Preparing Your Property for a Photo Shoot – By Greg Ceo
November 24, 2015 by
You’ve hired a photographer and the photo shoot dates are set. Now what are the steps to take to get your property ready?
- Your photographer should arrive on property one or two days before the photo shoot is to begin, so that he or she can scout the property and then know the optimum times of day for the best light.
- After the shoot days are planned and a spread sheet has been created with times for each shot, including a line for props and models, ask for a pre-production meeting with your photographer and a list of what the photographer will need from you and your staff to make the best photographs. At the pre-pro meeting, be sure to ask for what you want for each shot and the photographer will tell you if your requests are possible.
- Keep in mind that a photo shoot with a shot list of 20 or more images of a new or renovated property will take several days to complete.
- Typically the photo crew is up before sunrise and finishes their last shot after the sun goes down. Sometimes they will take a break mid-day when the light is harshest and they can grab lunch.
- The following are special considerations for different types of images:
- Exterior images: These should be taken at dawn or dusk. The photographer may want to start these shots prior to sunrise.
- Interior images: Can be shot at different times of day for various effects. For example, nighttime shots in restaurants and lounge areas can have a very urban sophisticated look whereas sunshine in rooms can create a very bright, tropical feel.
- Exteriors: Often look best when as many lights are turned on outside and inside the property. Therefore, have someone available when the photographer will be shooting and lights will need to be turned on 1 hour before shooting begins. Turn the lights on in as many guest rooms as is possible. (For large properties, you may need several people to help turn lights on inside.)
- Hint for all Photographs: A rule of thumb is that a room or a pool area or any other area of the property should look, in the photographs, like it does when a guest experiences it in person. Therefore, photographers should not take great liberties moving furniture, changing furniture or styling areas differently than a property normally styles their spaces. If a towel is rolled a certain way on a lounge chair by the pool, it must remain this way in the photographs. (That isn’t to say that photographers will not need to move furniture a few feet this way or that way to suit the way the camera “sees” a space. However, reworking an entire room setup will not reflect the property as it actually is and guests may point this out and feel that they were misled by the photographs.)
- Steaming and Pressing Linens: Often an overlooked item on your photo-shoot-to-do-list, all linens for guest rooms, meeting spaces and restaurants should be steamed and pressed prior to the photographer arriving in the space to do the photography. (Not doing this will slow the photographer down and may cause the entire photo schedule to be re-worked.)
- Pillows and Beds: In guest rooms these items should be styled the same way for each room.
- Windows in guest rooms: Photographer should be given direction by management as to whether window sheers should be open or closed in the guests rooms and if the views out the windows are to be visible in the photograph. (A skilled photographer can achieve this in retouching/Photoshop.) This should be consistent in each room.
- Views Outside Windows: Choose the views that you want. This often requires pre-planning and taking the rooms out-of-sales for the days/times the photographer needs to shoot.
- Should you show a phone or coffee maker? Decisions as to what should remain visible in each guest room should be made prior to the shoot. (The less appliances or collateral that is shown, the longer the images will be able to be used and not look dated. However, a bare room may look very stark and less interesting in a photograph.)
- Restaurants: When setting up for restaurant shots, all tables should be set, usually for dinner service. Again, all linens should be pressed and steamed. Note: restaurants have to be photographed during off hours: after lunch and before dinner or after dinner service is over, perhaps late at night.
- Bar: Minimalism is key, so make sure drink mixing areas and entire bar area is clean and free of clutter, but it still conveys the feeling of an interesting space.
- Meeting rooms: Should be set for large groups both for business meetings and more minimal for weddings. Note that these shots should be taken on two different days, or at least leave the appropriate amount of time between these shots, as re-setting the room takes a great deal of time.
- Business Meeting Set–up: Include one or two screens at the front and tables should have empty water pitchers, (so they don’t sweat and leave marks,) water glasses, a note pad and pencil or pen. All linens should be pressed and steamed.
- Wedding Banquet Rooms should be set with minimal tables to give the room a sense of space but not look crowded. In other words, there should be a little bit of space between the tables. You can probably get away with half or less than half the tables you would normally set for an average reception in the space. Floral arrangements should be low and not in high vases, so a potential bride can see the space and imagine her wedding in that space; (tall flowers interrupt the view of anything behind the arrangements.)
- Food Photography: A food stylist is recommended to make your food look the best it can. Your chef should prepare the food and work closely with the food stylist for the food shots. Plan on food shots taking 45 minutes to 1 hour each and each dish should come out when the photographer is ready so the photographer can shoot the food while it looks it’s best. A dish should never sit out for 30 minutes, or worse, overnight and then be photographed.
- Golf Course Photography: Scouting is key! Make sure the photographer is able to photograph signature holes at the right time of day. An hour to an hour and a half per hole is recommended and someone to accompany the photographer who knows the course is imperative. Leave a gap in tee times so you won’t have to stop play and be conscious of where other golfers are playing.