Your Hospitality Photography Must Stand Out: Why & 5 Tips from an Expert
Every day, we–and our potential customers–are being bombarded with images. In the age of the smartphone, we are constantly being advertised to and everyone and their Grandmother has become a hobby photographer. Of course, the incredible cameras on the latest iPhones and Samsungs are a good thing, but they certainly don’t make someone a good photographer.
For hospitality businesses, this is good and bad. On the one hand, images of your venue can spread across social media as your customers share their memories and experiences staying with you. On the other hand, it often causes businesses to cut corners and simply enlist someone who likes photography to head around the location with their iPhone for an impromptu shoot which they then use for their marketing materials.
Unfortunately, that’s just not going to cut it.
Images Aren’t Naturally Attention-Grabbing
Adding photos has long been touted as the easy and fast way to grab a potential customer’s attention, and yes, they can still do that. For most businesses, an advertisement with an image along with their copy will garner far more attention than one that contains only text.
But, it has to be the right image. Anyone with Instagram will know that you can scroll endlessly through friends’ and brands’ photos and have forgotten them all just five minutes later. This immediate and constant consumption of content has caused our human attention span to plummet – in fact, a recent Microsoft study found that our attention span sits at around 8 seconds, a second less than a goldfish.
Think about that from the point of view of someone scrolling through booking.com looking for a place to stay. Are they going to methodically open every listing that meets their criteria? No! Most people will scan through the pictures, look at the ones that capture their interest, and look at the price – all within those 8 seconds. The hotels that tell the right story in the picture and have a price tag that meets their budget will win the click.
So, how do you ensure your photos are the ones that win the click?
5 Top Tips from an Expert to Help Your Photography Stand Out
Don’t Tell the Same Old Story
The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is true, but no one wants to read the same story over and over again. A photographer needs to stay on-brand for a client but has to find fresh and unique ways to deliver that message. Make sure you know exactly what experience the hotel wants to deliver and get a feel for the mood and architecture of a place before you ever start shooting with the camera.
Focus on the Experience
The need to be just that little bit different is essential in successful marketing (and business) – don’t forget the purpose of the images is to tell the experience. It’s not to simply show the decor or the space, and it’s not to be so different that the pictures look like nothing else out there (avoid being that book on the shelf that looks like nothing else in its genre, or a certain toothpaste advert on TV that seems to have been shot by a toddler), but you need to convey the experience the ideal customer wants to have.
For example, if you’re photographing afternoon tea, understand what a customer is looking for when they go to afternoon tea and what the hotel offers that makes it stand out. A shot of a restaurant won’t wow, no matter how beautiful the architecture, but a tiered cakestand backlit by a beautiful arched window looking out on a garden absolutely will. Train your eye to look for the details that will sell the experience in the photo.
Advertising photography is not simply recording what the hotel looked like in a certain space and time. If you go into a space to photograph and feel that something is missing, supply it or ask staff to help you. A yet-unused restaurant can look a little cold, so consider what props you can use (that are on brand!) to help the space look ready to walk into.
It’s All in the Details
Take your time to get things right when you’re there in the room. Often, when you’re shooting a hotel, you’ve only got a short period of time before the hotel will be full of bustling guests, so you may not get a second chance. Photoshop is a wonderful tool, but it’s always better to get things right in the moment than it is in post-production. Don’t get so wrapped up in the technicalities that you forget to check the simple things, like if the curtains are hanging straight, or to remove an odd wrinkle in the bed linen.
Work with Light
The word photography literally means “drawing with the light”, and light will make or break your photos. Digital imaging has freed photographers from the constraints of always providing additional artificial light for interior shots, but you still need to work with what you’ve got. Often, the mix of daylight and artificial light (from the lighting in the room, in most cases) provides a light, airy feel with interest and warmth. Then, any tweaks you make in post-production can be the icing on the cake, rather than deep fixes.
Hospitality is a competitive business, and customers are eager and ready to spend money post-pandemic. However, the businesses with the best photography are going to come out on top. I’ve helped many successful brands achieve their aims, so if you’re ready to upgrade your photography, I’d be happy to help you. Check out my website for examples of what I have done for others and give you an idea of what I can do for you.