I recently completed a photography project for the interior of a newly opened hotel at London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4. The hotel is an exciting, new dual-branded establishment, which encompasses Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza. With over 750 bedrooms, this Arora Hotels project was a huge undertaking and I was tasked with photographing everything from bedrooms to meeting rooms. I wanted the message of both brands to shine through in the photos, to really show those visiting the hotel and potential customers what they stood for. So, I worked hard before the day of the shoot to really understand each brand and how I could convey their standards through my photographs. This forward planning also helped me because members of the public were already in the building on the day of the shoot. It was clear that I needed to stay on brand at all times in order to best represent the hotels.
Working with the hotel
I met with the hotel owner and the manager before the photo shoot, so that we could iron out all the details and make sure we were all happy with the arrangements. This was a really good opportunity to discuss exactly what the hotel wanted to achieve with the photographs and for me to explain my vision. I presented to them in the form of a mood board and explained that my ultimate goal was to showcase the calm, relaxing atmosphere of the hotel juxtaposed against the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal. The hotel felt that my approach was right for them but emphasised that they were really keen for me to complete as much of the photography as possible in one day. For them, having rooms closed off for a long period of time translated to a loss in revenue and they wanted to mitigate this as much as possible. They also informed me that I needed to photograph nine different bedroom types, two bars, two restaurants, the lobby, airport links, as well as the hotel’s exterior in order to best show off the hospitality that the hotel has to offer.
I started extremely early on the day of the shoot, just after 5am. There was so much to do and I wanted to finish the interior shots by 5pm so that I had time to find the perfect location for my exterior shots. The weather conditions were ideal for the exterior shots of the hotel, and it was all down to finding the right angle to achieve the look I wanted.
I needed the rooms to be ready to photo from the minute I got into them and it was quite difficult because I had to plan the photograph before even seeing the rooms, but it worked out well. I did have to make minor adjustments to some rooms, including moving bins, closing curtains and moving furniture, but I was able to take great pictures of each room in just one hour. For each room, I produced two wide angled shots of the bedroom, two shots of the bathroom, and a couple of close-ups. As I photographed the bedrooms I was alone, but management constantly checked on me to ensure I was OK. This was extremely beneficial because it allowed me to show them some previews to check they were as happy with the shots as I was, and we all knew we were on the right track. I was accompanied by a member of the management team when I was in the public areas of the hotel, which was ideal when it came to requesting that members of the public move or to have furniture shifted around.
One downside of taking the shots before the grand opening was that not everything was ready. For instance, when I photographed the restaurant, there were pictures that hadn’t yet been hung, meaning that I had to go back and re-shoot as the finishing touches weren’t completed. At least at this point, I knew what I was doing and so the re-shoots didn’t take too long.
I like to work, wherever possible, with the minimum amount of gear so that I am not hampered by bulky equipment and my set-up time is as quick as possible. This particular shoot was completed with two camera bodies, a 19mm PC-E lens, a few prime lenses for the close-ups and just one speed light. I was particularly grateful for my Tether Tools Case Air because it allowed me to operate my camera wirelessly from my phone, meaning that I could make adjustments on the go. It helped me light different parts of the bedroom separately, get the best shots of each and then merge them together into one photograph during post-production.
For information about the hotel, visit THIS LINK
See my hotel interior photography portfolio HERE