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Behind the scenes of a photoshoot at a luxury hotel in Paris

Photographer Gauvin Lapetoule shares his take on hotel photography — and how to get it just right

  01, Jul 2021

 Tags: Hotel Stories Marketing Creativity

Who doesn’t love scrolling through photos of the hotel they're planning to stay at? We definitely do!

Next to the hotel's rates, photos are one of the most important factors for travelers when choosing their stay. They love the chance to see images of your property and imagine themselves relaxing in the various scenes you showcase. With so many accommodation options for guests to choose from, it makes sense to invest in professional and high-quality photography in order to stand out from the crowd and entice guests to book a stay with you.

If you feel it’s time to revamp your hotel photos but are not quite sure where to start, then this post is for you. Earlier this month we traveled to Paris to take a peek behind the scenes of a luxury hotel photoshoot so we could tell you about every step in the process and what it takes to showcase your property in the best way possible. So let’s dig in!

The Client: Hotel Napoleon Paris

Located just a stone’s throw away from the Champs-Elysées, Hotel Napoleon Paris is an elegant 5-star hotel whose decor is inspired by one of France’s most glorious eras, that of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. At THN, we’ve worked with the hotel for several years and so we know that it is a luxury brand who likes to regularly evolve the experience offered to guests. They understand the importance of having photos that reflect the latest enhancements to be able to showcase them in marketing communications and at key points throughout the booking journey.

The team recently decided to expand their photo gallery to include the new spaces their guests value the most – the bar, the views, and the decorative elements – to let potential visitors dream while providing enough detail to reassure them of what a stay at the property would be like. For the project, working together with luxury hotel photographer Gauvin Lapetoule seemed like the perfect match!


First, to set the scene, let’s take a look at some of the stylish photos that Gauvin took that will undoubtedly help inspire and seduce visitors so they book a stay at the Hotel Napoleon Paris…

12-Small-02092020-DSC_8117-HDR-www.gauvin.picturesThe Bar 1807

26-Small-02092020-02092020-DSC_8642-HDR-www.gauvin.picturesThe Imperial SuiteViews From the Hotel Terrace

1-Small-02092020-DSC_7851-www.gauvin.picturesStaircase at Hotel Napoleon Paris 

Q&A with the creative director

The mastermind behind this impressive work is Gauvin Lapetoule – a French-born photographer with over 10 years of experience in hospitality photography. Currently based in Barcelona, Gauvin creates and tells visual stories for both local and international hotel brands.

To help us better understand the process of achieving quality hotel images, we wanted to speak with Gauvin. Given his extensive experience in the industry, we thought it would be interesting to hear his take on hotel photography, and what he thinks the secret is to capturing and transmitting the essence of each brand…

Q: Hi Gauvin, thanks for letting us see the making of the photoshoot! First of all, how do you ensure your photos are aligned with the look and feel of the hotel brand?

A: Before starting a photoshoot at a hotel, I always analyze the hotel website, social media channels, and its online global positioning. My experience in the hotel industry as a marketer helps me understand the needs of my clients as well as the final customer's expectations.

Sometimes it’s not easy to visualize how the pictures need to be taken, which is why I always include brand questionnaires and mood boards in the pre-production process. Good photoshoot preparation is key to having a successful photo production: it allows me to start visualizing the spaces, scenes and compositions that match with the brand’s image, target audience and goals. 

Q: What do you think is important to consider so that the hotel’s true brand image is transmitted through the visuals?

A: My goal is to transcribe in the most authentic way the atmosphere, mood and light of the hotel. It is about putting in pictures the reason why this hotel offers a singular experience.

Architecture, design, colors, icons are also essential elements to catch in order to easily identify the hotel brand. If these are not taken into account, the brand would be unrecognizable and the impact of the images would not be as strong.


Q: When a visitor lands on a hotel website, they need to be able to sense what their stay will feel like. How are you able to communicate this with photography?

A: The variety of experiences and activities you can enjoy during your stay at the hotel has to be transmitted through visual materials. If a hotel requests to have people in the pictures, I recommend hoteliers to contact influencers, bloggers or models who match with their target audience. That way the message will be much more relevant and emotive.

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Q: What are the 3 key elements hoteliers should consider when doing a photoshoot? 

Firstly, consistency. It’s about the visual impact and the message. Having continuity combined with high visual quality standards is an important metric of communicating a unique experience. Secondly, I would say authenticity. Overselling through visuals is often a source of decepcion for guests and many don’t hesitate to write comments on review sites complaining about the incoherence of their experience. This is why it is important to stay natural and genuine. And lastly, storytelling. We often say that one picture is worth a thousand words because people like stories. The message has to be strong and match with the brand’s image and the expectations of its target audience. It should express what makes your hotel distinctive and reveal the remarkable experiences to be enjoyed there.

Q: What are your thoughts on user-generated content?

A: It’s important to distinguish quality over quantity. You can’t ignore user-generated content (UGC) as it plays a key role for hotels in helping to build brand awareness. If positive, it’s an amazing credibility boost that inspires trust in your brand. However, brand image can’t rest on inconsistent and uncontrolled sources of visuals. UGC can be great to reach more people on social media channels such as Instagram, but doesn’t take into account the quality of the images. For example, UGC is not ideal to be used on corporate websites, marketing materials, or third-party sites.

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We’d like to thank both the team at Hotel Napoleon Paris and Gauvin Lapetoule for letting us step backstage at the photoshoot. Much appreciated!

Getting the photography right on your hotel website is just one of the elements that will help to drive higher conversion rates and more direct bookings. Why not check out our hotel website messaging design guide which is full of tips on how to deliver a flawless on-brand booking experience so that you make the right first impression, every time.

Hotel Napoleon Paris social media accounts:


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