How to Choose a Vacation Rental Photographer
By William May
Published: 03/01/15 Topics: Photography Comments: 0
Exciting indeed is the increase in lodging consultants and experts who put great photos at the top of the list for improved bookings.
Guests give websites but a few scant seconds to decide if it's professional, if it has what they need, and whether they are willing to look further. In two seconds, most people can read only a few words but a glance at a photo reveals dozens of thoughts and conveys quality, emotion, and content.
So why do those who tout themselves as experts constantly talk about the need to hire a professional photographers but then recommend vendors whose work is not up to modern standards?
An easy comparison of various vacation rental photographers will reveal the obvious differences. To help illustrate the differences, here are questions to answer when considering a photographer for an Inn, Resort, Hotel, or Vacation Rental Home.
Education - Digital cameras are great but it is not easy to use every bell and whistle to create accurate, stunning photos. If your photographer did not get a professional education then they won't know how to do everything they should.
Self Taught - Teaching yourself to shoot photos is fine, but unless you have 40+ hours (per week) to devote to the craft and for many years, you can't keep up on technology.
Flash Lighting - If your photographer uses a flash attachment to shoot your homes, they are shooting incorrectly. With today's technology, all photos should be done using High Dynamic Range techniques. Because HDR relies on multiple shots and accounts for each pixel at different exposures, a flash should never be needed.
Raw format - All great HDR photos must be shown using a camera's raw format because it is the most densely packed number of pixels. With more pixels, color correction, toning, and sharpening have the best chance for establishing accuracy. Any photographer who does not shoot in RAW, is not up on technology.
License - Sometimes you can get a better deal on prices if you only need the photos for limited use. For example, if you put them on your website but not elsewhere the price maybe lower. If you want all internet rights, usually a bit higher. And if you want exclusive rights, even denying the photographer the right to display them on his portfolio website; that can get trickier.
Travel - If your photographer is local he is less likely to be at the top of his game. Great photographers are in demand which means they usually travel from destination to destination. That is because they are in demand.
Time - Hiring someone who is instantly available should make you wonder why they are always available. Sure you might get lucky to fit in a shoot between your photographers other sessions.
Speed - Anyone who can shoot your property one day and have dozens of quality HDR photos to you the next, is fooling you. Retouching photos and creating HDR masterpieces takes time and talent. A photographer who needs some time to complete work is more likely to produce excellent products.
Weather - Even interior photos look better if shot on a blue-sky, bright sun day. If your photographer can set a date days in advance and stick to them when the weather is bad, they are taking advantage of you. The schedule must slide if the sun "don't shine."
Cost - If the cost for shooting is anything under $500 for a condo, $750 for a house, or $2,000 for a complex then they are only shooting and not processing.
Great photo sessions and images can cost much more depending on the size, type, and location of the property.
Barter - If your photographer is willing to do all the work of shooting and processing great photos for the privilege of staying at your home when he does it, he isn't a professional. Sure everyone loves to go on vacation but a great travel photographer has more free stays than he can stomach.
Expert - Not everyone who says they are an expert is one. Great photographers are found by looking for great photographs. No sales pitch or self-professed expertise can make up for a lack of quality.
HOW TO CHOOSE
Now that you are ready to talk with photographers, get prices, and look at their portfolios; here is how to go about picking the very best one:
Big Screen - Be sure to look at each photographers portfolio using a very big computer screen. Not all guests have large monitors but many do. The larger screen will show you photos that are not sharp or explicitly in focus. If a photographers shots are not super clean, scratch them off your list.
Portfolio - Lastly, open a web browser, simultaneously pull up each photographer's website portfolio, and then switch back and forth. Great HDR photographs should stand out.
The difference between them and conventional (even professional) photos will be stunning.
Save your pennies until you have enough to hire an HDR expert photographer. The expenditure will pay off quickly and repeatedly with greater bookings and more occupancy. You'll make more money by spending the relatively small cost of finding a truly qualified lodging photographer.
Author: William May, Signatour Photo Team
Blog #: 0008 – 03/01/15