Stunning hotel photography can make or break your ability to attract guests.

Your hotel likely has a mix of good and bad photos right now. Some probably showcase your property beautifully while others are dark, grainy, poorly composed, or just plain boring.

Even hotels with professional hotel photography often have room for improvement. After all, hotel photography trends and guest expectations change over time.

What wowed guests five years ago may not impress them today. Updating and improving your hotel photography ideas can give your bookings a boost. But where do you start?

Following a step-by-step hotel photography improvement program takes the guesswork out of the process. You’ll methodically enhance your photos until they align with current best design practices. We’ll walk through 9 essential steps for improving your hotel photos.

canon camera in front of the sun

Let’s dive into each step in more detail so you can start revamping your hotel’s photography for real results.

Evaluating your current photo collection

The hotel owners first step in improving your hotel photography is taking a critical look at your current photo collection. This allows you to identify areas that need improvement.

Go through all of your existing photos and take notes on what you see.

How many photos do you have for each room and hotel area? Do you have exterior shots that showcase your property at different times of day? Are there unique amenities or local attractions not currently pictured?

bed in a hotel room

As you review, make note of any weak spots in your photo collection. Some common problems we’ve seen with hotel clients have been:

  • Too few photos of certain room types or amenities
  • Blurry, dark, or poorly composed shots
  • No photos of your meeting rooms, lobby, or other public spaces
  • A lack of variety in terms of angles, framing, and lighting
  • No exterior shots during sunset, evening, etc.
  • Unstylish or cluttered room photos that need updating

hotel hallway

Make sure pictures serve a purpose to entice guests to stay, instead of strange images of hallways that leave them scratching their heads!

Along with gaps, look for your absolute best photos. Identify shots with pleasing natural light, thoughtful styling, interesting angles, and composition. Use these as inspiration for improving other images.

Be brutally honest about which photos need to be replaced in order to showcase your property at its very best. Outdated, boring, or unattractive photos could be turning potential guests away.

By thoroughly evaluating your current collection, you gain essential insights for improvement. You’ll know which new types of shots to prioritize during your next photography session. With areas for improvement identified, you can craft a plan for transforming your hotel photography and better attracting guests.

Determining which types of photos you need more of

Once you’ve evaluated your current photo collection, you can identify the specific types of images needed. Pinpointing photo gaps helps guide your photoshoot planning.

three women pointing at a laptop

Consider creating a photographic shot list, including:

  • Exteriors – Feature front views during both day and night. Architectural photography can capture nice architectural details. Show off landscaping and outdoor amenities.
  • Guest rooms – Photograph every room from multiple angles. Style rooms attractively and include highlights like views.
  • Bathrooms – Well-lit, clean bathroom photos build confidence in the space.
  • Public spaces – Highlight lobbies, restaurants, event venues, pools, and more.
  • Amenities – Create a photoshoot checklist for on-site amenities. This may include the spa, gym, business center, etc.
  • Local attractions – Photos presenting nearby activities, restaurants, parks, and landmarks can boost interest.
  • Food and drink – Appetizing photos of menus, bars, and dining spaces make guests salivate.

Breakfast on a jungle patio

As you build shot lists, consider the guest experience and how to highlight it visually. What will excite potential guests or seal the booking decision? Images should build an emotional connection.

Identifying photo gaps also involves analyzing your competitors’ websites. See what types of shots they feature that your collection lacks. Stay on top of trends andTravelers expectations by improving outdated photos.

Finally, examine photo usage across platforms. Do you have vertically oriented shots ideal for mobile sites? Are images optimized for social media channels? The right photo types allow versatile use across your digital presence.

With a clear shot list in hand, you’re ready to commission hotel photography tailored to your hotel’s unique needs. Purposefully filling photo collection gaps enables you to put your best visual foot forward online.

Hiring the right hotel photographer

Finding the right professional photographer or hotel photography company is crucial for bringing your photographic vision to life.

Man holding a Fujifilm camera

A specialist in architectural photography might not be what you’re looking for if you want to convey mood or experience, but an expert in portraits might not know the best angles for many hotels. Prioritize choosing someone with experience capturing hotels, resorts, and hospitality venues.

Review potential photographers’ portfolios to get a feel for their style and skills. Look for examples showcasing properties similar to yours. Do you like their point of view, use of lighting, and editing aesthetic? High-quality, consistent work across projects is important.

Consider logistics like where the photographer is based and their familiarity with your area. Local photographers have knowledge of weather patterns, sunrise/sunset timing, and hidden photoshoot gems. Discuss your project’s scope and timeline to ensure availability.

Once hired, provide inspiration images of your vision to guide the photographer. Communicate must-have photos of your property and priorities for the project. Give examples of current images that underwhelm to explain the vision for improvement.

A tropical Hotel

Are you looking for wide panning shots that would require a wide angle lens, or close-ups of the detailing in each room? These details could make the difference for a potential guest.

Some other photographer tips:

  • Ask about equipment and lighting options for optimal shots.
  • Look for creativity in utilizing angles, depth of field, and perspective.
  • Expect editing expertise to color correct, enhance, and perfect images.
  • Discuss licensing, image rights, and usage permissions.

A lot of these are basic elements to professional photography and they should be open to collaboration to align with your hotel photography ideas.

With the right photographer-client relationship, you’ll feel confident entrusting them to dramatically enhance your visual content. Be clear on expectations upfront to produce hotel photos that impress guests and improve your bookings.

Providing shot lists and direction for personalized hotel photos

The key to a successful hotel photoshoot is providing your photographer detailed direction through shot lists. Share the types of images you need along with your vision for showcasing the property.

Give examples of current images that underwhelm so the photographer understands the goals for improvement. Provide inspiration photos from competitors or hospitality blogs representing the style you desire.

For room shots, include each room type needing updated photos. Specify needs like showcasing views, highlighting unique furniture, or featuring spa-like bathrooms. For public spaces, share your priorities for the lobby, restaurant, bar, and amenities.

Consider scenes that tell the story of the guest experience. This may include check-in shots, dining, pool-side relaxation, event spaces, and more.

Provide timing guidance for exterior shots during ideal lighting like sunrise, blue hour, sunset, and evening. Give suggestions for locations around the grounds to highlight landscaping.

For a cohesive look, provide the photographer with your brand style guide. This ensures on-brand color schemes, fonts, and other elements visually reinforce your brand through photography.

With detailed shot lists and examples, you empower your professional photographer to create personalized portraits aligned with your goals. Avoid vague requests like “get some room shots” or “a few photos of the lobby.” The more details provided, the better the photoshoot results will match your needs.

Remember, the photographer works for you. Be vocal in requesting must-have shots if missing during the photoshoot. Detailed planning ensures no critical gaps remain to successfully showcase your property online and attract more guests.

Styling rooms for optimal appeal

Proper room styling elevates hotel photography to make spaces look their absolute best. An expertly styled room photograph can highlight the amazing amenities and atmosphere a guest will experience.

hotel room on a mountain top

Begin by decluttering to simplify the scene. Remove excess furniture, rugs, artwork, and decor items that may make the space feel crowded or dated. Pare down to key pieces that show off the room’s best assets.

Next, incorporate thoughtful styling details to add comfort and character. Plush white bedding, clean folded towels, and a trendy throw blanket enhance the room’s soft, welcoming vibe. Fresh flowers, books, and ambient lighting add personality.

Set furniture at appealing angles that maximize the sense of space. Pull chairs out from walls and angle them toward each other or the focal point of the room. Drape white linens on nightstands and dressers to disguise clutter.

Check lighting and adjust window treatments to avoid harsh shadows or glares. Photograph during peak daylight when possible. Boost lighting with portable equipment if needed.

finally, style the foreground with decorative items on side tables, unique art pieces, or amenities like luxury bath products. A steaming cup of coffee or tea can complete the warm, inviting scene.

With clutter removed and mindful accents added, empty hotel rooms transform into chic, livable spaces in photographs. You control the story being told through careful styling. Follow these tips to showcase rooms at their most photogenic and enticing for guests.

Perfecting lighting, angles, and framing

Skillful photographers use lighting, angles, and framing to take hotel photography to the next level. Follow these tips for shots that impress:

  • Lighting is key. For exteriors, shoot at golden hour when possible for glowing, warm illumination. For interiors, supplement with artificial light to avoid shadows or glare. Watch for lens flares from sunlight. Diffuse harsh overhead lighting.

  • When composing shots, avoid dead-center framing. Use the rule of thirds for aesthetically pleasing images, placing points of interest near the intersections of lines that divide the frame. Lead the eye by angling into the scene.
  • Vary your angles. Shoot straight-on, from above, below, and corners for dimensionality. Crooked angles add visual interest. Get close with details and wide for sweeping room views.
  • Maximize positive space around subjects, minimizing background clutter. Zoom in on design elements like textured walls or pendant lights. Capture views through windows to build a sense of place.

  • Play with depth of field by adjusting aperture opening. Blur backgrounds to pull focus to the foreground details.
  • Balance lighting and shadows. Dramatic contrasts create moody pictures, while soft, even lighting feels airy and welcoming. Motivated lighting directs the viewer’s eye.
  • Strive for symmetry and purposeful asymmetry to be pleasing to the eye. Frame focal points off-center using the rule of thirds.

With mastery over lighting, angles and composition, photos elevate beyond snap shots to artful images. Convey an intimate, authentic perspective of your hotel’s singular atmosphere through impactful photography.

Choosing locations around your hotel for highlighting amenities and atmosphere

When photographing your property, carefully choose locations that showcase the best features and atmosphere. This allows you to strategically highlight what makes your hotel special.

For exteriors, capture the facade, entrance, outdoor public spaces, and notable architectural details. Photograph the pool area and amenities like fire pits, lounges, and cabanas.

For guest rooms, photograph each type plus unique layouts or views. Move beyond just the bed area to capture seating nooks, spa bathrooms, patios and more.

In public spaces, focus on the lobby, restaurant interior, bar area, fitness center, spa, event venues, business center, and anywhere else guests frequent.

When featuring amenities, go beyond equipment photos to show amenities in use. For example, show people working out in the fitness center, lounging by the pool, or gathered in event spaces.

To portray atmosphere, capture candid shots of guests relaxing, interacting, and enjoying your property. Convey the emotions they’ll experience through artificial lighting and composition.

Photograph vignettes of table settings in restaurants, branded water bottles by beds, robes in spa dressing rooms, and other thoughtful details. Capture team members providing gracious service.

Choose locations that give a well-rounded perspective of your offerings. You want potential guests to see themselves having an amazing experience at your property. Transport them there visually by spotlighting your best features and spaces through strategic hotel photography.

Editing techniques to make photos pop

Skillful photo editing takes hotel images from dull to dazzling. Don’t settle for lifeless, lackluster shots. Instead, use editing to create vivid photos that pop on your website.

First, color correct images for accuracy and visual impact. Adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and warmth until color tones feel balanced. Neutralize color casts or awkward shadows.


Next, carefully sharpen images for crispness. Be gentle – oversharpening causes pixelation. Reduce image noise for clarity. Make images clean so everything is visible that you want to be. Selectively darken or lighten areas as needed.

Strategically dodge and burn to heighten contrasts. Lift shadows in underexposed areas or subtly darken overly bright regions. This adds depth and directs the viewer’s eye.

Crop images for stronger focal points. Eliminate cluttered backgrounds or unnecessary negative space. Recompose the frame if needed.

Finally, use accents like lens flare, light rays, or focal blurs to add artistic interest. Subtle vignettes darken edges for emphasis.

With editing finesse, lifeless shots transform into vivid, eye-catching images. Eliminate distractions so the subject pops. Enhance colors and visual impact through selective adjustments. Showcase the very best version of each hotel photo after editing for stellar online presence.

Optimal use of photos on your website and marketing materials

Once you have a refreshed collection of hotel photography, ensure you make the most of it across platforms. Visually consistent, high-quality images should be integrated across your:

  • Website – Hero images on the homepage, galleries for room types, amenities, services, etc. Optimize images for mobile.
  • Landing pages – Tailor images to highlight offerings on specific landing pages.
  • Email marketing – High Quality photos help emails stand out in inboxes and convey key messages.
  • Social media – Vivid pictures tend to get more engagement on channels like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Paid ads – Dynamic display ads can feature your best photos.
  • Print marketing – Brochures, flyers, direct mail pieces, etc. benefit from updated images.
  • Review sites – Photo galleries can boost impressions and engagement on TripAdvisor,, etc.
  • OTA listings – Refresh cover images, room shots, amenities, and area attractions imagery.
  • Signage and decor – Newly branded visuals bring continuity.

Aim for photo optimization best practices across all platforms. Add alt text descriptions, ensure proper image sizing/resolution, and analyze performance.

With eye-catching hotel photography that tells your hotel’s unique story, your marketing materials make a powerful visual impact at every guest touchpoint. An updated primary image directly support your rebranding and refresh efforts.

Putting the ‘Fresh’ in Refreshing Photography

Refreshing your hotel photography may seem daunting, but it’s a project with immense upside for your property. Implementing the right hotel photography ideas could be just the boost your business needs.

Following a strategic improvement plan takes the guesswork out of upgrading your visual content.

With eye-catching, on-brand visuals, you can transform your online presence to attract and impress guests.

As we’ve covered, a successful hotel photography refresh includes evaluating your current collection, filling content gaps, hiring a talented photographer, providing detailed shot lists, thoughtful styling, masterful lighting and composition, strategic locations, impactful editing, and robust cross-platform distribution.

While tackling improvements independently is an option, teaming up with a web design agency well-versed in hospitality can make the process smoother.

Placeworks has years of expertise helping hotels showcase their unique vision through refreshed photography and websites. Our team can guide your photo shoot, editing, and integration with your brand.

The result is an elevated online presence that transforms new and returning guests into loyal fans.

If lackluster photography is holding your hotel back from looking its best online, now is the time for an upgrade.

With Placeworks as your partner, imagine the bookings and brand growth that are possible with visuals that authentically reflect your singular hotel experience.

Contact us today to discuss your photography goals and what hotel photography ideas we can provide. Our team is ready to help your hotel shine online brighter than ever before.