How to Become a Professional Lodging Photographer
By Ron Lee
Published: 02/21/17 Topics: AirBnB, Marketing, Photography, Property Management Comments: -
Becoming a professional lodging photographer has never been easier.
All you need is a camera and business cards. Just put the words "Professional Photographer" on the cards and people will think you are a pro.
Can you imagine a doctor getting away with that? Would you go to a dentist who says, "I am a professional dentist" who didn't have the training? Yikes. Those people would be driven out of the industry.
Unfortunately, there have always been a greatly many people who love the idea of being an artist, a photographer. It sounds like such a great job. For Inns, Resorts & Vacation Rentals, photos are the way guests make instant decisions to view your property or pass on to the next.
No longer is it necessary to burn hundreds of dollars of physical film, toil in the dark room and only later learn if your photos were adequate. Now a good digital camera gives you a thumbnail view instantly that you can call "good enough."
But, great camera gear doesn't make you a true photographer any more than buying your new born child a piano and pronouncing them a "Concert Pianist."
Today, a new higher title has been added to the photography professional. Its called "High Dynamic Range," or HDR, and it is a vastly superior way of shooting, processing, and delivering world class photography. It is a requirement for almost all photos, but an absolute requirement for shooting interior architectural images.
HDR Photos are crisp, clean and brighter, but only enough to match what the human eye actually perceives. By comparison, non-HDR photos are fuzzy, bland, and actually underestimate and mis-represent the property.
Unfortunately, most professional photographers are no longer professional because they are more in love with being "Artists" than they are in spending thousands of hours mastering HDR.
That means more lodging operators are wasting lots of money hiring pros or don’t begin to understand HDR.
To see the difference between Pros and HDR Pros, all you have to do is spend a little time examining listings on your favorite websites like VRBO.com, Expedia.com, or even AirBnB.com.
A company called Evolve Vacation Rentals offers "Free Professional Photography" to property owners. Because Evolve does not have on site staff they must call any "professional photographer" they can find and hire them without realizing that non HDR photos are robbing their listings of maximum bookings.
Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Vacation Vacation Rentals does the same thing. Their recent foray into Matterport 3D photos is a good start, but ignoring HDR still photos causes them to lose bookings.
Turnkey Rentals out of Austin is trying to take over the world, but right there on their home page are fuzzy, out of focus, non-HDR photos. How could a management company call themselves professional when the number one listing tool - photos - are all messed up?
All of these companies talk the professional photographer game, but non walk the walk. And all because they refuse to spend the slightly more money necessary to find and employ high level HDR photographers.
Ignoring the absolute requirement for HDR photos is like the proverbial canary in the coal mine. If your manager does not understand the difference between truly professional HDR photos and wanna be professional photographers, what else don’t they understand?
Ron Lee – Not a Photographer
Signatour Photo Team