The Allure of Natural Light in Hospitality Photography

hospitality and hotel photography

Dubai Edition bedroom, photograph by Gerry O’Leary

Over the course of my career, I’ve seen a number of trends come and go in hotel photography. The staging, the lighting, the mood – the collective conscious gravitates to a trend that we see reflected in images for luxury hotels and resorts.

A photograph is literally a picture ‘of light’, without light, we couldn’t create any photos. Light is the paint that reveals the space, the mood, the atmosphere. This is why the mastery of light is the hospitality photographers’ pièce de résistance. 

The current trend in hospitality photography

Trends come and go, like transient guests checking in and out of a luxurious resort. I can say the same for the ever-evolving world of hospitality photography, particularly when it comes to lighting. Natural light is trending right now: it is the present and the future.

However, I know that the ‘secret is in the sauce’, and photographer’s sauce is the light blend. A deft practitioner becomes a true maestro of luminance.

Armed with technical expertise and an intuitive understanding of the interplay between natural and photographic light, the skilled photographer can weave a tapestry of visual delight.

In order to effortlessly marry the radiant warmth of the sun’s embrace with a meticulously positioned artificial light, it takes technical prowess, which is something I have worked on all my life. Fusing the light sources harmoniously breathes life into an otherwise static image, it adds vibrancy and entices the viewer to look closer, to get deeper into the image as you can see in my image of The Paramount Hotel below.

The Paramount Hotel Dubai bedroom, photo by Gerry O’Leary
The Paramount Hotel Dubai bedroom, photo by Gerry O’Leary

Harnessing natural light

The magic unfolds when I harness the inherent qualities of natural light and blend it with strobe lights. This takes practice to make perfect but getting the right combination of light and contrast bathes the room in gentle radiance, amplifying the elegance of the space.

In the world of hospitality, these visual symphonies aren’t just pictures: they are invitations. They beckon travellers with the promise of a luxurious experience, an elevated feeling, a sense of place. 

Capturing the beauty of a space

St Regis Dubai, photo by Gerry O’Leary

What makes this trend in hospitality photography particularly brilliant is how it portrays authenticity. It captures spaces as they exist in their everyday glory, helping guests to imagine themselves there. When I capture images that use natural light, I’m not merely showcasing the opulence of a hotel room, I’m conveying the atmosphere that guests can feel there, displaying a slice of life simply waiting to be savoured.

Hospitality photography must evolve with the times, and when we’re all seeking more authenticity – this current trend of harnessing natural light is a beacon of brilliance. However, authenticity takes work too. That’s why hotel brands need a skilled photographer who understands how to use light artistically and blend the natural with the artificial to reflect the atmosphere of the space as well its true likeness through a lens.

I speak about lighting in every project – having long been its student and more recently its master. Read more about capturing a hotel in the right light in this previous blog post about the Hyatt Regency in Chandigarh, India.

If you have questions or would like to enquire about a hospitality photography shoot, please get in touch.