In Category: ‘Blog’


Tower Rooms Victorian 01 XL >The Recipe for a Great Interior Photo...Valuable Tips and Techniques
The Victorian Room at Tower Cottage B&B

Earlier this week we photographed Tower Cottage B&B in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. It is a recently and BEAUTIFULLY renovated Victorian, a couple of blocks from the beach. Innkeepers Maureen and Tony have done an exquisite job restoring this mansion and loading it with amenities and special services. Honestly, it is one of the nicest inns we’ve visited on the Jersey Shore. (You won’t find Snookie at this classy inn!)

We get questions all the time from photographers and innkeepers alike inquiring about how we light and put together a typical Jumping Rocks interior photo. Although we do our best to make spaces look NATURAL the process is anything but. Composition, lighting and styling are the main “ingredients”for this recipe and we will cover these points in this post.

MG9677 Edit XL >The Recipe for a Great Interior Photo...Valuable Tips and Techniques
CLICK TO ENLARGE..notes on lighting. Exposure info 1/10 sec @ f 9 400 ISO, 28mm, Canon 5d Mark II

Composition Notes
The rooms at Tower Cottage, in typical Victorian fashion, are not large (but they are beautifully appointed). This room was a challenge as a canopy can make a room seem claustrophobic, especially in a photo. We chose to get closer–and under–the canopy to open up the photo and make it more intimate, inviting and romantic. We also chose to include a peek through to the bathroom, which gives the photo more depth and interest. Another device for creating depth in a photo is a strong foreground/middle ground/background, in this case wine/bedside lamp&flowers/bathroom.
Showing just a part of a small room is a good device for making it more enticing, without being deceptive. In a smaller room, a wide angle view is almost always a BAD idea (see what happens to the bed post in the above photo? Yuck!)

Styling Notes
The innkeeper had several more pillows on this bed–great for comfort and style, but not so great for taking photos. We asked permission to remove some of them. The golden rule in styling is…EDIT! The bed became a little “vast” so Mark added the wine and used a napkin to soften the silver tray.  Both flower arrangements were placed to reinforce the foreground/middleground/background routine,  discussed in the composition notes. The arrangements were designed to match the scale of both the lamp and the bath fixtures. (People often ask why we ask for UN-arranged flowers on our props list–this is why!)

Lighting Notes
To keep the lighting natural and real-looking, our main goal was to balance the ambient lighting conditions with the artificial lights we bring in. We want lamps to glow just enough and windows to emit a natural, pleasant glow. The main light or “key light” in this room is strobe “A” as well as the natural window light. The windows create a soft glow and “A” opens up the shadows  and removes the “gloom” factor from a pure ambient exposure. The key light in the bathroom is a small top-of-camera-type flash bouncing off a wall. Strobe “B” is a strobe fitted with a grid-spot to throw a focused beam on the pillow on the bed. All strobes were set off from a pocket wizard radio control from my camera.

There was some strong direct afternoon sun on the right, so we added a large white reflector to reflect light back on the wine and give a highlight to the right of the front pillow.

We choose to overexpose the windows a bit to white-out the windows, because the view from this window was a house next door. The rule is only show a view if it contributes to the story you are telling. Lastly we added a diffusion panel at the end of the bed to soften the light on foot of the bed.

We have shot literally thousands of guestrooms in the last 7 years, but every room has a different set of problems to solve and features to highlight. This collective experience helps us solve the various challenges we encounter while we are shooting on location.  People ask what we do…the real answer is that we solve visual problems. Hopefully some of these tips will help you if you attempt to shoot your own rooms or improve your photography. It can be a lot of trial and error, but it is a rewarding and valuable talent to have.


Ledges greatroom 05 XL >Green Hotel Concept with a View: Ledges Hotel in Hawley, PA
Waterfall view from the Great Room at Ledges Hotel
Ledges w exterior 02 L >Green Hotel Concept with a View: Ledges Hotel in Hawley, PA
View of the waterfall … the sound is the best part!

You know, I thought I might be surprised when I saw what the Genzlingers (owners of The Settlers Inn in Hawley, PA as well as The Sayre Mansion in Bethlehem, PA) did with an abandoned glass factory in Hawley…but after working for them a few times in the past, we know what to expect: quality and great taste.

They have truly outdone themselves with Ledges Hotel.  It is quite a departure from nearby Settlers Inn, where everything is steeped in the arts and crafts style. Ledges is a unique boutique hotel, directly below…next to…practically ON TOP of a gorgeous waterfall. It is simply spectacular.
The hotel was designed by renowned architect Peter Bohlin of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, designers of, among MANY other notable buildings, the coolest Apple stores (the 5th Avenue New York and Louvre, Paris stores, to name but two). The result is a sleek, but comfortable hotel, which maintains much of the great architecture of the original building, including the gorgeous HUGE windows, while making the interior spaces very contemporary. Few places we have seen have been so successful at bringing the outside IN.
Ledges Room103 03 XL >Green Hotel Concept with a View: Ledges Hotel in Hawley, PA
Bedrooms feature beautiful custom-made headboards and sleek design
Ledges Room202 Bath 05 XL >Green Hotel Concept with a View: Ledges Hotel in Hawley, PA
A bath with a view of the waterfall, bringing the outside in

Ledges Room StandardBath 04 2 X3 >Green Hotel Concept with a View: Ledges Hotel in Hawley, PA

The décor is appropriately modern, fresh and uncluttered. Much of the beautiful furniture is built-in and made from old beams salvaged from the nearby silk mill. Read more about how they creatively incorporated various elements into their green design.
Kudos to the Genzlingers for a great adaptive re-use. Recycle, re-use…renaissance!If you are a member of the press and want to see or use any of the 89 high resolution images from this shoot, just email us  for the password to the Jumping Rocks Media Bank   page for Ledges Hotel. 

>It’s been a couple of weeks since we returned from a nearly two-week Ohio photo shoot at four inns: The Inn at Cedar Falls, Hideaway Country Inn, Inn at Honey Run and White Oak Inn. One theme that ran through the shoots was PEOPLE. All told, we shot over 25 different people during our time in Ohio. There were times when it felt more like a movie production, less the giant crew, of course. Exhausting, but very rewarding. If you are interested in using people in pictures, you might want to read this post we wrote on the topic.

FYI…At the end of this post we have a behind-the-scenes video from these shoots.

CedarFalls Couple Together 04 XL >People in Pictures...and Other Highlights from Ohio
Two couples, “traveling together”, enjoying the fire pit at The Inn at Cedar Falls. We’ve noticed such fire pits are springing up at a lot of inns…another clever amenity.
Hideaway DiningxCookingClass XL >People in Pictures...and Other Highlights from OhioChef Marc’s cooking class at Hideaway Country InnHideaway ExteriorModels 05 XL >People in Pictures...and Other Highlights from OhioCouple in Hammock at Hideaway Inn


BlogDuo XL >People in Pictures...and Other Highlights from Ohio
The Inn at Cedar Falls uses the honey it harvests on property in their spa treatments
CedarFalls z park 02 XL >People in Pictures...and Other Highlights from Ohio
Mark atop a rock at Ash Cave in Hocking Hills State Park, near The Inn at Cedar Falls…who knew??
HoneyRun Goats 04 XL >People in Pictures...and Other Highlights from Ohio
One temperamental model at The Inn at Honey Run
WhiteOak2011 Exteriors facade XL >People in Pictures...and Other Highlights from Ohio
We wrapped up our Ohio adventures at White Oak Inn. No models (it was about time for a break) but a bucolic, peaceful setting to finish up 10 days of very hard work.


Ellen Grinsfelder at The Inn at Cedar Falls captured a short, behind-the-scenes video of us hard at work on three different images. I hope our energy level can live up to the music! The finished photos are at the end of the video.


985416884 fjsqY L >The Hammock...a love story
Mark “hammock-ing” over a stream in NY

If we’ve been to your inn to photograph your property, you may have heard us say “you should hang a hammock THERE” or “have you considered adding a hammock?” Yes, perhaps we are hammock obsessed. When we owned The Woolverton Inn, we constructed an entirely new building around a $100 hammock that would be the key feature in the bathroom (yes, indoors). In the video we have posted here, we’ve included the hammock we installed 10 years ago at Woolverton in The Sojourn Loft as well as dozens of others we have photographed during the last decade.

The video also features a few shots from our hammock-focused vacations in The Adirondacks and Mexico.  We recently purchased a wonderful portable hammock you can take along when you hike. Mark strung it over one of the beautiful mountain streams at Elk Lake Lodge in New York state. “I’ll take that hammock–to go!”

A hammock is one of the most inexpensive amenities for a hotel or inn to add–can you think of another amenity that says “relax” for less than $100?? One of our very favorite applications of “hammockry” is at Shiloh Morning Inn in Oklahoma. They have acres of beautiful rolling countryside and have hammocks hidden in several of the secret spots on the property. They encourage guests to take a “hammock safari” as a unique property-focused adventure. What a clever idea!

1. Enjoy the video, 2. Buy a hammock, and 3. Relax and enjoy the rest of the summer!


Beechmont Breakfast S >Culinary Adventures with Kathryn at Beechmont Inn

We recently returned to shoot some more photos for Kathryn White, innkeeper extraordinaire of The Beechmont Inn in Hanover, PA, just outside Gettysburg. It was really great to be back. Kathryn is a die-hard foodie and takes all things food-related very seriously at her inn.  She is a part of the Bed and Breakfast Foodies group, a collective of eight Innkeepers (AKA “8 Broads in the Kitchen”) who share their love of food and great recipes on their popular blog.

We kept things a little messy and “real” for some of the shots and also shot some classic “cleaned-up” versions. The Foodies group is working on a new cookbook and I think some casual “in progress” shots will be great for that project. These types of shots are actually particularly appropriate for inns, where there is an emphasis on “authenticity” and home-made food; they are very effective at telling the story. Not shown: the drool coming from the mouths of Jumping Rocks as we were shooting these incredible sticky buns!

Beechmont Breakfast XL >Culinary Adventures with Kathryn at Beechmont Inn
Kathryn’s killer cinnamon rolls in progress
Beechmont Breakfast EggHamCup L >Culinary Adventures with Kathryn at Beechmont Inn
Kathryn’s egg baked in ham with local heirloom tomatoes and biscuit

We also shot some cookies at the Beechmont….yum!

Beechmont Cookies 01 L >Culinary Adventures with Kathryn at Beechmont Inn

And…I could not resist shooting the 145-year-old Magnolia tree (the centerpiece of the Beechmont Garden) early the next morning. Although the sun was not cooperating that morning, we were able to light the tree artificially with a large flash…but it looks pretty natural, I think!

Beechmont Gardens 13 XL >Culinary Adventures with Kathryn at Beechmont Inn
The Beechmont’s 145-year-old Magnolia tree at dawn

 If you are a member of the press and want to see or use any of the 63 high resolution images from this shoot, just email us  for the password to the Jumping Rocks Media Bank  page for The Beechmont Inn.