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 of the lower 48 states and can find something wonderful in everywhere we go.