Making photos speak

Making photos speak

The imminence of two of our major project openings has focused my mind recently on photography. It is vital that a picture speaks a thousand words.  It is a photo ? not a stream of carefully crafted text ? that makes the cover of a leading magazine.  The image is what people remember.  A truly sensitive shot encapsulates the ambition and soul of a building and the spirit of all those who work and play within it.


So, what goes wrong for so many hotel groups with their unimaginative, uninspiring and predictable images of their hotels that not only tell the prospective guest very little but manage to make all hotels look pretty much the same?


It?s so wretchedly formulaic.  Here?s two wing-backed chairs by a fireside in the lobby occupied by a smooth young couple, and here?s a restaurant table with plates and glasses and the same young couple. We then have the bedroom with a bed and, yes, the same young couple staring lovingly into each other?s eyes with, in the foreground, a champagne bottle in an ice bucket with two flutes.   There?s the monumental arrangement of flowers in the reception – therefore your arrival experience will be everything you have dreamed of.  Then there?s the ubiquitous girl, lying face down, with pebbles along her naked spine who makes you long to use the spa (or not to all of the above!!!!)


Of course, hotel operators have different priorities in their photoshoots from those of us who design their buildings.  But it does seem rather sad to me that so many of them are content to dumb down when it comes to communicating what is special about their hotel.  While I would be the very last person to claim that service is less important than design, if the hotel is well designed, the publicity photographs should convey the quality of service, the culture of the brand and the individual essence of a particular hotel.


There are numerous hotel exhibitions and conferences held all over the world.  Why not an exhibition of hotel publicity photography?  The photographs not being judged solely as an art form, but also as to their effectiveness in exciting potential guests to patronise the place.