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Tips for photographing your accommodation establishment for your new website

Remember that your web designer is expected to create eye candy on your site and putting effort into your photos will make your new site pop, making it easier to get web visitors to book with you.

It is therefore best to make the effort to have some dazzling photos taken for the header of your website. We have put together some tips that will help you plan and make the most of your photo shoot without spending a fortune on professional photography.

It does not matter who you cater to, they always want the best and most of the time companies want the best accommodation at the best price for their contractors, so it will pay to have appealing photos.

Camera settings and camera phones

An ordinary digital camera is perfectly fine but don’t waste your time with a camera phone, unless its output is in excess of 8 Mega Pixels in quality which will really only found on very high-end mobile devices. Set your camera setting to highest pixel quality possible. Your web designer will compress and optimise photos on his end. This way you don’t get grainy images if you ever need to produce a print ad in future and you certainly don’t want to have to repeat the exercise just because your picture quality was low to begin with.

Photos need to be large in file size and in dimensions and be of a high quality. As a rule of thumb, don’t use anything less than approx 3Mb in size for your website.

It is best to send your photos to your web designer as they came off your camera, so don’t compress your photos which can make them appear grainy on HD screens – that’s around 50% of laptop and PC screens and counting. Your website designer may also sometimes need to stretch photos or zoom in on some detail and compressed photos will restrict his design options.

Follow the rule of thirds:

Please also remember to follow the rule of thirds when taking the photos (see attachments). Also take a few shots from a very low angle, i.e. knee height.

Soft lighting:

Take photos with all the buildings lights on at dawn or at dusk. Please remember that the light must be JUST RIGHT, not too dark, not too light. Normally, the half an hour just after sunrise and just before sunset are ideal.

Dress up your shots:

Before you take photos, you will be well advised to “dress up” each shot by placing candles, lanterns and turn on chandeliers, bedside lamps and lights etc which will add visual appeal to the shot. Position the same type of lantern or candle close to the camera, and locale different lanterns further away where the focus will be on the light and not on the source. Be sure, in composing your shot that you can see the sky clearly and try not to have any poles, trees, fences, posts, dogs, people, plastic bags, power cables or anything obstructing the main view except possibly exotic animals. The same applies to the background.

Be sure to place flower arrangements where necessary and simple things like two glasses of wine or a plate of delicious snacks in the foreground. If you offer food, dress up a plate on a white table cloth and stage it with your best cutlery, crockery and accessories as well as candles, Champagne bucket etc. If you offer breakfast or breakfast in bed, be sure to capture the magic of the offering (see pictures for inspiration).

Exterior shots:

A boma / camp fire / outdoor eating / relaxing area would also be good with people enjoying themselves drink in hand. Also try to get standalone photos of distinctive features, garden ornaments etc. If possible against a plain background in such a way that your web designer can isolate it.

Interior shots:

Take your photos during the day when the light availability is at it’s highest. Be sure that you minimise shadows and glare, especially sun streaming through your windows. Unless you have an ugly view, open your curtains, switch on all the lights in the room, especially bed side lanterns when shooting bedroom shots, reading lights in lounges and reception rooms etc. Make sure that every pillow or picture on the wall is perfectly horizontal and symmetrical and that nothing appears skew or out of place. People pick up on these anomalies immediately. Attention to detail in composing your shot is key.

Most of your shots should be in landscape mode.

Key selling points:

Be sure to take photos of your key selling points, i.e. your services, amenities and whatever sets you apart e.g.:

  • permanent night watch / security
  • armed reaction force (get them to pose for you – try to keep it generic – no logos/company name/name tags etc)
  • if you have a dam, river or large pond, then a canoe or dingy on the shore or something appropriate)
  • Relaxing on a hammock in a beautiful setting or the tranquility of your garden
  • additional services such as transport / transfers / concierge etc
  • breakfast buffets, breakfast in bed, room service, lunch packs and dinner (again all dressed up)
  • photos of each of your selling points as well as small tablescapes (food/drink/bar/snacks/nick-knacks etc)

All the above form part of your establishment’s key selling points and should be highlighted on your website.

You can simply trawl through your competitors web pictures to see what you are up against online. Any extra effort you put into your photos will pay dividends in the long run and ensure that your establishment becomes an appealing online option.