Resort Photography Tips as a Commercial Photographer: Tell a Story

What’s your dream job? How does travel photography for a luxury island resort sound? Joe McNally was hired to do just that on Saint Lucia, one of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Learn more about his tricks to telling a story with commercial photography by watching this video:

McNally, who is working on a book project for the Anse Chastanet, a resort with breathtaking views of the Piton mountains, shares some lessons he’s learned from travel photography. The ultimate goal of travel photography, he says, is to make someone interested in going to the place you’re photographing. To do this, you must tell a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.


The start of a travel photography story usually shows a place in its entirety. Travel photographers must identify locations that look out over the destination. Under very fortunate circumstances, a client may hire a helicopter to help with the job, but in most situations, the photographer will need to find peaks, roofs, or windows to use. Adding scale to the image shows the grand size of the place. Scale can be demonstrated by including a human, boat, or landmark in the photograph.

The middle of a travel story is a great place for details. This part of the storytelling includes people, recreational activities, services available, and food. Pictures in the middle of the story need not explicitly show an entire scene. Symbolic photographs work just as well. Music and massage, for example, can be represented by images of hot stones in a massage therapist’s hands or a small part of an instrument.


The detail images in a travel story benefit from the use of shallow depth of field. McNally prefers to use prime lenses for photographing details, because they’re fast in low light situations and have wide apertures. His go-to detail lens is the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G AF-S ED Nikkor Lens.


A final note for illustrating the details of a destination is the importance of drawing the viewer into the photo. Pull subjects into the foreground to create interest in a photo.


The closing of a travel story reminds the viewer why they want to be at the location. In the case of a resort, you can set the mood by using warm gels on flashes and using pictures that represent relaxation.


If landing a commercial photography gig with a resort is one of your goals, practice seducing viewers with your travel photography by fabricating a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Pull your viewers into a world they want to visit.

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