Preparing for a Hotel Photo Shoot

When searching for a place to stay at their next travel destination, vacationers want a hotel that will fulfill their expectations for comfort, class and an overall stunning experience. Whether they are dreaming of a hotel that is chic and modern or rustic and historic, potential customers will browse the photos of your resort to determine if it offers what they are looking to advertise any. High-quality hotel photos will highlight what makes your establishment unique to attract more customers and boost your bookings.

According to a study by TripAdvisor, a property page with at least one photo earns 138 percent more engagement from travelers and increases the chances of a booking inquiry by 225 percent. When you raise this number to one hundred photos or more, the chance of a booking inquiry increases to 238 percent higher than a hotel listing without photos.

So, how do you prepare your hotel for a photo shoot that will capture the essence of your resort with eye-catching and beautiful images? In this piece, we will teach you everything you need to know about preparing your hotel for a photo shoot from grooming the exterior to primping the guest rooms.

Preparations and Planning for a Hotel Photo Shoot

When planning a hotel photo shoot, there are several steps to take before the shooting day arrives. To achieve the best results, hoteliers should have an idea of the story they want their hotel photos to tell and the brand personality they want to convey. Here are some steps to take when planning and preparing for a hotel photo shoot:

1. Consider Your Hotel's Brand and Story

What sets your hotel apart from the rest? Do you offer an unbeatable location in the middle of a lively city, or a quiet and peaceful getaway complete with a professional spa and sparkling pool? Are you a family-friendly and fun resort or a sophisticated and elegant hotel perfect for those traveling on business?

Determine the personality of your hotel and the story you want to tell before your hotel photo shoot. A skilled hotel photographer can capture the experience of your hotel from the energy of the guests to the style of the decor. Your photographer will carefully craft images that tell your brand story through movement, colors and creative angles.

2. Select the Right Photographer

The next step is choosing the right hotel photographer who can make your vision come to life. Look for a photographer with a rich portfolio of hotel photography featuring diverse and beautiful shots. Experience is essential for finding a photographer who will understand your hotel's brand guidelines and work diligently to design shots that showcase the best aspects of your resort.

3. Prepare a Creative Brief

After meeting with your photographer and discussing your vision, you will prepare a creative brief. This brief will serve as guidance for the photographer during shooting and editing to ensure the final results meet your needs and expectations. When writing your creative brief, include any information your photographer may need to capture the spirit of your hotel and fulfill your project needs, including:

·       The features of your hotel and property

·       The amenities you offer

·       What makes your hotel special

·       Your target audience

·       Your goals and objectives

·       Your brand guidelines

·       The deliverables you need

All of these factors will influence how your photographer stages each shot, the kinds of models they choose and what props or decorations they incorporate. A professional hotel photographer will convey the experience guests can expect when they arrive at your resort while drawing attention to the special features your establishment offers.

4. Create a Shot List

Another essential step for preparing for a hotel photo shoot is writing a shot list. This list will include your must-have shots, such as specific images you need for a marketing campaign or to update your room listings. Be sure to include photo shoot locations across your entire property — the hotel restaurant, rooftop patio, courtyard and exterior architecture are all features to consider for your shot list. Determine how many different rooms you want to photograph and the number of photos you want to receive.

Creating a shot list in advance provides time to talk with your photographer about which shots are possible and to make a plan for your shooting schedule. If you choose the right photographer, they will also help you envision creative and unique shots you had not even imagined.

5. Select Your Models

With your target audience in mind, consider the types of models you want to feature in your hotel photography. If you want to market your resort as a romantic weekend escape, you might shoot with younger couples, while a family-focused hotel may feature models of all ages. Select a diverse mix of models that will best represent your hotel brand and connect with your target audience.

Depending on the hotel photographer you choose, they may be able to provide their own models, stylist and makeup artist. Before the shoot, talk with your photographer about the style and personality you are looking for so they can coordinate the right models and wardrobe to craft perfect shots.

If you plan to feature staff members in your photographs, select willing employees in advance and plan ahead for their hair and makeup to be done. Make sure uniforms are ironed and pressed to present the best face of your hotel.

6. Schedule a Scouting Day

Before the shooting day, your photographer will visit your resort to scout the property and create a plan for each photo shoot location. A skilled photographer will schedule shots to achieve the optimal lighting in each location, whether this is dusk, dawn or sunset. Depending on the scope of your project, your hotel photo shoot may span several days or weeks.

7. Schedule Your Hotel Photo Shoot

After your shooting schedule is set, create a call sheet to inform your staff of dates and times your photography crew will be present. Your front desk staff may need to block rooms from being booked during that time, and your housekeeping crew should ensure guest rooms are clean for the day of the shoot. For exterior shots, it may be necessary to block off parking spots or trim and prune foliage. The pool deck should be sprayed and scrubbed and the restaurant and bar should be set neatly. The hotel owner or manager should plan to be available during the shoot to offer insights and make sure nothing that is essential to your brand image is overlooked.

How to Set up Your Hotel for a Photo Shoot

Your hotel photo shoot will require specific preparations for each room and location of the shoot. Taking time to clean, organize and prepare your property will ensure your photographer can create sleek and breathtaking images of your hotel.

1. Preparing the Lobby

Your hotel lobby greets your guests with their first glimpse into the style and personality of your hotel. When photographing the lobby, you want to recreate the same awe and pleasure that your guests encounter when they visit your hotel in real life.

To prepare your lobby for a hotel photo shoot, clear away any unnecessary clutter like newspapers or magazines. Ensure the lobby is clean and trash cans are changed. If your lobby has plants or floral arrangements, ensure they are pruned and primped before the photography crew arrives. A hotel photo shoot may be the perfect time to update your hotel lobby decorations by purchasing new paintings or replacing wilted plants.

When your photographer arrives, they will craft compositions that highlight the most interesting aspects of your lobby — your sparkling chandelier, sweeping staircase or unique architectural details. They may also depict models enjoying the attractions of your hotel, such as sipping on a craft cocktail from your hotel bar or dressed up for a night on the town.

Photographs of your lobby are also an excellent opportunity to feature your friendly and welcoming staff. Images of your concierge assisting guests or doorman greeting them as they arrive will let potential customers know that they can expect exceptional customer service and care when they stay with your hotel.

2. Choosing Guest Rooms to Photograph


As the biggest selling point of your hotel, your guest rooms should be carefully selected and prepared for your hotel photo shoot. Because guests rely on photos of your hotel rooms to make their booking selection, photographs of guest rooms must be honest and authentic, yet attractive and appealing. Before preparing your hotel rooms, you must first select which rooms you would like to depict.

Here are a few considerations for choosing guest rooms for a hotel photo shoot:

·       Different types of rooms: It is essential to photograph at least one of each type of room you offer to provide accurate listings and inform customers of their room options. Include your standard guest room as well as any premium suites or rooms with special accommodations, such as balconies, spa bathtubs or expanded seating areas.

·       Rooms with views: Choose guest rooms with a great view — a stunning skyline, sprawling countryside or sunny beach. According to a study by Expedia, photographs of rooms with a pleasing view and abundant natural light produce the most positive reactions from potential guests.

·       Rooms with good lighting: Look for rooms that also offer warm natural lighting, without too much light that could wash out the image. The best lighting will depend on the time of day of the shoot, so discuss with your photographer to find the ideal time to shoot each room.

When planning for your hotel photo shoot, make sure to block the rooms you want to photograph in advance to prevent them from being reserved by guests. Make sure to leave time the day or night before to clean and prepare the room in advance of the shoot.

3. Preparing the Guest Rooms

The night before the photo shoot, clean and prepare each guest room that will be photographed. For photographs that are clean, elegant and cohesive, style each room carefully to match your hotel brand personality. Follow this checklist when preparing hotel rooms for a photo shoot:

·       Steam and press linens

·       Arrange and fluff pillows

·       Iron bed skirts and smooth comforters

·       Steam and fluff curtains

·       Empty trash cans

·       Vacuum floors

·       Clean windows and mirrors

·       Fold bath towels

·       Refill bathroom soaps

·       Remove clutter

When cleaning hotel rooms for a photo shoot, go one step further than your standard cleaning routine. The camera will capture even the smallest wrinkles in the bed sheets or smudges on the windows, so take time to ensure the room is spotless. You should also remove any items that may crowd a photo, including hair dryers, phone books, coffee makers, newspapers, magazines, alarm clocks and books. You may choose to keep some branded amenities — like special soaps or a signature coffee your hotel offers — to remind customers of the benefits of staying with your hotel.

Keep extra amenities and props available so your photographer can skillfully style each photo to tell a story about your hotel. To attract business people to your resort, they may place a laptop on the desk or hang a suit in the closet. To target travelers seeking a city with a vibrant nightlife, they may depict models in stylish clothes enjoying a glass of wine.

When using props in your hotel photography, make sure not to any advertise amenities that your hotel does not offer. For example, if your hotel does not provide room service, you may not want to show guests enjoying a meal in their hotel room. However, with smart use of props and staging, you can capture your comfortable guest rooms, top-notch amenities and the luxurious experience of staying at your hotel all in one photo.

4. Preparing Hotel Restaurants and Bars

When photographing your hotel restaurants and bars, it is easy to focus only on the delectable food and drink your hotel offers, but a good hotel photographer will also capture the ambiance of the space and sophisticated allure of your dining options. Photographs of your hotel restaurant should include models enjoying your cocktails and signature dishes, while dressed in attire that reflects the personality of your restaurant. A professional hotel photographer will include both the food and the setting to capture a full picture of the experience of dining at your establishment.

Follow these steps to prepare your restaurants and bars for a hotel photo shoot:

·       Select food and drinks to feature: Choose signature cocktails that are served with a beautiful garnish in an eye-catching glass and special dishes that are full of color and elegantly plated. Food and drinks with a pop of color and creative presentation will produce the most evocative photographs.

·       Plan for food and drink preparation: Coordinate with your chefs and bartenders to make these signature dishes and drinks right before the photo shoot. Food that is fresh will create the most mouth-watering photos.

·       Set the tables: Ensure that any tables that will be included in shots are set with fresh linens and crisp table settings. Include centerpieces that are attractive yet subtle so they do not overpower the frame.

·       Clean and clear the bar: For photographing at the bar, remove any clutter such as napkin holders, coasters or condiments. Make sure the bar is clean and sparkling before mixing up some hand-crafted cocktails to photograph.

You may need to plan ahead to close your restaurant for a portion of the day. Inform your hotel staff not to take any reservations during the shooting period and with enough time before the shoot to clean and prepare the room.

5. Preparing the Hotel Pool

A hotel pool can be a major selling point for travelers seeking a relaxing, exotic vacation. When photographing your hotel pool, you want to capture this peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. To do so, scrub and spray the pool deck to remove any leaves and debris. Ensure the pool is skimmed and sparkling clean.

If your hotel pool offers special features, such as a fountain, waterfall or hot tub, your hotel photographer will likely want to feature these in a photograph. Prepare those areas by trimming foliage, cleaning and removing any unnecessary clutter.

6. Preparing the Fitness Center

For a hotel photo shoot, you want to feature every amenity your hotel offers to capture the full guest experience — this includes rooms that may not be as aesthetically appealing on their own, like your hotel fitness center. However, a skilled hotel photographer will liven the photo with movement and energy through artful casting and staging. Your photographer may choose to feature fit and cheerful models enjoying your high-tech fitness equipment.

Fitness center photos should be vibrant and clean so potential guests will be excited to enjoy a workout when they visit your hotel. To prepare for shooting in your fitness center, remove any clutter, empty trash bins and clean and polish your gym equipment.

7. Preparing the Hotel Lounge

If your hotel has a special lounge where guests can relax, consider featuring this in your hotel photo shoot. The lounge is another perfect spot to depict guests enjoying one of your hotel's signature cocktails or unwinding with a glass of wine after a business meeting. Stage your hotel lounge by removing magazines, newspapers and brochures and adding any branded props or amenities. Refill bowls of fruit and add fresh floral bouquets for a pop of color.

8. Preparing Hotel Event Spaces

When photographing the conference rooms, meeting spaces and ballrooms in your hotel, set them up to reflect the types of events you typically host. For a business meeting, set the tables with notepads, water carafes and pens. For a formal banquet, add table settings, centerpieces and glasses.

Discuss with your photographer in advance to determine how many tables you should arrange — you may only need to prepare a portion of the room to achieve the shot you want. If you are planning to shoot for both business events and banquets on the same day, schedule enough time between shots to reset the room.

9. Preparing the Exterior

In addition to capturing the interior of your hotel, your hotel photo shoot should also include the architecture, courtyard and grounds of your resort. Your photographer will compose shots that highlight innovative engineering in your hotel design or showcase unique architectural details. If your courtyard is blooming with bright flowers or accented by a sparkling fountain, these are features your photographer may also choose to capture.

Here are a few steps to ensure your hotel exterior will shine on the day of your photo shoot:

·       Trim trees and foliage

·       Mow and clip the grass

·       Sweep the sidewalk and entryways

·       Turn on fountains and water features

A professional hotel photographer will select exterior features that best capture the personality and spirit of your hotel brand. If your hotel's appeal is rustic and historic, perhaps they will photograph your oak trees and stone walkway. For an elegant, urban hotel, your photographer may feature your sleek patios or uniform palms.

The Value of Professional Hotel Photography

Eye-catching and beautiful hotel photos will capture the unique personality of your brand and attract travelers to your resort. When customers are invited into the story portrayed in your hotel photographs, they will yearn to visit your hotel to experience its elegance and charm for themselves. A successful hotel photo shoot revolves around a skilled hotel photographer — one who understands your vision and how to best showcase your hotel's unique offerings in vivid and creative compositions.

Mark DeLong Photography is an expert in hotel photography, with extensive experience in staging, styling and directing. The Mark DeLong Photography team will craft and compose each shot — from the finest architectural details to expansive shots of your property — to highlight the best features of your hotel and capture your brand spirit. With a background in fashion and luxury photography, Mark will artfully cast and style each shot to produce glamorous hotel photos that will wow your future guests. Contact Mark DeLong Photography to begin planning your hotel photo shoot.