As a hotel marketer (or traveler), you know that vacationers are looking at multiple websites, Facebook, and other marketing avenues long before they even pick up the phone to call any property. Visuals are important. Captivating and impactful architectural hotel photography is vital. However, what used to appeal to travelers has changed. In the past year, I have shot hotels and resorts across the country and concentrated on the following modern trends in hotel photography.
The Hotel is the Star
As an architectural photographer, this is obvious to me, because my expertise is focusing on the angles and architectural features of a space. In the past, hotel photography frequently featured models posing to demonstrate what a good time they were experiencing. Now, travelers notice the amenities of the room and imagine themselves there. Whether guest rooms, spa, restaurant or ballroom, it is best to concentrate on the space with few or no people in the shot.
This was easy to do when I was shooting The Cromwell Las Vegas. These rooms speak for themselves, with extreme luxury and unique design.
The conventional wisdom is that the larger the hotel the better the photography should be. Although the grand hotels should have great photos, those properties tend to sell themselves. More economical hotels have to rely on impeccable imagery to help them get noticed among the countless choices at the low and mid-range price points. The all-new Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix/Tempe ASU has clean lines and enough color and contrast to stand on its own.
What Makes The Property Unique
The rooftop pool and bar area at The Cromwell Las Vegas are completely unique and were a pleasure to photograph. No other hotel in town has anything like it. Of course, the space is incredibly striking with bright colors and reflective water. No models needed here. By utilizing natural lighting techniques, we enhanced the space and captured a moment the viewer will place themselves in. The idea is to instill an emotional response…involve the viewer.
This walkway at The Wynn Las Vegas is awe-inspiring with the hanging sculptures made of fresh flowers. Focusing on design elements such as this make the hotel photography unique and can capture many of the distinctive experiences guests will have when staying at the hotel.
Don’t Ignore the Basics
Glamour is exciting, but remember, from the right angle, with good lighting, every room can look inviting. This suite at The Fairfield Inn & Suites in Leavenworth, Kansas, proves that you don’t need to be in a big city to find great style. Daylight hitting the sofa provides a sense of serenity and relaxation that the guests will experience when retreating to their room after a long day. This angle shows that the room provides a relaxing space with subdued lighting perfect for lounging, working or relaxing.
Look Natural (even if it takes a lot of work)
Lighting is my passion, especially how it plays with a space both with the interior and the exterior. As a professional hotel photographer, I know that it’s important to highlight the features of the space while maintaining the effect of the light as the architect or interior designer intended it. (Although sometimes it takes a lot of work to look like you’ve done nothing!)
For instance, this shot was extremely important for the owners and architects of The Cromwell Las Vegas, featuring vintage chandeliers from the original hotel. Unfortunately, in the dim light of the space, their color and brilliance just didn’t translate well, making the gold chandeliers look bronze and dim.
I spent many post-production hours working to very carefully digital retouch these chandeliers to be sure their colors were accurate. Now, this shot really highlights the vibrancy of the chandeliers, while still maintaining the rest of the casino colors and dim ambiance. That image really pops in a way that is more true to the space.
Shoot Some Details
Although the majority of photos for hotels focus on the big picture, literally, it’s also important to capture some details, which I call nuances. These hotel photography images can enhance marketing materials and highlight the details or help create a mood.
This is from The Residence Inn, Nashau, New Hampshire. The lighting creates a sense of relaxation and serenity, and shows potential guests that the hotel creates a comfortable atmosphere with fresh flowers, inviting pillows and a nice spot to relax.
This unique detail shot from the pool at The Cromwell Las Vegas invites you to dive in, grab a drink and enjoy a day of sunshine and play by the pool. Understated details can translate to many things in hotel photography. This can also be a great graphic element for marketers to use as elements in their brochure or website design. A good hotel photographer will understand the many uses hotel photography will have.
Capture the Mood
Some spaces are exciting, some are meant to be relaxing. Be sure that the photos translate the ambiance of the room. This shot captures the inviting warmth of the lobby at Fairfield Inn & Suites in Leavenworth.
And who wouldn’t enjoy this workspace at The Residence Inn, Nashau?
For hotels featuring unique elements such as nightclubs, it is important to capture photography that can be used to promote this as well. At The Cromwell Las Vegas, the nightclub has an after-hours club in the basement. Amazingly cool, but very difficult to shoot in that light. In fact, many photographers won’t shoot in these spaces, because they just can’t make it look good. Here again, my love of lighting and use of careful post-production techniques make this a great project for me. Color correcting and retouching is very difficult, but in the end, the ambiance and vibe is what comes through (and again, even without models).
Shooting surrounding attractions such as landmarks, parks, unique shops – whatever is representative of the region, provides hotel marketers with a library to choose from for supplemental images to utilize in their marketing. These images provides a more extensive impression of the property and area to use to highlight the destination whether on the website, print advertising or brochure designs.
This park is near The Fairfield Inn & Suites in Leavenworth.
This is just a bit of Old Town Scottsdale, near The Hampton Inn Phoenix Airport North.
Exteriors Are Still Important
All hotel marketing professionals will still want the full exterior shot. Larger hotels like The Wynn Las Vegas use it to impress with size and architecture, whereas smaller inns may use it for location description and recognition. It’s amazing, however, how different the mood can feel with day and night shots. Both are important for hotel marketers to have at their disposal.
This is The Wynn Las Vegas.
And The Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix/Tempe ASU.
Don’t Forget the Brand
An interesting shot of the hotel signage is important for your hotel marketing collateral. Some signs have a lot of style and some have little, but with a unique angle or lighting, a good photographer should be able to make any signage a unique shot.
This is from The Residence Inn, Nashau.
And The Fairfield Inn & Suites, Leavenworth.
And, The Cromwell Las Vegas.
Hotel photography provides an exciting opportunity to find the unique qualities from both large and small properties and economy brands to lavish resorts. With my experience highlighting the architectural features of structures, it’s easy to maintain the modern trends in hotel photography as I prefer not to use models and I enjoy focusing on lighting and design. If you work with a hotel or other structure and need impactful architectural photography, I would look forward to the opportunity to work with you to highlight your property’s unique features. Please call me at Architectural Photography, Inc. 888.688.5510