Lark Hotel's Corporate Portraits 2018 Edition and BTS

I was happy to load up my cart last month and push my gear the 800 ft from my house to Lark Hotel's newest establishment, The Hotel Salem. Located along Essex Street's pedestrian walkway, amongst the shops and museums, is a massive old building, once a department store, renovated to a mid-century modern classic, yet eye-catching, design of a hotel. The employees of Lark Hotels were having their annual retreat at their newest of accommodations and it was time to update some of their portraits.

This year, with only a handful of new faces, I was asked to produced portraits of their 4 newest employees and update a couple from last year. Being a lighter production day than last, I went solo and setup in their lounge, set back from the lobby.

Bright colors and textured fabrics show the hand of Lark's design aesthetic, though it varies, throughout all of their properties. 

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Speaking of design, though this particular Hotel was designed by someone else, these two photos are of Lark CEO Rob Blood and Lark's Director of Hotels Meg Butcher, who just formed a design company themselves, called Butcher and Blood. Taking on some of the design work themselves on other projects and with potential new clients, so keep an eye out for them in a new role within the hospitality business.

These shots we taken with the big north facing windows on the facade of the building just to the right of Rob and Meg in the angled shot, and directly behind me in the next head on shot. I did however bounce a ProFoto AcuteB strobe into the ceiling about 6 feet to my left to bring up shadows and even out the color of the light a bit.

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Next up, here's the setup for the portraits we took in the lounge:

Looking to create a pleasing light I knew I had to make some of my own, since I wasn't able to have them turn off all of the lounge lights. Which, I wouldn't have wanted anyhow since the sconces produced nice pops of light on the patterned back wall.

So, I took two of my ProFoto AcuteB strobes, tethered to the same AcuteB2 pack, and bounced them high into the wall and ceiling just out of every framing scenario I plotted out. This supplied a balanced, but directional, even light that spread from camera left - in most cases - and from above, negating the power of the existing overhead lights of the room.

Next I used another AcuteB strobe, planted in a 4ft octobox with double diffusion, as the main light source for each subject as a soft and surrounding light that would play nice on everyone's features and not create to harsh of shadows or highlights on their skin. Below you can see an iPhone shot of the room without my strobes firing, and in the shot on the right from my camera is the room lit up just how I wanted it.

All that was left was to do was to get the camera tethered to the computer so we could preview what we saw as we went, and give the subject a chance to have some say about which shots work for them, with notes for me to consider as I picked my selects.

At one point - and I'm sometimes someone who needs just this fix - one of the employees stayed around for someone else portrait and really psyched them up and got them more comfortable in front of the camera. It's like I had my own impromptu art director on set and added a level of collaboration I always appreciate. Anything to relieve the pressure of making subjects comfortable and make them feel like they're having fun is always welcome.

The selects I chose to share are just a sampling of the finals I sent along to the Lark crew. What you'll see on their website and marketing materials to come will most likely be cropped square and reproduced in black and white.

Hope you enjoyed and let me know if you have any questions about my process, too!

JF