Hotel Essence Photo Quality Classification ChartA guide for Hoteliers

Hotel Essence Photo Quality Classification Chart - A guide for Hoteliers

Quality versus time in Hotel Photography.

Commissioning hotel photography is difficult, because a photo shoot is intangible – until you see the results. If you buy a car, that is a tangible product and you can compare specifications against price, as well as different models. In photography a huge chasm exists between commissioning low and high-quality photography, just like the difference between buying a Ford Fiesta and a Rolls-Royce.

Let’s start with a question – how long does it take to photograph a hotel room?

  1. 5 minutes
  2. 20 minutes
  3. 1 hour
  4. 2 hours
  5. 4 hours

The answer is, ‘as long as a piece of string’ – in other words, all the answers could be correct, because it all depends on quality.

‘as long as a piece of string’

Professional hotel photographers could easily spend four hours on shooting one hotel room, between ensuring that every last detail in the room is perfect, from the crisply-ironed sheets and fresh flowers, to the spotless carpet and smear-free mirror, as well as no unsightly cables. Not to mention the lighting, a key element of any hotel photo shoot.

A five-star hotel recently asked us for a quotation, and so we asked what type of quality shoot they wanted. They immediately replied, “The very highest.” And the cost? “Oh, we want low-cost.” It’s impossible to match the two, and we saw the need to explain this clearly: that in Hotel Photography, time is directly related to quality.

Skill, experience and equipment

Again and again I hear – and see – the story of a local wedding photographer who offered to take architectural photos of a hotel in return for a free holiday, or the GM´s cousin with a camera who will do the shoot for a knock-down price.

Ask yourself: would you let your hotel maintenance department retouch your frescoes? Of course not, because it is highly unlikely that they have the specific degree of skill and experience required. The same applies to professional hotel photography.

A little warning to hoteliers

Low-cost photos are the most expensive of all. Why? I hear you ask. Because hotel photos aren’t just seen by people in your local area; the images of your establishment are out there online for the whole world to see. The potential guest on the other side of the world searching for hotels in your town or city may spot them – but he or she is checking out before she even checked in.

Why? Because the photos are not appealing – and they don’t do your justice to your beautiful property; they don’t show its historic façade, exquisite salons, or stunning setting as these unique features – and key selling points – deserve to be shown.

Once those pictures go up, you will never get them down again, and the damage to your hotel brand will be unlimited. If global celebrities, with all their power and contacts, can’t get compromising photos taken down from the net, then how can one single hotel, however prestigious and respected it might be?

Another scenario is the inexpensive semi-pro: you could hit lucky, but if something goes wrong, it’s highly unlikely they will have brought back-up lighting or architectural lenses; perhaps just one camera body and a couple of general-purpose lenses are not suitable for hotel photography, let alone the lack of expertise in such a specialist field. Why take the risk?

Photo Quality Classification Chart

In order to help our readers to understand this concept, Hotel Essence Photography have developed and published the first edition of The Hotel Essence Photo Quality Classification Chart. This detailed three-page document explains specifically the levels of quality that you can expect from a photographer, depending on the amount of time and expertise on offer.

This invaluable document was created for Michelle Chaplow´s keynote speech on Hotel Photography at the Annual Conference of Historic Hotels of America held in Virginia USA: “Guests Can Check Out of Your Hotel Before They Check In, Based on the Quality of Your Hotel’s Photos.”

The chart defines five different Photo Quality Classifications that a photographer could supply: “walk-in photo”, “low-cost photo” “medium-quality photo”, “high-quality photo”, and “hero shot”.

The chart describes for each of the above-mentioned classifications, all the stages of the photography process including room preparation, styling, shoot time, equipment, lighting, and crew, through to the back-up security policy for your hotel images and presentation.

Compare two examples of the same hotel room with different levels of quality 

A "walk-in" hotel bedroom photo which takes less tahn 5 minutes to shoot.

A “walk-in” hotel bedroom photo which takes less than 5 minutes to shoot. No time for styling, lighting, waiting for the weather, nor much contemplation on composition

The ‘high-quality photo’. This photo will have taken at least two hours to take.
The room is styled, bed specially prepared, styling and lighting in bathroom, optimum time of day and weather, good visibility, view included.

The “high-quality photo”. This photo will have taken at least two hours to take.
 The room is professionally styled, the bed and pillows specially prepared, lighting in bathroom, taken at the optimum time of day good weather and visibility. An attractive room with a view, will attract guests.


How to obtain your own copy of the Hotel Essence Photo Quality Classification Chart

If you would like your own copy of the chart, please email: info [at] hotelessencephotography dot com and we would be delighted to send it to you.

With a copy of the Hotel Essence Photo Quality Classification Chart, you will have all the information you need to help you understand and specify different levels of quality when commissioning your next hotel photo shoot.

Your hotel imagery is your visual message to the world, so be sure to invest in quality hotel photography. It will reap rewards for many years to come.