Suggestions for Professional and DIY Inn Photography

In browsing many innkeeping sites and looking at photos taken by innkeepers, as well as professional photographers, I’ve come across a few things of note that all photographers should be aware of. There are some great blog posts on DIY photography out there that touch on things like making sure your wastebaskets are out of the shot, and power cords are moved, but many of them don’t touch on some common mistakes that from a guest’s perspective may make the photograph seem “off” and may not realize why.

I am including examples of things I’ve seen on multiple (i.e. more then several dozen sites, in a few cases hundreds, especially the unopened wine and champagne bottles). **I do have photo permission to use the below photos.

These are cropped portions of full sized website photos, things that caught my eye and will also catch a potential guest’s eye.

As the trend to use larger and larger photos keeps on, and I forsee keeps getting more and more common, inns need to heavily eyeball photos, and look at them from the perspective of a potential guest.


No utensils and no napkins.


A table set up for multiple people, but only one place to sit at. I’ve seen this on many porch shots as well.


Tables with drinks and food many feet away from a place to sit. To a viewer this shot is staged, but if you wanted it to look like from the perceptive of an action shot (which this one was supposed to be), the table should be closer to the couch and the two glasses and plates aligned with the people that would be sitting on the coach. (note the unopened champagne bottle). I see this on a lot of B&B sites but logistically doesn’t make much sense.


Cords, a different wrap for this would have been suggested. Or remove the appliance entirely. I realize leaving it in the photo is to show that it’s an amenity, but using a black twist tie (easily replaceable if lost) to neatly wrap the cord is an option.


Missing items, where are the tongs?And the full unopened bottle of wine accompanied by two glasses with wine in them. If you are doing “action” shots make sure all your props are in place and see whether you are missing something logistically.


Angle of the soap pump dispenser, but primarily the tissue box, tissues should be tugged up to a point.


This is from the same inn and the prior photo, un-consistency, in the prior photo, soap dispenser is in the cabinet, prior on the sink. In this case, the amenities are arranged nicely but the dispenser is kind of tossed in. The towel is also something to address. (will in another photo).


Oh the rose petals!!! (and the unopened wine again). I see this on decorated beds for romantic retreats as well. A guest’s subliminal impression? Wow it’s going to take forever to get those out of the tub (or off the bed).


The crimped towel hang, I see this on alot of B&B sites. While a tad time consuming, it may be worth it to invest finding out some additional ways to use towel folds so they give a neater impression. Try for a few ideas.


The empty hangers. In each room in this inn there are complimentary robes in each bathroom, either remove the hangers or hang the robes in the armoire (for the photos sake). Or consider cropping out the armoire totally, in this case it was on the edge of the photo.


Alarm clocks and Ipod/phone docks that are unplugged. In every other shot on this inn’s website, there are phones plugged into the docks, so not consistent as well as not “on”.


Unopened champagne and full glasses. I’ve seen this on scores and scores of B&B sites. Probably twice as much as the unopened wine.


Another (unopened wine) but in this case, look at one of the glasses, it looks like wine speckles on the glass but its from the wood work. Easy enough to edit out. The cheese should be trimmed to be neater (remember this is for show) and the cheese with the rind should be turned around. From an technical perspective as well, the amount of cheese vs the amount of crackers to accompany them is also off.

The benefit of digital photography and especially if you are a DIY photographer for your inn, is the ability to take multiple photos until you get exactly what you want. I’d recommend blowing up the good ones, and doing some serious eyeballing of the image to see if things can be moved, what draws the eye in the photos, and have some other people seriously take a gander at the photos to point out what they see, or in some cases don’t see.

Here are some of the other things I’ve run into on multiple inn sites as well, so when you are staging your rooms and are looking at your photos or your photographer’s photos, just to be aware of.

  • Making sure silverware is centered and straight. (this is another personal pet peeve with me coming from the restaurant fine dining venue) but it does make photos look sloppy when the knife and spoon are straight and the fork is not aligned.
  • Games (Chess and Backgammon) set up for two players, but only one has a place for someone to sit at.
  • 1/3 full glasses of wine next to fully made beds. If the photo had a bed with the covers pulled to the side as if someone was going to get in, that would make sense, but otherwise it just looks off.
  • Trays with teacups and tea (or coffee) and nothing else on them on top of beds. Cream, sugar, napkins, utensils?
  • Beer mugs with microbrew empty beer bottles with more beer in the glasses then the bottles hold.
  • Breakfast with coffee and food but no cream and sugar.

Look at your photos, you may be surprised at things you catch after the fact.


About Chef Forfeng

Innkeeping Tip and Tricks: Please check out some marketing ideas for Inns and B&Bs, Blogging ideas, Facebook Tips and Social Media Tutorials
This entry was posted in Hospitality News, How tos, Lodging, marketing, Observations and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Suggestions for Professional and DIY Inn Photography

  1. Nick says:

    Excellent advice as usual, thanks.

  2. Audrey Gray says:

    I have made a few blunders too. Excellent article Chef Forfeng. I hate it when I notice I caught the edge of the bed and moved the cover, and shows in the picture! grr I believe someone said to turn off the tv too, and not have people on the bed, guest like to vision themselves in the pic. Good points, will be checking my pictures now for sure.

  3. Kylemore Pass Hotel says:

    once again great post Heather

    and poor Peter finally pasted away last week a whole year but the last 2 months so sad I now believe that a person should be helped to die we take a animal to the vets not let them have such a prolonged dying no real pain as such but unable to do anything for oneself is not good

    so I HAVE a lot of catching up todo and one is with you doing social network or some of it Rose

  4. InnkeeperVA says:

    Excellent tips and pov. I looked at the image examples before reading your comments on each. Odd to see full glasses with uncorked bottles.

    Open toilet seats is a pet peeve of mine, and less than full TP rolls.

    As for cream and sugar, i think it depends on the set up or layout of the shot. A close up of a plate with a black coffee (how i drink mine) is nice. If we showed hiw some drink it with 12 sweetner packets and half a cup of cream, oi veigh.

    As for the turned down bed, i love to see that, but to photograph it looking nice is super difficult. i only wish I had Jumping Rocks skills, or Jumping Rocks, themselves! I can spot their staging props a mile away, the binoculars whenever there is a view, the diff bunches of flowers or posies, the one brightly colored pillow for accent, love all of them.

    Thank you for sharing this article, I will be sure to pass it on.

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