DIY Photo Shoot

A Guide to DOING Your Own Photo Shoot

You once fell in love with your inn.
Something about the door, the windows, or maybe the gorgeous staircase begged you to buy.
The rest is history, and now you’re an innkeeper.

For your business to survive, potential guests need to fall in love with your inn just like you did.

Photography is the art of helping others see the world through your eyes.
If your guests can catch a glimpse of the way you see your wonderful property, bookings are bound to increase.

This guide will get you started.

These tips are divided into three different areas:

Subject, Camera, and You.

DIY Photo Shoot Subject Camera You


What to Shoot

The subject is whatever lies in front of the camera, specifically at the focal point of the photo you capture. When photographing a room, the subject could be the bed, the dresser, or the open window. It all depends on what you choose to emphasize.

Your Audience

When deciding what subjects to photograph, you must appeal to both the logos and the pathos of your audience.
  • Logos: This is the logical part of your guests that wants facts and data about their stay. Describe the inn to them through pictures so they know exactly what to expect. Photograph all the important parts of the inn so they fully understand the “what” of your inn. Show them the amenities, the rooms, the common areas, and the grounds.
  • Pathos: This is the emotional part of your guests, the part that sighs at a beautiful bedspread and grunts at a delicious breakfast. Experiment with closeups, which make them feel like they are there. Include pictures of delicious food, soft beds, lush vegetation, and all the charming decor that makes your inn so unique. Make them feel something, and they will be more likely to make a reservation.
Keep in mind that some pictures can appeal to both logos and pathos at the same time.

Prepare like a pro

Before an event, photographers will sit and compose something called a "shot list." This is a summary of all the things they need to remember to shoot. This helps them work more efficiently during their photo shoot. This is a great starting point for any beginning photographer. If you were giving a tour of the inn, where would you go and what would you point out to a visitor? Write these things down. This list will be your guide when you start snapping photos.

Best foot forward

Choose a time for your photo shoot when guests aren’t around, but prepare your inn like you would for a full house. After all, you're getting ready for thousands of online guests. Vacuum the rooms and wash the sheets. Make the beds and polish furniture surfaces. Go for immaculate. Only when the inn is guest-ready is it ready for a photo shoot. Just a bit of housework beforehand will give your photos a "wow" factor.

Setting the Room DIY Photo Shoot

A Room With a View

In a study done by Expedia, they found that pictures of rooms that included a view “evoked more instances of delight than a photo of a room without a view…” It didn’t matter if it was a bedroom or dining room, the result was the same. This was because such photos “helped the shopper see themselves in the context of their trip.” This type of shot allows them to see their room, but also creates an emotional response in a website visitor. With such a perfect marriage of appeal to pathos and logos, include a “room with a view” shot whenever possible.

The Golden Hour

Natural light is best for photos, but different times of day provide different light. For this reason, we generally discourage taking pictures after dark or at midday. For an almost magical effect, schedule your photoshoot during a time photographers have named “the Golden Hour.” This time of day lasts for roughly an hour after sunrise, and the hour preceding sunset. This is especially good for exterior shots, but can also provide soft natural light for interior shots. To calculate when and how long the Golden Hour lasts in your area, visit


How to Shoot

A camera is a mechanical eye that captures light. Because every camera is slightly different and every phone uses a different camera app, you’ll need to consult your camera manual for specific instructions on how to operate your camera. That said, here are a few tips to help you feel more comfortable using your camera.

High Resolution

Set to your camera to take the highest resolution of photos possible. Nothing says amateur like low quality pictures with lots of noise.

Clean Lens

A dirty lens can ruin an entire photo shoot. Particularly with phone cameras, the oils on your fingers can smudge the lens and blur all your pictures. Check the lens before you start snapping. When cleaning a camera lens, follow the manual instructions for cleaning.

Camera Orientation DIY Photo Shoot

Camera orientation

Pay attention to your camera orientation. By holding your camera or phone vertically (tall and skinny), the photos will be taken vertically. By holding it horizontally (short and fat), the photos will be taken horizontally—a bit of a no-brainer but important. As a general rule take horizontal photos. Turn your phone on its side! Horizontal photos work better for website layout, they allow the subject to breathe and can also be used for social media. Vertical photos are ok for Snapchat, Instagram or Pinterest, but generally don't work as well for websites.

Focused Photos

If a photo is blurry but you've cleaned the lens, you probably didn’t focus. When using a phone, on the screen tap the part of the image that you would like to focus on. If you’re using a camera, press the capture button partially down, wait a moment, and then push down completely.

If photos are still coming out blurry, unsteady hands are usually the culprit. Try a more solid stance by resting your elbows against your body, or by crouching and resting your elbows on your knees. You can also prop the camera against something solid, or use a tripod (they do make these for cell phones as well).

Use HDR if Needed

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. This feature can be used for scenes that have really bright spots (windows or light fixtures) and really dark spots (in corners and under furniture). By using HDR, the camera takes the bright and dark points into account and averages them. This can create detailed images that look more vibrant, that really "pop." If your camera has this feature, experiment with it. Capture the same image with and without HDR and keep the better image.

Careful with HDR when:
  • There is movement in your picture (blowing vegetation)
  • Vivid colors are being photographed (they sometimes become more drab)

White balance

Sometimes a photo comes out tinted blue or yellow. This means that your source of light (the sun, a light bulb, etc.) has a certain temperature of color that is tinting your image. Usually digital cameras will auto adjust, but if you’re having issues with certain hues invading your photos, experiment with different settings of white balance. Most digital cameras have presets like “Cloudy” or “Incandescent” that state what sources of light they can compensate for.


The subject and the camera are important, but the person behind the camera composes the image. You are the artist! The composition determines how intellectually interesting and emotionally engaging the picture turns out. Here are a few tips to help you create a truly beautiful beautiful picture.

Rule of thirds DIY Photo Shoot

The rule of thirds

Use the rule of thirds to emphasize the subject of a photo. It is a natural tendency to center the subject, but this is can be a mistake. By placing the subject off-center, it invites the viewer to explore the photograph. Divide a photo vertically and horizontally into thirds. Position your subject in one of the areas of intersection.

Some cameras have a setting that places these grid lines across the preview screen. This can be helpful until you get a feel for this rule of composition. Check the settings of your camera and try turning them on.

Leading Lines

Pay attention to the direction of the natural lines in a photo, and where they are leading your viewer. In the image above, the fence, the cliff, and the horizon all lead the eye toward the lighthouse. In a similar way, your inn is full of leading lines. Look at the way furniture, walls and windows point your view toward certain objects. While you should almost always keep your camera level with the horizon, by taking photo from an angle you can use leading lines to emphasize your subject.


Framing is similar to leading lines in that it helps you direct the viewers attention. The difference is that instead of leading directly to the subject, framing highlights the subject by encircling it. It's similar to drawing a box around a part of your photo with a marker.  Watch for naturally occurring frames that surround the subject. This can be furniture, walls, windows or vegetation. This focuses the eye on the subject, and creates overall structure for your photo.

Corner Exits

To create better flow in your photos, it can help to have some sort of leading line exiting the photo in a corner, specifically the bottom right. In the above photo, the cliff and shoreline create a natural line that leads out of the photograph. Experiment with this technique to improve your photo composition.

There are innumerable photo composition techniques floating around out on the web. If you found this section interesting, a Google search of something like "photo composition techniques" would be worth a look.


One more category worth mentioning is the “darkroom of your computer.” Before publishing your pictures online, you may want to run them through some editing software. Most computers have a generic Picture Manager, but professional photographers recommend Adobe Lightroom along with Adobe Photoshop.

Camera Orientation DIY Photo Shoot

While most editing is unneeded when using the photo tips of this article effectively, here’s a brief list of basic photo editing techniques to consider:

  • Auto Adjustment: Some programs can naturalize colors and light with a single click of the mouse. Some of these might include Auto Correct, Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, Auto Levels, and Auto Colors. Usually when opening an editing feature, there is always the option to run an auto adjustment. Compare the photo before and after by running the automatic correction, then pressing Ctrl + Z (Mac users Command + Z) on the keyboard to undo the change. Use whichever version of the photo looks better.
  • Cropping: You can cut off portions of the image in order to better position the subject. This can help you to take out distracting elements close to the edges of the image. You can also use the rule of thirds after the fact with cropping.
  • Brightness: You can always adjust the light in a photo. You can raise and lower the brightness by dragging the pointer up or down. If you need to make dramatic brightness adjustments, consider retaking the photo during a more well-lit time of day.
  • Contrast: This is the difference between the light and dark portions of the picture. Raising contrast sharpens the image, deepening dark parts and brightening light parts. Lowering the contrast softens and fades the image.
  • Self-Restraint: Don’t over-edit. When increasing brightness and contrast especially, avoid making the photo look surreal. When your image looks fake you lose customer confidence.
  • Honesty: Never edit things out of photographs or alter photos in ways that deceive your guests.

Best of luck with your photo shoot!

If you're interested in a new website to go with your gorgeous new photos,

contact us at

BnBwebsites  |  772 East 100 North, Payson, UT  84651  |  801-405-6861  |