We report preferential orientation control in photochromic gadolinium oxyhydride (GdHO) thin films deposited by a two-step process. Gadolinium hydride (GdH2-x) films were grown by reactive magnetron sputtering, followed by oxidation in air. The preferential orientation, grain size, anion concentrations and photochromic response of the films were strongly dependent on the deposition pressure. The GdHO films showed a preferential orientation along the  direction and exhibited photochromism when synthesized at deposition pressures of up to 5.8 Pa. The photochromic contrast was larger than 20% when the films were deposited below 2.8 Pa with a 0.22 H-2/Ar flow ratio. We argue that the relation of preferential orientation and the post deposition oxidation since oxygen concentration is known to be a key parameter for photochromism in rare-earth oxyhydride thin films. The experimental observations described above were explained by the decrease of the grain size as a result of the increase of the deposition pressure of the sputtering gas, followed by a higher oxygen incorporation.