My great passions, after photography, naturally, are architecture and design.
In reality, I qualified and worked as a designer, and I would never have thought that, one day, I would have gone from designing objects to photographing hotels and resorts.
Sunset at Grand Wailea Resort, Maui – Hawaii (USA).
I have to be honest, up until not that long ago, I had always stayed in hostels and unpretentious hotels; I spent most of my time (dawn, dusk and nights included) exploring and taking pictures, so there was no point in doing otherwise.
Or, at least, so I thought.
A couple of years ago, my Instagram account started to attract a decent number of followers, until, one day, I was invited to take part in a luxury hotel press trip.
How could I possibly decline?
No sooner said than done, I found myself in an enormous room in a 5-star hotel that I could never have afforded myself.
I couldn’t help but take a few shots of this dream location: overexposed (or burned) windows and exterior and underexposed interior – a near disaster.
Whilst not being satisfied with the result (that I’ll spare you), I had found the experience interesting and I wanted to know more about this type of photography.
So I began to gather information, study, try and try again.
I can assure you that this type of photography is much more difficult than it may appear, and it requires a good dose of technique, as well as a good eye, as is always the case, after all. There are so many tools you can use (flash, triggers, umbrellas, soft-box, coloured filters, lamps, tilt-shift lenses, etc.), which makes it all the more interesting.
I was later sent by an even more luxurious hotel (I didn’t know there were hotels with more than 5 stars) to Austria; it was finally time to put all my new ideas into practice.
This is the hall of the Aurelio Lech Hotel; small and welcoming, like the living room of a villa.
My first piece of advice may seem banal, but it is fundamental: explore.
Walk around the room, look at it from various perspectives until something tells you that “yes, this is the right angle”.
Use wideangle lenses of around 24mm; you can experiment with wider lenses, but be careful of distortion and maintaining size ratios.
One of the most important aspects of photography is achieving a balanced exposure.
To do so in interior photography, you can use a mix of natural and artificial light (to lighten the shadows), or you can use the technique of merging exposures captured via exposure bracketing.
There is no right or wrong technique; personally, I prefer the former, to achieve more natural results and speed up the post production process.
The photo above was taken of a suite of the Madinat Jumeirah, in Dubai.
I used an ultra-wide 14mm lens, taking care to get it perfectly level on all axes to reduce the distortion.
In this case, I used a flash, getting the light to bounce off the wall behind me, in order to open up the shadows a little to balance the strong light coming from the big windows on the right.
Remember to close the aperture a bit, too; it will help you get more depth of field and a cleaner image.
Indeed, shooting with fairly narrow apertures and low light conditions, it all takes longer; at the same time, it is essential to have complete control of the shot composition and focus. Precisely because of this, nearly all photos of this type are taken using a tripod.
All of the photos you see in this post were taken using the Manfrotto 055 XPROB.
It is my first choice when stability and height are my priorities. Indeed, I often have to position the camera on high, especially when the room is large in size. And, when shooting different consecutive exposures (for both merging in post production and to have a safety margin), it is essential that the tripod remains totally still.
Don’t forget to use a remote control, or just a timer, to avoid moving the camera when you take the shot.
When I have to document a hotel, I like to spend some time on exteriors, too.
In fact, I find that interiors and exteriors are strongly connected to one another, and can communicate in unison that which is the essence of the basic project.
In this shot, again of the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, you can see, indeed, the clear references to Arabian architecture, already admired in the interior.
To capture an extensive view, without, however, diminishing the majesty of the Burj Al Arab, which can be seen in the distance, I used a 24mm wideangle lens.
Let’s travel from the Arab Emirates to Mexico, namely to Ixtapa, on the Pacific coast.
I documented this boutique resort (Capella Ixtapa) built on sheer cliffs overlooking the sea, and it wasn’t easy. In fact, all the rooms face south-west and look right out to sea; this translates into very difficult light conditions: very dark interiors, really bright exteriors.
To get round the problem, I decided to take most of the shots at sundown, or during the blue hour: interiors and exteriors become more balanced and, at the same time, it also enabled me to enhance the privileged location of the resort.
I discovered this type of photography a bit by accident, and I’m happy I did. In fact, it is a fantastic mix of various disciplines in which the great dogmas of photography are upheld.
As ever, you need to know how to wait; the perfect moment that you are waiting for will arrive sooner or later, and you will be ready to capture it.
PRODUCTS USED: Manfrotto 055 XPROB
Alessandro Carpentiero is a photographer who specialises in Travel and Architecture.
He started sharing his pictures on Instagram whilst working as a designer; his popularity grew and led to him collaborating with internationally famous brands. He is now a full-time photographer and he travels around the world taking pictures of the beauty of our planet and documenting prestigious hotels and resorts.