Quality images of your hotel are one of the biggest assets you can have in your arsenal – they show potential guests what to expect and sell them the experience you offer. At least, they do if you’ve planned the shoot well. Your photographer will always do their best to capture the images you need to market your business, but they aren’t your marketing team. 

It’s the photographer’s job to capture your vision and offer their expert eye to that vision; it’s not often their job to be your art director, and they can’t see into the future and foresee every shot you may need for your upcoming marketing campaigns. That’s why it’s so essential to prepare a shot list and prepare the areas that are going to be photographed. 

For example, if you know you want shots of the bar, make sure your staff have cleaned it and you know what shots you need before the photographer walks in with the camera – they can then riff off your list to get more creative shots you may not have thought of. 

What do you need to plan for a hotel photoshoot? 

The first thing to plan is the overall theme and feel you want the shoot to capture. Your decor can do a lot of the hard work here, but you need to be clear on the purpose of the shoot (beyond simply getting photos you can use in your marketing). This will make a big difference to how your photographer works. Here are some questions you need to answer: 

  • What’s the theme? Who are we targeting with these images? (This may be your ideal customer or a subset of customers.)
  • What emotions do you want to evoke? Relaxation? Fun? Excitement? 
  • Do you need any shots with models or props? (This is much more common for resorts and family-friendly hotels.) 
  • Where do you plan to use these images? (You don’t need to know every possible use, but the clearer you are on this now, the better.) 
  • What experience(s) are you trying to sell? To whom? 
  • Would creating a mood board be beneficial?  

The other thing you should plan is your shot list – this doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list, and most photographers will get some additional shots they envision when they’re in your space, but you need to know what shots you can’t move forward without. Here are a few prompts to get you thinking: 

  • What locations do you need pictures of? 
  • Which rooms and bathrooms? 
  • Lobbies and hallways?
  • Do you have any views that should be captured? 
  • What macro/micro shots do you need? (for example, the entire restaurant or a closeup of your chef’s hands cooking) 
  • What exterior shots? 
  • Do you want any aerial (drone) photos? 
  • Interesting features you want to highlight 
  • The pool and other amenities 
  • Do you want any shots at dawn/dusk/night? 

If you need inspiration, browse through sites of competitors, hotels you admire, Instagram, and Pinterest to find inspiration for the kind of shots you’d like captured for your market campaign. Just remember to not get too carried away – keep this campaign in mind when you’re creating the shot list. If you want an extensive library of assets you can use over and over again, make sure you’ve budgeted sufficiently for the amount of time it will take (talk to your photographer for an estimate on time as well as cost) and any disruption it may cause to your business while you keep guests away from certain areas. 

Why is it worth doing all this work beforehand? 

Doing all this work before hand is beneficial because:

  • No time will be wasted: hotel photoshoots are relatively jam-packed, and you can’t take too long in one location or you may miss your chance in another. Lighting matters hugely in any aspect of photography, but even more so in shots of hotels and buildings. You need to capture the natural light in each room to accurately represent the experience your guests will have with you. If you spend too long in one location, the lighting may not be right by the time you get to shoot there.
  • Versatility: An extensive range of shots offers you an asset library your team can pull from whenever they need an image. You’ll be able to swap out images on your website, share on social media, send an image out with a press release, use them on printed materials – whatever you need.
  • Won’t find you are missing shots you needed: A shot list will outline for your photographer all the shots you can’t live without. That means they can work through the shot list and then add in any shots they think would make a good addition when they’re in the space.
  • Get the most for your money: In-depth planning and a shot list will allow your photographer to be efficient with their time and get the most from the photoshoot. If the 3 days you book them for are taken up with them waiting for your staff to set up each space, you will find you get a lot less for your money than you would if you worked with them to seamlessly plan the shoot.
  • Consistent branding: It’s not the end of the world if you need to ask your photographer to return to take further shots, but some consistency may be lost. Perhaps it was bright sun on the day of the first shoot, and raining on the second. Something inside your hotel may have changed. A lot can be done in post-production, but getting all those shots done in one shoot – even across a few days, will help enhance the consistency of the shoot. 

You can share your ideas and shot list for your shoot before you book your photographer or after, but it’s best to have a strong idea of what you need when you first reach out to them so they have a clear idea of the scope of the work and can guide you on anything they need from you. Also remember that, if they are like me (or are me!), they will have done numerous shoots in the past and can offer you tips for how best to streamline the shoot to get the best results. 

If you’d like additional guidance or now feel ready to get the ball rolling on your next photoshoot, I’d be happy to discuss your ideas with you. To see examples of my work, get some inspiration for your shoot, and to contact me, click here