We just returned from a photo shoot at Brass Lantern Inn on Nantucket, Massachusetts. We are thinking this might just be the most dramatic transformation we’ve ever seen in 11 years! Also, we picked up some innovative tips on creating a functional and beautiful pet-friendly guest room. Our hats are off to Innkeeper and Proprietor Michelle Langlois and designer Barbara Halsted.

You can see all the new pictures on the current Brass Lantern Website, but watch for a brand new White Stone Marketing website soon!

Here are some of our favorite Before and After shots from the shoot…

After….

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Campanula Room: After

Before…

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Campanula Room: Before

 

Same Room, Another After shot…

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This After is from the same perspective as the Before shot

 

After shot of Wisteria Room….

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Wisteria Room: After

Before shot of Wisteria Room….

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Wisteria room: Before

 

After shot, Family Suite bedroom…

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Family Suite Bedroom: After

Before shot, Family Suite bedroom….

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Family Suite Bedroom: Before

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Brant 2 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 1.Synthetic, washable “outdoor” carpets have come a long way in the last few years. You can find great designs and colors and can hose them down if a red wine or pet accident occurs. The gorgeous wood floors are awesome for pet-friendly rooms; they add a beautiful warmth to the room and give it a contemporary flair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Family 4 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 2. From an aesthetic, functional and sanitation point of view, the all-white triple-sheeted bedding is a perfect solution for a pet friendly room. We always recommend a bed saddle (AKA bed scarf) or quilt at the foot of the bed to protect the bedding from “foot of the bed” wear and to add color and interest to the otherwise white bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BrassLantern Rooms Hydrangea 1 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 3. This is not your grandmother’s wallpaper…We love they way they used fresh, new wallpaper to accent the wall behind the bed. It makes a boxy room warmer, softer and accents the “face” of the bedroom (the head of the bed).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4. Another clever wallpaper application: using it in the dormers around the bed. It creates a subtle canopy effect with the pattern and color. It also visually softens those very hard angles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Jonquil 1 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 5. Innkeeper and Proprietor Michelle Langlois looked to a local Nantucket photographer for fresh room decor. Just like the finest 5-star hotels in the world, the rooms feature original art from a local source!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms SconsetRose 4 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 6. Sunbrella fabric (the sun-proof, waterproof, “wears-like-iron” fabric) previously came in very limited patterns and colors that were more appropriate for your aunt’s 1980’s Florida sunporch than a upscale boutique inn. That’s all changed!! Here, the inn slipcovered the upholstered headboard in designer Sunbrella patterns and also had coordinating bedskirts and bolsters custom-made for each room. This is an amazing pet-friendly solution–just remove the soiled slipcover and wash. This material is perfect for innkeepers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Campanula 2 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 7. Wall-mounted upholstered headboards are one of our very favorite solutions for any inn or hotel. Here’s why: They’re easy to clean if slipcovered, easy to redecorate (new slipcover!) as trends change, and comfortable for today’s traveler who does much more than just sleep in the bed. Also, they’re acoustically awesome—they add another level of sound absorption to a hard-edged space. More good news: they tend to be one of the most affordable options. Finally, they are foodboard-less, which means they save space and “open-up” the room!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms SconsetRose 5 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 8. A few coats of white paint on their old pine dressers completely freshened up the furniture and added a seaside feel to the space. This is also a very green idea,  giving these old pieces a new life. Lastly, it’s a great budget alternative to buying new furniture!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Wisteria 1 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 9. Dormered rooms are notoriously difficult to decorate. Brass Lantern had the brilliant idea to add shelves in the nearly unusable space where the dormers meet the floor. It takes the space from “attic” to “room”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled 1 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 10. This innkeeper “knows what she doesn’t know”—a very unusual trait. She hired a professional to help her transform her inn. We see multi-million dollar inn construction projects culminate in the innkeeper doing the decorating, often making wrong, expensive turns. It’s fun to participate in the process, but we implore innkeepers to seek outside help. Innkeeper Michelle Langlois hired Barbara Halsted, ASID of Fenwick House Designs in Nantucket to assist. Designers add a cost to the project but can help you save money with clever repurposing ideas and GETTING IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

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We just returned from long-time customer, Carroll Villa Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey. Mark Kulkowitz and family have been running this local institution for over 30 years and they have recently made some bold changes and inventive updates. We wanted to share a particularly interesting before-and-after shot. Previously, the hotel had maintained a very Victorian theme, which was fitting–Cape May may be the most famous “Victoriana” destination in America.  While updating the room decor to a more contemporary style, they made the decision to paint over the dark-wood Victorian-era furniture with contemporary colors. The lines and style of the furnishing still reference the era and the Cape May’s Victorian heritage, but the paint really updates the look! The innkeepers use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to transform the old furniture. It’s a great product that requires very little prep such as priming or sanding. We also LOVE the green aspect to this approach: reuse and recycle (and save a few bucks while you’re at it!)

The innkeepers also made a few dramatic wallpaper changes. They removed the heavy floral wallpaper and replaced it with a subtle, textured, grasscloth-style wallpaper. The feel of the room takes a total 360–from busy, dense Victorian to restful and serene, with colors that seem to reference the Atlantic Ocean, just a block away.

 

Check out this dramatic before and after:

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AFTER: Room 28 with newly-painted Victorian furniture

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BEFORE: Room 28, with no place “for the eye to rest”!

Another clever thing the innkeepers did was to convert the Victorian era-full size beds to king-size beds. They built a custom frame around the bed and modified the old small headboard with some simple carpentry to be a king-size bed–notice how they reused the old footboard to extend the headboard. The new extentions on the headboard also provide a handy narrow bedside shelf. One of our number one recommendations to innkeepers is to remove footboards on beds to make a room airier and less congested–and they solved this problem too!

Cool! Check it out:

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Room 11 with modified full-sized headboard

Like this post?? You may also like this recent blog post on room redos and with great interior photography from yours truly.

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In case you haven’t noticed, food is HOT!  And if you own an inn, bed and breakfast or hotel where food is an important part of the experience, you need great pictures to entice potential guests and to let them know what to expect. It’s still shocking to us how many bed and breakfast websites have no pictures of breakfast! Keep in mind that breakfast is a big differentiator between a traditional B and B and a hotel or vacation rental. If you are doing it, FLAUNT IT! Perhaps one of the reasons innkeepers avoid breakfast pictures is that they can be difficult to style, compose, light and shoot. But believe it or not, you can get great photos with a simple smartphone camera these days. We hope this post inspires you to take a few food shots of your own.

Follow us on Instagram (“jumpingrocksphoto” is the username) to see what we are shooting on our iPhone (lots of food!) or visit the professional food photography gallery on our website  for more inspiration.

 

1) Focus First on Your Intention

Whenever we are on a photo shoot involving food, we first try to clarify what type of food photos a property needs. On your website, you should strive to capture WHERE breakfast is served (i.e. a porch, individual tables, group dining), WHAT is served (your culinary style, close-up shots), and HOW (“in process” shots of food, or food being prepared in kitchen). A successful photo should have a clear purpose and intent, well before you snap the shutter. In this post, we will primarily focus on the “WHAT” type of photo.

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WHERE the food is served, at Lucille’s Mountaintop Inn, GA

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WHAT will be served. Close-up of food at Lucille’s Mountaintop Inn, GA

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HOW is the food prepared. Food in process at Abeja Inn, WA

2) Keep it Simple

Keep the food and the propping simple. Stay away from heavily-patterned plates, placemats and colors or textures that “fight” with the food. The goal is to highlight the food and make the viewer’s mouth water…and get them to book a room! The viewer should be able to easily relate to the food; more recognizable dishes are best. Stay away from casseroles (what is this, breakfast or dinner??) , soufflés (they FALL!) or overly-complicated dishes that require a long verbal description to tell the story.

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Keeping it simple at Glasbern Inn, PA. It is what it is! Note the play of shapes: triangles, lines and circles.

3) Turn off that Flash and Find a Window!

Great photos of ANY kind are all about light, so first turn off all incandescent lights and use natural light. Our favorite set-up for any type of camera is window light backlighting the food and using mirrors and white foam-core boards to reflect light into the scene. Pick a bright window with direct exposure, then diffuse it with vellum or window sheers, wax paper, parchment paper or even get creative with lace! Set up a table in front of the window and get a couple of white boards to reflect that window light back onto the food. Get a small make-up mirror or wrap a brick in foil and use that to help open up the shadows on the dark side of the food. You’ll notice you are shooting into the light (what photographers call “backlighting”). Backlighting is key to bringing out the texture, dimension and color of food. Also try side-lighting, where the window is to the right or left of the camera. As you get more experienced, you can experiment with more direct light on the food. This is tricky, but it can be beautiful.

Check out this illustration (from above) for a back lighting set-up:

 

 

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The breakfast table at Crisanver House Inn, VT. This is an example of direct lighting – tricky but beautiful when it works. We used a very thin piece of silk on the window to cut down on the highlights and control contrast.

 

 

4) Props and Background

Remember this type of shot is all about the food. But a few well placed props can provide context or make it more visually appealing. For a breakfast shot, we often use coffee or tea and/or juice, some silverware and a napkin. You can use these elements on the edge of the frame just to warm up the shot. Do you do a menued breakfast?? If so, add the menu just coming into the frame. Think about contrast: too many darks and lights outside of the food will detract from the food itself. Again–this shot is all about the food! Keep bright color and contrast in the frame to a minimum. Keep in mind your background as well–it does not have to be a white tablecloth. We have been known to shoot on wood floors, slate, tile, or black felt. Dark plates can be a beautiful and moody background for some foods, especially darker or jewel-toned food (roasted plum anyone?)

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Menu with Berry Shortcake at Lookout Point Inn, AR

 

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Roasted plums at Brampton Inn, MD. Keeping the background mid-toned rather than white brings out the great jewel-tones in this dish

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This pizza and beer sampler at The Inn at Turkey Hill was shot on the wood floor of the old barn in which the the restaurant is housed. The wood tones work beautifully with the amber beer colors and toasted pizza crust.

5) Compose It

Great composition is about engaging the viewer and keeping the eye moving through the photo. Use color repetition throughout the scene (red peppers and a red napkin) and shapes (round sunny-side-up egg with triangular toast points) to create interest and harmony. Don’t be afraid to crop a part of the plate off and get closer! Shoot from the diner’s perspective. Try shooting from above. Getting on a step ladder and shooting down at a table-scape works great for many dishes.

 

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One of Gayle’s amazing quiches from Eden Vale Inn, CA. This is a great study in contrasting shapes and color repetition.

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The granola parfait at Sea Rock Inn, CA. This is a close up element from their buffet. One parfait would be boring, but three makes the composition engaging because of repeating colors and shapes.

 

6) Food Styling…with Style

Styling can make or break a good food photo! When you create food for a food shoot, every step from cooking the food to assembling the plate should be in service of telling the story of this plate. If you are shooting an omelet, construct that omelet in a way that the viewer can tell what kind of omelet it is without a caption. One of the biggest mistakes we see is innkeepers over-garnishing (powdered sugar, parsley, sauces) so that you cannot even tell what the food is. A minamalist  approach is best. One trick we employ often is accentuating the three dimensional aspect of a dish by stacking it a little higher than you would normally serve it. Also, always add sauce and garnish at the table at the last minute and keep an eye out for wilting herbs. You could write a book on food styling, but wait–it’s been done! Our favorite book on the subject is by Delores Custer called “Food Styling”. Matthew took a class with Delores a few years ago; she is a genius and this book is interesting to any foodie.

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This egg baked in a cup at Beechmont Inn, PA was completely reconstructed for the camera to tell the story of the dish and highlight each element.

7) iPhone or Fancy Camera?

As much as we hate to say it, these days you can honestly get great photos with a smartphone. The newer models of the iPhone shoot quite well in low light conditions, they have built in features like image stabilization and High Dynamic Range (HDR) and also have good color representation. Will you get better photos with a fancier camera? Yes, but you must know how to operate the camera to get those photos. If you put a $1000 DSLR in automatic and shoot away, the results will honestly only be marginally better than with a smartphone. Understanding the manual controls and lens selections of a DSLR unlocks many of its strengths. The latest version of the iPhone operating system even has a slider to control exposure, which we use all the time. Also remember–most smart phones have a feature to select focus by touching the screen. Be sure to do this or the food might be out of focus, while the background is in focus.

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These were shot with the diagram in tip #3, using side lighting . Can you tell which photo is the iPhone shot? The left is from a professional DSLR and the right from a older model iPhone, the 3S.

 

Here is a gallery of some iPhone food shots we’ve done over the years….

 

 

8) Add a Sense of Life!

What takes a food photo from great to awesome?? A sense of life, a captured moment or a movement. In food photos, you can get that through steam coming off a plate, an action shot of a sauce being poured, or a hand flipping an omelet. A chef’s hand, adding a garnish, also can add a sense of life and captured moment.

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A lemon soufflé getting a hit of powdered sugar from the chef at Goodstone Inn and Spa, VA. The black background makes the sugar really pop!

9) Selective Focus

Selective focus is a technique where one portion of the image is in focus while the background falls out of focus. It’s a great way to simplify the image and draw the viewer to a particular part of the image. It’s easy to achieve with a DSLR camera and a lens with a low aperture, but not really possible with a smartphone camera. The good news is you can achieve that same effect with some of the special smart-phone apps out there. Yes–there’s an app for that.

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iphone photo with selective focus technique added via iPhone app “Camera+” filter called “depth of field”. It simulates look from a high-end DSLR

10) Apps and Such

Speaking of apps, if you are shooting with a smartphone, you can use one of the many camera apps to tweak exposure, color and clarity. Our hands-down favorite is Camera+, ($2.99) available for iPhone only. Camera+ allows you to shoot in manual mode, changing many of the settings that are “baked in” to the native camera app in the iPhone. You can also do lots of tweaking to make your pictures pop. AND, they have that filter called “Depth of Field” that simulates the selective focus technique we mentioned in tip 8. Instagram, free for iPhone or Android has some great editing tools including “Tilt Shift” which mimics selective focus. Be careful not to overdo it with filters though; the food should look natural!

11) Inspiration

To shoot great food, you need great recipes. Eight Broads in the Kitchen, a collective of innkeeper-cooks just released a beautiful new cookbook with tons of fabulous recipes and photos (many from us, including the cover!) Believe it or not, the cookbook even includes one of Matthew’s own recipes for Buttermilk Biscuits, which we made at our inn, The Woolverton Inn. Another book that was just released which we LOVE for breakfast recipes is Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets  and Recipes from our Kitchen. Huckleberry is one of our favorite breakfast spots in the country, in Santa Monica, California. This is a great book with creative and inspiring breakfast ideas.

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Cover of the new Eight Broads cookbook

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Wonderful creative recipes from one of our favorite breakfast spots in California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack Hollingsworth, a professional photographer and iPhone photography advocate made this informational video about shooting food with a smartphone. Check it out for more information:

 

 

 

 

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In preparing for our presentation, “Take Your Guest Rooms from Yesterday to Today and from Tired to Fresh—On a Budget!” at The Hospitality Marketing Summit in Denver next week, we stumbled upon some pretty interesting and inspirational room re-dos. We’ll be presenting these–and more great room decor ideas–gathered from our 10 years traveling North America, shooting over 150 inns, hotels and B&Bs.

 

Chanticleer Inn, Lookout Mountain, Georgia

Note all the changes that make this room feel much more updated!

1) A more tailored bedding approach. Note that the pleats are gone on the bedskirt and the pillow arrangement is cleaner, with a graphic-style decorative pillow and chic, white Euro-shams in the back. No more scalloped edges on the bedspread.

2) The top of the armoire has disappeared(!) and the flat-screen TV now sits directly on the fireplace, opening up the space and allowing a much improved TV-viewing experience. Clean, crisp upholstered chairs were added in slate gray, a great updated and versatile color choice–and now there are two chairs instead of just one (a major upgrade!) The toile curtains were replaced with a new elegant design. The bedside lamp was refitted with a sleeker drum shade.

3) The carpet was changed out for a wood floor. We are seeing this A LOT! Wood is much more sanitary and cleaning-friendly, especially in a room like this that steps right out to the garden. Also, wood makes the room potentially pet friendly, or at least MORE pet friendly.

4)  In a stroke of genius, the tiny pedestal sink was removed from the bathroom and a nice vanity sink was added in the bedroom. We love this change, as it allowed for a luxury shower to be added in the tiny bath–and justified a rate increase!

YOU GO Chanticleer Innkeeper-Designer Extraordinaire, Audrey! Amazing changes.

AFTER

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Room 3 at Chanticleer Inn – AFTER

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Another view featuring the sink that was moved to the bedroom to make room for a luxury shower- AFTER

 BEFORE

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Room 3 – BEFORE

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Another “before” shot, showing the old bathroom sitting area configuration

 


 

Shiloh Morning Inn, Ardmore, Oklahoma

It’s been fun to keep flying back to Oklahoma to see all the changes Jessica and Dave have been making at Shiloh–and on a budget. One theme we have noticed in their renovations is adding a masculine twist to what was previously a pretty frilly and feminine inn. We’ve heard form many innkeepers that more masculine rooms are selling BETTER. That was also our experience as owners of The Woolverton Inn.

Adding reclaimed barn-wood to one wall and the interior of the turret transformed the space from a victorian fantasy (not Jessica’s thing) to more of a barn/silo theme. They did ALL of the work themselves. This was a budget job–you’ll notice they reused most of the furnishings, just adding the pendant light fixtures over the bar and new curtains. We suggested they paint the cabinetry (perhaps black or gray) to pull in the dark details of the barn wood and the fireplace surround. (Then again, maybe it was  just a ploy so they will invite us back again!!)

Kudos to Jessica–a very creative idea, indeed!

AFTER

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Updated Bluebird Cottage–the reclaimed barn wood speaks nicely to the area’s rural landscape

BEFORE

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Bluebird Cottage – BEFORE

AFTER

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AFTER – The Bungalow Cottage at Shiloh, reflecting a more masculine approach to color and decor

BEFORE

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Bungalow Cottage – BEFORE. This color is a bit scary–how times have changed!

 


 

Rabbit Hill Inn, Vermont

Leslie and Brian at Rabbit Hill Inn in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom NEVER QUIT. We stumbled on this before and after of their Sterling Room and it almost knocked us off our chairs! They have added a contemporary twist to many of their new renovations and these changes have been very well received by their fiercely loyal  guests. It’s a bold move for America’s most venerable B&B market (and perhaps America’s most venerable inn).  We wrote a post a while back on another jaw-dropping room re-do at Rabbit Hill - read it here. 

AFTER

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Sterling Room at Rabbit Hill after a dramatic redo

BEFORE

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Yes, this is the same room! Sterling! The bed is the same…but not much else!

 

 

 

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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 get great, crisp photos of your top culinary creations, and then post those photos with the recipe on your blog. Also, think seasonal, colorful, simple to prepare and PHOTOGENIC. Get some in-process shots as well; oftentimes those are more interesting than the finished product. Keep the composition clean and simple, lots of open space. Keep in mind that many sites require a square crop of the image and this should be considered when composing the photo. foodgawker.com is the big player in this arena and you can get serious attention IF they accept your submission–their selections are highly-curated and it’s competitive, but the big boys of the internet and giant corporate bloggers cruise this site for content and re-post. It’s easier to get accepted to tastespotting.com–less traffic, but it can drive hoards of people to your blog.

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Swiss Woods’ tomato recipe–a viral phenomenon

The Parmesan Heirloom Tomato recipe from Swiss Woods Inn, which was posted on our blog about a year ago went crazy viral. It all started with our blog and the simple, totally seasonal recipe (it was August, peak tomato season). We posted it on foodgawker.com and it was then picked up by buzzfeed.com for a piece on seasonal September recipes. buzzfeed.com is a specialist viral web content site with over 100 million unique visitors a month!! foodgawker.com delivered 2000 views to our Swiss Woods blog post and the syndication to buzzfeed.com delivered another 15,ooo unique visits to that post within a year. The recipe also went nuts on pinterest with 1100 repins of the recipe. I talked to Swiss Woods’ owner Deb Mosimann shortly after the buzzfeed.com repost; she reported that she had a huge surge in Facebook likes on her page during this period. So cool!

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Display example from foodgawker.com with some Jumping Rocks submissions. Inn names are imbedded in the captions for maximum exposure

Case Two: Inn Travel

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Couple at The Swag Country Inn…one of our most re-pinned photos on pinterest

This photo is our second most re-pinned photo from pinterest at over 500 re-pins. It’s on dozens of “places I want to visit” pinterest boards. This one was not picked up from our blog or the Jumping Rocks pinterest board but pinned by someone from our website, from the “Our Clients” page. We had installed a pinterest button on the page and that’s where it all started. Why this photo?? One thing you see in viral travel photos is destinations of high drama or mood. The Swag fits this description perfectly, as they are located over 5000 feet up in The Smoky Mountains with world-class views, amenities and architecture. Also, the view and time of day are perfect, and including people helps viewers relate to the image and conjure up a personal fantasy. Note that the people are unidentifiable; this is important. It’s not about them, but about the experience. Aspirational images like this one make great viral photos. Other images that play very well on pinterest are the private outdoor showers of The Swag. Why?? These also are unusual amenities that take an ordinary vacation into the extraordinary. It’s a fantasy made real.

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Outdoor showers at The Swag are super popular re-pins on pinterest

Another place to post your photos to create viral traffic is dwellinggawker.com. dwellinggawker is a sister-site to foodgawker. dewellinggawker is like its sister site but focuses on architecture, homes and remarkable spaces and places. The same rules we mentioned above for foodgawker apply here as well. You’ll find less traffic on this site, but still good click-throughs. One of our more popular posts on this site was Iris Inn’s new cabins “Treehouses for Adults” . Why? For one thing, treehouse vacations are smoking-hot right now.  Also, the great mountain view in the photo makes this photo exotic and exciting. Finally, contemporary architecture is super-popular right now. This picture drove about 1000 visits to the blog post we wrote about the project. Heide and Dave called recently and said they have booked rooms directly as a result of this post! Hey–that’s the goal!

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Coolest accommodations at Iris Inn in Virginia. This photo was posted on dwellinggawker and drove direct reservations to the Inn as a result

Case Three: Special Event Travel Mary Jo Brink and Michael Salmon of the Hartstone Inn in Camden, Maine run a fabulous inn and recently started offering cooking classes and travel experiences in Italy, France and Spain. We were lucky enough to tag along and document their Tuscany trip a couple of years ago. They rent an entire villa for the event. When we arrived, we were taken by the amazing view from the room. We quickly set up some lights and shot an picture of the room with the view. A few months later, I posted this image on 500px.com, a very popular social media site for super high-quality imagery. Getting noticed on this site is very difficult. The picture I uploaded was picked up as an “Editors Choice” and quickly gathered 1000 “likes”. 2000 people started following us on the site and the picture has had over 10,000 views. Why? Are we seeing a theme?? VIEWS. The Tuscan vacation fantasy. This photo is loaded with emotion and mood. Also, it’s just an interesting photo; the room is out of focus and the view is sharp. A photographic treatment like this creates a dreamy, other-worldly feeling. This photo was also posted on Google Plus and played very well there as well. See more pictures from our shoot from the cooking school vacation. 

HartstoneItaly Villa 01 XL The Anatomy of a Viral Photo

Shot from Hartstone Inn’s European Foodie Adventures’ accommodation in Tuscany. This photo went viral on 500px.com

Summing it up… to create viral photo content in the hospitality and travel industry:

  • Photograph your seasonal, beautiful and SIMPLE recipes (the blogosphere is just like traditional press–they roll with the seasons!)

 

  • Get great photos. Hire a pro if you can. Come up with clear concepts for a viral photo and communicate those concepts to him/her

 

  • Understand the guidelines and preferences of sites that can help your photos go viral

 

  • Think ASPIRATION, DREAM and FANTASY

 

  • VIEWS…It’s really about the view. Find a photographer who understands how to get a killer view shot. (We are damn good at that, BTW.)

 

  • Celebrate those unusual amenities such as outdoor showers, stargazer platforms, tree houses or noteworthy adventures  

 

  • Use people as props to help the viewer relate the photo and create scale

 

  • Employ unusual camera techniques such as super wide angle, or extreme vertical (great for pinterest), or selective focus seen in the Tuscany shot

 

  • Use your blog as starting point for spinning off your viral photos. Make that blog beautiful!
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