The first day of any shoot is 'Reconnaissance Day'

As a photographer, when I first look at a bathroom I will spend a little time there and try to connect with the space, and then I'll see how I might visually communicate a small story from that personal time and connect the space with the rest of the story being told.

The space will need to communicate the 'overall story' - that's the product angle. From that starting point, you can start adding details in and when I feel it's ready, I'll encourage the client to use professional models to help really communicate that feeling that we're trying to evoke.

If the bathroom is really a centerpiece of the room-type then I will give an additional angle to complete the story; something with glam.

Step One - More is More

When wearing the hat of Commercial Architectural Photographer specializing in Hospitality Photography, my relationship with a property's Marketing and PR Directors is critical. It's my key responsibility to listen and then ask questions if I don't already have the answers.

During the initial in-person or virtual site inspection, I try to get a better idea of the overall project and space to be photographed. All gaps in my understanding need to be filled and questions answered before we move onto the next steps.

Those questions include:

  • What is the client's objective for the image?
  • How will the image be used?
  • What is the market demographic?
  • What's the message between 'Product' and 'Lifestyle' to be communicated?

As a client - don't hold back. The more you share the better. What are there any USP's that we might be missing?

The Siam Hotel

Step Two - Let's Shoot

As we approach the actual shoot, there are several things that need to be sorted in advance - here's a check-list of the essentials:

Props, Flowers, Amenities, Models, Hair Make-up / Wardrobe

The first day of any shoot is 'Reconnaissance Day'. We do a walk through to establish the angles, the time of day to shoot, the set-up required and what props we'll need including flowers and amenities.

After reconnaissance, finally the real work starts.

If I'm lucky, even before I show up on the site, the producer, art director and stylist will have already been on site and worked their magic. If I'm not so lucky to have this team then the first step takes a bit longer but is so essential.

Things that should be 'good to go':

Camera set-up - align the angle and make final adjustments;

Set the scene to be photographed with props, flowers and amenities;

Make final calls on the model's hair, make-up and wardrobe if there is any;

Lights, Camera ...

The Pavilions, Bali

So now it's time to shoot. My team and I have a particular order that we follow. To make life more natural and realistic I start by shooting exposures in all natural light if the space has natural light available.

Those exposures include:

  • 7-10 brackets
  • Exterior exposures
  • Fill light exposures with strobes
  • Detail exposures with strobes or continuous light.
  • My Photo Shoot Recipe

This is my basic recipe for any product shooting.

Now the time to give it some life and feeling. Even for product shooting I will try whatever I can think of that will give the scene a sense of feeling or provoke emotion from the viewer.

I like to play with the psychic distance between the two and I've found that by introducing running water or a bubble bath might be all it takes. With the right props in the scene you make the image feel like a person is about to enter the image and make the it an emotional experience.

This is the time for magic. If you're lucky enough to have a professional model, you have a myriad of ways to provoke the feeling and emotion and change the psychic distance. Typically I will shoot from behind, over a shoulder, from the side, and even showing a facial expression. It all depends again on the agreed direction by the client and paying attention to the photography guidelines proved by the client / brand.

You just have to make it work.

The Sukhothai Hotel Bangkok

Step Three - That's a Wrap ... Not so Quick

After first edits are selected by myself or my partner, the images are submitted to the client for selecting which images will move forward to begin with the post production phase, the final phase of the project. Once these selections have been approved our team of Harry Potters are ready to make their magic reality.

'Retouching' or what some call digital manipulation is a magical reality in photography today. Long from the days of shooting to film and having to get right the first time, now we have the ability of taking multiple layers and using bits and parts of each layer in making the final image.

Our team works on average anywhere from 4 to 6 hours per standard image. If the image is a hero shot, special attention to detail is taken and the timing could easily balloon out to be double that. From making layers upon layers of outlined areas to brushing in from layers, sometimes one image may have 10, 15, 20 layers and grouping all of which can be confusing to most people without knowledge of the process. Finally the image is ready and kudos to the retouching team and their wands for the magic they have performed.

More than just a Click

Secret processes revealed or not, our work is more than standing behind a camera and taking a click. A good photographer is always invested in their client's needs. Responding to them means that there will always be return business.

Our goal is pure and simple - keep your eye on target, focus on the client's needs and make 'magic' a reality.