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We caught up with Tony Smyth, editor of HA+D, a leading hospitality design title, about one of our pet peeves: hotel photography.

How do hotels get their photography wrong?

By not looking at the attractions of the property, place or brand.  Not evaluating the message they are trying to convey, to whom and in what media.

Your top 5 pet peeves?

1. The over-photoshopped look that makes the photograph look like a rendering.  This is the fault of the glossy lifestyle magazines whose luxury brand ads are way over-stylised and digitally altered.  It can backfire on a property when expectations from the guest are not realised by the actual room.

2. Choice of shots.  Not all images should have a model in them or of a bell-boy lugging a case through the lobby.

3. Not understanding the different markets and styling the shots accordingly.  One size does not fit all.  Lifestyle, travel, business and design media require different interpretations of a scene.

4. Not fully briefing the photographer.  Investing in a photo shoot is expensive so having a brief that suits all the above marketing requirements will allow the most versatile options – eg, same shot with/without talent, with/without food or table setting etc.

5. Underestimating the design shot.  Most hotels do not take pictures that contain enough close-ups of details such as screens, lighting, furniture etc., as well as on the architecture and interior design.

Can hotel photography move beyond cliché’s and formulae?

I think that variety of shots can include cliché images. After all a food shot is a food shot and a spa shot does still need to have the model in it for certain markets.  Having the agenda for the different styles of marketing and publishing uses should allow the photographer to take quirky and meaningful shots that editor’s would be happy to publish.

Jenny Lo

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