Our job is not only to create beautiful images but the right type of images that sells the property and the experience of hospitality and leisure.
The key to success for hotel photography is planning and executing in a timely manner.
So here are a few tips to help you dive into the world of Hotel Imagery
Table of Contents
Planning Hotel Photoshoot day
One of the most important tip is correctly planing the photoshoot.
Start by understanding the RFP (request for proposal) or Shoot list by the client. Do a research on the property and current visuals they offer.
Can you improve on them, can you match them? Is the time frame and budget make sense for what the client is look for?
After you understood the needs, and researched current images or similar ones, it is important to provide the client a timeframe and shoot list, explaining him what will be done, what is the schedule (based on their limitations) and how you broke done the quote.
Plan you’re photography days based on reasonable flow, tuning in and out from room to exterior does not make sense as you lose valuable time walking and setting up between locations.
Don’t forget to estimate the time between shoots, locations and the availability of the spaces. Keep in mind that some pools maybe shaded by the hotel building, and hotel exterior sun angle might be in different hours so plan a head.
Always add time to scout the entire spaces needed to be captured prior starting your photoshoot and coordinate with the client access in advance.
Hotel Exterior Photography Tips
While we can’t control the light on a large structure, you have to plan your exterior shoots based on available sunlight.
There are many apps that will show you the sun angle by the time of the day to help you plan a head, research the property structure directions to understand if you have to capture it in the morning, noon or afternoon.
Hotels usually need one day time and one dusk image of the hotel exterior. This process may take you half a day to complete two flawless images.
Don’t forget it is the quality that matters, this image will be shown everywhere and it is important to properly represent the hotel design and brand.
Be Creative, Brake boundaries but make sure it is not on the count of the proper exterior shoots your client is waiting for.
What Shutter speed, Aperture, and ISO should you use for Hotels
Choosing the Shutter Speed: Take into consideration the exterior landscape may be “moving” due to wind, so make sure your shutter speed accommodates it, capturing the shoot over a tripod is a must. so an average shutter speed would be 1/180 at day time and 1/80 at night (make sure you use a tripod and don’t have strong winds)
Choosing your ISO: should be the minimum possible to make sure you don’t have any “noise” or “grain” in the shoot. I would say under 200 ISO on average and not more than 800 ISO in extreme situations.
The Aperture should be somewhere F7-F11 depending on your lens, make sure you check the manufacturer specs for the sharpest aperture.
Choosing the right angle
It’s crucial, to make sure that the building is been represented at its best including all branding while trying to avoid any other famous or distracting buildings.
Hotels don’t like to see other hotel brands in the background or they must be retouched out. Don’t go too creative showing the entire street, our goal is to emphasize the Hotel unless the surrounding supports the hotel theme. (ex. Beach Resort).
Be original when you can
Try to be creative with your framings, don’t just imitate the past pictures as they didn’t hire you to do the same things they already have.
However, some angles can’t be unique due to the structure layout and location, sometimes there’s only one good angle for the shoot.
Hotel Interior Photography
Cover all grounds: The hotel interior includes all the rooms, suites, and hotel amenities. Make sure you address all of them if the client didn’t do so.
Hotel Lobby, Adjacent areas, Pool and Spa, Elevator Lobby, Hotel Lounge, Restaurants, Bars, Coffee, Gift Shop, Convention and Entertainment areas.
How many photos does hotel need
- Hotel Exterior: 1-3
- Hotel Rooms: 2-3 is a must
- Hotel Suites, Villas,
- Penthouses: 4-5
- Lobby and Adjacent Areas: 1-2 per space
- Convention: 3-5 including the reception area
- Restaurants: 2-3
- Small Amenities: 1-2
- SPA, Pool and Gym: 2-3 each
Hotel Rooms Photography Tips
Prior to your arrival the housekeeping team should prep the room, remove trash bins, print collateral, and steam the pillow and linens.
While you planned ahead for the photoshoot sometime things need to be adjusted by a professional (you are not a professional for housekeeping)
Ask your client to have at your disposal a trained housekeeping staff to help make sure everything is up to par.
Scout the room:
Scout the room prior to starting taking pictures, make sure the linens and pillows are presented well and positioned to your framing.
While you position your camera and choose your angle you will notice that the pillows are not centered to your frame, they may be centered to the bed, but the angle may show them not centered, this is the time to move them in correlation to your camera angle.
Print Collateral and Contents:
Every hotel room has a trash bin, remote controls, printed magazine, room menu, and more.
As they often change, it is important to move them out of the framing to make sure your visuals are timeless and also to avoid any copyright on magazines.
Staging Hotel Rooms for Photoshoot
While your client may want to add better first impressions, many often like to add flowers, wine bottles or additional decor.
While It is more “welcoming” to see those items, it can create a gap between what the guest is looking for and what they get when they actually come to the property.
If the guest will come and say “hey where are the nice flowers and champaign bottle from the pictures” it may impact theirs experience and we want to avoid that.
Hotel Room Views:
Many hotels price their rooms based on views and floor level, it is important to capture those variations. As before we want the guest to know exactly what they are committing too, and showing a stunning lake front view while getting a room with back views can and will impact the guest ultimate experience.
Don’t forget to put the attention of the rooms view to your client, as they maybe not thinking about it.
Controlling the Lighting:
While lighting is a creative photography method that many use in a different way, you have many options how to accomplish different looks.
First start by opening all interior lighting and setting them to minimum to avoid impacting the colors in your photos.
Some hotels use different lighting sources in their rooms, like led, tungsten and florescent.
If you can’t control the lights impacting your color in the frame, you will have to over come the ambient light with artificial lighting.
Using Artificial / Strobe Lighting for Hotel Interior Photos
It is important to balance artificial with the ambiance lighting. The key is to find the right balance for natural images and not overkill the image with studio lighting.
Start by finding the average setting to expose for the exterior views, make sure the exterior ambiance is not too dark, it might be the right exposure but will look not real as the exterior should be brighter than the interior.
Then add flash, strobe, or another artificial lighting to embellish the light and create a mood, don’t forget to keep in mind the direction of light coming from the window to you and not the other way around.
You can use light painting, balance light, fill light, or any other technique you feel comfortable with. Keep in mind the hotel theme and atmosphere.
Adding an additional light on top of exterior ambiance, interior lighting color may result in color contamination. This is why it is important to use color modifiers during the photoshoot and color-correcting the pictures afterward in post-production.
In the end, your goal is to create a compelling picture that contributes to the guest experience while making sure it is somewhat similar to the existing mood.
We don’t want to create a sun-blasting picture if the room is completely dark or the mood is more intimate.
Planning is the key to a successful photoshoot while understanding your client’s needs and the current offering is important before getting to the field.
- Scout the locations before you start working and ask the help of the housekeeping to make sure everything is up to par.
- Create a schedule to allow you to best use your time, avoid moving from far locations each time, and work based on the availability of the locations and the sunlight.
- Stage the room based on your shoot, have a look for things that might be forgotten, and only then start to work.
- Make sure your setting like resolution, shutter, ISO, and aperture is set for each location and you use a tripod.
- Add additional lighting where needed, turn on all the lights and make sure they are at minimum power to avoid any color contamination.
- Take breaks, review the visuals, make sure you finished all the client’s requirements before going artistic and spreading all over. Don’t rush to move location before you are sure you finish the task as the room will be rolled over to the guest.
- Keep the client in the loop, some may want to be more or less involved. But it is important that your client will be with you during the first shoot and scouting at a minimum.
- With technology today you can email or text them some of your framings to make sure you set the expectation and avoid any miss understanding. Don’t forget your clients may be the first time doing so or has other expectations in mind for what they are looking for.
- Think outside of the box, you have finished your client’s visuals list and needs, it’s time to try and bring extra value to the table, maybe try to capture a nice image of the views, maybe a unique angle, or just a thank you photo.
- And don’t forget, never interfere with the guest experience, minimize your exposure to guests and hotel personnel, don’t leave your gear lying around, or engage with guests with un-ending talk.
That’s it, Be creative, have fun and always be professional.