HOTEL PHOTOGRAPHY: The right brand image with Gary Heery
Gary Heery is definitely one of the most engaging and interesting photographers I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I’ve always thought if Al Pacino and John Cleese had a baby, that would be Gary. He is bursting with creativity and passion and his own quirky way of doing things.
Gary is not usually hired by hotels but he told me: "Perhaps it would be a good idea to hire someone outside the box to add some creativity to the project. I would approach the job differently and think about the entire experience. Everything should fit together – from the pictures in the rooms, the brochure, the promo for the restaurants and so on. This is why design and photography are welded together."
Born in Sydney, Australia, Gary studied sociology and psychology at the University of New South Wales. In 1974 he moved to the US where he co-founded India America, a magazine chronicling Native American society and culture in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Two years later he moved to Los Angeles where he photographed album covers for Roy Orbison, Frank Zappa, Ray Charles, B.B. King and Joe Cocker. He also shot portraits of film and music stars for magazines including Life, Esquire, Rolling Stone and Interview.
Living in SoHo, New York in the ’80s, there was a dirt poor musician living around the corner from him, who asked him to shoot a cover photograph for her first album. Gary did the shoot to ‘help her out’ and the musician went on to become a global star. It was Madonna at the very beginning of her career. His portfolio is full of famous and iconic photographs of celebrities such as Andy Warhol, Roy Orbison, Frank Zappa, Robin Williams, Meatloaf and many others. He’s also won a myriad of global awards and published many successful photography books and magazines.
Recently, I asked Gary how photography plays a key role in building the right brand and in turn attract the right guests. Gary told me: “Getting the image wrong is a common mistake. A lot of hotels follow the leader. I suggest getting a good design or creative company to steer your business and let them suggest a photographer. You need a consistent ‘look’.”
Gary has years of experience and extensive business and leisure travel so I asked him if anything stands out that accommodation business should be doing and / or stop doing to stand out and improve their reputation.
He told me: "I was just in China and every photograph in the four-star hotel was poorly executed. The rooms were ok, but the location was perfect. You have to sell what’s outside the hotel, not just what’s inside. I need to walk out the door and into an engaging environment. So photograph that and tell me where to go that’s interesting (and not just shopping).
“You’re better doing this with great photography – the concierges usually aren’t that well trained in this and have hidden agendas. The brochure in your room should be something you take home with you.”
Finally, I asked Gary what advice he has for independent hotel's find a professional photographer? Could a random hotel simply call up 'Gary Heery' and ask to shoot their hotel? If so, what would they need to know and have ready for you to even consider it? His answer was simple. "Yes they could call me and they need a good brief and designer."
For other inspiring photography tips from photographers around the world on how your hotel can stand out from the competition, simply purchase No Vacancy: Creative ways to increase guest bookings today!