How to plan the perfect hotel photoshoot
Director of one of the UK’s top hospitality photographers and videographers, Hospitality Media, Jacqueline Franklin has seen her fair share of both good and bad hotel photoshoots and knows how important it is to get it right. She tells Curious what hoteliers need to keep in mind when organising their next shoot.
Planning the shoot
All photoshoots start with a ‘brief’ including goal setting, and the time put in at this stage will pay off. It’s stating the obvious but be sure that you know exactly what you want photographing and the end purpose of the images. This is essential to ensure precious budgets are spent well. Mobilise the whole team in readiness for the day of the shoot; encourage them to feel they are part of the process providing a sense of ownership.
Be one step ahead - production
The running order of the shoot will be planned to maximize time, but you can help by thinking ahead and getting the next set-up ready so the photographer can swiftly move from one location to the next. Don’t hurry the situation, talk to the photographer and they should be able to advise when the next location will need to be ready. This is especially important when it comes to food photography as you need each dish to be fresh, so wait until the photographer is ready and is 100% happy with the previous shot.
In the bedroom – a member of housekeeping on hand
The bed itself is generally the focal point and is always the biggest challenge. Ensure that a member of your housekeeping team is on hand to assist. A well-made bed with well pressed sheets and duvet covers are essential. The less re-touching that’s needed on the computer is beneficial all round. Secondly, ensure that the duvet covers the divan if a valance hasn’t been used. This makes the end result look so much better. Because white and plain is king, this can be a nightmare to get right in terms of end results even if the linen has come straight from the laundry. An iron can help fix it, however to really crack this a Pro Steamer and rail is vital, all of which can be hired.
Consider a stylist
If budget allows, a stylist will have all sorts of tricks up their sleeve to ensure bedroom shots look as luxurious as possible, such as extra pillows, mattress toppers and using goose down duvets and pillows. They may also assist with props to help style the bedrooms; they will see the room in a different way to you and can really help enhance the bedroom improving your proposition.
In the restaurant - keep the iron handy
The same thing applies to table cloths as with bedding. It doesn’t take much to distract the viewer, and a slightly creased or badly ironed table cloth will draw attention. It’s therefore imperative that somebody carries out a wonderful job of ironing all those tablecloths before the photographer arrives. Ensure an iron is at hand to carry out any ‘spot’ ironing. It will be worth the effort and make your restaurant appear perfect.
Check your cutlery and glassware
As well as shooting the whole restaurant you will normally expect the photographer to do some tight shots of the table settings. This can really be helped if you have a set of brand-new knives and forks handy. You will be amazed how a close-up of your everyday cutlery will reveal all those tiny little scratches and dents. You want your restaurant to shine, so keep a set of new cutlery in the back of a drawer or locked away just for photo shoot days. The same goes for glassware; keep a set boxed up and bring them out for the shoot, ensuring they’ve been polished.
To have people or not to have people?
This question comes down to your brand image or identity. People can be tricky for all sorts of reasons and can date imagery. People in shots can also look awkward and may not convey the right image, so it must be well managed. However, people are the ‘tangible’ element that helps with projecting service quality, so the idea shouldn’t be dismissed entirely. Models and styling come at a price but can be worth it depending on your marketing communications objectives. People make the hospitality industry and one way of demonstrating this is to show your employees in photos. If customers see a happy and genuine workforce this can be compelling and can help with the tangible elements.
Staff become your customers
Having customers in shot can be really challenging. Models will come to mind first, but they can be expensive and limiting in terms of how many shots they can be in without repetition. Increasingly, members of staff have started volunteering for this moment of fame! If you choose to go down this route, ensure the members of staff taking part are comfortable about it, that they are well-briefed, and they have brought a change of clothes for the shoot. Don’t make someone feel like they have to be part of the shoot and definitely don’t leave it until the day to organise, it’s all about preparation. Even if you’re using staff, you should still get all models to sign a model release form. This gives you permission to use images where they have featured in your marketing.
Be involved throughout
Finally, my best piece of advice is to make sure you or a colleague are on-hand to organise the shoot. Doing a disappearing act could undermine all your efforts! If everything is under control, still check in on a regular basis and see how the shoot is going and ask to take a look at the shots on the photographer’s laptop. This sends a clear message to the photography team that you care about the shoot and the detail and will ensure you get the results you want.