Article By: Rachel Brenke, TheLawTog
Having a studio for boudoir photography seems optimal for most photographers. It provides the privacy, access, comfort-level and flexibility needed for this type of service. However, this isn't feasible for every boudoir photographer.
The good news? This is completely normal and you can still rock it out.
How? I'm so glad you asked. Inform, ask and max it out. These are the steps to take to make shooting in a hotel the most successful for you.
Inform the Hotel
Before setting up for a boudoir session in a hotel room, keep this in mind: It is easier to ask permission than forgiveness. Yes, you read that right. In order to keep your reputation in tact, avoid embarrassment of your client and your business name, as well as maintaining a platform for potential business partnership, always inform the hotel of your activities.
As business owners, we should always be on the lookout for ways to ensure that perspective isn't reality. Meaning we don't want the outward appearance to look less than admirable and leave this reputation attached to us. Not to mention the other unfavorable repercussions that may come along. It is not always required to inform the hotel of your activities (check policies and state laws) –however, they may have policies against commercial activities. If the hotel caught wind of commercial activity in their property, they have the right to eject you and your clients. Which would embarrass your business and your clients in one swoop.
It is highly recommended to let hotel employees know what you are doing while reserving the hotel space. Boudoir is nothing to be ashamed of or to be hidden. Being up-front gives you the opportunity to share your business formation documents and sales tax permits, reinforcing the legitimacy of your business and activities.
If the hotel doesn't have an amenable response, perhaps that isn't the location for you. A hotel booking a room is much like you booking a client–not every person who books a hotel room is a target guest. If the hotel says no to you, they may not be the best hotel for you and this shows the minimal opportunity for future business partnership.
Ask About Special Accommodations
Most hotel check-in times are mid-afternoon and check-out is mid-morning. The afternoon time is difficult with the sun going down, especially in the winter months when you are losing the light you need to shoot with. Morning sessions are difficult as you may need to check out of the room before the hair and makeup styling has been completed. Not to mention, you may not need to expend the funds for an over-night stay if no one is really staying over night. When reaching out to the hotel to book a room for your business, simply just let them know your needs and see any special accommodations can be made.
They may accommodate your timing for a “daylight hour” reservation time, reducing the price overall as you wouldn't be using the suite in the evening. Further, if you are seeking to do an event, as we will talk about shortly, the hotel may be willing to provide a suite or two adjoining rooms at a discounted rate to accommodate for hair/makeup during a simultaneous photo shoot. This outreach method also lays the foundation for future business referral partnerships, discounted room reservations and extra amenities for you and the clients.
Max Out Your Monies
Consider setting up a marathon event to get the most bang for your buck. Once you've informed and asked for special accommodations, you may as well go the extra mile to get more clients through the hotel door. An event (or marathon, etc.) happens when you have multiple clients coming in during the same time period (typically one or two days) for a pre-determined staged set-up and collection price.
By booking out a hotel space, you can easily manage costs, max the monies received and provide an experience to the clients. Heck, even though I now have my own photography studio space, I still sometimes really miss the aesthetics, the feel and setting of a set-up hotel room. (Not to mention little to no clean up!) I use these tips all the time to acquire space to the benefit of myself, the hotel and my clients.
So as you can see, there are great benefits to utilizing hotel spaces for booking boudoir sessions. The important thing is to be upfront and professional on all fronts to make the relationship a positive and successful one with the hotel.
Rachel Brenke is a photographer, lawyer, business consultant and social media marketing strategist based out of El Paso, Texas. She has helped over a thousand photographers start up, market and maintain their businesses through online eWorkshops, 1:1 consulting and the free resources on her blog.
She also has contracts for photographers that were designed for photographers by a photographer and attorney!
Share your thoughts below! What's been your experience with booking hotels for a boudoir marathon shoot? We love hearing from you!