Pineapple Hospitality is a boutique hotel group based in Seattle. They have been expanding up and down the west coast. Their first hotel in San Francisco, Hotel Alise, is an early Twentieth Century classic just off Union Square where they are making a serious effort rehabbing and rebranding it. We were asked to create a series of images that would “break the mold” for boutique hotels and create some “sex appeal” for the place.
I am pretty familiar with the hospitality business here and around the United States. One of my first assignments as a young photographer for Sunset Magazine thirty years ago was to do a story on Bed and Breakfast Inns around the Bay. Bill Lane, the publisher, had a fit when he noticed the two people I photographed in bed having breakfast were not married. Oops! The retouch department dutifully painted on wedding rings. Since that fitful being I have gone on to photograph countless hotels in San Francisco and around the West Coast. In the early nineties, I developed Royal Caribbean as a client. Over the next decade, I photographed close to ten major cruise ships just out of dry dock and sailing on maiden voyages worldwide. Over the course of my career I have photographed almost every major hotel in San Francisco, the most memorable was the opening day at the Marriott Marquee that was welcomed that day by the largest earthquake in one hundred years.
The hotel business although glamorous, is a tough one. Your fixed costs are pretty well set, whether you have one guest or a full house. Larger establishments can drive revenue from food and beverage, but at the end of the day, the best you can do is fill up the house at a good rate. Having your hotel in a convention and event rich city like San Francisco is an added bonus.
Fortunately for this shoot, key executives plus their marketing department were in town to look over our shoulders, run for coffee and pull all kinds of rabbits out of the hat, or in this case, hats out of the box. We had two goals in mind: 1. To provide basic descriptive imagery for the online booking sites, 2. To create a series of evocative, story telling images that helped build a new brand identity for the property. With a rich selection of high-end props and lots of imagination, we created a series of fantasy vignettes that would appeal to a seasoned traveler looking for a weekend getaway. Back in the studio, we did a bit of Photo Shop magic to make things look a bit different. It’s always fun working with a client who wants to “push the envelope” or in this case, tear it open. The client, needless to say, loved the shots and very quickly populated their websites with the images. It is always fun when we get to work with a client who wants to challenge our creativity and have us create a set of pictures that jump off the screen.
Refining a Mid-Century Modern Classic
We were pleased to see a project we photographed and promoted, the Oak Ridge House in Berkeley, published as the “House of the Month” in September’s Architectural Record, both print and digital. This house was the original work of John Ekin Dinwiddie. Built in 1949, it is classic Mid-Century Modern easily ten years ahead of its time. The new owners hired architects Olson Kundig of Seattle to do a remodel. They added family living spaces at the rear while faithfully keeping the core gallery space unchanged. Alward Construction, one of the Bay Area’s best know historic remodeling specialists, did the superb job of bringing this somewhat tattered classic back to life.