Photography tips for your next tourism campaign

Woman in a head dress takes a photo outside

Having a photo bank full of relevant, authentic brand photography goes a long way. Those photos can be used in a number of ways: printed collateral, social media, advertisements and more.

But keeping your bank of photos up to date is important, especially in the tourism industry.

With any locality, there is always one thing that seems to be a constant: change (we like that c-word better than construction). New street art, new residents, new restaurants, green spaces and businesses. With all this change comes a need for regular, updated imagery.

Intro: a yearly (or even quarterly) photo refresh.

With the lush greenery, blue sky, colorful flora, extended daylight, festivals and increased people out and about exploring, summer is a perfect time to undertake a photo refresh for your next tourism campaign.

Here are some photography tips.

Bring in a professional.

If you have a photographer on staff, amazing, skip this photography tip. If not, this would be an occasion to consider carving out space in your budget for a photographer.

Photography is an art, and if the photos your spending time gathering are going to represent your brand for the foreseeable future, you want them to be done well and efficiently. By bringing in a photographer, you are paying for so much more than photos:

  • Expertise – photographers are comfortable in their surroundings; it takes experience to approach people for photos; to ask for more of people’s time to get the perfect shot. The experts are used to that vulnerability.
  • Equipment – the right flash, the right lens, the right camera. All of this is expensive, and the right equipment makes a big difference in final product.
  • Post-production – photographers take thousands of photos at shoots. Part of their job is culling down what they captured into the best of the best.
  • An artistic eye – sure, you can go out with an iPhone and get some good-looking photos, but send a photographer out with an iPhone, and you’ll be impressed with the level of artistry in the pictures. You put so much into your locality’s brand, let the photos reflect the same.
  • Efficiency – Photographing is what they do. What they can do in a day’s shoot, with no distractions will be more than anyone internal could do. Your time is valuable and likely better spent elsewhere.

Cultivate a shot list.

A shot list can help arm your photographer with what they need to be successful. Do you only want photos of street art? Do you want posed portraits of business owners? Do you want candid photography of people? Do you want certain localities captured? Having a shot list for your photographer ensures that expectations are clear, their time is well spent and you get what you are looking (and paying) for.

Consider whether you need a photo release form.

Planning to take photos of residents enjoying your locality? Have a conversation with your photographer about using a photo release form. There are many photo release templates online that offer a starting place for crafting one of your own. Bring paper copies of the form on shoot day or have a QR code and an easy-to-fill-out digital version to make the process even smoother.

You never want to get in a situation where someone is unhappy they are on the front of your annual report that has already gone to print, or worse, they are unhappy and decide to show it via a lawsuit.

Two birds, one stone.

If you are out in the field with a photographer grabbing photos, take the opportunity to gather additional content. Ask photo subjects their favorite thing about the locality or what they’d put on an itinerary for visitors spending a weekend in the area. The answers could be perfect social media content, blog posts or even a standalone campaign.

Bring along a white board and have any interviewees write their name on it. Then, have the photographer take a photo with the interviewee and the white board, so you have proper spelling and attribution at your fingertips whenever you need it.

Prioritize organization.

You get a folder of 500 perfect images on it. We’re all done, right? Not so fast.

Folders with a massive amount of IMG_001-labeled images often end up somewhere on the company server and gather dust, rarely seeing the light of day. After all that work, properly organizing and labeling the photos makes for easy use later on.

There are many organizational systems, so find something that works best for your organization and stick with it. An example could be ordering by the quarter or year the images were captured. Or by the locality, if your organization covers several cities and counties. From there, images could be broken down by subject matter: Drone shots, People, Food, Views, Businesses, etc.

With a talented photographer, well-thought out shot list and perfected organizational system, your brand next tourism campaign will be chocked full of colorful, representative imagery to draw visitors in from near and far.

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Aidan Guilfoyle

In both her professional and personal life, Aidan is a storyteller and makes it known in her writing, strategic thinking and creativity. Aidan’s experience at Hodges ranges from engaging NASCAR fans through a social media campaign to writing regular content for Swedish Match’s Umgås Magazine, to pitching media for Richmond Region Tourism and planning press and influencer events.

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