Portrait of Hotel Photographer Michelle Chaplow

Portrait of Hotel Photographer Michelle Chaplow in the gold room of the Historic Fairmont San Franciso Hotel.

About Michelle

Michelle Chaplow is a British professional hotel photographer who has spent the last two decades photographing a huge variety of travel destinations, and some of the world’s finest luxury and historic hotels. In 2010 she founded Hotel Essence Photography, whose mission is to capture the spirit, the very essence of hotels around the world. Michelle has photographed everything from exteriors of UNESCO-recognised buildings to Michelin-star restaurant kitchens. Born and educated in Britain, she attended Manchester University, and relocated to Spain in 1992. A truly passionate photographer, Michelle loves to go beyond the conventional viewpoint to capture the very essence of the subject.

Photography studies

She is a member of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain and has studied photography at Seville University, The Contemporary Art Museum in Malaga and the MoMA in New York.

Hotel Photography Published works

Hotel Essence Photography has been commissioned and published by highly prestigious hotel groups such as Mandarin Oriental, Paradores de España, Kempinski, Oberoi, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Relais & Chateaux, Preferred Hotels and Resorts, The Most Famous Hotels in the World® and numerous independently-owned hotels. She has won a number of awards for her architectural photography, and has also been recognised by the Spanish Ministry of Commerce for promoting Spain.

Cashel Palace Hotel, Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland, Historic Hotel

Cashel Palace Hotel, Cashel, Ireland. A historic hotel and member of Relais & Chateux. © Michelle Chaplow

Hotel Photographer  2010 – present

Photographer specializing in the niche market of luxury hotel photography around the world

Over the last ten years, Michelle has focused her professional life on the photography of luxury hotels, boutique hotels and historic hotels around the world. Michelle´s hospitality photography skills, and familiarity with the marketing and business spheres, have proved a huge help to numerous hotels around the world, transforming their websites and marketing materials with high-quality revenue-generating imagery.

Hotel Essence Photography

In 2010 Michelle established, Hotel Essence Photography, specializing in fine photography for luxury and historic hotels Worldwide.
Hotel Essence photography has a mission, to capture the very essence of the hotel in such a way that the viewer feels compelled to say, “take me there!”.
The team behind Michelle includes, assistants, stylists, production, digital post production and journalists.

Hotel Maria, Helsinki. Finland. A member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts.

Hotel Maria, Helsinki. Finland. A member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts. © Michelle Chaplow

Brand approved photographer for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

2021 Michelle was contacted by the head office for Fairmont Hotels in Paris to say that she is now a Fairmont-approved photographer. Michelle has photographed on assignment The Fairmont, Barcelona, including architecture and lifestyle shots and afternoon tea and a lifestyle festive photography portfolio for  The Fairmont San Francisco. She has photographed editorial features at The Fairmont Monte Carlo, The Fairmont Zimbali Resort in South Africa, The Fairmont, Beijing and the Fairmont, The Norfolk in Nairobi.

Official photographer for the Spanish Paradors

In 2012 Michelle signed a three-year contract to be an official photographer for the Spanish Parador hotels. Paradores de Turismo de España is a chain of Spanish luxury hotels, founded by King Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1928.  These unique hotels, created to encourage tourism, are often in castles, palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries and other historic buildings.

Parador de Corias © Michelle Chaplow

Parador de Corias © Michelle Chaplow

Associate Photographer for The Most Famous Hotels of the World

Michelle has contributed since 2008 on several publications for The Most Famous Hotels of the World® This organisation, documents hotels with over 50 years of history in the hospitality industry and includes some of the most famous hotel establishments in the world.

The Pool of Park Hotel Vitznau, Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

The Pool of Park Hotel Vitznau, Lake Lucerne, Switzerland © Michelle Chaplow

Approved photographer for Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide

Founded in 1989 to promote heritage tourism, Historic Hotels of America is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest Historic Hotels. Historic Hotels of America has identified over 300 quality hotels that have faithfully maintained their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance.

The Board Room, St James Hotel, Red Wing; Minnesota; USA. A memeber of Historic Hotels of Amaerica

The Board Room, St James Hotel, Red Wing; Minnesota; USA. A member of Historic Hotels of America. © Michelle Chaplow

Historic Hotels Worldwide® is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (in the USA) for increasing the recognition and celebration of the finest historic hotels around the world. Historic Hotels Worldwide represents a  global collection of more than 300 historic hotels in more than 40 countries. Historic Hotels Worldwide is dedicated to promoting heritage and cultural travel to prestigious historic treasures.

The Alvear Palace hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina, a member of HIstoric Hotels Worldwide. © Michelle Chaplow

The Alvear Palace hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina, a member of HIstoric Hotels Worldwide. © Michelle Chaplow


Keynote speaker on the importance of strong visuals for luxury and historic hotels worldwide

Michelle says: “As a professional hotel photographer, over the years I have acquired wide expertise, so it is a joy to be able to share my knowledge about luxury and historic hotel photography via a keynote speech. Hoteliers know exactly how to run and manage a hotel, but do they really know how to do the same for a hotel photo shoot?”   Michelle gives sound easy to understand advice on the subject of hotel photography and clearly explains how strong visuals across your website, social media and marketing collateral, can not only make that particular hotel stand out, its also known that quality photography will encourage reservations.

Michelle Chaplow Speaking at TEDx Marbella @ Fredy Torra

Michelle Chaplow Speaking at TEDx Marbella @ Fredy Torra

Michelle states that “In the hospitality industry of today, images that simply depict a hotel’s specific amenities and architecture are not enough. The global traveller wants more – images that reveal the intrinsic qualities of a hotel showing what it actually feels like to be a guest”.

  • India 2012 | “The Importance of Photography for Luxury Hotels”The Preferred Hotels Group Annual Conference in New Delhi, .
  • Spain 2013 |“The Importance of Photography for Luxury Hotels and Destinations”  | TEDx Marbella,
  • USA 2014 |“Consumers Crave Visual Stories: Increase the Revenue from Your Hotel Website with Strong Visuals” |Historic Hotels of America Annual Conference in Hershey, PA | 
  • Spain 2014 |“La fotografía contada”  Colectivo Imagen.
  • Spain 2015 | “Capturando en cámara la esencia de los hoteles de lujo y destinos.  PhotoEstepona
  • USA 2014 | “Photography Essentials for the Digital Marketplace” at the Preferred Hotel Group Global Conference, in Pebble Beach, CA
  • Spain 2016 |“Hotel Photography Explained” at Escuela de Fotografía Apertura in Malaga.
  • USA 2017 | “Guests Can Check Out of Your Hotel Before They Check In, Based on the Quality of Your Hotel’s Photos”  Historic Hotels of America Annual Conference, Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs Virginia.
  • USA 2018 |“The importance of Visual Reputation for Historic Hotels” Historic Hotels of America Annual Conference, Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO, USA. 2018.
  • USA 2022|Demystifying the new visual narrative for hotel photography, with insights specifically for heritage hotels.” Historic Hotels of America Annual Conference, The Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa, Point Clear, Alabama.


Michelle Chaplow - professional freelance hotel and travel photographer

Michelle Chaplow travel and press photographer

Travel Photography Published works

Michelle’s travel photography has been published by such prestigious institutions and publications as the Library of Congress, The Telegraph, The Times, and Conde Nast Traveller. While undertaking photography assignments around the world, she averaged 100-150 hotel nights per year, in more than 60 countries. She has a vast collection of published works, including two books.

The Most Famous Hotels in The World®

Tapas book “A bite of Spain” Food photography

2008 saw the launch of A new Tapas book “A bite of Spain” Michelle was commissioned to carryout the photography, the project took 10 months to complete and involved both studio and location photography, throughout Spain.

Coffee Table book on Spain

2005 saw the launch of “Espagne” at the Frankfurt bookfair, a 288 page full colour coffee table book on Spain available from www.amazon.fr. A commission from the prestigious Parisian publishing house – Vilo

Espagne : La lumière retrouvée

Espagne : La lumière retrouvée

Stock photography of Andalucia, Southern Spain.

From 1991 to the present date Michelle Chaplow has captured and archived over 100,000 high quality stock images of Andalucia and Spain.
Her images, inspired by her experience of the people, landscapes and history of Spain, capture special moments and little known corners of Spain. Her intimate knowledge of the country, the people and their language give a unique depth and resonance to her photography. A small selection are available online from Alamy.com.

Presentation of a Contemporary art project “The Pool of Life” at the Contemporary Art Museum in Malaga

In a series of images inspired by the leading Photography School in Europe, the school of Helsinki, six women were photographed by Michelle Chaplow in six abandoned pools over six months in 2012.
The series focuses on visual poetry of the female form, alone with an ongoing process of inner reflection shot with uniform diffused lighting, melancholic body language, and elements of water or the absence of water in a place where water should naturally be.
The Pool of Life” was Michelle’s final project for the diploma course in Specialisation in Contemporary Photography, organised by the CAC Málaga and the Fundación Valentín de Madariaga de Sevilla. The work was projected to an audience at the museum in July 2012.

Black & White Spider Awards

Black and White Spider Awards, the leading international award honouring excellence in black and white photography.

2021| Three Nominations | Professional Categories – Silhouette; Fine Art; Still Life

2020| Two Nominations | Professional Categories – People; Children of the World

2019 | Three Nominations | One Honourable Mention – These Boots | Professional Categories – Portrait; Nature; Still Life; Advertising

2018 | Five Nominations | Professional Categories – Fine Art; Architectural; Portrait; Still Life; Nude

2017 | One Nomination | One Honourable Mention – Bienvenidos | Professional Categories – Silhouette; Still Life

2016 | Three Nominations | Professional Categories – People; Architectural

2015 | One Nomination | Professional Category – People

2014 | Five Nominations | Professional Categories – Architectural, Abstract; People

2013 | Three Nominations | One Honourable Mention – Hannah | Professional Categories – Nude; Portrait; Still Life; Architectural

2012 | Seven Nominations | Professional Categories – Fine Art; Still Life; Abstract; Advertising; Architectural; Fashion; Silhouette

2011 | Two Nominations | Professional Category – Architectural

International Color Awards

The International Color Awards is the leading color photography competition & photography awards, judged by industry experts.

2024 | Two Nominations | Professional Categories – Aerial; Fashion

2023 | Three Nominations | One Honourable Mention – Stonehenge Summer Solstice Celebration | Professional Categories – People; Americana; Architecture

2022 | One Nomination | Professional Category – Portrait

2021 | Three Nominations | Professional Categories – Advertising; Architecture; Still Life

2020 | Five Nominations | Professional Categories – Advertising; Americana; Architecture; Still Life

2019 | One Nomination | Professional Category – Still Life

2018 | Three Nominations | Two Honourable Mentions – Sun drying; The Birthday Party | Professional Categories – Still Life; People; Fine Art; Architecture

2017 | Three Nominations | One Honourable Mention – Spanish Omelette | Professional Categories – Still Life; Architecture; Fine Art

In 2011 and 2001, Michelle received three nominations, two in architecture and the third in the category, people. “The Science park in Valencia”, “Lines and Triangles” and ” Angelica La Palenquera”. International Color Awards is the leading international award honoring  colour photography.

Blogger for the Huffington Post

In 2015 Michelle started to prepare blog entries on travel and hotels for The Huffington Post USA edition.

Entries include Six Luxury Hotel Photography Details to Seduce Your Senses

Five Photogenic Villages in Andalucía, Spain

Spanish National Television

Michelle Chaplow participated in Seville’s 2008 Flamenco Photography Exhibition. Spanish National Television, TVE, interviewed her as part of coverage of the event. Among her featured entries was an image of flamenco feet in complex motion that has been published in a National Geographic Travel Guide for Spain.

Inauguration of photographic studio

2006 Michelle Chaplow inaugurated her state of the art purpose built photographic studio.

Michelle congratulated by King & Queen of Spain

Michelle met former King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain at the Zarzuela Palace – Madrid at the end of her photographic assignment for the Washington Library of Congress.

 King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia

King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia

She was also talked with King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia , formerly The Prince and Princess of Asturias, during a British Chamber of Commerce event in Barcelona

Visions of Andalucia

Michelle held her first one man exhibition in 2004 “Visions of Andalucia”. David Clarke Head of Tate photography, London wrote “A beautiful exhibition, which really captures the essence of Spain”.

The Ortiz Echagüe prize

In 2001 Michelle was awarded an honorary mention in the «Ortiz Echagüe» prize from the Spanish Ministry of Tourism and commerce. The honorary mention related to her work in the field of photography promoting Spanish Tourism. (BOE Reference 031 5/02/2001 Sec 3 page 4336) Ortiz Echagüe was one of the first modern Spanish icon Photographers.

Turespaña the Spanish Tourist Board

In 1995 Michelle was awarded the prestigious state photography contract by Turespaña the Spanish Tourist Board to document the coastline from Alicante to Huelva (BOE Reference 367/95 Numero 302 19/12/95 page 22683)

Work published, Editorial

  • The Spanish Tourist Board
  • BBC Worldwide
  • BBC Books
  • AA Travel Guides
  • Morgan Cain/Glencoe
  • GEO
  • Hi Life
  • Med Life
  • Condé Nast Traveller
  • Travel + Leisure
  • Wallpaper*
  • Spanorama
  • The Daily Telegraph
  • The Sunday Telegraph
  • The Sunday Mirror
  • The Mail on Sunday
  • The Sunday Times
  • Independent
  • The Financial Times
  • Barcelona Solo Nieve
  • Aire Libre
  • Square Meal Magazine
  • Andalucia Magazine
  • National Geographic Traveller
  • Viajes National Geographic
  • Library of Congress
  • Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Puerta del Sol
  • Waterfront Press
  • Spa Magazine
  • Golf Course Management
  • Dorling Kindersley Guides
  • Business Life Magazine
  • Het Laatste Nieuws
  • Calvin Klein
  • Good Holiday Guide
  • Bellevue
  • Wine Magazine
  • Spain21, New York
  • Thomas Cook
  • Privileges Cruise Magazine
  • Conde Nast Traveller
  • Home Beautiful, Sydney
  • Living Spain Magazine
  • Essential Algarve
  • Smith Asc, Boston
  • Trends Traveler China
  • Bell Europa, Milan
  • Beautiful Homes, Australia
  • Villas Magazine
  • Holland Herald
  • The Norwegian
  • Ministry of Sound
  • Santana Books
  • CIMagazine
  • ICANN Newsletters
  • Café Créme Magazine
  • Ultra Travel
  • Andalucia.com
  • Workman Publishing
  • Onlive Magazine
  • Inside Spain
  • Irwin Mitchell, Solicitors
  • Vida Magazine
  • Arcos Gardens
  • El Campanario
  • Pacific Rim Construction
  • Work published, Hotels & Resorts

  • Mandarin Oriental Hotels
  • Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
  • Preferred Hotels and Resorts
  • Paradores de turismo de España
  • Azerai Resorts
  • Avani +
  • Marriot
  • Relais & Chateaux
  • Work published,  Independent Hotels

  • Azerai, Laos
  • La Val Hotel, Switzerland
  • Park Hotel Vitznau, Switzerland
  • Hotel Maria, Finland
  • The Rock Hotel Gibraltar
  • Benbow Historic Inn, USA
  • Napa River Inn, USA
  • Silver Birches, USA
  • Settlers Inn USA
  • Cashel Palace, Ireland
  • Sacher Hotel, Vienna
  • Premier Palace, Kiev
  • La Florida, Spain.
  • Palacio Carvajal Giron, Spain
  • Camiral Golf & Wellness Resort
  • Cortijo de Marques, Spain
  • Finca Cortesin, Spain
  • Serras Hotel, Spain
  • The Wellesley, UK
  • La Maison Blanche, Morocco
  • La Pasion Hotel, Colombia
  • Alvear Palace, Argentina