A few weeks ago we welcomed Russell Hogg from ACT Studios to SuperControl HQ in south-west Scotland. Emma had some questions, and Russell shared some seriously savvy photography tips to help you showcase your holiday rental and make your self-catering website stand out. Now we’re sharing them with you.
Q. Why should self-caterers hire professional photographers? Can’t we just use our own photos?
“There are lots of benefits of using a professional photographer. Anyone can go and buy a good camera or use a good iPhone camera, but a professional will have more advanced equipment to deal with lighting or help balance exposure. It’s also about skills and experience, knowing where to put the camera, what to avoid, how to correct issues you may come across there and then. Post-processing as well – a lot of layered images and techniques are used to bring out the best exposure inside the property and also through the windows, looking into the garden or looking out at this stunning view. An iPhone, as good as it is, won’t be able to get all that – or any other phone for that matter. It won’t be able to do all of that, just off the cuff.”
Q. You see a lot of different properties every week. How do you make a property stand out? What works?
“It’s important to show off your property’s character, any period features. Focus on the details and the charm of any unusual architectural features or bespoke furniture. Showcase local produce that you source from your neighbours – beers and breads and cheese and things they haven’t tried before. Focus on details like that.
“Also, make sure everything is straight and tidy. No missing curtain hooks or messy bed covers. It’s all stuff that we’d have to fix before taking the picture so you can avoid that beforehand by giving your property a quick once-over.”
Q. And what doesn’t work?
“Cluttered rooms. Remove obvious items you don’t need on camera: toilet brushes, cleaning equipment, pump-dispensed hand soaps, washing-up liquid – it’s all taken as read it will be in the properties anyway so hide them away. Simplifying the room makes the room look bigger and it also prevents dating the property. If you’ve got a product that’s a limited edition, lets say fairy liquid, when that special edition promotion finishes the photo immediately looks old and this feeds through to the illusion you’re creating.”
Q. Tell us about virtual tours
“The virtual tours are another part of the ACT Studios service that we offer. First and foremost we’re passionate about photography and getting the images of your property. But we can also offer this unique insight into your property using clever 3D scanning cameras.
“The end result is a full three-dimensional virtual tour of your property. It enables potential guests to step into the software and walk around – a lot like Google Street View. ”
Q. What are 3D tours? Talk us through how do you record them?
“The camera we use has sensors for the cameras and the infra-red, and they constantly scan the room, detecting the depth and the cameras record in all directions. So the camera sees everything, so if there are any unpainted ceilings or areas that you don’t want the cameras to see, the stills camera that’s fair enough, but this camera will see everything. It’s as simple as using an iPad to start the scan, and the camera spins around on an axle. It scans the room on infra-red and simultaneously takes pictures from a few different angles. The rotation takes about 30 seconds. It picks up everything, which is another reason we need the property cleaned and ready before we start the shooting, so we don’t have people walking around in the background or we would have to start all over again. We then move the camera to a new point and start all over again and just keep doing that, working our way around every room, gradually upstairs and all the rooms until the project is done.”
Q. Why is it a good idea to invest in 3D tours for your holiday accommodation and where can self-caterers use them?
“You can build a dolls house model which you can add to your website. Future guests can place themselves right in the living room and walk over to the fireplace, or go over to the window and see the view. They can walk through the property all virtually, visitors to your website could be thousands of miles away looking at a prospective cottage to rent and see if it’s going to be their niche. If one of the guests is in a wheelchair they can see how much of the property is accessible. They can see the distance the children’s room is from the living room to check that the baby monitor signals will work. Or maybe your visitors want to see how many bathrooms or showers there are. There might be guests that like to take luxurious showers, so they want to make sure there are more than enough showers in the property for everyone. The 3D tours enables that, all from the comfort of your own home. Wherever that may be in the world.”
Take a look at the 3D tour Russell filmed at SuperControl’s Founding Directors’ self-catering property Abbotsway at Orroland Holiday Cottages:
About ACT Studios
ACT Studios Photography is a small, focused and expert team of photographers, who are passionate about photographing holiday cottages, guest houses and hotels throughout the UK. Their photography team are carefully located across the UK working together to cover all corners of England, Scotland and Wales.
Special offer for SuperControllers
ACT Studios have an exclusive offer for SuperControllers, On that page you’ll also find a free owner’s guide on that page to help you prepare your holiday rental for a photo session.
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