Every year I’m asked to photograph property across the UK which is used for guest accommodation, including B&Bs, holiday rentals, guesthouses and hotels. During calls prior to the photoshoot I am always asked “Is there anything we should do ahead of the photography?” So I thought it would be useful to compile a guide of the best practices and suggestions to ensure that your property is correctly presented for your promotional images.
This doesn’t just mean be ready on the day… if you are a new business and this is your first set of promotional images, are you actually at a stage where you are ready to invite in a photographer? You only get one chance to make a first impression, as they say - I’ve certainly been called out on a few photoshoots where the business is so eager to make a start on promotion that the property lacks all the necessary finishing touches (and on some occasions entire bathrooms). If you jump the gun too early you’ll invariably end up re-booking the photographer for more photos at a later date and increasing your costs.
Align with your marketing
Quite a fundamental point, but revisit your marketing and make sure the presentation of your property faithfully represents what you set out in your marketing plans. If you set out to create a cosy, coastal holiday let then cast your eye through the accommodation and make sure the room contents, furnishings and final dressing support this. These photos will probably be reused way into the future and so you’ll kick yourself if, at a later date, you don’t think they have the look and feel you were trying to achieve.
Clean and Declutter
OK, on to the mechanics of preparing for the actual property shoot... If there is one take-home piece of advice in this whole guide it is “declutter.” This is particularly worth paying attention to in a B&B, you are more likely to put things down and forget about them in accommodation that you live alongside, less so for stand-alone holiday lets and hotels. Cables are particular culprits here: charging plugs, light cables, TV cables - if they cannot be tidied easily when in use then just unplug them and tuck them behind the appliance; photographers don’t need the clock radio or TV to be working when they photograph a room!
As for cleaning, cleanliness isn’t actually a huge concern when photographing a room as dust doesn’t really show up! The only caveat here is chrome taps, metallic sinks and internal glass, such as shower screens - do give these a good clean. I’ve also written a guide on How to present your home for property photography which covers decluttering and cleanliness in more detail, which might be worth checking out.
Celebrate your business’ key features
This could be the character of the building, it could be outside space and views, it could be the accommodation’s location… be sure to make the photographer aware of these and that they are in a state ready to be photographed. For example, if your B&B serves food from your kitchen garden or eggs from your own chickens then make sure they are prepared for photography. Or if you have outdoor facilities for guest use such as seating or a BBQ area, make sure these are clean and set-out ready to be photographed.
Dress rooms… but don’t over-dress!
Your aim is to entice people to come and stay at your property through a set of clear and emotive images. That’s it; the goal is that simple. Once the rooms are furnished pay attention to what else you can do, in context, to add soul and character. An easy win is a vase of flowers and some soft furnishings. However, don’t go overboard as the rooms can begin to feel cluttered, so draw a line at adding items which are too personal.
Highlight Added Value Services
Be sure to notify your photographer of any value-added items, such as complimentary room items like water, tea and coffee facilities or perhaps communal facilities such as a pool, outdoor seating etc. If you have room items on display then make sure they are exemplary… don’t leave out a water bottle with a tatty label or chipped cups etc. You will probably use some of these photos for a long time into the future so it’s worth making sure everything is the best it can be.
Often, so much time is spent ensuring guest rooms look great that outdoor spaces are neglected. Be sure to give the lawn a mow, tidy up litter that may have strayed into your property, hide overflowing bins, dead-head flowers and so on. If you have outdoor signage, be sure to give this a clean too. Also be sure to point out any outdoor features to your photographer such as far-reaching views or nearby footpaths.
Why your accommodation? That’s the only question. Why would potential clients book your guesthouse and not the one half a mile away? Try and give your guests the taste of a life they don’t have… be that country views, an open fire, a four-poster bed, flowers in every room, a home-cooked breakfast, exposed oak beams… identify what your accommodation does best and make it as easy as possible to photograph that feature.
For other property presentation tips see: How to present your home for property photography
If you would like to book a photoshoot for your accommodation business then you can find more information and prices on my commercial photography page.