What makes a photo go viral--beyond the silly, the ridiculous and the tricky? We're talking about a viral photo in the context of the hospitality and travel marketplace. Over the years, a few of our photos have done just that--but how did it happen? Let's talk about a few social platforms other than Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. Those big-name tools are important, but very often other niche sites provide better traction. Believe it or not, when we looked at our own web analytics, we discovered that almost all of the traffic to our blog and website comes from these viral photos! And, we learned that Pinterest sends us much more traffic than Facebook...wow. Here are a few tips and insights from our experiences: Case One: Food 1) Great food photos and accompanying recipes get fantastic traction! 30% of the most pinned photos last year on pinterest were food photos. Be sure to View / Edit Comments

We recently returned from a photo shoot at L'Auberge Provencale (our 6th or 7th time?) and afterwards, Mark was compelled to write a "love letter" to owners Celeste and Alain, who spearhead the constant evolution of this fabulous inn.  Here is that letter, along with some pictures from the shoot, featuring the stunning cuisine of Chef Joseph Watters. But gorgeous food still has to taste great...and it does. After the shoot, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a spectacular meal, which we will never forget.  Dear Celeste and Alain, Since our recent shoot there, I’ve been thinking about you two—mainly reflecting on what makes shooting there so deeply rewarding—and successful. The fact is that we get great shots there because the key to the best shots is invested collaboration. Starting with your preparation for the shoot, Celeste, your involvement brings ideas that are always innovative, focused and seemingly infinite. Watching you and your amazing new 4 Comments »

After an inn-filled, 2-week shooting trip through New England, we ended up shooting at one of our favorite places: Squam Lake Inn in Holderness, NH. We have been working with owners Rae and Cindy and their remarkable team for several years. It's been exciting to see them grow and change…while doing everything perfectly in the meantime. Over the last 4 years, they have upgraded and expanded their restaurant, renovated and redecorated guest rooms and bought the local general store with an ultra-luxe lakeside vacation rental above. These gals are dynamos at all things retail--their new Squam Lake Marketplace is just another jewel in their crown of successes. I particularly loved their branded "home" t-shirts with the Squam Lake silhouette, but seriously, that is just one of the things that made Mark keep asking "how do you do everything so…perfectly???" And, yes, Mark (who once started crying in Dean and Deluca 2 Comments »

  We are working in California* today, but since it is Derby Day, we are reminded of those great Mint Juleps we photographed (and gladly drank!) with Marsha, the innkeeper at Inn at Woodhaven a couple of years ago. Here is a recipe for for this classic drink if you are celebrating today: 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) club soda 2 heaping teaspoons superfine sugar or simple syrup 15 fresh mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) high-quality whiskey or bourbon 2 cups crushed ice Stir together club soda and sugar in a julep cup, until sugar just begins to dissolve. Add mint leaves and--this is very important--using a muddler or back of large spoon, gently press leaves into the liquid until bruised but not completely crushed. Add your booze of choice, then fill cup with crushed ice and stir briefly. Add mint sprigs and a short straw and head out to the verandah! *Home of View / Edit Comments

  We recently did an "update shoot" for one of our favorite inns, the grand Saratoga Arms, in downtown in Saratoga Springs, NY. Innkeepers and Owners of this family-run business, Amy and Kathleen Smith, have made some really smart updates to this property, carefully blending the traditional style with an updated new look. Because we've been shooting for them for years, we have some interesting before and after shots showing the decor changes. Instead of tearing out all of the classic (and pricey!) wallpaper and discarding great-quality furnishings, they made more modest changes that make a huge impact---all without breaking the budget. The big changes they DID make: * They eliminated many large armoires  which had previously held televisions, replacing them with contemporary wood pieces with a dual function: they contain a refrigerator and provide ample clothing storage (with a great top surface to boot!) * Wall mounted flat screen TVs throughout * They chose View / Edit Comments

We've always wanted to go to Chile, so we blocked some time off in November to fly down and explore the country. November is spring in Chile and that was welcome, coming from the November gloom of Philadelphia. We really only explored the bottom half of Chile, but that was a 2000 mile chunk of this long (REALLY LONG) skinny country sandwiched between Argentina and the Pacific Ocean. We fell completely in love with one hotel in particular, really a country inn style accommodation on a point in Lake Villarrica,  called Hotel Antumalal, near the town of Pucon, which is about 500 miles south of Santiago. We chose to fly because it was a 14 hour drive! Here is a quote from the hotel's website describing the property: "On a wooded point overlooking the lake, between gardens, terraces and waterfalls sits the Hotel Antumalal. Meaning "Corral of the Sun" in the 1 Comment »

1) Bed and Breakfast...and COFFEE! We've always thought coffee represented "low-hanging fruit"--easy to improve upon and impress guests at inns (and hotels for that matter). It's obviously a big part of our culture (especially among young people), so WHY is the coffee so completely boring at 99% of the inns we visit? Sadly, the quality is so poor we often secretly bring our own. Typically, we've found the  quality of the coffee and brewing techniques deteriorate the further you move away from The Pacific Northwest or New England. Generally speaking, the coffee in the South is the weakest and least interesting. (Who are we--the coffee gods?) During our shoot in December of 2013, it was great to see what Joe Finnegan and his team at St Francis Inn in St Augustine have "brewed up". They offer delicious cappuccino and espresso to guests, using their sparkling new cappuccino/espresso machine--a serious machine which 4 Comments »

On the first day of winter this year, we made our very favorite winter dish, in honor of Judy Rodgers, the chef at San Francisco's Zuni Cafe who passed away early this month. Judy was a fantastic chef and cookbook author and we were so sorry to hear of her death. We're fortunate to have been to her restaurant in San Francisco several times and our copy of  "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook", published in 2002, is in tatters from use. This Zuni Cafe Roast Chicken is a real winner. It's a dry 24 hour salt-brined small bird cooked in a high-heat oven served atop a crunchy bread salad with greens, currants and pine nuts. Matthew has made this dish so many times he can do it with eyes closed. Please note that we like to add cauliflower to the mix--it's optional.       Zuni Cafe Chicken Adapted from Judy Rodgers by Eric Asimov of The View / Edit Comments

They say you can't judge a book by its cover. Well, they're right! The facade of The Victorian Inn in Los Alamos (just an hour north of Santa Barbara) screams "quintessential Victorian Bed and Breakfast". But step inside, and that whole idea vanishes instantly. "The Vick" (as it's known to its fans) is about as far from Victorian as you can get. It is completely--and dramatically--themed inside, from top to bottom. We recently had the pleasure of photographing each of the six themed suites and it was fun, interesting and...wonderfully bizarre! Who can say they have photographed a full-size gypsy wagon INSIDE a guestroom, which, incidentally, is also the bed you sleep in? If sleeping in a Roman chariot is more your style, request the Roman Suite. It's all about fantasy here--from Ancient Egypt to a Parisian Artist' loft, you can live out your fantasy at The Vick.    

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One of our favorite things about late summer is great tomatoes, and especially the heirloom varieties that are packed with flavor and sweetness. Last week we were shooting at Swiss Woods Bed and Breakfast Inn in Lititz, PA in the heart of Pennsylvania's Amish country. Innkeeper Deb Mosimann  is famous for the breakfast she serves at Swiss Woods; it's always homemade, fresh and utilizes the incredible local ingredients of Lancaster Country. On this visit, we photographed  "Parmesan Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes"...it's not a complicated dish, but PERFECT this time of year and it's appropriate for breakfast OR dinner. Oh--it's also beautiful! Deb is also a broad. That is, she's a member of the of the influential food-blogging collective known as Eight Broads in the Kitchen. They have hundreds of great recipes online--check them out.     Parmesan Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes from Swiss Woods 2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes, red and yellow 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 1/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese cracked black 2 Comments »