You need to think carefully about which photos will make your guests happy and fulfill your business goals. You certainly don't make it up as you go along for your main activity, so don't do that for your photo service either.
You want to choose standard locations that will result in highly shareable photos for your guests. Standard locations will also set expectations for your staff for when, where and how many photos they should be taking.
Remember, your guests are usually only there once. Just like any other part of your activity you want every guest to come away with the best experience.
Start with One Standard Location
Make it easy on yourself and your staff by only taking one reservation photo at the beginning of your activity. By including this photo location at the start of the tour your staff can continue to focus on the rest of the tour as they normally would.
Add in Additional Standard Photo Locations
Additional locations can be added as you become more familiar with providing a photo service and want to provide your guests with more variety. If you are selling your photos, you'll likely want between 3-7 different photo locations.
Consider the following when choosing additional standard photo locations
- Intentional photos vs action photos
- Fotaflo's 5 Guidelines
- Number of locations
Choose Intentional Photo Locations
We've discovered that intentional photos convert guests into advocates far more than action photos. Guests want to see themselves in a great intentional photo doing the activity along with any gear that they were wearing.
What is an intentional photo?
An intentional photo is a planned photo. One where the photographer directs the guest(s) in order to get the best result. This includes things like telling the guest where to stand and which way to face. Photographers should take into consideration the time of day and sun location to get the best lighting.
Intentional photos should clearly show the guests are participating in an adventure. Focus on a mixture of up-close photos and photos from a medium distance where you can see the gear, kayak, horse, whatever elements your activity includes. If there are noteworthy natural features during your activity, be sure to include those in your intentional photos.
What is an action photo?
An action photo is one where the photographer hasn't given the guest direction to take the photo. This type of photo has a chance to be those once-in-a-lifetime photos, but most will be challenging to capture. It's often difficult to see the guests' smiling faces or even identify them.
An action photo can happen at any time and it can be difficult to get the camera ready in time, lighting correct, and position the camera and the guest in the frame to get a good result. More likely you will get action photos that aren't actually very flattering. Avoid action photos where you can’t see the guest's face.
In fact, the best action photos are actually intentional action photos! Taking the time to properly set up an action photo will produce much better results than trying frantically to capture something in the moment.
What are the actual and perceived guest needs?
Most guests will say they want an amazing action photo of their activity. And most businesses assume these are the photos that will produce the best word-of-mouth marketing results.
We call this the perceived guest need because it's what they think they need. However, most likely these action photos aren't the ones that will be shared online. They are necessary for the guest to see themselves doing the activity, to capture the memory of the actual activity, but they are usually too far from the camera to see them smiling, might be a bit blurry, and often have gear or other obstructions blocking the view.
The actual guest need is a great intentional photo. A close-up portrait or full-body photo that shows them relaxed and smiling.
You definitely need to provide both intentional and action photos. The guest will still want to see themselves in an action photo, but more importantly, they must have excellent intentional photos that they will want to share with their friends and families.
Throughout your activity 90% of your photos should be intentional, anything less will reduce customer satisfaction.
Safety is always the first and top priority for any activity! You want to consider the safety or your guests and the photographer when you are choosing a photo location.
Never choose photo locations that require guests or photographers to circumvent any safety procedures, whether having them placed in unsafe positions, or by defeating any safety equipment, even temporarily.
Next, you want to effectively capture the guest experience, you want to pick the moments that enhance the experience that they are going to remember. Remember that intentional photos convert guests into advocates far better than random action shots.
Every activity has some unique features that can be highlighted in photos. You know your activity best, after all you do it every day. Each guest is often only there once and they won't know when, where, or how to take the best photos.
Time is also important as we know most activities have a schedule to keep. Keep in mind how much time you have while planning when and where to take photos and videos. You want to choose locations that fit within the schedule.
Think about your standard tours and activities and identify points along the activity when you have some spare moments to take photos and videos. Some natural opportunities might be:
- When guests are first getting ready and are waiting to start.
- Maybe there's a water break at the halfway point.
- While waiting for guests to leave or arrive between different activity locations.
One of the reasons we recommend standard locations during your experience is because you will get to know the best way to photos and videos at each location. If you make standard photo locations a part of every activity then you will know how to take the right photo at each location at every time.
Then there's also photographer experience. Taking photos can be a fun way to engage with your guests and improve their experience, but also make it more fun for the photographer providing the experience.
Just like it's important to be positive and enthusiastic with your guests to make sure they have a great time, make sure you do the same when directing them to take photos. Surprise your guests with some goofy selfies they didn't know you were taking as you guide them through the activity.
There are set photo locations, but every once in a while something different will happen and you want to give the photographer the flexibility to have fun and take unique photos of your guests, as long as the photo of video meets the other guidelines that we recommend.
Too many photos is a common mistake
More isn't better. Whatever you do, don't use burst-mode and take ten of the same photo. This is where intentional photos make your job easier. By engaging with and posing your guests you can make sure you get a great photo with one or two instead of trying to get the right view with a bunch that don't look good.
In our ten years of experience, we know that sending guests an album with ten great photos will result in higher satisfaction than an album with ten great photos mixed in with 100 crappy ones.
This also includes taking the same scenic or nature photos every tour. These types of photos often can be included in an album as Promo media
Think about providing the guest with their new profile photo for all their social media pages. Once in a while, you might take a great action photo that fulfills that need. But to consistently provide that photo to all your guests you'll need to have awesome intentional photos taken following a repeatable photo location plan.
What photos should I take to create an album?
In the world of photo marketing services, it's sometimes easier to learn by seeing examples of what works best. Here are example albums we've put together for various activities.