Showcasing the unique features of a hotel is essential to a hotel shoot. Following my blog on the fundamentals of a pre-opening shoot shared last week, I decided to take readers on a journey through the key images of one particular hotel, SLS Dubai.
SLS Hotel is of Dubai’s newest lifestyle hotels located in in the Downtown district with incomparable views of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Creek. Soaring 75 storeys into the air, it has entered the Guinness World Records for having the highest outdoor overflow pool in the world, which also offers 360-degree panoramic vistas across Dubai.
A New Icon on Dubai’s Skyline
I was delighted when I was invited to photograph this icon, a desirable hotel to add to my luxury hotels and resorts portfolio. I understood immediately that embracing the views from its outlets and rooms would be integral to telling the story of this property as it is the hotel’s USP.
Using my lens as a conduit, I weave the hotel’s story through key images, which I have featured below.
This is an image that establishes the context of the hotel tower beside Dubai Creek and Downtown Dubai. I took my place before dawn and captured it just after sunrise when the creek waters were calm. I further amplified the smoothness of the water with the aid of a neutral density filter, which prolongs the exposure time, giving the water a mirror-like appearance.
Sunset Photography Above The City
At 6pm each evening this incredible venue on the 75th floor becomes ‘Privilege’ a destination rooftop bar open to the public. The record-breaking infinity pool is one of the best settings in Dubai to see the sun set over the majestic skyline.
In order to convey the ambiance, I had to time the image capture perfectly for when the sun went down. The staging was also carefully managed – a minimalist table and chairs that wouldn’t distract from the scene and signature cocktails to reflect the brand. I used photographic strobe lights to carefully add well sculpted light to the image foreground.
An Award-winning Italian Restaurant
Fi’lia Dubai is a Michelin Bib Gourmand award-winning Italian restaurant with an outdoor terrace showcasing dramatic views of Burj Khalifa. I wanted to use a single photograph to express how breathtaking this space is. The careful staging of all the furniture in the image took time and we needed to move a lot of it. However, it was the lighting that presented the biggest challenge.
I wanted to simulate sunlight streaming onto the deck, however when I was composing the image, the deck was actually in shadow. I had to capture it in segments and piece it together like a jigsaw, layering it to create a seamless single image which you see above.
Sky Lobby at SLS Dubai
S Bar, located in the Sky Lobby on the 71st Floor, is an impressive cocktail lounge that offers guests an exquisite mixology experience. The idea behind this image was to connect the S Bar to the city to express the context and importance of the location. In order to achieve this, I created the image from a composite of two images – the first image was of the lounge bar, which I had set-up carefully for the photo, and the second image was the panoramic city scene below which I photographed separately on a clear morning from a specially selected balcony to avoid the glare and reflection caused by shooting through glass. The window scene image was thoughtfully placed in order to optimise positions of the Dubai canal and Burj Khalifa.
Balcony Photo at SLS Dubai
Every room of the hotel has a balcony with spectacular views. I knew I had to express this through the image, letting the viewer imagine themselves in this space. Once again, I created this image from a composite of two images. For the first image, I set up the Champagne table with lounge seating and snapped the photo from the room, using photographic strobe lighting to light the set. Then on a separate evening, I captured a panoramic city scene at dusk. In post-production I merged these together to create one single seamless image.
Telling the Hotel’s Story Through Photography
The photography of a hotel is the number 1 tool for selling it. When you see images like this, the difficult of the process does not occur to you (nor should it). If you truly want Insta-friendly images for a hotel, then you need to hire an interior photographer that understands the brand and is dedicated to the process.
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Admire some other of my Insta-friendly hotel images here.