Each time we get a new website customer one of the topics we always cover is whether it is necessary to have professional photos taken.

From a web designer's point of view, having great photos will always help to ensure the website looks great...whereas if your photos are a bit blurry, a bit too dark, or don't show off the accommodation well you can understand why they won't help your website look fantastic either.

We think a lot of owners haven't considered getting professional photographs taken as they're worried that it will be very expensive... so we asked Simon Ranshaw, a professional photographer who specialises in accommodation photos, to answer some questions for us...

Simon Ranshaw

Simon, thank you for taking the time to take part in our interview! You've worked on quite a few of our customer's websites, and we love your work.
You have over 18 years of experience as a commercial photographer and have a strong marketing background ....how important do you think it is for accommodation providers to use professional photography for their websites?

Simon: Professional photography and a highly visual website are absolutely essential nowadays. Professional images that really show a property’s true character increases bookings. People don’t like to read lots of text on a computer so it’s the photography that really tell the story and attracts people to book their holiday with you. That important first impression is made within just a few seconds and can decide if the guest books with you, or moves onto your competition.

Your website says that '...Normally, less than half of just one extra booking will pay for your photoshoot. I have a 100% success rate in helping my customers increase their bookings, and also offer free advice to help them get the most out of their social media campaigns with the minimum of effort...'
Can you share some of your client success stories with our readers?

Simon: Yes, a half day shoot normally costs less than half a weekly booking. So the client only needs to bring in one extra booking and the shoot has more than paid for itself.

I love to hear my clients tell me how their bookings have taken off since using their new photography. It’s one of the many things that makes my job so worthwhile and rewarding, and luckily I hear it a lot.

Using social media is essential nowadays. It’s a huge source of potential customers and guests, and it’s free to use. Facebook at and Instagram has 3.7 billion active users between them. Both are highly visual and can drive potential guests to your website. My photoshoots not only provide images for websites but also for social media. I want my clients new photos to really work for them so I offer a free advice and tuition to get them up and running if they need it, along with some tips to make it work for them. It’s fun too.

Photograph by Simon Ranshaw

Photograph by Simon Ranshaw

Your photoshoot prices are fully inclusive which assures customers that they won't get surprised by any hidden extras, which might have been a concern for some owners. Talk us through a photo shoot...eg How long do you normally spend at a shoot? (Eg a 3 bedroom cottage)? Can you tell us what you do to 'stage' a room eg I see you even provide food props!

Simon: Normally I can shoot a 1-3 bedroom cottage in between 2 to 5 hours, plus the same time again for the post-processing work in Photoshop. I normally speak to the client in advance to decide which props to bring along and use. I normally provide fruit, croissants, orange juice, cakes, artisan bread, flowers etc but this list is constantly evolving and I’m always bringing in new ideas.

I shoot every single property as it I was shooting for my own portfolio. I’m always working on improving my work and making the shoot next better than the last. Like anything in this world, it’s a constant learning process and there are always ways to improve.

I’m quite funny too as I normally refuse a tour of the property when I arrive. I like to walk into a room, fresh and ready to shoot so I get that “wow” factor that the customer will also feel they see the property on the website, or walk into the room for the first time.

You can never rely on good weather...can you still take great interior photos if the weather is really gloomy outside?

Simon: It’s always lovely to shoot in good weather but being in the UK, we can’t always guarantee the sunshine. However, sunshine isn’t always important for my interior shoots as I use a mix of ambient and flashed light to get the best results. This works really well in traditional properties where you want to show atmosphere and character as well as contemporary properties where you want to control the light and the colour casts.

Photograph by Simon Ranshaw

Photograph by Simon Ranshaw

Have you got any advice for accommodation owners who may be thinking of having professional photos?

Simon: I’d strongly advise to go for it. It doesn’t need to be expensive and is a small investment that will pay for itself pretty quickly through increased bookings. Increased booking also mean that you can sometimes increase your prices too.

Look for a photographer who specialises in holiday accommodation property and interiors. Don’t choose a wedding or portrait photographer just to save a few quid as the skill set and equipment list is very different, and you may not get the photography you need.

When you find a photographer, then spend some time looking at their portfolio and if you like their work then approach them for a quotation.
Make sure that the quote is completely transparent and there are no hidden extras.

Finally, like everything in life you get what you pay for so, if you find someone for less than £100 then don’t expect much, and you may fall short on what you need to promote your accommodation and need to pay more.

Bottom line you want your website to look amazing and increase your bookings.

A big thank you to Simon for answering our questions!

We hope that hearing that Simon's customers have seen an increase in bookings as a result of having professional photos taken of their accommodation may well inspire some of the accommodation owners who are reading this article to just go for it! And remember, you can use the photos not just for your website but also for your social media accounts; where having great photos can be invaluable.

Below is a gallery of some of Simon's photos, and you can click on each to view the full sized image. To find out more / see more of Simon's work, head on over to his website: www.siranshaw.com

SARAH-SIG