hotel exterior

San Mateo Inn Albuquerque Commercial Hotel Photography

San Mateo Inn Albuquerque Commercial Hotel Photography

Creative angles to best show off city hotels

Thanks to a great referral from networking friend Coralee (she sells commercial real estate), I had the opportunity to photograph the San Mateo Inn which is under new management and in the process of improving its branding and marketing, the first step was getting professional commercial photographs of the interior and exterior of the hotel. It is my custom whenever possible to start with the exteriors, because you never know when the weather may change, so if it is good, then shoot the exteriors first! After that I made my way inside to photograph the lobby and guest areas.

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Santa Fe Commercial Real Estate Photography Inn of the Anasazi

Santa Fe Commercial Real Estate Photography Inn of the Anasazi

Santa Fe Commercial Real Estate Photography

I had the pleasure and creative challenge of photographing the beautiful Inn of the Anasazi in historic downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. Each room, each space was full of architectural features, design touches, and soft light. The challenge was capturing that existing atmosphere with the right additional off camera lighting to show off the room or space such that is shows well in a photo, but maintains the tranquil and warm feel I had standing there. From the library, to the wine cellar, to the lobby, all throughout this inn I kept finding more and more incredible rooms to photograph using the flambient technique. Thank you very much to the staff of the Inn of the Anasazi for making this long shoot go very smoothly!

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TownePlace Suites Marriott St. Petersburg Clearwater commercial pool shoot

Photographing the same subject matter in different seasons or just a significant amount of time later is a very good personal photography project to do.  It is rare to have that kind of opportunity with a commercial photography shoot, but that is just what happened when former clients TownePlace Suites Marriott Clearwater called and asked me to come make a new photograph of their outdoor swimming pool.  They had updated the furniture and needed a new photograph to highlight the changes to the pool area.  

For me it is interesting to see the differences in angles I chose in 2011 and 2012.  The tighter shot of the pool in 2012 was no doubt influenced by the client wanting to see the new furniture in the shot better.

Here is an insider photo tip for shooting pools:  do not get the entire pool in the shot, thereby leaving the exact size of the pool unknown to the viewer.  

Photograph the same subject during the day & at night

The Courtyard Marriott Hotel in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida: top in late afternoon, bottom at night after a rainstormThe client wanted both daytime and nighttime exterior shots of their hotel.  I shot the daytime one first.  Several days later I went to photograph the hotel at night, having to wait out a sudden rainstorm that sprang up as I was making the 5-minute drive from my home to the hotel!  The daytime image is a 7-exposure HDR image and the bottom is just a single long exposure.  

I did not make a shot from the same spot necessarily on purpose, but I am glad I did as it was a chance to see how a specific subject appears in a photograph in two totally different lighting situations.  So this photography tip is more like a photography project: 

  • Photograph the same subject during the day and then at night 

As you can see a hotel in a city makes for a pretty good day & night subject.  Anything that has cars passing in front of it or on it will allow for making a light trail long exposure night shot.  

Be sure and include a link to your day and night shot in the comments below. 

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  • TownePlace Suites Marriott St. Petersburg Clearwater commercial hotel shoot

    TownePlace Suites by Marriott St. Petersburg Clearwater outdoor pool - Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-bracket HDR mounted on Induro CT214 tripod with Nikon MC-30 cable release

    Continuing my partnership with area Marriott hotels (see Historic Courtyard), last week I photographed the exterior & interior of TownePlace Suites St. Petersburg Clearwater.  This hotel is designed for long term stays with the rooms featuring kitchens and additional living and work spaces within the suites.  To my surprise, this hotel is also pet friendly, so your dog or cat can stay with you!

    Lobby area features of TownePlace Suites - snacks & front desk are HDR; gym is single exposureI really liked the "In a Pinch" snack shelves for some reason, maybe because of the clever name or the fact that you can just grab a back of chips right from the lobby.  It was the hotel management's decision to photograph the front desk with no people.  The photograph mine will replace did include people.  What do you think, should a hotel lobby/front desk shot include people in it or not?

    Features of suite rooms at TownePlace - kitchen, bedroom, living room are HDR; bathroom is single exposure with speedlight in the tub!Photographing rooms is very hard.  You might think making a sunset portrait on the beach is harder, but to me, photographing a hotel room is because the lighting is more of a challenge indoors.  I use a combination of HDR and off camera flash techniques to produce the best results given the rooms windows and ambient light.

    St. Petersburg Florida Commercial Hotel Photography Courtyard Marriott

    St. Petersburg Commercial Hotel Photography - the Courtyard Marriott at dusk in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida - 7-bracket HDRMy commercial photography work for the Courtyard Marriott in downtown St. Petersburg continues with an exterior and interior shoot of the hotel itself (see commercial wedding shoot).  This job spanned mutliple days because day and evening exterior shots were desired by the client.  The HDR sunset shot of the hotel exterior at dusk was the very last shot to make.

    St. Petersburg Commercial Hotel Photography - Courtyard Marriott historical lobby - 7-bracket HDRFormerly the Pennsylvania Hotel, the now Courtyard Marriott has a nearly 100-year old history.  The lobby retains the most of the original features of the hotel including the crown molding and tile flooring along with the marble wall accents. 

    St. Petersburg Commercial Hotel Photography - Courtyard Marriott suite room - 7-bracket HDRNo matter how wide of a lens you have, photographing rooms, in particular hotel rooms, is still challenging as it is ideal to show as many features of the room in a single shot.  The challenge lies in the fact that not all these room features tend to line up in a neat row.  You can of course stitch multiple shots together, but then that would not look natural.  For a viewer to know this is a suite room, the bedroom and separate living space needed to be shown in the same shot.  

    St. Petersburg Commercial Hotel Photography- indoor pool at Courtyard Marriott - 7-bracket HDRHere is a tip for pool photography, never show the whole pool in the shot in order to strategically leave the entire size of the pool to the viewer's imagination.  This is of course unless a hotel has an olympic size swimming pool they want to show off!

    St. Petersburg Commercial Hotel Photography - office workspace at Courtyard Marriott - 7-bracket HDRAs you can see with all the above interior shots, I shot into a corner of the room which gives an image depth and dimension.  Very rarely is it best to shoot straight at a flat wall.  Shooting into a corner often naturally shows the most of an interior space anyway.