means that our clients can see the image come together and work collaboratively with us to perfect it. Having a lot of control over lighting also means that we have more flexibility in regard when we can shoot throughout the day.

However your photographer works, one important thing to keep in mind is that the process of crafting each image will likely take a lot longer than you were anticipating. It is a detailed, careful process getting the furniture, mood, details, and lighting for each photo exactly right.

Most of all, try and enjoy the process. Don’t be afraid to say what you want, or to let your photographer know if you’re uncertain about a particular shot. As photographers it is our job to create the best image possible for your needs, and some of the best images we have ever created have come about through an open and honest dialogue with our client.

We want to work with you. Send us a note and lets figure out how we can work together.