New Shoot at Mountain Top Inn & Resort

December 4th, 2014

This past October I was back at Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Chittenden, Vt. to shoot their newly completed "cottage" Campion. I must admit that when marketing director Laura Conti told me at the end of July when I was there photographing Grand Vista to save a slot in mid-October to photograph Campion, I had my doubts that it would be ready. At that point, the 3-level mountain retreat was framed and roofed but it seemed unlikely that Naylor & Breen Builders, Inc. could have it completed by their Columbus Day deadline. I'm glad I didn't bet against them — Naylor & Breen deliver!

 

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New Photography and Branding at Mountain Top Inn & Resort

August 15th, 2014

I was delighted when I got a call from Laura Conti, the new Director of Marketing at Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Chittenden, Vermont. I grew up near the landmark property well known for it's spectacular mountain and lake setting. The latest additions to their wide range of accommodations are their Trailside Cottages. These are definitely not your father's trailside cottages! These mountain retreats are large and airy, incorporating luxurious, natural materials while maintaining a country ambiance. Laura asked me to photograph Grand Vista, the most recently built Cottage, in a style as dramatic and welcoming as the property itself, setting a new tone for the Mountain Top Inn & Resort brand. This was my first shoot at Mountain Top and I hope to return again soon. Here's a peek at some of the new images of Grand Vista.

 

Grand Vista

Laura's dog Beans sitting by the door on the entry deck. The Cottages are pet friendly.

Grand Vista

Fireplace inset into the stone faced wall and seating in the Great Room.
 

Grand Vista

View of the Great Room and dining room looking across the granite kitchen counter. I had to wait for the heavy, morning fog to lift before shooting the next one.

 

Grand Vista

Now you can see why they named this cottage Grand Vista!

 

Grand Vista 

Rich details in a vignette in the upstairs bedroom.

 

Grand Vista

Laura commented before the shoot how much she likes my images where the focus is on one room, but you can see into another. I think it makes an image layered and arresting and helps show the connection from one room to another. Here, it's the upstairs den in the foreground and a peek into the bedroom.

 

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In advance of a shoot, I "script" the styling and propping. Here in the upstairs den/sleeping loft (one couch is a pull-out bed) I suggested a story line that your kids or guests are upstairs relaxing, enjoying a game… while others are downstairs.

 

Grand Vista

Toiletries on the luxe granite countertop in the upstairs bath.

 

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Laura and I had some fun with wrapping the napkin around this wine bottle to use in the master bath shot. We thought it looked a bit like a plushy robe.

 

Grand Vista

Here's the great rain shower head in operation in the master bath.

Photographing the Ship’s Knees Inn on Cape Cod, Ma.

June 9th, 2013

I just finished a shoot at the charming Ship's Knees Inn, a rambling, 190 year old restored sea captain's home in East Orleans, Ma. The inn and its location, about a 4 minute walk to Nauset Beach, are fantastic. Innkeeper/owners Peter and Denise Butcher are in the midst of a complete redesign of their website and needed some fresh, new photography to capture the inn's ambiance. During my scouting trip, the three of us sat down and talked about the appeal of the inn and what they were looking for with the new website and possibly a new printed brochure. I walked through the inn — all 16 rooms, 1 suite and an apartment, made some notes and took some preliminary pics. In addition to my "Prepping Your Inn for the Shoot" list that I give to all of my hospitality clients, I made room by room suggestions to Peter and Denise a couple of weeks prior to the shoot for some furniture rearrangement and additions in the way of throws, pillows, rugs… to give some of the rooms a more fluid and relaxing look. Denise has a great eye for color and she was spot on with her purchases which I worked into the rooms when I styled for the shoot. They were so pleased with the way things turned out that not only are they keeping all of their new "props" and some of the new rearrangements, but I'll be making a return trip later this month to photograph more of the interior and the exterior, including their grounds and gardens in all of their June beauty. I'm very excited to go back.

Below are a few images from the shoot. Check back with my blog and I'll post a link to their new website with more of my photography once it goes live.

Ship's Knees Inn Room 4

 

Ship's Knees Inn Room 3

Ship's Knees Inn Room 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ship's Knees Inn Apartment

Ship's Knees Inn Apartment

 

Ship's Knees Inn Apartment

 

Ship's Knees Inn Room 1

 

Ship's Knees Inn Room 5

 

Ship's Knees Inn Room 16

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to my photography blog

December 22nd, 2011

Welcome to the launch of my redesigned and expanded website, which now includes my brand new blog. Thank you to my colleagues and friends for all their valuable comments, many of which are reflected in the new design, and to my web designer, who steered me through the process.

 

And now, down to business—your business. No matter what business you are in, a website that shows your product off in the very best light is critical to your marketing. More than likely your website is your potential client's first stop when he or she is choosing an architect, a builder, an interior designer, vacation accommodations, a restaurant…. Great photography on your website can clinch that sale, poor photography can make a good product look bad. There's too much competition out there to have mediocre, unprofessional photography in any of your marketing, be it electronic or print.

 

Let's take the hospitality industry as an example. Here's the scenario: your potential customers are planning a February vacation at a ski resort. They've picked out the location and now they are looking for a place to stay. They google "inns, b & b's, resorts, Jackson Hole, WY, Stowe, VT," or wherever, and click on a link for a website that features accommodations in that locale. A list pops up with small photographs, a brief description of each place, and a link to their individual websites. Out of the places that pop up on page one, only a few have a photograph showing that inn or resort in the winter—the others all have pictures shot in the summer. Your potential clients make a mental note of those welcoming "winter" places first, picking out a small group that all look good and are in their price range.

 

They go to one of your competitor's websites first, probably the one with that inviting winter shot. Wow! The first thing they see is the opening montage of gorgeous photographs. There is a large, close-up shot looking across a beautiful comforter on a sleigh bed to a window seat with a view of snow covered mountains, an evening shot of the inn taken from the entry gates, which are decorated with garlands wrapped with strings of holiday lights and then a tight shot of an elegantly set table in a dining room that is softly lit.

 

Next, these future guests click on the individual room pages and like what they see there as well. There are pictures of cozy, smaller rooms, uncluttered and inviting and larger beautifully appointed suites. They glimpse a soaking tub surrounded by glowing candles in the adjoining bath. Clicking on the Dining button, they see a photograph of two places set for a breakfast of waffles with fresh fruit, orange juice, and coffee. It looks yummy. There are even photographs of guests cross country skiing and others with guests enjoying the inn in other seasons. This place is really looking good for their winter holiday and maybe a summer one too. After this impressive photo tour, your potential clients are considering springing for one of the more expensive rooms at this inn.

 

Now they go to your website for a comparison. You have been in your competitor's inn and you know that you two offer the same amenities, your rooms and prices are comparable, you have a great chef (maybe it's you!), and you have better views from many of your rooms. You hired a company this past year to revamp your website, but you skimped on the photography. On your home page, your potential clients find one small opening shot that shows your place in the summer. They click on the Rooms page and see all wide-angle photos with distorted perspectives and a peculiar yellow color to them. In a few, the view through the windows is visible, but the rooms look very dark, and your potential guests can't make out much of the furniture. In others photos, no view is visible through the windows and the windows and all of the lamps look glaringly bright, but the room details are visible…all of them: including the electrical cords, outlets, trash cans, the old style television, the a.c. in the window, the alarm clock, the telephone. Those things remind your potential guests of deadlines and the mundane, instead of a relaxing vacation. In place of a roaring fire in the dining room fireplace, the potential guests see just a flicker and the breakfast in your one closeup shot doesn't look at all appetizing. The wonderful ambience and intimacy of your place is totally lacking in the photography. No matter how great your website features are, it’s the photographs that will draw in your guests and yours are not. Your inn looks ho-hum at best and not worth the money. You do not get the booking. So what is wrong and how can your marketing photographs get your potential clients to actually sign your guest register?

 

Great photography is about composition, lighting, styling, equipment, digital post production and most importantly a photographer who knows how to use all of them for the subject at hand. Architectural and food photography is very specialized and not all photographers are trained. Want those close up, magazine style shots of the cookies you serve at afternoon tea? I'll shoot those with my Nikon 105 macro lens so I can get close to my subject and have them almost fill the frame. I'll style the scene checking the placement of plate, cookies, napkin, glass… so it looks perfect for the camera's eye and the resulting photograph. I'll adjust my depth of field to bring the cookies into sharp focus, but pleasantly blur the background. My final photograph may look like it was illuminated with just soft, natural light, but I've actually set up in your dining room, a strobe light fitted with a grid set low and on one side and bounced in a bit of fill from a small reflector on the other. That low directional lighting will illuminate and bring out all of the delicious detail, texture and depth in the cookies and the plating. In each room, I'll find the most intriguing angles, remove the extraneous, supplement and enhance the natural light with my lighting, style and prop. I'll use a variety of camera lenses for varied and appealing effect. And if you want to check in during the shoot, you can see it all on my 17" Mac laptop as I go.

 

In coming posts, I'll talk more about my techniques and walk you through some new and recent projects. Please be in touch…..

 

 

 

 

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