How to take great photographs

So you’ve realised it’s time to improve your photos. You know that bad photography costs you. You want to show your establishment off in its best light. But how do you brief the photographer – whether that’s a professional photographer or you’re taking pics on your smartphone? Take a look.

accommodation photographer brief
Here’s a handy photographer brief that you can print out and give to a professional photographer, if that’s the route you’ve chosen. It includes all the essential tips for each of the major channels (Expedia.com, Booking.com and TripAdvisor) as well as guidelines for taking the best property photographs. Click here to download and print the PDF.

Photographer Brief

General guidelines:

  1. Use natural light: no flash. Switch lights on and open curtains.
  2. Ensure housekeeping has just been so everything is spotless.
  3. Style the room: remove any clutter, turn off the TV, smooth the bedcover, remove rubbish bins.
  4. Shoot from all four corners to capture the whole room.
  5. Capture the differences between room types (to encourage upgrades). Show differences in decor, layout, views and bed configurations.
  6. Vary shots: take some straight on and focus some on small details within the room.
  7. Ensure there’s an equal amount of floor and ceiling in the photos. Photos without floors feel like they’re floating.
  8. Include photos of food offerings – a communal kitchen, breakfast station or picnic spots.
  9. Eye-level view and straight lines (no telephoto or fish-eye lens) to give as accurate a view of the property as possible.
  10. Include a primary image, exterior shots and bathroom pics.

Primary image:

Your primary image is the one that appears on search pages and as the first image in your gallery. A successful primary image shows what’s unique about your property.

Options include:

  1. Interesting exterior shot (showing garden or surrounds).
  2. Unique interior decor shot.
  3. Pool, if you have one.
  4. An impressive view from the room.

Exterior shots:

Give a sense of your property ‘in situ’ – how it relates to its surroundings (whether that’s a garden, a beach, or a busy street).

▪    Shoot during the ‘golden hour’ just after sunrise or just before sunset.
▪    Manage expectations: only show what’s included in the accommodation (for example, don’t take a photo of bicycles if there aren’t bicycles available to borrow) and what you can see from the property (no major landmarks or attractions unless they’re visible).

Bathroom tips:

  1. Make sure the bathroom has been thoroughly cleaned, particularly mirrors.
  2. Close the toilet lid.
  3. Have a full toilet roll so the bathroom looks freshly serviced.
  4. Be aware of reflections in mirrors or shower doors.
  5. Hanging towels should match and hang at the same length.
  6. Rolled towels should match and face the camera.
  7. If the bathroom is very white and there’s too much glare, shorten or reduce exposure.
  8. If the space is too small to capture properly, try shooting it from above.

What not to do: don’t include

  1. People, pets and clutter: make it look as neat and tidy as possible.
  2. Duplicate images: for example, the same view from a different angle.
  3. Badly lit rooms.
  4. Black and white or filtered photographs.
  5. When taking 4 photos per room, don’t just take the room from 4 different angles. Include different aspects, for example the view, desk, seating and bathroom.

Specific channels:

Expedia.com

▪    20 property-level photos, plus 4 per room type (including 1 bathroom).
▪    1 exterior photo to give a sense of space and place.
▪    1 photo per amenity (pool, lounge, restaurant etc).
▪    Landscape orientation.
▪    2880 pixels on the longest side.

Booking.com

▪    Landscape.
▪    2048 x 1536 pixels (about 3.1 megapixels).
▪    24 property-level photos, plus 4 per room type (including 1 bathroom).
▪    Property-level photos are:
◦    Exterior photo, including any outdoor spaces.
◦    Lobby / front desk / arrival area.
◦    Communal spaces: restaurant / dining room / shared kitchen.
◦    Breakfast spread: in detail (no crumbs on the table, no extreme close-ups).
◦    Bedroom pics: From the door, from the window, of special details or the view and of the bathroom (make sure to show bath / shower).

Airbnb

•    Min 800 x 500 pixels.
•    Min of 7 photos per room type.

TripAdvisor

▪    At least 10 photos.
▪    At least 1024 x 450 pixels.
▪    Landscape.

Tips:

  1. Don’t post duplicates of the same room. Do post a few pics from guest rooms (including bathroom), views or outdoor spaces and common spaces or interior amenities.
  2. Two good references on TripAdvisor: Dunkeld Manor and Ginnegaap Guesthouse.

References:

Three good references to inspire you:

Watercolours House

Swartberg Hotel

Fairlight Beach House

 

Photo by James Bold on Unsplash.
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