Paris and Dusseldorf with InterContinental Hotels

So....that was fun.... Just back from Dusseldorf - the last of the three Travel Photography Masterclass weekends with InterContinental.

Und.....es regnete.

But we've been getting used to that and it did give us an opportunity each time to look at shooting in bad weather (I'm worried I might get a repution) After all if you've gone for a weekend away your not going to hang out in the hotel just because of a bit of rain are you?

Here's a few pics from the weekends in Paris and Dusseldorf. Once again a real mix of guests from as far a field as the US and Peru and again with a broad range of experience and interests, so it was great to chat, look at ideas and ways of seeing and challenge a few accepted 'rules' (there aren't any!). And whilst some guests wanted to take better pictures of their husband/wife/kids/girlfriends etc others wanted to get away from a rut they felt they were in and we even got into discussing the Dusseldorf school and it's influence on contemporary photography.

First up though, I'm must mention the chef at the hotel in Dusseldorf who, on my arrival, had made a chocolate 'photograph' of the skyline for me. Complete with picture frame and set on the table in my room - cool eh?

The Madness of the Dusseldorf Christmas market...

Here's the rather grand 'Le Grand' in Paris....

and finally....won't someone mention to the Dusseldorfers that their buns are a bit small? (but the Alt beer is fab!)

New Tourism Campaign for Liverpool Albert Dock

It's been a busy few weeks with the InterContinental Masterclasses, finishing off a large tourism campaign for Mid Wales (weather was so good in the summer, we had to postpone the second half of the shoot - might have been accused of misleading people!) and this big shoot for Liverpool Albert Dock. Entitled 'Magic in the Air' the campaign was devised and art directed by Brigid Benson with the brief 'to show Liverpool and the Albert Dock in a new light.' Her concept was beautifully simple, yet inspired: light the dock from the inside.

Now, the Albert Dock is a BIG place - the largest group of Grade 1 listed buildings in the UK. It is beautifully illuminated at night from the outside, but the inner quay with all the bars, restaurants, galleries and museums is dark. Our task was to illuminate the inside to a level where it glowed like a football stadium at night creating the desire for those on the outside to find out about all the excitement on the inside.

Many recce's, meetings, negotiations, permissions, help from volunteers and crew, setting up 55kW of flood lighting and 700m of festoon lighting later our shoot week arrived. So did the rain!

Now, the Albert Dock and Liverpool Waterfront is a very well known location and an iconic image of the city. It is usually shot from across the River Mersey in Birkenhead (admittedly a shot I have done previously too) but the brief this time was to come up with something new and exciting. Brigid and I crawled across rooftops all over the city looking at various vantage points and we decided on three separate viewpoints to shoot by day and by night.

First up we shot across Salthouse Dock towards Albert Dock with the River Mersey and the Wirral peninsula behind. The daytime shot was 'animated' with help from all the staff and volunteers at the Liverpool Watersports Centre who came down to sail boats around and around Salthouse Dock for us.

...and the same view by night with the electric meters going wild on the inner quay!

The second shot incorporated more of the iconic waterfront: The port of Liverpool Building, one of the 'three graces' that form the centrepiece of the waterfront (we were shooting from the Liver Building so that's not in shot!!), the new Museum of Liverpool and the Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre in the background.

and last but not least... 'The Flagship' - Brigid's mad idea was to bring the flagship ZEBU into the middle of the Albert Dock and light it with festoon lighting all around and up and down the masts. Big thanks to all the volunteers and crew and especially the 'top men' who scaled the heights to make the vision a reality. Charlie the skipper had to come down from Whitehaven to manoeuvre the ship into position and then did an amazing job trying to hold it there still enough for us to do the shot. Usually in a week of bad weather I'm happy as long as it's windy. On this occasion of course we weren't allowed any wind either - needed to hold the ship steady for as long as possible and hopefully get the reflections too. All worked out in the end, but there were a few nervous moments for the client (I remained calm and confident all along - honest!!)

Travel Photography Masterclasses at InterContinental Hotels

I am running a series of Masterclasses at InterContinental Hotels this autumn. Next up is Paris this coming weekend 2nd and 3rd November. The events are free of charge and available to guests staying on the InterContinental Hotel Weekend  Escapes Package. Pre-booking is essential via www.intercontinental.com/weekendescapes and there are just a few places left.

Each day starts with a meeting over coffee at the hotel where we explore some ideas and ways of looking which will hopefully bring a new perspective to guest's travel and holiday photographs. Then armed with expert location tips on the cities hidden gems from the hotel's concierges, guests are free to explore the city and put some of the ideas we've discussed into practice. Later in the day, I meet up with the guests in the city at a pre-arranged time, look at some pictures and have some one-to-one time photographing the city and I shoot some portraits of the guests at our chosen location. In the evening there will be another opportunity to look at the work we've done during the day and talk further.

The first session in London last month was great fun despite the pouring rain and heavy grey skies (it did give us opportunities to look at shooting in bad weather - see one of the guests series of St Pauls below) and the next two are Paris le Grand: 2/3 November and Dusseldorf 30 Nov/1Dec.

For more information please email: WeekendEscapesExperience@ihg.com

Here's a few pics (some mine, some guests) from the first weekend in London....

It would be great to see you in France or Germany.