For many years, we had heard Mercersburg Inn described as a super-special property. Located in a small town in central Pennsylvania, this Georgian Mansion is–for one thing–REALLY BIG! At over 20,oo0 square feet, with 15 grand guest rooms in the main inn and another two in the carriage house, this is one spectacular inn, with opulent common Mercersburg Exteriors Facade Dusk 1 M Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Innspaces, porches and a gorgeous restaurant. Unfortunately, when one looked at the inn’s website, very little of that grandness came through. Also (online, at least) the property was presented to the world as dated, cluttered and dark. We were assured by the Innkeepers and others “in the know” that none of this was accurate. Mercersburg Inn needed a “new image”–one that accurately depicted the grandeur and elegance of this outstanding property.

They called us to do their photography and we encouraged them to contact White Stone Marketing for a new website. The wheels began to turn.

The Photo shoot was a great success and the resulting photos are a shocking improvement over their previous images. In addition, White Stone Marketing is currently developing a new web site for Mercersburg Inn, and it should be ready in a few months.

As we reviewed the old website, it dawned on us that there has been a dramatic shift in the way images are used on “Rooms” pages. In the past, rooms were often represented by a “collage” of various shots (see “Before” shots below), each tiny image representing an aspect of the room, all together intended to tell the story of that room. More recently, website designers have replaced these collages with larger, more literally-descriptive photos, seen in a rotation. According to Liz Hamilton, Design Director at White Stone Marketing, there are a few of reasons for this shift:

1. Today’s savvy innkeepers tend to invest in professional photography (Yay!) and website designers now strive to create “photo-forward” websites, which are proven to be much more effective.

2. Online consumers (especially millennials) want to be able to see EXACTLY what they are getting, i.e. how the room is laid out, interrelationships of the various spaces, etc.. This is achieved much more effectively with a few large photos, rather than a group of smaller images.

3. Faster internet speeds have allowed larger photos to be used without pesky load time issues

4. Smaller images of intricate room details are poorly represented on mobile devices–and as we covered in our last blog , mobile is where it’s at!

 

So, let’s talk about this shoot…

 

1) Getting Prepared

We had a series of telephone meetings with owners Lisa and Jim, and made various decor and styling recommendations. Low-investemnt but high-impact suggestions included removing lace canopies over beds and reviewing bedding to be sure it felt current and fresh. Another suggestion was to update any accent or throw pillows–small details can say so very much. Lisa also made the move to replace some of the heavy, dated window treatments, replacing them with cleaner, fresher white sheers or lace–still appropriate for this historic mansion, but lighter and a little more current feeling. This also let a lot more light into the rooms.

Lisa and Jim were great sports and really listened to our suggestions; their tireless–and SPEEDY– efforts contributed greatly to the success of this project. As we often say, 75% of photographing a property is simply being PREPARED. So much of the important work actually happens before a shutter ever clicks. Remember–great photography of “tired” or outdated decor can only take you so far. Read our post on “Getting Ready for the Photographer” from a few years ago.

pic rooms 07 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Marie Claire (Before)

Mercersburg Rooms MarieClaire 5 M Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Marie Claire (After)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercersburg Rooms MarieClaire a 1 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Marie Claire (After) – Note the removal of the canopy, new artwork (no dried flower wreaths!) and decorative pillow

 

2) Underselling 

Immediately upon arrival, we were astounded by the scale of most of the rooms and suites–they were huge! The pictures they had been using to sell their rooms for over a decade were woefully (tragically) underselling the spaciousness and grandness of the spaces, the high ceilings, and the amenities many of the rooms have–like porches with views and unique, mint-condition vintage bathrooms. So many of the aspects that make an inn truly special were not being touted!

pic rooms 01 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Prospect Suite (Before)

Mercersburg Rooms Prospect%20 7 M Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Prospect Bath (After) – Check out this incredibly-maintained vintage bath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercersburg Rooms Prospect%20 3 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Prospect (After) – Note how the room feels grand without resorting to “wide angle” tricks. The lack of canopy and new furniture arrangement also make the room feel bigger

Mercersburg Rooms Prospect Balcony 3 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

The balcony for Prospect Suite. The secret is now OUT!  This balcony has a GREAT VIEW of the surrounding mountains and lush gardens! Check out the balcony shot BEFORE…Where would you rather stay??

 

3) Its all about the View!

Who knew this place had views?? We captured views out of windows whenever we could. Mercersburg is a small, out-of-the-way town and we wanted the pictures to help tell the story of the setting. Views and enviromental shots really can do that!

pic rooms 02 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Dressing Room (Before)

Mercersburg Rooms DressingRoom 2 M Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Dressing Room (After) – A big impact by removing some of the decor and composing a wider shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercersburg Rooms DressingRoom 1 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

In this room, the view and balcony are the true selling features, but these features were never photographed before! We waited until sunset to capture this photo, when the room and view were of equivalent brightness.

Mercersburg Rooms DressingRoom 5 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

More of Dressing Room’s view of the village and mountains, shot in the morning. Time of day is critical in view pictures like this. This one was at 6:45 am. The light on the mugs is artificial, but feels natural.

 

4) Celebrating Important Amenities

Guests care about bathrooms. Special bathrooms really, really can sell a room. Mercersburg Inn has some great modern baths in their carriage house rooms, but previously they were very poorly photographed or not shown at all. Not any more!! Also, the bed got a makeover, removing much of the floral bedding, thus making for a cleaner, simpler look.

pic rooms 18 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Carriage House Room (Before) – GLOOMY!

Mercersburg Rooms Carriage North 1 M Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

After – A new furniture arrangement makes the room feel less cluttered. Mark did his magic on the bed – repurposing the bedding in a new configuration and rejected the shams. We brought in this rug to add color and character.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercersburg Rooms Carriage NorthBath 2 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Carriage House Bathroom – One of the best bathrooms on the property now has a great photo!

 

5) Beyond Sleeping Rooms

Although the guest rooms are stunning at Mercersburg Inn, there is SO much more to the property in terms of common spaces. They are full of character, opulence and grandness. In eleven years of photographing inns, these are the most interesting we’ve ever photographed. Here are a few:

Mercersburg Common Foyer 2 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

This is how you enter the mansion. Can you say “WOW FACTOR”? 

 

Mercersburg Common Porch 2 Edit X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

The side porch

 

Mercersburg Common Dining 1 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

The elegant dining room is a fitting setting for their opulent dinners

 

Mercersburg Common Bar 1 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

The bar- elegant yet comfortable.

4 Comments

  1. Janet Wolf says:

    Once again, great article.

  2. excellent blog guys! I love the story behind this shoot and the fact that the client was so prepared! When the innkeeper is both prepared and willing to let you change things up, the true magic comes through! We are excited and honored to be working on the website design for this spectacular property.

  3. Love this blog post! You are so right about the old outdated website. I know the new one with your photos will be gorgeous!

  4. Bea says:

    Have stayed here a while ago- How refreshing to have a update- it is a beautiful property!