Lark Hotels - New England and Beyond's Newest Boutique Hotel Group

Once in a while an assignment for Northshore Magazine culminates into a great working relationship with the subject, or subject's business in this case. I photographed Rob Blood, CEO and founder of Lark Hotels, for Northshore Magazine's Movers and Shakers issue in October 2016. During the shoot, Rob had mentioned his company retreat in late January - when it would be possible to get everyone under one roof - and their need for new portraits. Of course, I had hoped to hear from him again...

That's why when Rob reached back out to me before the retreat, I jumped at the offer. Lark Hotels finds great properties through New England, on which to plant their flag. You can find them in coastal Maine, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Stowe, VT, Portsmouth, NH, Salem, MA, Plum Island, MA... to name a few, and in northern California (in Napa and beyond), and soon to be in more cities along the east coast. Usually, the properties are old homes, mansions, and historic buildings such as The Merchant in Salem, which was once owned by a wealthy family during the revolutionary war, and hosted Pres. George Washington on his visit to Salem in 1789 - also rumored by area tour guides to be haunted. The homes and buildings are converted into amazing boutique hotels vibrant in color, eclectic, well-designed and full of light.

Setup: At first it seemed like these portraits would be simple, one background, varied poses. But, we worked with a vision board to get ideas that matched their brand. When my assistant (Christian) and I arrived in Portsmouth at Lark's "Hotel Portsmouth," we were happy to find a guest room available that we could use. Carefully orchestrating the furniture in the room to provide a different setting with a clear sense of continuity throughout the portraits, and arranged each of the 18 subjects (only 8 shown below) in a range of poses.

Tech notes: For this work, we used a little bit of ambient light coming from the large windows in the room, but created the light on the subjects. A Profoto D1 fitted with a 4 ft. octabox provided the broad, yet directional main light on each subject. While, we up'd the "ambient" in the room and filled it with two Acute B heads bounced into the ceiling and walls, where necessary - hooked into one AcuteB2 600ws lithium battery pack, divided with a split-head cable. Christian filled with a white reflector when necessary, too, but only in limited shots.

Wrap-up: Ultimately, and to my complete satisfaction and personal bias, Lark Hotels chose to have each portrait in both color and, my favorite, black and white. We'll see which version makes it to their website, but I'm glad they're happy with either version. This assignment couldn't have worked out any better, and I have a major amount of respect for the work they're doing in making hospitality and the experience of staying in hotels feel inspiring, energetic, and yet, relaxing.

If you're ever in Salem, check out their two hotels: The Merchant on Washington St. (now open) and The Hotel Salem on Essex St. (opening soon, still under construction - with a ROOF DECK restaurant!).

- JF

#larkhotels #corporate #portraits