There have been so many wonderful examples of hospitality photography in the POTW submissions inbox lately, and one of my very favorites is Alex Jeffries’ photographs of 25hours Hotel by Woods Bagot.
Alex Jeffries is a British architecture and interiors photographer based in Dubai who focuses on hotels, resorts, and hospitality projects. You can tell that Alex is a master of this niche by the quality of the images you are about to see. The lighting, the compositions, and the use of models to give scale and show functionality are just top-notch. Let’s jump in!
Alex kicks things off by giving us the lay of the land. He shares “Woods Bagot had completed the interior design, with the building itself conceived by Hopkins Architects. It is the first 25hours hotel outside of Europe, overlooking the iconic Museum of the Future on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Located within Hopkins’ One Central District masterplan, the buildings offer a rich mix of commercial, hospitality and retail and create a vibrant live, work and play destination.
This progressive hotel concept fuses with the timeless traditions of the Bedouins to tell the story of the region through its innovative design. The hotel boasts 434 rooms and as a young and stylish global brand, everything from their food and beverage concepts to interior design goes far beyond the usual hotel styling. The hotel prides itself on its creative design aesthetic and is a real ‘first’ in Dubai – no mean feat for a city that is already bursting with spectacular hotels. It was a true privilege to be part of such an incredible space and from the moment we arrived on shoot day there was excitement in the air.
I have worked with most of the major global hotel brands, and photographing hotels can be challenging whether at pre-opening stage or after opening. The hotel had already opened, which presented the biggest challenge on the shoot. The Woods Bagot team were on-site and were a huge help and great fun to work with.”
I was curious to know how Alex felt about working during the pre-opening process, and what that looked like for him. He explained “There can be a lot of challenges shooting in a space that is the pre-opening stage – some areas may not be completed and you may have to engineer some creative retouching on one or two shots. I always feel it is a privilege to be there and I never take it for granted. There’s usually a really positive vibe in the air, all the departments are excited and working together to achieve the same goal – to get the space ready for guests and looking and functioning at an incredible level. I become part of the opening team for a couple of weeks and I really enjoy it.”
Alex continues “As with most shoots, you are up against the clock and numerous issues can fall into your path at any given moment. You have to be alert, flexible, calm and ready for anything. Often, well laid plans can need re-thinking at the last moment if rooms are not available, or bookings come into the diary of areas scheduled for shooting, like restaurants/meeting rooms.”
One thing in particular that I really appreciate about this project is the use of figures to depict the scale and use of the amenities in the hotel. Alex finds the perfect balance of including just enough people in the right areas to translate these aspects, while not overcrowding or creating too many distractions in each scene. We can feel the life and story of each communal space, and really hone in on the differences of each room.
Alex says “The Woods Bagot photography brand guidelines were shared prior to the shoot so I could prepare and know exactly what was needed. They are very passionate for example to get people into every image (although they wanted blur), to show how a space would be used. Their team was on-ground throughout the shoot and were extremely helpful in giving feedback and being in the shots – the resulting images speak for themselves.”
I picked Alex’s brain to get to know more about his shooting process. He divulged that he always shoots tethered with Hypersonic cables, enabling 100Mb RAW files to flow fast to his laptop. This allows him to know for certain that he is capturing the exact shot that he needs and isn’t wasting any time on set – or in post. His clients are able to see the image he is making on an iPad Pro “which can be sat up to 200 feet away with the client whilst they continue to work, enabling them to see my screen.”
For time management sake, Alex relies on a good assistant who is able to stay one step ahead and anticipate what Alex will need to problem solve or eliminate issues before they happen. “He will for example have the phone numbers of various department heads such as engineering or housekeeping to hand. We inevitably need them,” Alex says. This allows him to keep his mind on making the images and not worrying about peripheral issues.
Alex also has a nifty hack that he’s set his tethering laptop to announce the time aloud every hour. He shares “I can be on track and to check the shot list for what has been completed and what is remaining for that day. This way I can monitor speed and work diligently through a day, without losing track of time, which can easily happen on busy shoot days.”
We’ll wind down this Project of the Week with Alex’s favorite image from the set. He tells “You are literally spoiled for choice when it comes to this location as there’s an incredible shot around every corner thanks to the architecture and interior design. It’s hard to choose a favourite, but the rooftop pool shot, with the Museum of the Future in the background is a great one.
We had to align a lot of furniture and shot early in the morning and It’s hard to sometimes capture just how breathtaking the iconic silver museum is, whilst not overpowering the image, as this was a pool shot after all, with the museum being secondary but I think I achieved success with the photograph.”
Thanks for sharing and walking us through this one Alex! You can head over to alexjeffriesphotographygroup.com to see more projects by Alex. You can also give him a follow on Instagram @alex_jeffriesphotographygroup.
If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.