Welcome to Hotel Essence Photography

Welcome to our Hotel Essence blog, founded by award-winning hotel photographer Michelle Chaplow, specialist in luxury and historic hotels. Michelle shares her world of luxury hotel photography, and we also highlight individual Hotels from the cutting-edge contemporary to world-renowned heritage hotels.

To find out more about Michelle’s career trajectory, and the prestigious publications where her work has appeared, read her Bio.

We have sections on keynote speeches, hotel photography tips for hoteliers, and we share news on conferences, awards, interviews with hotel experts, exhibitions trends and travel.

Michelle also manages to find time for a number of ongoing Personal Projects, including the award-winning The Pool of Life, and you can read her individual take on various photographers, themes and topics in Contemporary Art Photography.  For friends who prefer to read in Spanish, a selection blog posts are also available in Entradas en español.

We do hope that you enjoy our Hotel Essence photography blog – you can Subscribe to the Blog and we would love to hear from you in our comments section.

The latest from the blog:

Michelle Chaplow receives three nominations and two Honorable Mentions in the 11th Annual Color Awards

Color Awards Winner

Professional photographer Michelle Chaplow was presented with two Honourable Mentions and three Nominations at the 11th Annual International Color Awards.

Dear Michelle,
CONGRATULATIONS on being a Winner at the 11th Annual International Color Awards.

5,642 entries were received from 73 countries and your work received a high percentage of votes overall. Certainly an achievement, well done!

The Jury represented the industry’s biggest names and tastemakers including Christie’s, Paris; Grey Group, New York; The Art Channel, London; Ogilvy & Mather, Amsterdam; Publicis Conseil, Paris; Preus Museum, Norway; Art Beatus, Hong Kong; Netflix, Los Angeles; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Phillips, New York who reviewed the entries online before making their nominations and honoring 709 title awards and 730 nominees in 33 categories. The Awards could not have wished for a better group of professionals to work with.

Congratulations once again, we wish you a most successful photography year.

Basil O’Brien
Creative Director

Honorable Mention
Sun drying
Category: Still Life

Honorable Mention Sun drying Category: Still Life

Sun drying

Honorable Mention
The Birthday Party
Category: People

The Birthday Party

The Birthday Party

Walking on thistles
Category: Fine Art

Nominated Professional Fine Art

Walking on Thistles

Room with a view
Category: Architecture

Room with a view Category: Architecture

Room with a view

Category: Still Life



Color Awards Winner

“Photography is more popular than ever. Last year around 1.2 trillion pictures were taken. In this awards show we pay tribute to the top 0.0000000001% of them” said Juror Martijn van Marle, Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy & Mather, Amsterdam. Joshua White, Presenter and Producer on The Art Channel, London added “Judging this year’s submissions for the Color Awards was challenging. The winning images illustrate the continuing importance of photography as a way of seeing the world around us and understanding human experience.”

How to prepare a Historic Hotel Photo shoot. Top Tips

Top Tips for Historic Hotels on How to prepare your next photo shoot

Created by Michelle Chaplow, photographer & founder of Hotel Essence Photography

In this blog post we provide expert guidance on photography for Historic Hotels worldwide.

Always remember that when browsing online, as we compare one hotel to another. Guests can check out of your hotel before they have even checked in, based on the quality of their hotel photography.



Heritage Choose a professional photographer who is genuinely interested in your hotel’s heritage. If your history doesn’t spark her/
his curiosity, then this essential interest and engagement won’t be reflected in your photos.

Essence The essence of your historic hotel is in the details that distill the feeling, the heart and the very soul of the hotel. Give the photographer time to seek out and identify those details.

Light A photographer must be passionate about your hotel to portray it in its best light. An advance visit will allow him/her to observe the interplay of light both inside and outside – good lighting is key to strong visuals.

Quantity and Quality The two go hand in hand
– you need to be realistic in your requests. As a guide, a refurbished hotel is 10–15 days shoot. A hotel update can be anything from 3–10 days.

Historic Hotel Photo shoot


Digital and Print Let your crew see your brochure and website layouts. This will help them to shoot suitable visuals – especially if you intend to use panoramic crops.

Big Pictures create visual impact Ask your photographer to shoot in “full frame” as it will display well on your website and is perfect for magazine editorial.

Seasons You may need to bring in the crew two or three times in one year to capture the hotel in different seasons. Ideally, shoot just before the high season when everything is pristine.

Geo-Identifiers A great crew will pick out your key Geo-Identifiers immediately and use them to draw guests to your hotel’s unique location.

Styling & Lifestyle A good crew will have a stylist that knows your market.

Accentuate your best points If you are famous for something, make sure you have a photograph of it in your archive. Ask yourself, why am I different?
Historic Hotel Photography

Visual story telling Use not only the architecture of your hotel but the details to bring out your hotel’s history. Romance and nostalgia are two key elements to highlight.

View In order to capture a room AND a view, use a digital technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR). This requires the photographer to shoot multiple exposures so that the areas both inside and outside the room are both perfectly exposed.

Photo Selection Take advantage of a professional set of eyes – ask the photographer to help you choose the best images.

Files Ask for high-resolution “TIF” images for print and low-res “JPEGs” for digital media. Insist
that primary photos are selected and sorted into sensibly-named folders for YOUR easy retrieval.

Social Media files Ask your photographer to provide a third copy of all the images at 1200 pixels on the longest side, for social media – it will save you a lot of time in resizing and they will do a better job.

Back-ups You should have three digital back- ups: one on-site, one off-site and one with the photographer.


Preparation Book the photographer three days early to pre-plan the shoot and experience
the hotel as a guest. This is a relatively small additional cost that will reap huge rewards.

Pre-shoot planning Plan ahead with the photographer to develop the production schedule from your desired shot list. Do this before the full crew arrives to ensure a smooth running shoot with minimal disruption.

Make the crew feel welcome It may sound obvious, but there is a huge difference between making the crew feel welcome, and making
the crew feel that the photo shoot is causing a disturbance.

Coordination Allocate a member of staff to be the coordinator during the shoot; this will save a lot of time.

Production shoot planning The production planning needs to be updated at the end of each shoot day. Good forward planning will ensure minimum disruption.

Assistance Appoint a junior member of your staff to help one of the assistants for any last minute details.

Models It is an advantage if the crew is experienced in casting and can help with the model selection. Staff are usually willing models and this can work well, but professionals are a far safer bet.

Waivers Ask all models, both professional and staff, to sign a waiver authorizing the hotel to use their images. This can avoid costly complications at a later date, particularly if staff subsequently move on to another hotel.


Passion Choose a professional photographer who is truly passionate about historic hotels
and thrives on each opportunity to communicate their essence to the world. It will show in each and every image.

Experience Be sure the photographer has plenty of experience in communicating what it’s actually like to be a guest in a historic hotel – and has a portfolio to endorse it.

Choose someone that you feel you can trust and will enjoy working with – excellence in photography is a team effort.

Historic Hotels Worldwide. Historic Hotels of America and British Airways

A special thank you The information from this blog post was part of a Keynote speech “Tips on hotel photography for historic hotels worldwide, how to prepare a Historic Hotel Photo shoot”.  the speech was delivered by Michelle Chaplow at the Annual conference of  Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide held at the Omni Homestead Hotel Virginia USA. The flights to America were sponsored by HHA, HHW and British Airways