7 Steps to Choosing the Right Hospitality Photographer

A good photograph will pay for itself many times over in attracting new clients to your hotel. As a frequent traveler himself, Rick Lew, a hospitality and interiors photographer based in New York, relies on hotel photographs when deciding where he will stay.

Lew says there are photographers out there to fit any budget; it’s worth spending the time to find the right one for your project. “Remember, you get what you pay for. Some 20 to 30 percent of the estimates I do for jobs are for reshoots; because the hotel initially based their decision on the cheapest estimate and realized they now have to reshoot.”

He offers seven tips to choose the right photographer for your hotel’s needs:

Find the right person. This doesn’t refer to the right photographer; it refers to ensuring the right person in your organization is doing the research and dealing with the photographer. “Someone with a visual eye,” says Lew, who likes working with the sales and marketing teams.


Do your research. Begin your search during construction or renovation so you’re ready when the project is completed. Start online, carefully studying photographer’s portfolios. “What is your gut reaction to their photos? Do you think these photos will show your hotel to its best advantage? Is the composition pleasing to you; is it creative?” Lew, who has photographed for Condé Nast Traveler, Elle Décor, and Coastal Living, advises that recommendations from others who have been through the process are often the best endorsement.

Ask how they work. Some photographers charge by the shot, others, like Lew, by the day. Get an idea of the expenses on top of the day or shot rate. Ask detailed questions. What is the photographer’s availability? What is the turnaround time for post-production of images? What are the usage agreement terms? Can you use the images for advertising or just web and collateral? How long can you use these images—two years, five years, in perpetuity?

Meet the photographer. Before you hire a professional, meet them. Can you work with this person? Ask about their working style. Photographers have definite ideas of how they want a photo to look. They have the advantage of experience, but any photographer needs to listen to your needs and work with you.

Great expectations. Be aware it will take time for the professional you hire to get good photos. “The photographer doesn’t just walk in and point and shoot,” Lew says. Any photographer will bring lots of lighting and camera equipment to the photo shoot. They will scout out the best locations, keeping in mind your list of must-haves. “Individual rooms are the most challenging,” he says. “Public spaces are the easiest.”

Be flexible. “Work with the photographer because sometimes a hoped-for angle doesn’t make a great photo,” Lew advises. “I recently shot a suite where the sitting area made the room seem unwelcoming. So I suggested we rearrange the room, which the hotel staff resisted. I asked them to bear with me, and we made the changes. When I showed them the photos they could see the improvement right away.”

Show your best side. One thing that sells a hotel is a comfortable bed. So how do you show that in a photograph? “Beds take the most time to shoot,” Lew says. Cleanliness translates into a photo that shows things are fresh, comfortable, and inviting. “It may help to have a soft-goods stylist, or if you don’t have one, someone on the housekeeping staff available during the shoot. There is nothing like fresh sheets and steamed, wrinkle-free bedding, because the camera will show every wrinkle.”


Photo Credit: Girl With Camera via Bigstock

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