By Michelle Chaplow

  • Please don’t cut my head and legs off

In every family there is one person who is a disaster with a camera – someone who has a reputation for cutting off people’s heads whenever they take a picture. So, when a camera is offered around at social occasions, that person most probably won’t be nominated to capture the event.

Please don´t cut off the flower heads and chair legs from hotel images

As a photographer you always want your images to be given to the very best designers who can display your work as beautifully as possible on a page, whether in print or digital. However on hotel websites there is a dreadful, unforgiving tendency for web designers to crop full-frame images into panoramic (long, narrow strip) format as soon as they get their hands on them. Even worse, these photographs have been meticulously planned over many weeks, and designed to showcase the property to its fullest potential.

There are danger signs here right across the hotel sector; I see this happening constantly. The panoramic style has almost become a trend in web design.

This is full-frame photograph size

3x2 full frame image

3×2 full frame image

This is a panoramic crop

The orange area denotes the panoramic crop

The Panoramic crop

A carefully composed image of two chairs and flowers

The full frame photo

Full frame photo, complete with flowers, table and chair legs.

The image with a panoramic crop – cuts the heads off the flowers, the legs off the chairs and table

The Panoramic crop, cutting the heads off the flowers and the legs off the table and chairs

The Panoramic crop

Time and time again I see images shot in full frame and cropped into panoramic.

Worse still, if a human does the cropping they can at least try to make the most of the crop. But many images are resized on the fly – in other words, a computer makes the decision based on arithmetic rather than actually “looking” at the photo, and the image gets progressively worse, ultimately compromising the appearance of the property.

Some very early websites had such a narrow crop that you could not make sense of anything.

So if web developers love panoramic, why not shoot in panoramic?

Photography is used across many mediums, so if you shoot images only on panoramic, you can never use them in a double-page spread in a magazine, since the format is the wrong shape; it isn’t deep enough. The magazine and advertising worlds are totally geared up for full frame.
Coupled with the fact that so few images are naturally panoramic, full frame is better on all counts.

So why do web designers want panoramic images?

Many web developers believe that by having text above the fold i.e. right under the images on the first screen view of a website (without the reader having to scroll down), readers will be more quickly engaged. At the end of the day, people will interpret the images first, then read the text, so in my opinion the imagery is much more important.

In a recent interview Rene Zimmer, GM of the world-class hotel Finca Cortesin, claimed that in his leisure time, he selects a hotel on images alone; once booked, he may read the text more in depth. Many people are in agreement.

Sophie Carefull, student of French and Spanish at Sheffield University and an avid traveller, said: “If a hotel’s photographs haven’t been presented properly, I would imagine they also lack attention to detail in the running of their establishment, which would lead me to look elsewhere when choosing a place to stay.”

Photography is a universal language, you can create an idea of a hotel, even if the text is written in a language that we don´t understand. Cropping images will destroy the message.

Google

Text on hotel pages relates to Google and ranking; many developers will tell you they need the text. This is true, but it doesn’t have to be at the top – Google will read and rank the page, whether the text is at the top or the bottom, so that argument doesn’t wash either.

Hands off our photography

So please, web designers, stop cropping the images that hotel photography crews worldwide have painstakingly planned and created, right down to every last detail. You are doing a major disservice to your hotel clients and their potential customers.

Hands off our artwork – let customers see the whole picture, let photography with a strong “take me there” message encourage the room reservation.

Full frame images by Michelle Chaplow from The Park Hotel Vitznau, Switzerland

Visual story telling, in full frame format

Full-frame visual storytelling is the route to hotel reservation success.