My last project took place at The Standard in Downtown LA. Undoubtedly one of the largest rooms I’ve ever gotten at a hotel, for a great price too! A room with the same cost in New York City would be 250 square feet, while this one was 710 square feet. The emperor bed (larger than a king) is big enough for any NBA player and the bath tub can fit at least 5 ladies. I booked the Wow! room, and everything in there really makes you go “wow!”
I heart hotels. The crux of my travels is deciding what hotels I will be staying at for photography purposes. For that, I have to thank Tablet Hotels and Trip Advisor and their members for contributing photos. I always enjoy the service and secludedness of staying away at a hotel, though I usually stay by myself which is only half the fun.
Hotel on Rivington, New York, NY
One of my favorite spots in New York is Hotel on Rivington, which I’ve been to at least five times, and every time, the floor plan is different and the bathroom is different. The bed feels luxurious because the mattress is memory foam, I haven’t found any other hotels that uses the same. This hotel is one of the few that has floor to ceiling windows, which is amazing for natural light photos during the day. Of course the higher the floor, the better the results. While all the beds are the same in every room, the bathrooms are all different. The tiles range from small black squares, to bright yellow, to gray concrete slabs. Some bathrooms have one shower head, dual shower heads, Japanese soaking tubs, or even a stand alone egg-shaped tub. The color theme of the room is pretty much always white and black, with the only hint of color from the dark wooden closet doors and possibly the bathroom tiles. Almost every luxury hotel room nowadays has an iPod player/alarm clock.
Luxe Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
The red and gray Asian theme of the Vista Suite at the Luxe Hotel immediately drew my attention. I’ve booked my rooms with modern theme or a vintage theme, but nothing like this. In fact, there are 5 different seating types just in that suite alone. The bed has an adjustable canopy which is huge on sexy points, as well as an outdoor balcony, and a jacuzzi bath tub. The bath tub however would seem difficult for anyone shorter than 5 feet 6 inches to climb in. The suites are separated from the regular rooms higher up on the cliff, where you have to drive uphill, and adds to the secluded ambiance and a better overall view. I enjoy details in the room such as the fabric texture lining the entire wall of the suite. Needless to say, the suite is absolutely huge and I wish I could have thrown a model party in there.
Mondrian Hotel, West Hollywood, CA
I could never get sick of white, especially when combined with an entire wall of windows. I chose this hotel because of the modern-Victorian style of the headboard and oversized sofa. My theory is, if I can get the perfect shot with that as a background, then the room will be worth it. The wall is also textured which reminds me of a wedding cake. A gimmicky feature of this hotel is the seamless TV hidden behind a swivel mirror. The LCD TV screen seamlessly merges with the mirror and is a neat trick, but can be annoying if you’re also staring at the reflection of the room and yourself while watching a show. The shower stall has a great adjustable/detachable shower head. It can be set to any height and angle. You can also switch to the ceiling shower, though not nearly as powerful as the main shower head. The ceramic like tiles give the shower stall a roomy reverb sound, which I can only imagine would be amazing for singing.
While the mirror wall makes the room look larger, mirrors are always annoying in photography, especially when using flash. Mirrors reflect lights all over the place and also reflect your equipment if you’re not careful. The sheer curtains help with softening up the natural light, which will always provide the most flattering lighting conditions.
Here’s a little secret on how I find the hotels in which my photo sessions take place. I don’t search on hotels.com or any other major deal sites. Instead, I either Google for “boutique hotels” in the city I’ll be visiting, or search through tablethotels.com. Of course, exclusivity and uniqueness comes at a price I am willing to pay. I don’t want the next Joe S. with some extra change to spare to use the same location and produce mediocre results. After I find an interesting hotel online, I continue my research by looking at user photos submitted through tripadvisor.com, though I rarely read the written reviews – when it comes to photo shoots, I don’t care much about the view nor the service. I also try to submit as many photos to Trip Advisor as I can. You should keep in mind, choosing a hotel for a photo shoot is not the same as choosing where you want to stay for your vacation. A clean modern room might be boring for photos but easy on the eyes, while a tacky room might make you feel cheesy but produces far better results for photography.
One hotel I am legally not allowed to name, just in case they search for it. This resort is popular to celebrities and top fashion photographers, so they don’t allow other professional cameras on the premise. Although I was allowed to shoot my own model, I had to sign a waiver which included a few simple rules including not publishing any photos with guests in the background nor using the name of the hotel. This waiver prevents the hotel and I from being sued from celebrities that might have been captured in the image without their consent.
Whitelaw Hotel, Miami Beach, FL
Pelican Hotel, Best Whorehouse room, Miami Beach, FL
Miami Beach, FL
On my third trip back to California, I spent the first half of the week shooting at the beautiful bed & breakfast, Korakia in Palm Springs, about 2 hours from Los Angeles. It was an average of 110F degrees, but it was dry so I didn’t even break a sweat. 4 models in 4 days, I have to admit I haven’t had a disappointing client from the LA area yet, it’s been 100% success rate compared to New York’s 50%. The modeling photos will take some time to edit, but here are the location shots. The follow shots are all taken with the Canon 16-35mm 2.8L II USM.
My suite, Aegean Bungalow
The rest of Palm Springs