Experienced Hotel Photographer
Meet our amazing Hotel Photography Team
Why hire a hotel photographer when you can get a hotel photography team? We are a husband and wife team who found a way to combine our skills, experience and passions into a business that allows us to live the life of our dreams. We each bring a unique set of strengths to each job that we do. When you hire Vision Quest, you get the best of both of us.
With a degree in Commercial Photography and over TWENTY years of experience as a professional photographer, Greg is able to capture images that truly let you shine. For each hour of onsite photography, at least another hour is spent preparing the final product.
While earning his degree, Greg managed a hotel and cabin rental company so he brings a keen insight into the unique challenges and opportunities available to our hospitality clients.
Prior to starting our business, Greg owned a portrait and wedding studio for 9 years. Our business allows him to utilize his photography experience without the demands of a brick and mortar studio.
Paige is our marketing guru and onsite superstar. When we arrive onsite, Paige goes to work making sure that everything is staged so that Greg can capture the best possible photos. Paige is one who will be working with you ahead of time to prepare for your shoot and working to make sure that we accommodate your guests and staff.
With a Bachelor’s in Public Relations and Master’s in Social Work, Paige has worked in marketing for large corporations as well as in the behavioral healthcare field.
Paige is our people person and has an uncanny ability to instantly put people at ease and make the day of the photo shoot a fun experience.
Collect Memories, Not Things
We love our travels but our favorite place of all is our 700 square foot house in Quincy, IL. We have our own piece of paradise right on the Mississippi River and have learned that living in a small house allows us to live a large life!
When we aren’t on the road, we can be found sitting on our deck, boating on the river or watching Georgia Bulldogs football in our screen porch. We are proud that we provide a foster home for a local animal rescue organization and have helped more than 50 cats and kittens find forever homes.
We love our gypsy lifestyle and travel with our bicycles most of the time so we can get out and explore.
8 Questions to Choose the Right Hotel Photographer for Your Hotel
Building a new hotel or renovating an existing one is a massive undertaking. As the months (or years) of planning, construction and clean up come to an end, it’s time for you to hire a hotel photographer to show off all your hard work. A Google search for the term “Hotel Photographer” will return 177 MILLION results! So how do you decide which photographer is the right one for you? There are many different factors that can direct your decision but we have found that answering 8 simple questions will help you make the best decision for your individual property.
1 – Does your brand require that you use an Approved Hotel Photographer?
The single most important question to ask when choosing someone to photograph your hotel is whether your brand will allow you to use the photos from their shoot. It does not matter whether you hire the most talented and most expensive photographer if the photos that they take cannot be approved by your brand. Many brands require that you use a hotel photography company that has been contracted by the brand. Other brands have a list of preferred hotel photographers or photography companies that you can choose from. Those companies pay a steep price for the privilege of exclusivity and with that price comes a level of protection from the brand. No matter how great your photos are, if they are not approved, you have wasted your money and will have to redo the photo shoot. We have photographed more than 800 hotels for more than 40 different brands but even with all of our experience, there are brands we cannot shoot.
We have photographed hundreds of Choice Hotels in the past and were actually invited guests at the Choice Hotels Owner’s Council convention several years ago. As experienced as we are, we haven’t shot a Choice Hotel in years because they changed their requirements and require owners to use one of the agencies Choice has contracted with for photos. Sure, we could do a better job than many of the subcontracted photographers they choose but it does not matter if you can’t get our pictures approved.
If you aren’t sure, check out our portfolio of work or just give us a call. We are always happy to provide a straightforward answer and aren’t afraid to say NO>
2 – What Type of Hotel Photography do you need and does your Hotel Photographer specialize in that type of photography?
Ask yourself what words you would use to describe your hotel and find a hotel photograph who specializes in that type of photography.
When you look through the Google search results for the term Hotel Photographer, you will see words like Luxury, Award Winning, Incredible. If those are the words you use to describe your hotel, then that is absolutely the type of hotel photographer you should hire and they are worth the expensive prices they charge. Some photographers specialize in high end, lifestyle photography. They are experts at selling a concept or an idea. These types of photo shoots can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. If this is the type of property you have, then by all means hire the very best and most talented photographer who can help you tell your story.
On the other hand, if you do not have a luxury resort or high end luxury hotel, then you are more likely interested in photographs that show the logistics of your property instead of inviting people to envision a lifestyle. The words we chose to describe our approach is Quality, Consistency and Value. We specialize in midscale, limited service properties where the owners and the brand are focused on those same values.
3 – Who will the actual Hotel Photographer be?
Many of the brand approved photography companies subcontract their work to local real estate photographers who may have little or no experience photographing hotels. If this is the only company you are allowed to use then you are stuck. It is important that you understand what you are getting for your money. We have been hired by several of these companies in the past so we understand how these companies work. The photography company negotiates a rate with the brand and then they pay a small portion of that negotiated rate to a local photographer. If you are required to use one of these companies, it is important that you ask about the experience of the person who will actually shoot your hotel and speak to that person in advance to make sure that they are a good fit.
4 – Ask to see samples of previous Hotel Photography from the actual photographer who will be shooting your hotel.
We all know that sometimes the perfect picture is simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes the perfect picture just happens. While that’s often the case when it comes to beautiful sunsets during a walk on the beach, that’s not typically the case with a hotel photo shoot. We don’t have the luxury of sitting around all day waiting for the perfect shot to appear. The company your brand suggests may have beautiful pictures on their website but you should ask to see a portfolio of the work that your actual photographer has done. Most photographers choose their very best shots and share only those on their website or in the portfolio that they send you.
5 -Does your Hotel Photographer have RECENT experience with your brand?
We have shot for more than 40 individual flags and have plenty of experience but every time we shoot, we verify that we are using the most recent brand standards. Every brand has nuances and specific requirements for their hotel photography guidelines. One brand requires that a pen and pad be present beside the phone on the bedside table. If the pen and pad are not there, the photos will not be approved. Another brand requires that the bedside table be completely clear and if there is a phone or pen and pad on the bedside table, the photos will not be approved. If your photographer is not familiar with the requirements of your brand, you may incur additional reshooting or photoshopping costs if the photos are not approved.
Brand Photography Guidelines are not totally clear — for example, one brand’s photography guidelines say “Never photograph the hotel pool during day” and yet on another page of their guidelines, it says “Always photograph the hotel pool when the sun is directly overhead”. So which is it? It’s important that you hire a photographer that knows what the brand requires — ESPECIALLY if the hotel photography guidelines are not clear or are confusing. FYI – we know which way that brand wants your pool shot because we shoot that brand all the time.
6 – Does the Photographer help you prepare for the Hotel Photo Shoot?
We understand that you are operating a hotel and the needs of your guests and your staff must come first. The best way to make sure your photo shoot goes well is to prepare well in advance of the arrival of the photographer. Review your brand photography guidelines of course. But we want to make sure that you understand what the guidelines really require. We will send you detailed instructions for how to prepare for our arrival but most importantly, we will schedule a phone call with your general manger, head of housekeeping, maintenance director and anyone else who will be involved in preparing the hotel for photos. We don’t just tell you that the linens need to be wrinkle free. We will share our tips about HOW to iron your linens, how to restock breakfast, and many other lessons we have learned over ten years of photographing hotels.
7 – What happens on the day of the Photo Shoot?
Ask when your photographer will arrive at the hotel and what will happen on the day of the photo shoot. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, we will have spoken to you and your staff well in advance of the shoot but there are always last minute questions and preparations that need to happen. We understand that things happen but advanced preparation can eliminate a lot of the unique challenges that come with photographing hotels.
We arrive at the hotel the day before the photo shoot and the first thing that we do is walk through all of the areas and rooms to be photographed with you. That way we are all on the same page as to whether you are ready for photos. We will review the hotel photography guidelines with you on our preparation call and then verify during the walkthrough that they have been met. We will look at lighting and sunstreaks and shadows to determine the schedule for the day of the shoot. The most important goal of the walkthrough is to make sure that everyone is comfortable. We are really good at what we do but our number one goal is to make sure that the experience is a positive one for us all and that everyone has fun.
8 – What is included in the price of the Hotel Photography Package?
The first question you will probably ask is “How much does a hotel photo shoot cost?” and while that is an important question, the more important question is “What is included in the price of the hotel photography package?”.
It is important to ask such questions as –
- Does the photographer charge by the picture or do they charge by the job?
- How much time of actual photography is included?
- Are there ongoing royalty or additional usage fees?
- Who owns the rights to the photos?
- How do the photos get uploaded to your website?
- Is Photoshop or additional editing included in the price?
By asking the right questions you can be sure that you have hired a hotel photographer who understands your business, your budget and your brand.
How we started our Hotel Photography Company
Our story is a case study in the effectiveness of online marketing!
We met online at a time when we were both at crossroads in our lives and careers. Neither of us was looking for romance at the time but we quickly knew we had found something special and decided to get out of God’s way and see where He wanted to take us. When we met for ice cream that first night, we couldn’t have imagined the places we would go. That was 12 years, more than 600,000 miles and 48 states ago…
Greg started the virtual tour business the week after we met so this has been a joint venture since day one. We were living in the North Georgia mountains and by chance encounter in the grocery store, Paige met the owner of a cabin rental company. They agreed to be our guinea pigs and after photographing their 50 cabins, we had refined our systems. At the time, Paige was working as the Assistant Director of Admissions at a therapeutic boarding school and realized that a virtual tour would be a great tool for explaining the program and campus to the parents who called looking for help for their troubled kids.
Our real break came shortly after we got married. While in Florida for our honeymoon, Paige visited with a prospective student who was finishing treatment at a local drug and alcohol recovery center. Since we had bartered our honeymoon condo in exchange for a virtual tour, we had our equipment with us. Paige explained how helpful the virtual tour for her school had been and we did a virtual tour for the recovery center. A couple of weeks later, we got a call from their corporate office asking if we would be interested in photographing some of their other behavioral healthcare programs.
In January of 2011, we set out on what we thought would be a once in a lifetime 10,000 mile road trip/honeymoon. We left home with 11 jobs booked but while we were on the road, Paige called other behavioral health programs. We bartered with bed and breakfasts , hotels and restaurants and picked up other jobs along the way. We finished the trip having photographed 54 virtual tours in 53 days and we knew that we had found our niche and our calling.
Since then, we have photographed several thousand vacation rentals and homes, more than 800 hotels and hundreds of other businesses. That 10,000 mile road trip has turned into the world’s longest honeymoon and we can’t wait to see where this journey takes us next!
What is it like to be a Hotel Photographer for a living?
When we tell people that we travel all over the country photographing hotels, we frequently get offers to help us carry our bags! Sure it sounds like a glamorous life – traveling all over the place, seeing exciting places, meeting cool people! When Paige was a flight attendant in one of her earlier careers, there was a saying that being a flight attendant was a great job if it wasn’t for the passengers! Anyone who works in a hotel can probably understand that joke!
While we love our clients and would not trade what we do for any other job, it’s not quite as glamorous as one might expect. Ask anyone who travels for a living and they will tell you that life on the road brings its own challenges. We are lucky to have created a business that we can share together and we have learned many lessons along the way. We believe that our experience traveling for our business gives us a special insight into the needs of hotel guests and employees.
It would be awesome if we showed up to empty hotels where everything is completed and ready for us to take photos. But that’s not reality! If the hotel has not opened yet, there are going to be things that are not completed and contractors running around like crazy. If the hotel has opened, then we are going to be working around the needs of the guests and staff.
The most challenging shots of any hotel photo shoot is the exterior twilight photos. Hotel exterior photos look so much better when there are not cars in the picture so prior to our arrival, the hotel will block off the parking spaces along the front of the building. Usually they use cones or tape which we then remove when it’s time to take the photos. Imagine a guest pulling up after a long day of traveling and seeing that perfect parking spot right up front…only to find out that the spot isn’t actually open and they have to park further back! There is a small window between sunset and darkness where we have to get those photos and it requires a certain level of finesse to explain the situation and keep the guest happy.
The benefit of us working as a team is that we can each focus on our strengths. Paige is the cheerleader of the team which is good because the hardest part of any photo shoot is getting people excited about doing more work than they would on a normal day! Hotel employees are some of the hardest working and most under appreciated people in the work force and us showing up for a photo shoot means that they are going to have to work even harder! That’s why great communication ahead of time is crucial. We don’t want to cause unnecessary or undue burdens on your staff but we also want to make sure everyone understands what must be done to be ready for the photos.
Taking the actual pictures is the fastest and easiest part of the whole hotel photo shoot. Paige may work with the housekeeping manager for an hour to prepare a room whereas it only takes Greg 10 – 15 minutes to capture the actual shot. Greg does not see the room until it’s completely ready for him to shoot. This means that he walks into each area to be shot with a fresh set of eyes and can see things that the rest of us may have missed.
A typical hotel photo shoot usually takes us about 4 – 5 hours but those 4 – 5 hours are usually stretched out over the whole day. We starts early in the morning doing final touch ups on the rooms while the breakfast crew resets and cleans up after breakfast. Often we must wait for hours for the sun to stop streaking in through a window. We typically shoot the hotel lobby, front desk and amenities between check out and check ins.
So many things can happen from weather to unforeseen maintenance issues so we always drive instead of fly. That allows us the flexibility to change course if necessary. If we get everything done and all goes well, then we will go out for a bike ride to explore the area. We have photographed in all 48 states and can find something wonderful in everywhere we go.