These days, taking pictures on our phones is as much a part of our day-to-day as eating. We’re constantly snapping photos of our lives, our kids, and our food and sharing it with the world. This is especially true when we’re traveling. 

For tourism businesses, this is a great opportunity to take cues from our visitor phone photographers about the kinds of images that inspire them, to re-tool our own images to align more closely with visitors’ lifestyle and interests, and to help create closer connections between you and your customers and advocates — especially as we start gearing up for the summer travel season. 

But how do you do it? Let’s not overthink this. You’re likely already at least a novice phone photographer. Embrace these skills and use your phone to take more photos that you can use across your marketing pieces at virtually no extra cost to your business. And take a look at these phone photography tips to help snap genuine, relatable images that will help you connect with your customers. 

Highlight a “Real People” Experience

Keeping in mind that your visitor customers are looking for ideas and inspiration in their trip planning, focus on a subject doing something in your business or with your product that the audience can get excited about. This means abandoning some of the old rules. For example, lose the carefully staged product shots. Those are great for a product listing in your online store. But, for visitors looking for an experience, a photo of a pot on a shelf is a big miss.

Instead, think about the experiential promise you’re committing to visitors and the experience they can expect to find in your store. Is it friendly? Tasty? Relaxing? Exciting? Full of discovery? And how are these experiences highlighted in your phone photography?

If you need to include a product or your logo in the shot, include it organically:

Add a Smiling Team Member

Including a team member in your phone photography provides additional context about your staff, your company values, and the person-to-person experience the customer can expect in your business. These details matter in visitors’ planning.

This is an easy update to the old product shot format. When your barista has finished that perfect cappuccino art, keep her in the shot. These photos highlight not only the drinks but quality of service and ambiance — two important experiential elements:


Show Engagement with Your Product or Service 

Unfortunately, I see our lodging partners fall short on this one all too often. Instead of highlighting an awesome customer experience, they’ll revert to a photo of the hotel facade or a room with a really, really well-made bed. 

 But there are lots of fun ways to highlight experiential value in a candid and impromptu photo that are unrelated to the hotel’s sign or pretty room and to instead focus on real value to visitors. A good night’s rest, for example. Or including the room as a part of the fun of the trip.



Because these kinds of experiences happen organically in your business, the only missing element is having a phone photographer at the ready. 

Admittedly, that’s a little weird in a hotel room. But our lodging partners could comp a room night for a phone photographer on staff with the idea that they would capture some of their genuine experiences to add to your social media posts, online and DMO listings, digital ads, and other marketing channels.

And shops, galleries, and museums can easily use their phone photography skills to quickly grab a few shots of real people engaging with their products. 

Align with the Visitor’s Lifestyle

Take a minute to think about how your product folds into your customer’s lifestyle. Is there crossover with some of your interests or those of one of your team members? This is low-hanging fruit for your photo library. Just send a team member off with your product and ask them to take phone photos while doing their thing. 

These images, for example, are clearly targeting Central Oregon’s outdoor enthusiasts and coffee drinkers. The business just needed somebody to have the product and a phone on hand:


Spice Up Your Listing Photos 

Yes, visitors are definitely using the images that you post on your web and DMO listings for more logistical insights. Knowing what the front of the hotel looks like, for example, can help me get into the parking lot before I accidentally get back on the freeway.

But many of your visitors are still researching a trip they’re planning to take two or three months down the road. Candid photos of your business in its real environment invite visitors to see what things are really like in your day-to-day. And updating your listings photos to be seasonally relevant will help set expectations about what visitors can expect when they’re actually in your market. 

Good Lighting Makes for Good Food Shots

Finally, a quick note about food shots: there are a lot of brown hues in food. And that just makes it look, bleh. If you’re phone photographing food, make sure you’re in a good, naturally lit area for a bright and warm tone and make sure there’s enough color on the plate to avoid an overly brown experience.  







Phone photography opens many new opportunities to easily and cheaply capture images of not only your product but of the experience you want to promise to inbound and in-market visitors. Hopefully, these tips will help inspire you and your team to start thinking about how you can level up your photography to be more compelling and more engaging to your visitor customer audience and start seeing increases in social media engagement, digital ad clicks, and online conversions. 


It’s all just a few clicks away.