hiring photographers? 8 tips for hoteliers

8 tips for hoteliers hiring photographers

As a Luxury Hotel & Resort photographer, I have been photographing hotels for over a decade and have had the pleasure of traveling the world in doing so. As a result, I have a wealth of experience to offer industry specialists when they are looking at hiring photographers. I am a Luxury Hotel & Resort photographer, but my experience comes from many years of photographing hotels of all levels especially in the early stages of my career.

Throughout these years, I have gathered many valuable insights when it comes to hiring photographers. I would like to share some of these with Hoteliers and Marketing specialists to assist in making the process of hiring photographers a little easier. I would like to focus on the not so obvious suggestions which I believe can add value to your next project.

1) Avoid requesting an overwhelming number of images.

One of the most common mistakes marketing professional make is simply to require too many photographs. In reality, all it takes is a single image to get a potential customer excited about visiting a location. We have all seen advertisements in magazines of beautiful places that make us wish we were there. Naturally, I understand that there are brand standards that require hotels to showcase every room type and meeting rooms with all the different room set ups available. Remember that there is always one best shot of the space or setup. Why bother showing the second best option?

A great photographer should be able to identify the best angle. They can then focus their efforts on propping and lighting to ensure that the show the room at its best. This is harder to do with the additional pressure of producing numerous shots. Also, more images ultimately will result in a higher budget. By reducing the number of images hotels require, you might be able to afford a more experienced photographer. Quality will always beat quantity.

2) Avoid having virtual tours.

I admit the idea of having a virtual tour is appealing at first. But the reality of it is that they can be very unattractive and cheapen the brand. On the one hand, you are hiring and paying top dollar for an experienced interior photographer. This involves them painstakingly choosing the best angles for a room. Also, they consider lighting production and expensive props to showcase the different areas in the best possible way. With a virtual tour, you run the risk of allowing potential clients to see a raw version of your property. With possibly terrible lighting and in most cases distorted angles. As a result, nothing to the imagination and is one of the worst choices possible.

3) When hiring photographers ask them to show you a fully completed job.

Fellow photographers may hate me for this, but requesting to see a fully completed job is best when hiring photographers. It is probably the best way to determine the quality of their work. Professional photographers should have the resources to provide clients access to their websites. Complete with the relevant links and passwords. This way they can see recently completed jobs and provided feedback on images.

If a photographer has been working for a few years, it is easy to put together a deceiving portfolio. Such a portfolio can showcase beautiful areas with incredible lighting. It can also give a client a deceptively better impression than the overall reality of their skills and experience.  A link to a full job will help determine how someone addresses challenging lighting situations. This is key when photographing hotels and resorts.

4) Request liability Insurance.

As many things that can go wrong on a photo shoot, it should be mandatory that your photographer has liability insurance. Customers can trip on wires used for lighting. Lights can drop on top of There are many things that can go wrong on a photo shoot. It should be mandatory to check that your photographer has liability insurance. Customers can trip on wires used for lighting. Lights can drop on top of

Many things go wrong on a photo shoot. It should be mandatory to check that your photographer has liability insurance. Customers can trip on wires used for lighting. Lights can drop on top of the expensive artwork. Some photographers might want to work with a continuous light also known as ‘Hot Lights.’  Photographers need to take the appropriate precautions to ensure they do not become a fire hazard.  When hiring photographers, a professional photographer will always have the relevant insurance. If they do not, then they are probably not the best photographer to hire.

hiring photographers

5) Be extremely careful with drones.

The use of drones has opened endless possibilities regarding what aerial photography can achieve. I highly suggest including aerial image packages for resorts that are next to a point of interest. An example is proximity to a landmark, a golf course, or any water-front such a beach, river or lake. There is absolutely no need for aerial photography if your hotel is in the middle of the city or lost in a sea of other buildings. There are now liability issues that hoteliers need to be aware of regarding drone usage. FAA now requires commercial Drone operators (anybody who flies a drone in exchange for money) to be fully licensed.

It is only through the process of getting licensed that photographers are made aware of many issues. An example is the complexities involved regarding shared airspace. There are areas where we can and cannot fly a drone because of interference with air traffic control. One can only imagine the size of the lawsuit in the instance of an accident. A photographer needs to be aware of the appropriate usage of a drone. There are other more obvious dangers such as flying drones over populated areas. You can reduce your reality of risk by hiring a fully insured and licensed drone operator.

6) Allow photographers to include valuable team members such as stylist and assistants.

This requirement may vary from one photographer to another. Top photographers could photograph anywhere from 5-7 images per day when working with a single assistant. This number could be almost doubled if a stylist and an additional assistant are allowed in the budget. It makes sense mathematically. Besides, by having an additional set of eyes on the set many errors can be avoided. The shoot would also be conducted in a shorter amount of time. This would mean that there is a reduction of risk of disturbing the guests.

7) Don’t waste time preparing a photography schedule on your own.

A great photographer can determine when the best time is to photograph your property, especially when it comes to exteriors. Of course, there are scheduling issues that are unique to each hotel. My advice is to meet a day before. Preferably after scouting. This time can be used to determine a common ground that will work for everybody.

8) Be an active participant in the project.

When hiring photographers, be involved in the project. The owner may be fond of a particular piece of artwork. Or you may have scheduled an area of the hotel for refurbishment. Communicate these issues to the photographer during production. Better yet, be an active participant during the shoot. Most photographers these days shoot while tethered to a laptop which makes providing feedback very easy.  The chances of the client being extremely satisfied with the images will exponentially skyrocket if a he or she is involved.

Of course, hotels are frequently short staffed. There may be a reason that you will be unavailable during the shoot. Then my suggestion is to arrange a scouting day for the photographer before the photo production. Scouting is having the photographer walk around the property taking pictures while looking for the best angles and ideas. The photographer will then present the raw images to the client. At this time, you can determine angles and pictures that will satisfy everybody.  Some photographers heavily discount scouting day. Having a clear idea of the angles may also speed up the production process.

Remember these eight suggestions when hiring photographers. It will mean that working with your photographer is as trouble-free as possible.  It will ensure that the completed images provided by the photographer showcase your property in the best way.

If you are interested in the abbreviated version of the article please visit my Linkedin profile and feel free to make any comments.

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About Antonio

Antonio Cuellar is a commercial photographer who specializes in capturing the architecture and lifestyle of the world's most luxurious hotels and resorts.