You know you’ve been around the block when you find yourself re-photographing the same room, sometimes even 2 or 3 times! A lot has happened with fashion and style in 8 years and the savvy innkeepers are keeping up with the trends. We just returned from a New England trip (one of several this year) and wanted to share some highlights…and particularity Sugar Hill Inn’s latest redo. By the way, all three of these inns are Select Registry members.

Sugar Hill Inn, Sugar Hill NH 

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Bickford Bath, before
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Bickford Bedroom, before

This room was brought from the past into the present with a bold new color on the walls, cheery new bedding and some new furniture, focusing on style and comfort. Its amazing what a few new components can do for a room! This was not an extravagant high-budget redo, but results are dramatic. Great job guys!

 

 

 

 

 

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Sugar Hill Inn’s Bickford Suite, after

 

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Sugar Hill Inn’s Bickford Suite Bath, after

 

More contemporary styling and camera angles helps convey the new decor approach at Sugar Hill.
Rabbit Hill Inn, Lower Waterford, VT 

We’ve had the pleasure of shooting Rabbit Hill–what we consider THE classic American country inn–many times. Leslie and Brian, aside from being good friends, are an inspiration in every aspect of the hospitality business–from their smart marketing to their commitment to guest comfort to their justly famous hospitality. This time we focused primarily on food, and capturing “the life of the inn”–from the guests to the staff to the action in the kitchen. Here are a few highlights:

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Some of the great fresh food products the chefs have to work with at Rabbit Hill Inn

 

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Making ravioli in the Rabbit Hill kitchen

 

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Supreme Innkeeper Leslie helping guests plan their activities

 

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Innkeeper snapping a shot of guests trying their hand at one of the addictive Stave puzzles

 

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Pastry chef putting finishing touches on dessert

Inn at Weston, Weston VT


This was our first visit to The Inn at Weston, a charming Vermont country inn located in Weston,  famous for (other than the Inn) The Vermont Country Store and The Weston Playhouse. What struck us (as former innkeepers) was how well the rooms were appointed and designed. We usually shoot a few bathrooms at an inn like this,  but every one was pretty stellar so we had to shoot them all! Most of the rooms are fully-loaded: fireplaces, fancy tiled showers or jetted tubs, and spacious, comfortable sitting areas. 

Although the dining room was closed during our visit, we shot food and it was pretty stunning as well. One of our favorite places was the pub, which was loaded with atmosphere. Hoping to get  some great snow shots, we were instead faced with freakish 70 degree days and endless Vermont mud. We will be returning in the summer to get shots of their lush and beautiful gardens.

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Many of the guest suites feature a peek-through, from the spacious tub to the fireplace…a recipe for romance, right?

 

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Mark as fire-tender, the pub at The Inn at Weston

 

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Arctic Char Over Spinach and Rice Cake
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Cauliflower soup sound dull? Not with Chef Michael’s treatment and delicate garnish

 

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Lunch, Chiapas-style

We are finally getting a few moments to edit the pictures we shot on on our recent trip to Mexico, and I noticed a theme: FOOD FOOD FOOD. Anyone who knows Matthew knows his brain is hard-wired to think about food, 24/7.

We traveled to Chiapas, the fascinating state that borders–and actually was part of– Guatemala until relatively recently. Then an overnight bus took us to the rural coastal town of Zipolite in Oaxaca, one of our favorite places on the planet. Mexico City, one of the world’s greatest food towns was last on our trip.

If you’ve never had a fresh corn tortilla right off a wood-fired comal, you are missing something really, really special.

Mexico is magical, colorful, wonderful. If you are turned on by exposure to different cultures, and the different ways that people live, eat and make their living, I am not sure you can beat Mexico. We never felt the least bit in danger. The people of Mexico are lovely and gentle and warm. Don’t pay attention to the sporadic news reports. Go. Eat.

 

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

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Making tortillas on the wood-fired comal  in a  home kitchen in a Chiapian village
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Produce at a Chiapan market
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Very fresh chicken at the main market in Chiapas
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Mexican mangoes, a fantastic snack from the San Cristobal Market
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Traditional Caesar Salad – invented in Mexico

 

Zipolite, Oaxaca

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Fisherman net-fishing at sunset
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While we were there, Zipolite was seeing a run on fish of almost biblical proportions
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Breakfast at Zipolite’s version of a road-side “diner”
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Breakfast is served. Fresh crispy tostada with spicy salsa and local Oaxacan farmer’s cheese
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Devouring those tostadas
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A bubbling pot of rustic chicken soup over a wood fire

 

 

Mexico City

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A perfect El Pastor Taco (made with pork and pineapple) from a street vendor
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Margaritas are really not all that Mexican, but a great way to end a trip!
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Screen shot 2012 02 22 at 1251 XL A Truely Photo Driven Website Design

 View the new Inn at Hermannhof website

A few years ago when technology necessitated that website design migrate from those captivating flash-based websites to more search- and mobile-friendly protocols (e.g., WordPress) it seemed like a lot of the “magic” was suddenly lost from those multimedia, animated flash sites. Customers were asking “With these new standards, can you really do anything unique and fresh now?”
Last week, when White Stone Marketing launched the site for The Inn at Hermannhof, we thought: the magic is back. We think it is one of the freshest and most exhilarating sites we’ve seen in a long time.

How do we love this site? Let us count the ways:

-  The Innkeepers made a substantial investment in photography, and it shows. Have you ever seen such a photo-rich site? Instead of a plain vanilla background, there are dozens of lush, larger-than-life background images that constantly–yet subtly–tell the story of this unique property.

-  Check out this site on a mobile device–it translates beautifully! From a pure design perspective, it is not easy to design a site that is just as elegant and informative on a tiny iPhone screen as a 27″ monitor. Kudos to the design team at White Stone Marketing.

-  Notice the way the info box (the content box in the middle of the screen) interacts with background image and the way you can scroll down for information, yet the beautiful background photo remains static. Pretty brilliant. They say that no one reads website copy anymore; if that’s true, this might be the perfect website.  White Stone has made visiting the website an experience in itself.

-  The Inn at Hermannhof is a spectacular and multi-faceted property…and REALLY COMPLICATED to depict if you have not been there. The property is comprised of several buildings–some in town, some on a hillside above town, winding down to a stream and a “Hoffgarten” (a German-style outdoor-indoor event area) beyond. A tasting room for their on-site winery, various wine cellars, a restaurant, a gourmet deli and a massive banquet hall are all part of the Hermannhof compound. The site does an excellent job of telling the story without complicating it–no small feat. Scott and Allison were on location with us for the photo shoot and we all spent more than one night over wine with Innkeeper/Owner JiaMin discussing the intrinsic difficulties in communicating such a multi-faceted business. I guess all that head-scratching paid off.

 

We have photographed over 150 inns over the last seven years, and although it is a business, we take the creative aspect of our work very seriously and devote ourselves to creating photos that “sing”. When the camera is packed away, it’s difficult to hand images over to a design team and wonder whether the photos will be used to their full potential. It could be a matter of photos being used too small, or being cropped in a way that destroys the impact of the shot. This does not happen with White Stone and that is one reason why their sites are so captivating. They respect the crafting of the image, and know how to use photography to its full potential. They release the power of the picture. We are so grateful for that.

This project could not have been a success without a dynamic, supportive working partnership between photographer and website designer. In this process, feedback and suggestions go back and forth, and no one is afraid to step on one another’s toes. Egos are sent packing and we constantly push each other to create better pictures and ultimately a beautiful, effective website.

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2011 was a great year for us–and our best year ever. We traveled from Maine to Florida to Southern California and lots of places in between….and even squeezed in a long-planned vacation to France. We are some lucky lads! Thank goodness we like to TRAVEL!

Check out this video with some of our favorite pictures and a few behind-the-scenes moments.

Thanks for all your support, hope to see you this year!

Be sure to watch it FULL SCREEN.

 

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We had the pleasure of shooting for Hartstone Inn this fall. Innkeepers Mary Jo and Michael are friends, but this was the first time we’d worked for them. It’s a world-class country inn just steps away from Camden’s picturesque harbor. Owner-Chef Michael Salmon’s food at the inn has received lots of regional and national press–and with good reason. We were pretty excited to sample the 5 course dinner after a long day of shooting (I know, tough job, huh?) We experienced memorable food and warm, elegant service. While there, we shot some images for his next cookbook.  Here are a few dishes we captured for Chef Michael’s upcoming book:


Michael has already published two cookbooks. One recipe I HAD to try is his Sticky Toffee Pudding–an English classic and not really pudding as Americans know it, but more like a super-moist cake. I made this for my family for Christmas dinner and it was a huge hit. This recipe is from Hartstone Inn Cookbook- you can buy it on their website.

 

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

 

serves 9

2 cups dates, pitted and chopped (11 ounces)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 cups boiling water

2 Tablespoons rum

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 batch Caramel-rum sauce (recipe below)

vanilla ice cream

whipped cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan.

2. Combine the chopped dates and baking soda together in a small mixing bowl. Cover with boiling water, rum and vanilla and let set for 5 minutes.

3. In another bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and mix well. Add flour and date mixture and stir until well incorporated.

4. Pour into the prepared baking pan and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes.

5. To serve, cut the pudding into 9 pieces (3 inches by 3 inches) and serve drenched in Caramel-rum sauce with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream on top.

Caramel-Rum Sauce

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup unsalted butter

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