Minh Tang captures the most stylish and luxurious hotels in China and shares some valuable experiences with you about hotel photography. One might think or have the notion that shooting hotels is a lot of fun considering you can stay in a luxury hotel, eat gourmet food, opportunity to travel to exciting cities and of course taking beautiful pictures. Yes it is and you get all the pleasure however it’s a professional photography assignment and it means serious labor as to enjoying the trip. Oftentimes the schedule is pretty hectic and if not planned well, it can turn into a disaster.
In professional terms you have to deliver professional quality photos for the hotel to market and this comes with a lot of preparation and coordination with the hotels and liaison with the managers and staff. The actual work is not photography but managing and coordinating human recourses in order to achieve the desired outcome. 80% of the time we spend time on cleaning the place and directing staff and model and maybe 20% is to actually snap the actual photo. So it is wise to spend a little bit more time on arranging the facility settings than hastily snapping the wrong pictures that cannot be altered in the post process later.
Every shot must be meticulously staged from arranging the furniture to placing decoration in the right spot, nothing is arbitrary. Less experience photographer will always rely on photoshopping in the post processing stage but some of the elements cannot be photoshopped. Experience photographers get all the elements right in the first place to avoid irreparable mistakes.
There are a few things that are essential in the process of shooting a hotel. First, plan out the shoot from early morning till the evening as outdoor lighting plays an important role. It’s important to know when the sun rises and sets so you can schedule exterior shots. For the interior shots the key is to keep all places clean in lieu with coordination with the managers and models. Once the set up is ready you can go ahead measure the light and after that we usually bracket the shots into 3-5 exposures to get all the entire dynamic range of different areas in order to stitch the perfect images in the post process. I think post processing accounts to 60% of achieving good quality final result.
Every hotel has their own guideline in order to keep their hotel within their corporate structure. Shooting under guideline is the hardest challenge because there is less room for your own creativity but following strictly the corporate guideline. Corporate guidelines may be challenging and limits your creativity but it also forces somebody to look beyond one’s personal style.