>431821308 a7Csv M >10 Things We Love About Settlers InnWe just returned from another great shoot at Settlers Inn in Hawley, PA.
Owners Jeanne and Grant Genzlinger continue to do great things there (even after 20 plus years!) It’s truly inspirational. We thought we’d share 10 things we love about the inn. View a slideshow of some of the photos we have taken there, which illustrate some of these “favorite things”.

1. The inn has great bath amenities from Thyme. Wonderful products…and best of all they are environmentally so superior to all those little plastic bottles everyone uses.
2. A number of healthy options is offered at breakfast—including their signature oatmeal and home-made granola. Sure, we all love a big bountiful breakfast, but sometimes it is nice to eat light (especially for guests staying more than one or two nights). Offering both options is best!
3. The décor is well-conceived, simply straightforward and very high quality—refreshing, clean and uncluttered.
4. The restaurant serves a lot of local foods—just about everything (if not EVERYTHING) is raised nearby. The best: their Blooming Grove Brook Trout, which arrives at the inn still swimming!
5. Gardens. If you have gardens, you know how hard it is to keep up with this, but they do. Wonderful places to wander and linger and appreciate.
6. They offer some really inspirational creative packages. My personal favorite is their new Woodstock package. No offense, but it is just so refreshing to see something other than chocolate, champagne and rose petals.
7. Water coolers at the ends of the hallways and beautiful carafes in each room to fill with cool spring water allow guests to avoid those famously wasteful plastic bottles.
8. Great design of their smaller rooms. Any innkeeper who has a few small rooms should take a peak at how the Settlers Inn designs and decorates these smaller spaces. This is always a challenge, but Settlers does it so well.
9. The theme of the inn—the Arts and Crafts Style—is so consistently applied throughout the inn. This is a tall order and done so successfully there.
10. Most of all, we appreciate the “make no little plans” approach adopted by the owners in running the inn. Everything they do—from the menus, to the environmentally responsible running of the inn, to the gardens, to the incredible Christmas decorations—all of it is done with passion, flair and freshness. Nothing feels tired or reluctant. As many innkeepers know, this is tough when one has owned an inn for years and years!

Finally congratulations to Settlers for just being named as a Top 10 Historic Hotel by the inspectors at AAA! Read about the 10 hotels at: http://www.hotelresource.com/article39562.html
Settlers was recognized along with The Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, MI and The 5-star Heritage Hotel in Nashville, among others.

Comments Off

>IMG 1635 >Problem Solving and Solutions on a Tricky Exterior

We just finished shooting Goldmoor Inn (view old website) in Galena, Illinois–a beautiful property on a high bluff over the Mississippi River near one of the Midwest’s premier resort towns. Our task was to rethink how they represented the Inn visually and help tell the story of their spectacular setting.

The interior was easy because the rooms are very large with great views and they are beautifully appointed. The exterior was tricky. Since the inn overlooks the Mississippi, it’s hard to get a good shot with the grand river views and the castle-like architecture in the same shot. Also, the front of the inn has a expansive circular concrete drive that, in pictures, distracts from the beautiful facade. Also their current homepage image is not very warm or inviting and we thought it was a little “chilly”. We wanted to warm it up to match the reality!
BEFORE IMAGE:
BannerFrontPhoto2 >Problem Solving and Solutions on a Tricky Exterior

We suggested to Patricia (the owner) that we shoot a similar, wider view at twilight to work up the structure and create a mood of warmth and romance. A great solution I think.
After (Jumping Rocks) Image:
Goldmoor Exterior %286%29 >Problem Solving and Solutions on a Tricky Exterior

To solve the problem of integrating the river and building, Patricia rented a lift to take us up several stories high to catch both the river and the structure (see opening photo). That resulted in a good shot with both the river and the building. I would not recommend they use this as their PRIMARY image as this is not the prettiest side of the building but it gives a potential guest a great idea of how well this property is situated.
Here is the resulting picture from the lift:
Goldmoor Exterior %2811%29 >Problem Solving and Solutions on a Tricky Exterior

Then again, it might be argued that they use a picture that “sells the experience” and is less literal than the facade of the building.
This sunset river shot might be that kind of “experience” shot:
Goldmoor Exterior %281%29 >Problem Solving and Solutions on a Tricky Exterior

Comments Off

>blogafter >Rainy Day Solutions in Arkansas
 MG 5392 >Rainy Day Solutions in Arkansas

Clients often ask “what if it rains on my shoot??” Great question. After flying us out to your location, sometimes waiting for us for up to a year, it may seem like a disaster in the making. We’ve encountered dozens of situations like this over the years and we typically overcome the situation through creative lighting and exposure.

Last week we were in Hot Springs, Arkansas working at Hilltop Manor. The inn has a dynamite front porch and beautiful grounds. With a very tight schedule, we had a very small window in which to shoot the front porch – and it was raining with no end in sight. Strobe to the rescue!
We almost always light a porch shot anyway, but this one was a bit trickier because of the gloomy weather and the fact that we could not put our lights outside of the porch due to the rain.
We overcame the gloom by placing one strobe with a 20 degree grid spot off camera right, creating sun-like texture on the beautiful stonework. We had another grid spot on a strobe at camera right creating highlights on the chair seats. Camera left was a strobe firing into an umbrella, lighting up the left hand side of the shot and filling in shadows. All lights were gelled with a filter to emulate morning sun: Rosco Cinegel #3410 Filter – RoscoSun 1/8 CTO.

Propping and styling also played a role in perking up the scene. The evening before, Mark had asked the innkeeper to buy some red napkins – they make for a wonderful and “sunny” counterpoint to the green outside. The porch was also completely re-ordered and re-designed to create this shot to create a pleasant cadence of tables flanking the stone columns.

In post-production (using Photoshop) I used the contrast, vibrancy and selective saturation tools to make the background feel less gloomy.

Presto! From “Stormy Weather” to “Let the Sun Shine In”!

1 Comment »

>Congratulations to two of our very favorite client-inns for their being chosen as two of the “Hotels We Love” in April’s 2009 National Geographic Traveler magazine! The Swag Country Inn (my personal, most favorite inn) in North Carolina was chosen as well as Blacksmith Inn on the Shore in Door County, Wisconsin. Only 129 properties were featured worldwide – this is a special honor.

Both of these were featured in our “Year in Review” Blog–check out what we said!

See the entire List from Traveler

Mark and Matthew on the dock at Blacksmith Inn on the Shore in June 2008:
310849862 DMkVW M >National Geographic Traveler Features The Swag and Blacksmith Inn

Comments Off

>Matthew attended an intensive two-day food styling and food photography seminar with some of the masters of the craft in New York City February 27th and 28th. Delores Custer, a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) teacher and internationally-known food stylist lead the styling section and Lou Manna, a former NY Times staff photographer and world-renowned food photo specialist led the photo section. These guys work on assignments from Food Network commercials to cookbooks to cereal boxes; they’ve worked with chefs from Lidia Bastiannich to Mario Batali.

It was great catching up on the latest lighting gear, technology and trends to produce mouthwatering food pictures. Don’t be surprised next time you see Mark at your shoot pouring motor oil on your waffles or pancakes to represent the most beautiful Vermont maple syrup you’ve ever seen!

Here are some photos of the seminar – here we are creating the perfect bowl of cereal (thanks to Thom Luce for the use of these photos):

Untitled 1b >Beautiful Food   The Art of Food Photography and StylingUntitled 1a >Beautiful Food   The Art of Food Photography and Styling

Untitled 1 >Beautiful Food   The Art of Food Photography and Styling

Comments Off