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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sunrise at the construction site

I've come to really appreciate construction cranes, especially in silhouette. I hope it's not a Freudian thing, with these phallic symbols and all, but I just like the graphic lines.

We tend to think of the sun and the moon at opposite ends of the sky in our line of sight. but not always, as this shot attests. Both the sun and the moon actually wander around the sky from north to south a lot more than many people think and sometimes, like here, they line up quite closely.

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's a beautiful morning

Apologies to the Young Rascals.

So far, this sight has been a rarity. The misers who run Toronto and the CN Tower (the place pictured) seemed to have deemed that lighting up public structures for any longer than the absolute minimum of time, is wasteful and unnecessary.

After spending millions of dollars trying to attract visitors to the city they make the night time view as boring as possible - just a bunch of black silhouettes against the sky. The clear message is, "you should be in bed by now, what the hell are you doing up at this hour?"

Glad to see that someone has had a change of heart, for the CN Tower anyway, and for the last couple of weeks it's been a full blown light show all night long. This was taken about 6 a.m. about forty minutes before dawn. I was out for my morning walk along the lakefront and was happy to see this.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Joe McNally

My favorite photographer is Andy Anderson, but I think the best photographer is Joe McNally. Is there any genre that he can't shoot better than anyone else? I'm tempted to say something very specialized like food or architecture, but I'd be wrong - he'd still shoot it better than a specalist practioner.

In these days of specialization, Joe defies even gravity, never mind normal expectations. He's a throwback to the old "camera men" of the 1940's and 1950's,who no matter what the situation, always brought home the bacon. His technical expertise is daunting, his imagination is incredibly fertile and his sense of humor is as wicked as it is legendary.

I've met him a number of times and he's impossible not to like. I met an ex-assistant of his once and thinking I'd finally get the inside skinny I asked "what's McNally really like. Is it all an act?" No way, she says, "he's an absolute sweeheart." Damn! I thought I was going to get the scoop on a McNally expose.

I have my specialites and I stick to them, not because it's good business or even expected, it's just what I like. It's nice that Joe defies that conventional wisdom and even the business advice of the need to specialize. His talent and curiosity are just too big and wide to be constrained.

I think that Joe has a problem of perception though. He's such a joker - can't stop - that it diminishes his aura. Everyone knows he is amazing, but he hasn't reached (deserved) icon status. On one hand it's too bad. On the other, McNally would be the first to say "Yeah? And who gives a shit?" That's Joe, Groucho Marx with a camera - and lights, lots of 'em.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yoga Image

This is Alayna, a Yoga instructor and part-time model. For this resort shoot she was both.

This shoot had to be one of the funniest of my life, and hers. We were on a pier that jutted out into the water - kept the sand from the gear and all of that - and suddenly Alayna blurted out, "They're having sex!"

More than a little puzzled, I gave her a goofy look and she pointed to the beach behind me as her eyes opened wider and wider.

Sure enough. There's a middle aged couple going at it in full view of everyone on the beach. They made absolutely no attempt to hide what they were doing, as a matter of fact, I think they were showing off. A man came over to us and said, "do you see that?" I said that I was trying not to because I was trying to work, but my model couldn't get the surprised look off her face!

They were very, very quick. The guy zipped up, the woman pulled the hem of her dress down and they just walked away without a care in the world. When Alayna and I had finished she helped me schlepp the gear back to my room and guess who we saw on the way? "He's paying her for chrissakes", I said. Sure enough, an over- the- hill working girl and her old fart John. Wonder if management knew about this, I thought?

Weird shoot. Turned out well though considering the distraction and all.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hyatt hotel and Sony

Whew! You have to love the combination of Sony and Zeiss glass. This is too small and the color space too limited to really appreciate just how snappy and bold this really looks - no PS tweaks.
The Sony a900 is an absolute joy to use and the Zeiss lenses are so crisp and strong they can give you a headache. What's not to love?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Downtown Hotel photograph

Don't often shoot urban hotels and thought I'd try a new, (for me) technique. It's called Bleach Bypass, where you suck almost all of the color out, but leave a feint hue so it's not black and white either. I like it for this one, but not sure for anything else. Have to dwell on it for a while, I guess.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The role of photography in Hospitality marketing

No photos this time. While I'm not exactly impartial regarding this subject, it doesn't mean that I can't have a valid point of view. So, here goes.

We've all heard of the common guest complaint that the photos represented a distorted view of a property - basically, they made it seem better than it was. Yet, I'm sure that the converse of this must be far more prominent . . . . . but who is going to tell their host that the place looked like a dump on Expedia and they only booked the location as a last resort, but were pleasantly surprised as to how nice it was?

The lost business because of poor photography is probably more than anyone can imagine. But it's a hidden reason and therefore, incalculable. It seems that paying for decent photography is considered a last resort, or an evil necessity, by some. The number of Resort Condo sales efforts that I have seen where the shots were taken by someone in the Real Estate Sales office, are staggering. I've seen numerous million dollar plus Condos featuring nothing more than underexposed snapshots from (presumably) the Agent's "Point and Shoot" camera. Ouch!

Decent photography should pay for itself many times over and the cost of such should be considered to be an investment, not a liability. Howard J. Wolff, a Senior VP at WATG (big deal Architects) recently Blogged about "Design as a Differentiator - What are the Drivers?", and his observations are as true of Photography as they are of Architecture and Design. I'm going to steal some of his points here and quote him.

"Today's travellers are looking for four things: a connection with people and places; physical and psychological comfort; a greater choice of guestrooms and amenities; and convenience. And they want to feel that they are getting these things at great value. Owners, operators and developers who understand the public's changing demands stand the best chance of capturing the lion's share of business in today's competitive environment. Successful destinations mirror the co-existing desires of their guests."

Well said Howard, and it is photography's job to provide tangible illustration to entice and satisfy a potential guest's desires from a location, as you have outlined. This is not to diminish the role of good copy. I think that photography is just a learned talent, while writing is a real gift. The ability to use words that allow us to conjure up mental images is an amazing ability and the perfect companion for good photography. They're like ham and cheese. Either one is good by itself, but put them both in a sandwich and they're even better.

Given the current financial debacle, new projects are being cancelled left and right, while some of the larger, long term ones like Cap Cana in the DR, are laying off and slowing to a crawl, and even swanky Destination Clubs like Lusso are going into Chapter 11. As one of the (near) bottom feeders in this food chain, Resort Photography takes a big hit too. It is only natural and prudent that companies start to cut back as they try to weather the storm. However, this situation is also a savvy marketer's dream. If my competition is going into hiding, and I continue my marketing efforts, unabated, I should really stand out from the crowd. Of course, that presumes that I believe that advertising and marketing leads to sales and if I don't, I shouldn't have been doing either in the first place.

While I wouldn't go as far as to say you can spend your way out of trouble, I do know that you can rein in so far that further trouble is almost inevitable. As for me, I'm long enough in the tooth that it really doesn't matter. It is nice to have a reason to get up in the morning though. I think it's called, going to work - for those of us who are fortunate enough to love what we do for a living. In the meantime, there's a new guy in the White House tomorrow, guess we'll find out what he's made of soon enough.