The little details make the biggest difference in spectacular hotel/resort photography. Before each photo shoot, I meet with the management team and review all areas to be photographed. This is a complimentary service I provide to all my clients because it allows us to be more efficient and create better images. You look good, I look good!
Believe it or not, the smallest details can make or break an image. Just think, if a prospective meeting planner looks at an image and sees a meeting space with crooked chairs, they may not consciously recognize it; however, if they look at a hotel gallery with impeccable arrangements, they’re more likely to feel comfortable with that property. If they do see the disarray, they may also feel less confident in the convention services team. Either way, you lose.
Also, the hotel staff and sales team will be looking at these images for a couple of years; the last thing you want is to focus on all the little flaws in a photo and undermine the sales team’s confidence in the product.
I know all these tips sound elementary and common knowledge; however, in prepping for a photo shoot, there are so many things to address that sometimes the little details go unnoticed.
Most brands have specific guidelines for meeting room photography. Take a look at the brand requirements and plan accordingly. Regardless, here are a few useful and easy remedies for flawless hotel public spaces photography.
1. Table Cloths: Table cloths can make a spectacular shot less appealing if the table cloths are not uniform. Make sure all table cloths on all the tables are uniform. Either they all touch the floor or none do. Likewise, please make sure the table cloths do not gather at the floor and create a pile. For classroom style, the table linens should fall no lower than the seat of the chair. Again, each table’s linens should be uniform and match all tables in the room – including the table edges.
2. Linen Wrinkles: Wrinkles can undermine the beauty and appeal of any space. All linens should be pressed or ironed and left unfolded before applying to tables. After placing linens on tables, use seamstress pins to pull wrinkles and pin from behind.
3. Chairs and seating.: Chairs should not break the fall of the table cloths. Do not push chairs under the tables. It is often better to set an 8-round table for 6 people. It reduces the clutter and thus reduces clutter in the minds of the planner. For theatre style or classroom, perfection is critical. Each chair should be precise in both row and column. It can make or break a photo!
4. Table Tops: unless it is an over-the-top reception, less is more. It is unnecessary to have more than 4 pieces of silverware and 1 (max 2) glasses per setting. Set an 8-top for 6 people to give it air and breathing room.
5. Centerpieces: table centerpieces can really make a reception photo spectacular. Consider using a florist or set designer for your reception shots. Remember, the photo will be used for years and the cost of original and beautiful arrangements will end up costing very little over time.
.For applications other than a reception, I recommend using no table arrangements. Tastes change over time and what is in style now becomes obsolete in a year or two. Think about green apples! Once the rage, now overdone and out of style. If you do use centerpieces, make them small and blend them into the space. Single succulents in a planter are the norm now. I prefer living green plants versus cut flowers.
6. Plants: Plants in the corners of a room or on either side of a dais can soften the angles and loneliness of a single table and two chairs in the front of a room. Perhaps a small plant on either side of the table or a row of small potted plants in front of the table to make it more inviting and less “teacher/pupil” style.
7. A/V Equipment: When appropriate, a large screen adds to the look of a space. If you’re shooting multiple spaces, it is not necessary to have a projector screen in all the shots. The meeting planner gets the idea and knows they’re available. Likewise, it is not necessary to have the projector on a table in the middle of the room. The viewer can assume there’s a projector available; plus, it adds clutter to an image and hinders the flow and appeal.
8. Logos: Logos can easily be added to a projector screen. It is not necessary to dim the lights and set the projector to display a logo. That can easily be added in post-production. It looks better anyway. One final thing, a logo does not need to cover the entire screen to be useful. Remember, less is sometimes more.
9. Lighting: Lighting can make or break a meeting space shot. If you have windows in your meeting space, show it! It’s a unique selling point that those without windows can’t promote. Also, just because you have lots of lights, it doesn’t mean they all have to be on when the shot is taken. Florescent lighting may be good for some situation but not many!
10. Water: many properties are eliminating bottles of water and replacing with the pitchers of water in an effort to go “green”. If so, make sure the pitchers are clear, have ice and preferably some fruit in the pitcher to bring it to life. Each place setting should also have glasses if using pitchers
As more and more properties are going “green”, there are positives and negatives. While a table without linens may look stark and industrial, there’s a value to it. NO WRINKLES! Removing wrinkles in meeting shots is a full-time job! I believe there’s a time and place for linen-less tables but a wedding reception shot is not one of them. Be selective and think about the bigger picture in regards to using or not using linens. Note pads and pencils are going by the wayside and are often available for taking but not at each place setting. For a quality photo, there needs to be something to designate a space and activity, otherwise, there’s a room full of empty chairs and blank tables.
I’ve only listed a few of the many factors that should be considered when shooting meeting room spaces. Each property and brand is unique and may have specific photography standards. As a preferred Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton brands photographer, I always abide by each brands’ standards. The list above is simply a thought starter and may or may not be applicable to your photography plans. I would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and tips for better meeting room photography. Please comment!
Note pads and pencils should be uniform with all pens facing the same direction and location. A/V screens should be pulled down if applicable but it is often unnecessary to have the projector and table in the shot – the viewer gets the idea. Chairs should be equally spaced by row and column.