Hopefully not the last hotel photoshoots of 2020
In Dessewffy street, right in the downtown of Budapest, a new hotel was opened (and then closed): Hotel Cortile. Photos of the interiors were taken in two sessions: the first session was in December after the rooms had been built, while the second session took place in April by the time community areas had received their final arrangement and outlook. The concept of the hotel design is to create a green oasis with colours, lights and installations. The photo shooting of the 36-roomed hotel with 4 room types was the first that occurred on a snowy day.
In the morning before the shooting 15 cm snow covered my Honda, and it was a challenge even to leave home. In the case of a downtown hotel, the view, where the snowy can be quite showy, rarely can be seen in the room images, except if the room has a terrace connection. Here the rooms had. The first, by the way, East-facing room photo was shot right after sunrise, therefore, the terrace was snowy and at the same time the room was sunny. Most of my colleagues believed that I was using a flashlight to pretend that there was sunny weather. Yet not, it was really like that.
Moreover, the sun was shining not only in the morning, but all day as well. We had chosen the order of the rooms to be shot in a way that we could have the most direct sunlight so that the photos would have warmer impression. One of my customers said a sentence once that has always come to my mind since then: Greg, we want guest magnet photos. We definitely did not have direct sunlight in all rooms due to the low incidence of the December sun. I use the application SunSurveyor to see the expected angle of incidence of the sun, therefore, I can always be aware when and where the sun will shine.
The April round. The hotel closed the next day
April arrived, and the rooftop pool and the community areas had already been constructed, so we could go for a next photo shooting round. Entering the hotel, our route crossed the lobby to the breakfast lounge, which also has terrace connection. As guests were scarce in the hotel by that time, we were not disturbed by anything during our shooting. Taking photos of community areas is always a challenge due to the presence of the guests, thus we try not to work during the time of check-in/check-out. We also have a method for taking photos of the breakfast lounge: guests usually can have breakfast until 10 am, therefore, after this time food shall be reloaded only to a slight extent, and the area can be immediately shot. Additionally, chefs always offer us some post-breakfast. This invitation ought to be accepted politely. During the late breakfast it was announced that borders would be closed up, and only Hungarian citizens could enter the territory of the country.
The rooftop pool
We intended to take a photo of the pool in the golden and the blue hours at any costs. This is a key point of Hotel Cortile. I aimed to take such photos that gives the prospect guests a feeling that they would love to see the sunset from this pool. Where the Cathedral can also be seen. We were just taking photos of the pool in the golden hour, when two guests out of the five remaining ones turned up. We were surprised, as we hadn’t expected that anyone would turn up at this low booking rate. PS. In the case of high booking rate, most of the time the given areas are closed up for the time of the photo session. We had not prepared this way, yet we didn’t get stuck, we tried to compose the images in a way that the two guests could bring some life into the photos. The threw the colourful inflatable cushions on the surface of the water, and then they started to take photos of each other at the other end of the pool. They started to use the space, and I could take a photo of them while they were using the space. This way the photos became even better than without them.
We took off with the drone in the late blue hour, since at that time the glass surface of the rooftop did not reflect any images. We didn’t have more than few minutes to take these photos, yet, we exactly knew from which angle we would want to shoot the photos of the rooftop and the pool, as we had fixed the compositions during the test flights made at around noon.
Photos published in Octogon Deco magazine
After handing over the prepared photos, I was enquired by Octogon Deco magazine to publish a collection of my photos in their next issue; therefore 13 of my photos were included in the 2020/2 issue, which made me really delighted. I already scheduled 3-4 photo shootings for this year in January and February. I profoundly hope that as the pandemic situation is getting better, tourism can restart, and you can read a lot of similar blogposts.
5-year work of 5000 people
Approximately 68 000 cubic meter earth mass moved, 1600-ton reinforced concrete used, 180 km electric cable laid and 4300 lights installed: these are some of the construction data of the renovated campus of Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME), which 5000 people had been working on for 5 years. After the renovation of the building complex had been finished, the Centre of Key Government Investments called for a MOME Campus architectural photography tender, where I was awarded first place in ’photo series’ category with my following series. My photo series together with the other awarded photos can be visited at an exhibition taking place in MOME Ground building until mid-January.
How did I take the architectural photos? What was my objective?
A photo series can be really epic if it shows itself to be consistent both visually and in content. I took all the photos of the building in portrait format and with the same focal length (17mm TSE and a 2x teleconverter) within some hours in order to have similar lighting conditions. The first photo was taken 2 hours before sunset, and as I had worked out an exact concept, I was able to shoot all the other ones within a short time. I had in mind all the exterior and interior images what I exactly wanted to see in the photos, thanks to the fact that I had visited the site several times before I started working there.
When I was shooting the interior pictures, first, I set the composition and then I was waiting for something interesting to happen that could fill up the space. In the first case a university student – as I assume – was walking to the entrance, when she stopped for a moment thoughtfully. This moment was what I needed. Before I started shooting my second interior photo, a student had already been sitting in the lecture room, and she was working on her notebook. Luck was riding with me. In the case of the 3 exterior building photos, somebody always turned up with 10 minutes waiting to bring some life and motion into the photo.
At the award ceremony; dr. Domonkos Schneller, Deputy State Secretary at Prime Minister’s Office on the left and Dániel Barcza, Deputy Rector responsible for strategy and research. Photo: ODPictures.
I was delighted to close my professional year with such an honourable award, which has given me new momentum to jump into the new projects of the next year. Let me wish you all merry Christmas holidays, a happy new year and plenty of successful projects in 2020. See you next year.
A holiday home in Balatonőszöd
The seasons have changed, so now I have some time to tell you about some of the latest photo sessions together with showing you the photos themselves. Commissioned by Csigaterv Architect Office, in the beginning of August I took architectural photos of this holiday home in Balatonőszöd from inside and outside making a full interior photo set. This was not the first time we had worked together, so they gave me a free hand in conducting the task. It is always the best to have a free hand. As usual, I arrived at around noon, and I flew the drone immediately. During the hours in the middle of the day the direct sunrays nicely emphasise the colours, and the structure of the building as well as strong shadows make deep contrasts. This is the reason why it is worth shooting photos of a building even in bright sunlight, just simply you should find the right angle from which the sun properly lights the surface of the house.
This holiday home is magnificent and simple at the same time. A garage takes the ground floor, while the living area is on the first floor. The bathroom and the living room is in one space, and the ceiling of the bathroom and the bedroom opening from the living room is raw concrete. I know it may sound weird a bit, yet, I didn’t feel it to be either dirty or cold, even I liked it as it is, although I am aware that not everybody is keen on raw concrete. There was a steep stair flight leading up from the living room to the rooftop terrace. Before I stepped out, I found there a small room of around 8 square meters having a view to the Balaton. Perhaps I could imagine it as a study, although it is exposed to direct sunshine all day. In the room there was an office chair, so it was being used as a relax room for sitting down a bit and reading a book. Before the sunset, I had one and a half hours free and I was sitting in this small room. The panoramic view of Balaton and the silence merged, and resulted in a brainstorming effect in my mind, and I wrote several-page long notes in my phone about my ideas to be implemented. So, I can firmly say that the rooftop room is perfect for retreat, at least it worked for me.
After sunset I had a more than an hour drive home, which might have been exhausting, however, these photo sessions energise me, and I arrive home with a hight energy level after 12-14-hour photo shooting than I had left with. I am grateful for my job, I can share my time, I do not have to waste my time in the traffic jam as well as I can meet and work together with fantastic people day by day. Be a photographer!
Photo session of a building that takes 10 hours
I never regret the time that I spend on site to take and hand over the best possible photos. I have built career from my hobby, so interior photography is never a hassle for me. Now you can see the results of 10 hours that I spent in Gyöngyös shooting photos of a detached house.
I always arrive at the site of such a building photo session at noon and leave an hour after sunset. I am required to do this as this way I can take photos in bright sunshine, in the golden hour and in the blue hour as well. This way I can build such a set of diverse photos that will appeal to all architects. My first thing to do was to take some photos from above by a drone in a way that I could show the most also of the surroundings. Since the modern style of this detached house did not fit the neighbouring Mediterranean style houses, it was a special request from the architect office not to let these houses be seen, but only the surrounding hills and the meadow. I was particularly lucky as this house had been built in a corner lot, and as such, it was bounded by the meadow in 180°.
I started shooting the interior at around 2 pm. It was especially hard to display the outside environment and the textures of the dark furniture of the interior, however, with the help of the flash I could properly light up these rooms. Two bedrooms with breath-taking view to the meadow, a wardrobe and a bathroom could be found on the second floor of the two-storey detached house.
The photo session of a detached house escalates in the golden and blue hours. The best exterior photos of a house can be taken an hour before and an hour after the sunset. The photos should be shot from several different angles among various lighting conditions, either with a drone or a camera in order that the final result can be impressive and epic. These times I always make a plan beforehand which photo shall be taken at what time, so in the evening I work based on a put-up scenario. This was an awesome photo session, I enjoyed it a lot. This year I am going to have more similar photo sessions on detached houses, which you can also read about here in my blog.
A night beneath the starry sky
I could spend one of the best 3 days of my life in Ruzsa, not far from Szeged, where I was requested to capture some images of Homoki Lodge. Have you ever heard of Glamping? The word literally means luxury camping, which means the synergy of freedom provided by a tent and the comfort of a five-star hotel. Homoki Lodge is such a place where we can stay in luxury bungalows. Some weeks before I had been inquired by the owners, an Austrian couple speaking Hungarian, to take some photos of the yurts. Before my arrival, 4 other photographers had got some shots of the accommodation, however, the owners hadn’t been satisfied with the resulting images. This had not been unconditionally the failure of the previous photographer, as I also experienced how challenging it was to capture the tiny, round interiors in such a way that also represents the atmosphere of the place as well. This place really needed a photographer specialised in interior photos and architectural photographing.
I’d arrived at the full day shooting the previous night so that I didn’t have to leave Budapest at dawn and I could wake up well-rested on the site. As I arrived, parked my car and opened the door, a border collie jumped literally on me. He was Bangi, who was close to me during all the shooting, I would say he assisted me.
Next day, after an early breakfast, we started the photo session. Apart from the yurts, the accommodation has a Lodge part, which is a brick building with thatched roof. Here I could snap photos of three different types of rooms, as the fourth was being renovated at that time. Here I had fairly little natural light, as not too much light was coming through the windows, yet, due to the morning timing, it was still enough.
In the afternoon I turned to the bungalows. I was expected to show all the parts and floors of the interior. Depending on the type of the yurt, a sofa, a jacuzzi, a bathroom and a shower could be found on the ground floor, and a flight of stairs led us upstairs to the bed. Additionally, there was a round window over all of the beds, which could be opened by pushing a button. So, I had to show all of these in one photo. The available space was tight, without a special objective it would have been almost a mission impossible. I always work during the shootings in a way that my camera is connected to my tablet, thus, my client can see the final composition on the spot. It’s true that I can only show an unprocessed photo, yet, at least this way there is no surprise when I hand over the photos that something is missing from the photos that shouldn’t.
For me the preciseness of my customers was really a relief, as this spouse could pay attention to all details. They exactly knew that I would be on camera all day if they wished to see the best results on the photos. It was not necessary to explain them anything since they were aware that shooting photos is time-consuming. They provided me with everything I needed, and not only during the photo session. I was their guest for the breakfast, the lunch and a dinner; I also got a yurt where I could sleep, and where I could experience personally the atmosphere of Homoki Lodge.
Though we had planned that the shooting would take a day, as the twilight faded, we couldn’t finalize it. A person who doesn’t love their job would surely be annoyed that they should stay for one more day. Yet, for me it didn’t cause any trouble, I stayed until next afternoon with pleasure so that we could continue out photo session.
By 2 pm next day we successfully finalized the project. This session was flawless including the venue, my customers and, certainly, my assistant, Bangi. Even though I have already handed over all the material, I am going to return in May to capture some exterior and aerial photos, just I have to wait until the nature turns into green. Then you can read about that shooting, too. Take care till then.
Taking interior photos of MYSTERY Hotel
Zoltán Varró (http://varrodesign.hu) could achieve something fantastic again. When entering the lobby of Mystery Hotel, we can immediately feel that we have entered a unique world. I was photographing the interior of the hotel for two days commissioned by Zoltán Varró, where the themes were among others inspired by the life and work of freemasons, the Harry Potter series or the novel Da Vinci Code. On the first day I started my work with shooting the public spaces of the hotel, beginning from the Great Hall located on the fourth floor. Guests can have breakfast here, and they can any time return here for a dinner, a drink, a cake or a salad. This room was before the Egyptian-style secret room of the freemasons. Dominant elements of the room are the enormous chandelier, the columns, the heavy curtains and the two iron spiral staircases leading to the Lodge in the gallery.
On the second day I went on with the hotel rooms. Three different types of rooms can be found in the hotel which bear the names of the Greek column orders, that is Ionic, Doric and Corinthian. These three types of ancient Greek columns have significant role in the themes of the hotel. Let me highlight two of my favourites. The first is the Atelier suite, which depicts the loft studio of a painter. The other one is the Ionic glass suite (glassroom) on floor 7 that I captured in the blue hour. I had never seen anything even similar to the room opening from the hanging corridor. In order to be able to take two photos in the blue hour I left one of the cameras outside in the corridor with a set timer and with an instruction that this camera should take one photo per minute. In the meantime, I was taking photos from inside the room outwards, as I also intended to show the natural lights filtering through the ceiling of the room.
As opposed to the other hotel, here the spa and the wellness, where the atmosphere is given by the wallpaper with yellow and green palm leaves. open from the lobby. At the end of the second day I was taking photos here as well in the blue hour so that the warm subdued light could also appear in the pictures. As the hotel was not receiving guests due to a smaller reconstruction at that time, I didn’t have to take care of the privacy of the guests. I knew that it was worth taking a bottom up picture of the hanging corridors at sunset in the mixture of blue and yellow lights, and finally this has become my favourite shot of the series. Owing to the early March date I was not able to take outside and drone photo, therefore I am going to return in June for a last third day to finalise this issue. Above this all, the hotel has a rooftop terrace which is closed due to the early spring weather; however, I will be able to shoot a snap of in in June.
Source used: https://www.mysteryhotelbudapest.com/