I got interviewed last week for this article that just came out in Walletpop.com: Hotel fakeout photos can lure you and your money.

In Luxury Latin America, we only use hotel-supplied photos as a last resort, much to the chagrin of public relations people who want the same dreamy photos to be published everywhere that the hotel appears. It’s not that I don’t like pretty professional hotel photos, I just don’t trust them. Over and over again, what I see when I arrive at the hotel bears little relation to what I see on the staged and manipulated photos a hotel puts in its brochures and on its website.

The photo at the top is one of the perfectly nice guest rooms at Hacienda Tres Rios in the Riviera Maya. Go on their website though—or the website of just about any other resort in the region—and you’ll see sprawling rooms that look like they’re 1,500 square feet, thanks to the way the shots have been manipulated.

As the article notes, most of us are willing to put up with a bit of fantasy here and there. We know the models lounging by the pool are not the typical guests. We know it’s not sunny and beautiful every day. But the photographers can never seem to leave it at that. Here are typical deceptions you see most often:

1) Wide angle lenses and shooting from down low make guest rooms look far larger than they are.

2) Wide angle lenses, shooting angle, and clever cropping make swimming pools look much larger than they are.

3) Old, out-of-date photos are kept up for years, ignoring the construction next door, the eroded beach, or the peeling paint job you’ll see upon arrival.

4) Photos show an empty pool, when it reality it’s jam-packed every day and you’ll have trouble finding a lounge chair.

5) Room shots show a stunning view outside, when in fact 95% of the rooms don’t have a view anything like that.

Although top luxury hotels don’t need to be as deceptive as others, they often can’t resist the temptation either. So most of our hotel photos are shot by the writer actually doing the review. These shots may not pop off the screen as much as the staged ones, but they’ll show you what the reviewer saw, not what someone conjured up with Photoshop.

If you suspect the photos of a place you’re considering have been overly manipulated, do a Google Images search and a Flickr search with the hotel’s name. Often that will pull up dozens of photos from past guests and maybe a video or two. TripAdvisor reviews often have user photos and Oyster.com (also quoted in the article linked here) attacks the fake-out photos with glee.

Read the full article on WalletPop.com.