Sep 13, 2018

How to take great photos of your hotel, bed and breakfast or self-catering property

Increase bookings with our handy guide to taking stunning accommodation photos

People are visual creatures and there’s no doubt that the right images on your website will sell your accommodation so much better than text alone. Get it wrong, however, and you’ll scare potential guests away before they can hear about your amazing place, stunning location or special offers.

If you haven’t got the budget to hire a professional interior photographer, it’s not the end of the world. With these little tips and tricks, you can take photos for yourself that look good and showcase everything your hotel, B&B, guesthouse, holiday apartment or holiday cottage has to offer.

Consider the time of day

If you’re taking shots of the exterior of your accommodation, ideally, the sun should be behind you. The same is true when you photograph the interior. Always try to have the rooms well-lit when you shoot them.

For external shoots, you can get beautiful effects when you take photos first thing in the morning or as the sun is setting.

Stage your rooms

You may have heard about ‘staging a property’ on various how-to-sell your house TV shows. The purpose behind it is to make your accommodation look even better than it normally does by highlighting those little extra finishing touches to demonstrate your attention to detail. Consider adding things like colourful cushions, pretty throws, a book and a glass of wine, or anything else that creates a warm and inviting image to encourage guests to stay.

Here are our top tips for specific rooms:

  • Bedrooms. It’s easy to forget the importance of properly made beds, but those wrinkled, uneven sheets that might be forgiven in person look terrible in a photo. Use stiff or new bedding that’s been freshly ironed and remember to straighten the vertical edges of the mattress. If you have old pillows, place some new, firmer ones on top for the photo.
  • The lobby. Again, early morning or evening is usually the best time for photographing your lobby, but you might want to experiment with broad daylight too. This is an area where you might want to include staff, but make sure you’ve given them plenty of notice, so they can look their best, as well as have them sign a model release form.
  • The bar. Either in the morning before guests arrive or in the evening after the guests have all left are the best times to photograph your bar. Line up all bottles neatly in a straight line so it looks tidy and make sure everything is spotlessly clean.
  • Restaurant. Candlelit tables with freshly ironed linen shot at sunrise or sunset will capture your restaurants’ features. We generally advise photos without people, but there are a few exceptions, such as the kitchen, which can look good when the chefs are hard at work.
  • Banquet/Ballroom. Rather than taking an uninspiring photo of an empty room in the mistaken belief this will show off its size, set up the room for an event with tables, candles, place settings, seating, etc. Pro tip: make sure all the bulbs are in working order to showcase your light fittings.
  • Conference rooms. Remove flipcharts and rubbish bins. Decorate the table with placemats, paper, writing implements, glasses and water bottles or (even better) carafes. A central bowl of sweets or floral arrangement will add a dash of colour.
  • Exterior shots. Sweep away any rubbish, cigarette butts and grass clippings from outside areas, removing rubbish bins and ashtrays from the entrance area. Try and keep car park spaces clear if they’re included in a shot – cars tend not to photograph well.
  • The pool. Pools should be clean, with no guests in the water. Make sure there’s no water on the ground and if you’re taking photos of an outdoor pool, wait for good weather if possible.
  • Gym. If you have a gym, make sure it’s spotless, removing any rubbish bins, towels, robes, etc. Switch off any TVs. Exercise balls can bring a splash of colour to the room.
  • Sauna, steam room and spa. If you offer beauty treatments and massage, photographing the treatment rooms by candlelit will look stunning. You may like to include staff in photos of the sauna and steam room to add interest, again, ensuring they sign a model release form first.

One step at a time

Focus your attention on one room first and make sure you get it right before moving on. You might only have photos of that one room by the end of the day, but quality wins out over quantity every time.

Take a step back and review the room objectively. Ask yourself what you would like to see if you were coming into the room for the first time. Is there anything that needs to be improved? Any housework you’ve overlooked?

  • Remove the bin and any brochures display stands.
  • Check if your curtains hang nicely, making sure the folds/pleats are even all the way down.
  • Rearrange cushions to create the effect you want.
  • Arrange fresh flowers by the bedside.
  • Lay out the desk with writing equipment.
  • Clean the windows – these are the one thing that’s frequently neglected.
  • Feel free to arrange the furniture a little to create the illusion of extra space and bigger rooms.
  • Remove any unnecessary clutter and stuffy-looking decoration.

Make it as easy as you can for visitors to your website to imagine themselves staying at your place.

Forget less is more – more is more!

With everyone using digital cameras, it’s easy to see the results of your hard work immediately. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s easy for you to look at a picture and think it’s good enough, only to find it doesn’t look great when you upload it to your computer.

Even professionals take multiple pictures at every shoot to give themselves plenty of choice and ensure they get the perfect shot.

Don’t take one photo and settle for that. Play around with angles and lighting, making sure the lights are on and positioned to highlight features of the room. Move around the space to discover where you get the best view.

Remember your guests

Who is your accommodation aimed at? Families? Couples? Business people? Walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts? Consider what your target demographic expects from your property type and capture this in your photos accordingly.

Okay, less actually is more

You should declutter rooms before taking photos of them. You might want to get into the habit of taking a few photos, leave the room, and have a look at the photos to see if anything’s glaringly wrong with the shot. You may think you’ve arranged the cushions to look tasteful and artistic, but in a photo, it might just look messy.

  • Clear away anything that doesn’t need to be in the room.
  • If your accommodation is self-catering, put items in cupboards if they’re not essential.
  • Hide other non-essentials like the rubbish bin, phone, advertising leaflets, hangers, etc.
  • Tuck any loose cables out of sight.
  • Check all the bulbs are working!
  • If you’re taking photos of your pool, remove any flotation devices and toys.

Once you’ve started doing this, you’ll understand why it’s so important to take plenty of photos. You’ll see plenty of room for improvement in your first few takes and since you’re doing this yourself, you can afford to spend time getting your pictures absolutely perfect.

Work on your images

The most frequently used format for photos on websites is landscape, so try to take most, if not all, your photos this way. They’ll also need to be high quality, with as big a file size as possible.

If you’re happy with your photos’ composition but feel they could do with adjusting a little, just send them over to us with your comments. For a relatively modest cost, we can get a Photoshop professional to tweak your photos until they’re just right, including lighting and colours, as well as eliminate unwanted reflections, items etc.

Hire a professional

With photos being such a crucial part of your online marketing strategy, you can’t afford to use poor quality images. If you’ve followed the tips in our blog, then you stand a good chance to have nice photos that will make people fall in love with your accommodation before they’ve even arrived!

However, if you are unsure about your photographic skills, if you don’t have the right equipment or time or if you’re targeting a high-end market, then we recommend hiring a professional interior or architectural photographer. Please talk to us. We’ll be very happy to help you find the right photographer for your project.

I’m here to help. Get your FREE inbound marketing consultation now.

Let's Talk Marketing