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Snap Decisions: How to choose a Hotel Photographer

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Imagine a world where the distinction between prosumer and professional photography gear blurs into obscurity—a world where the device in your pocket can capture moments that once required a caravan of equipment and expertise. This isn't speculative fiction; it's the reality of today's photographic landscape.

There is excitement surrounding 'The Creator,' a cinematic endeavour that shattered every norm. It was the inaugural IMAX film shot not with an unwieldy, high-end camera, but with the Sony FX3, a device no larger than a can of Coke. The FX3, petite yet potent, marked a turning point, capturing life's grand scenes with astonishing clarity.

Sony FX3 filming hand held
Sony FX3

In 2013, the idea of capturing high-quality slow-motion footage on a phone was, to the professional world, absurd. Yet, when a client required a slow-motion video of dancers for their expansive lobby display, the iPhone 5c—fresh on the market—rose to the occasion. As a seasoned photographer, I couldn't fathom using only an iPhone on a professional shoot. In a stroke of ingenuity, I attached my iPhone atop my DSLR, creating the illusion of shooting with the larger camera while the iPhone did the legwork. The lobby installation remains impressive to this day.

Fast forward to 2024, and capturing crisp 4K video on an iPhone 14 Pro Max is not only possible but often indistinguishable from footage shot on more expensive gear. Equipped with a gimbal, these shots can rival the quality of traditional setups, providing a versatile solution when time or budget constraints arise.


If equipment has evolved to this level of sophistication, what then truly distinguishes a professional from an enthusiast?

The distinction lies not in the gear but in the vision behind the viewfinder.


Every property whispers its own story, eager for a translator to articulate its essence visually. Be it a modest roadside motel or a remote mountain chalet, each has a unique narrative. The real skill of a photographer lies in their ability to listen and to convey this narrative through their lens.


Creativity

Creativity in our domain is more than capturing aesthetically pleasing shots; it's about storytelling, about weaving together the unique elements of your property into a visual narrative that captivates the imagination. It's about finding the extraordinary in the everyday.

If you're fortunate enough to have a marketing team with a well-defined vision, a proficient photographer should enhance that vision with their creative flair. However, not all hotels have the luxury of such a team. Often, it's a one-person act, performing a marketing high-wire act, who needs a photographer capable of being a collaborative creative force.

This is where you might just find a unicorn—a photographer who charts a course of originality and possesses an intimate grasp of the hospitality industry's marketing intricacies. They understand that capturing the morning light glinting off the lobby chandelier isn't just about the light; it's about conveying a welcome that resonates with every guest.

WARNING - SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION HERE

And here I am—Graham Twomey. More than a photographer, I'm a visual storyteller, a seeker of light and shadow, an architect of frame and perspective. I offer a tapestry woven from threads of creativity, one that presents not just your property but the very essence of your brand.

Ai created image Dall-E of camera god
God of Photography

In an era where technology no longer gate keeps quality, the real value lies in creativity. It's about seeing each frame as a part of a grander narrative—your property's story.


As we delve into the less glamorous yet equally vital aspects of creating mesmerizing images and videos, we recognize the beating heart of hotel photography: content planning. It's not enough to possess a keen eye; a photographer must also be a meticulous planner, a director of scenes, a choreographer of shots.

Content Planning

Content planning is key to visual storytelling within the hospitality industry. Each photograph, each video frame contributes to your property's narrative. A well-crafted content plan acts as a guide, highlighting the visual milestones that define your property's character across the seasons. It ensures that each visual element serves its purpose, advancing the story with each shot.

While a robust marketing strategy often includes detailed content planning, not all properties have access to such resources. Overstretched teams, juggling various responsibilities, can benefit from partnering with creatives who can not only capture their vision but also help shape it.

This is the role of a photographer or videographer equipped with a strategic mindset. They can create a content plan that complements your marketing endeavors and bolsters them, potentially freeing your team to focus on other vital areas, such as SEO and guest services.

For those seeking insight into the complexities of a content plan or guidance on creating one that's tailored to the unique rhythm of the hospitality industry, I'm here to help. Feel free to reach out, and let's explore how we can bring your property's story to life with purpose and artistry. graham@roamframe.com

Portfolio

A good portfolio is how to choose a hotel photographer. A good photographer's work goes beyond the basics of lighting and composition. It's crucial to scrutinize their portfolio, focusing on the visual content rather than the website's design. A professional company should offer a clear and navigable website to showcase their work effectively.

When assessing a photographer's understanding of the subject, consider if they can capture a defining image that represents all facets of a property. While a skilled wedding photographer may excel in lifestyle shots, they might lack the specialized eye, lenses, or understanding necessary for creating images that not only highlight a room but also cater to the specific needs of OTAs like Expedia or TripAdvisor.

Directing

The art of direction is crucial in bringing a scene to life. A photographer must know how to prepare a room and direct people within it, managing every detail to create a scene that's both natural and compelling.


Family having fun in mountain hotel
Family lifestyle shoot Stoneridge Mountain Resort by Graham Twomey

When choosing a hotel photographer, it is essential to consider not just their portfolio, but how their ability could capture the unique narrative of your property.


Turnaround Time

Turnaround time is another critical aspect. A photographer's process for delivering images should be clearly outlined, with timelines dependent on the project's scope. A standard procedure might involve a two-week period for the initial delivery post-shoot, followed by a similar timeframe for revisions, ensuring efficiency and professionalism.

Reviews

Reviews also play a significant role. It's not just about having positive feedback but relevant reviews that reflect the photographer's expertise in the required field. As I collect reviews from past clients, I'm reminded of the importance of this digital word-of-mouth, promising to be more active in both giving and receiving reviews.

Credentials

Lastly, legal and professional credentials are non-negotiable. A photographer must have the necessary liability insurance and, in Canada, the appropriate drone operation licenses to ensure compliance and safety during shoots.

The photographer's role in the hospitality industry is multifaceted, requiring not only technical prowess but also a deep understanding of the sector's unique characteristics—topics I look forward to delving into in future discussions.

As we conclude this exploration, remember that the essence of professional photography is not just found in the images themselves but in the stories they weave, the careful planning that precedes them, and the insightful interpretation of each property's narrative.

If you're navigating the complex world of hotel photography and content planning, or simply seeking a new perspective on your visual marketing strategy, don't hesitate to reach out. Whether it's to exchange ideas, answer queries, or collaborate on capturing your property's unique story, I'm here to help. Let's connect and create imagery that not only showcases your space but also tells its story, one picture at a time. graham@roamframe.com


Until our next photographic journey,

Graham Twomey

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