What happens behind the scenes? How much effort goes into getting that ideal photo or photos that lodges need for their marketing?
Firstly, there will always be a lot of admin. When a lodge requests a quote from me, I will usually get the necessary info from them or I will have a look at their existing website, or Facebook page to get an idea of how big the lodge is and what photos they might need, etc. I will send them a quote and after they accept the quote, I will send them a list of things to look at to help get the lodge ready for the photoshoot. We will also decide on a date for the photoshoot that suits both of us.
I usually take a lot of photography gear on lodge photography shoots. If they need video footage as well, it will be even more gear to take with. Most of the time I will not use half of the equipment I take with me, but I always say rather take something you won't need than leaving something behind and you will need that item halfway into a shoot.
I will usually arrive at the lodge in the afternoon at around 13H00. I will have a casual meeting with the owners or managers and they will show me around the lodge and then I can start planning the shoot. Usually, I will start shooting that same afternoon, most of the time in the late afternoon when the natural light is at its best.
Before taking a photo I usually go through the room and try to check every little detail. Most of the time there will be a staff member or manager with me to help set up the room and to make sure that everything is ready for the photo(s). When we are satisfied that the room is ready, I will start shooting. Camera settings are very important. I will usually double-check my settings before I start. Light is a big factor with lodge photography and I will try to make sure that there is just enough natural light, as well as artificial light from bed lamps, roof lights, etc. Good lighting makes a BIG difference in the kind of photo you will get.
Photographing the rooms will take me a couple of hours depending on the size of the rooms, how many rooms there are, etc. I will stop photographing rooms approx. 30 minutes after sunset. If there are any other rooms, I will photograph them the next morning with sunrise or the next afternoon. Usually, after photographing the rooms there will be something else to photograph like dinner table settings and preparing of food, and food presentation, if the lodge needs this kind of photos as well.
After dinner, usually at around 22H00, I will go to my room, start downloading photos to a hard drive and make sure batteries that were used during the day are being charged overnight.
Sunrise is usually best for the exteriors of the lodge or landscapes. This means I will get up long before sunrise and get ready for a very early morning shoot outside. No laying in for me :-) Approx. half an hour after sunrise I will go back to my room for a quick coffee or get ready for other photos needed like breakfast settings, breakfast being served, etc. During the rest of the morning, I can photograph smaller things in and around the lodge, staff, activities, etc. Lunch will follow soon and usually the lodge also needs photos again of table settings, the food, etc.
In the afternoon I will concentrate on interiors again, or be busy with exteriors like the pool areas, landscapes, or activities like game drives or bush walks. As previously mentioned, light is very important and usually, I will get the best photos during the golden hour that is approx. 1 hour before sunset to approx. 30 minutes after sunset.
The bigger lodges usually request photos of more than one dinner setting, or dinner will be served at another area like in a boma area, or they will need photos of a private dinner setting.
After dinner, it will be the same routine as the previous evening, making backups of the day's photos, charging batteries, etc.
The size of the lodge will determine how long I will be there. Usually at least one night and probably not more than 5 nights, but it can be more.
Please have a look at samples of my lodge photography work here.
Contact me at email@example.com for a free quote.