MARCH 2019 | ACCOMMODATION PHOTOGRAPHY
Earlier this month I received a last-minute call to reschedule an interior design photoshoot. The weather that day was warm and sunny so I decided to spend it exploring and photographing the very scenic and peaceful Chiltern Hills. It was my experience of this day that inspired me to write a post about getting away from it all during the spring months.
If you are host for a short-stay accommodation business, then no doubt warm Spring sunshine can deliver an influx of guest bookings. The weather of course can either be a blessing or a curse for your guests, but hopefully it should be the only bad experience during their stay. When checking into a room, if the presentation has been lovingly presented to its best, then one shouldn’t really be thinking about how many other people have slept in that same bed…or indeed used the same bathroom. The aim of the host and indeed the photographer therefore, is to make the guest feel special – as if the space is new and has been created for them only. Presentation is key to ensuring the photoshoot goes as smoothly as possible; ultimately ensuring the photographs work as hard as they can to generate bookings.
This photo of a guest room was for a client who contacted me to photograph one of her short-stay properties in Coventry. I was fortunate enough to be able to work alongside an interior designer during the photoshoot. Here each room was styled and then photographed before we moved onto the next room – a nice flow to have in terms of getting the best end result. The weather on the day was awful, however this was the only day the shoot could be done due to a guest checking in later in the afternoon, so we had to work swiftly. As an interiors photographer you don’t always have the luxury of having a whole day to photograph a space. I have at times had an hour to photograph entire properties, so being able to work swiftly without skimping on quality takes a lot of practice, but something my clients appreciate.
This photo of a twin guest room in the same property was recently featured on Houzz as part of an editorial idea book.
This shot was also of the same property but for a single guest room. The citrus colours give a nice freshness to the room helping to make the space feel bigger than what it is.
Sometimes the less-is-more approach works just fine. This photo shows nice clean sheets and soft, creamy tones complimented with hints of fresh green. The black metal head frame not only creates the sense of more space, but introduces a dark tone and compliments the black picture frame. I did consider popping a strobe light from outside the window to give the impression of sunlight hitting the bed, but there was something about the lighting in this room that just complimented the styling. Firing a speed-light at low power through an umbrella, just out of camera view by the window helped to boost colour saturation and made the bed sheets look smoother.
Bath and shower rooms can be some of the most challenging interior spaces to photograph, not just for accommodation shoots but in general. This is partly due to the often limited space you have to work with. These rooms also often contain materials such as ceramic floor and wall tiles, sink basins and mirrors all of which give a harder feel to the space.
However a few well placed towels can help soften a room and reduce the hardness.
Sometimes darker coloured bathrooms can create a warmer and calmer feel due to there being less reflective light.
Some detail shots will not only look good in your website gallery but can also help to show how clean a space is for your guests too.
If you are operating serviced accommodation then of course you will want to at least hint at what items are included with the price. Even better if any food items are seasonal and locally sourced, better still if there is home made snacks or essentials waiting for each new guest upon arrival. Home-made produce alone such as jam, honey and freshly baked bread for example can offer many photography opportunities to entice guests. Berries being picked from your allotment or honey collected from local bee hives, a story of photos that show the work that goes into making your stay as a guest so special. I covered a similar topic in my Brighton Marina post where I was photo-documenting the evolution of a new apartment development. It was only when you see those early photos that you appreciate how much work goes into something. There is a story to tell with everything, it’s just how you use it to engage with your target market.
Showing well thought out interior spaces and freshly sliced bread is one thing, but capturing the sense of space and ‘being away from it all’ by focusing on your location, will also engage with your target audience. A beach full of sunbathing tourists may show that the area is a popular location, but is that really a good thing to convey? When photographing locations I aim to capture them in a different light. This beach in South Wales that I photographed only hints at people in the distance, giving the impression of space to stretch out and de-stress. This scene shows the beach during the season that it was captured, which in this case is early spring and so there is honesty in the image.
Another photo I captured one late afternoon in Hertfordshire to give the sense of freedom and tranquility – a great sense of relaxation if you live or work in a city and looking for a few days away from the hustle and bustle.
Suggesting ideas about days out during each of the seasons will also act as an incentive for guests to book with you. This time of the year, with the days getting longer, there are plenty of physical outdoor activities to keep guests occupied. This is why I offer location photography to my clients to help them sell their rooms within the context of the surroundings.
Capturing local wildlife also acts as a great incentive to why nature-loving guests should make a booking with you. With that in mind, I try to avoid photographing in what I call ‘tourist light’ (midday when the sun is high) and instead opt for early morning or late afternoon shots, when the light is softer and more creamy. This is part of what goes into estimating a job, as getting these types of shots requires planning, patience and at times site recce’s to ensure the client receives what we agreed.
With all that in mind, I collaborate with existing and new start-up accommodation businesses who have at times set aside a relatively modest budget for their photography, yet their website and marketing budget is a lot more generous. What’s important to note here is that your photos act as the foundation for your marketing collateral, including of course your website gallery. Therefore, if you really want to stand out above your competitors, and give a true reflection of staying as a guest at your accommodation, then you have to understand the importance of how professional photos are perceived by your prospective guests. Commissioning me to go out and capture a set of carefully researched and seasonally inspired original photos means your marketing messages will be real, rather than using stock photography, which could be used by one of your local competitors. Stock photography is of course fine to use, but unless you are familiar with how the licensing and usage terms work, then you may be limited with how you can use those images.
I work across the UK and can work to tight schedules to ensure rooms are photographed on time, allowing for minimum interference with guests. From boutique style rooms, luxurious suites and relaxing spas, to breakfast table spreads and the specific location that makes staying as a guest so special. I can capture the entire interior and exterior experience of staying as a guest for your business and provide you with a set of images that you can use throughout the year.
If you are thinking about updating your website with some fresh, seasonally inspired photography then do get in touch so we can collaborate.