Our website usually ranks #1 in a Google search for “Hotel Photography“, “Hotel Photographer“, “Professional Hotel Photography” and other related keywords.
Google’s algorithm strives to understand the INTENT of a search term. When someone does a search for hotel photographer, Google deciphers secret signals to determine whether someone looking to make a purchase or gather information? When we occasionally get outranked, it’s usually by an article with titles about “How to Become a Hotel Photographer”.
That tells me that many people searching for “Hotel Photography” or “Hotel Photographer” aren’t looking to HIRE a photographer. They want to BE a Hotel Photographer. They want to learn how about a Travel Lifestyle like the one we have created as Professional Hotel Photographers for the past 13 years.
I get it…we love what we do. We are still amazed that we get paid to travel the country and take pictures. But we want to be honest about what it takes to make a successful living in hotel photography. This will be part one of a series about how we built our hotel photography business. We have maintained a consistent six figure income from hotel photography for more than 10 years.
That Google search for “hotel photography” will return page after page with the words Luxury, Incredible, Stunning, Spectacular, Bespoke. The photographers say that they are capturing the the essence of the hotel and seducing the senses.
Creativity is highly overrated in our niche.
BESPOKE is a sexy new marketing buzzword that simply means custom made for one particular customer. It’s frequently used in conjunction with the other sexy buzzword – CURATED which means thoughtfully selected and prepared. For luxury properties, the definition of successful hotel photography may be creative and custom photos that evoke a certain sense or feeling in their target guest.
We have photographed more than 900 hotels and 2,000 vacation rentals. Some were gorgeous luxury properties and some were downright nasty properties. But no matter what kind of property we are photographing, we use the same systems and processes so that our images are always consistent. We specialize in midscale limited service and select service hotels.
We don’t aim to seduce anyone’s senses. Our goal is to provide high quality hotel photography at an affordable price. Our price is only affordable if the photos meet the brand standards and are approved. Sure we want to make their property stand out amongst a sea of consistency. But our main measure of success is simple. Did we capture the photos the property needs to meet their brand standards without disrupting the day to day operations of the hotel or interfering with the guests?
We share three core values with the types of properties we photograph – Quality, Value and Consistency. There is a constant battle between hotel owners and the brands over how much freedom the owners have. The brands enforce consistency across their properties because frequent travelers expect consistency above all else.
We have frequently been hired to reshoot a hotel after another photographer got “creative” with their shots. Midscale brands tend to have extremely specific hotel photography guidelines that must be followed or the photos will be rejected. Something as simple as creatively folding towels will get a photo rejected from most brands.
Some brands won’t allow a single photograph on their website that wasn’t taken by their approved hotel photography company. These companies have negotiated price packages with the brand and pay a significant kick back to the brands. The companies then either hire in house traveling photographers or subcontract their work to a network of photographers with varying degrees of talent and experience. It doesn’t matter how beautifully the bespoke photos were curated!
Do you Dream of being paid to travel and take pictures?
Your TV is constantly on the Travel Channel. You obsessively watch travel videos on YouTube. You see TikToks of posh Gen Z’ers strolling through glamorous (expensive) destinations.
And you think…I wish I could do that! Chances are good that you could. And maybe you will. But should you?
Before you embark on your Quest to fulfill your Vision of a Travel Lifestyle, let me share some lessons that I have learned from more than 30 years of traveling professionally and 10 years of professional hotel photography. Follow along or join our newsletter and I promise to tell you my secrets.
We love sharing the story of how we built our Hotel Photography Company because what worked for us…well, it worked for US.
That doesn’t mean that it will work for you.
- Be realistic about your current skills and resources. Enthusiastically admit to clients that you are learning. Each EXPERIENCE helps you refine your SKILLS.
- Build your portfolio through bartering. You quickly learn what your time and skills are worth AND what you enjoy and don’t. Each LESSON helps you refine your VISION.
- Learn to take No for an answer and be HAPPY about it! Assume that you will hear 100 NO’s before your first YES. Each REJECTION helps you refine your MESSAGE.
- Constantly refine your niche. Your market is going to change. Circumstances are going to change. Each time you refine your NICHE you get closer to your DREAM.
- Identify your current #1 Top Priority action item. What next individual action/task would move towards your goal? Laser focus on ONE thing refines your PLAN.