Between the Scenes with Niagara’s Finest Hotels

Creating High-Quality Brand Assets for a Boutique Hotel

In May, Leap’s Neil Tran, Geneva Bazin, and Marisa Grizenko joined forces with videographer Dave Wallace and photographer Jon-Mark Wiltshire. We headed to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, a picturesque town brimming with charm and historic beauty.

Our goal? To tour three boutique hotels belonging to Niagara’s Finest Hotels, identify compelling storytelling opportunities, and create an abundance of signature photos and videos for use on the brand’s new website and social media. Looking back, we can say this trip was an unqualified success. And lots of fun, too. Here’s how we approached this on-location project and what we’ll take away for next time: 

Create Multi-Use Content 

Planning a photo/video shoot is a lot of work, so you might as well make it count. Since we were working on a brand-new website for Niagara’s Finest Hotels, our priority was to create stunning visuals that effectively captured the properties and surrounding town for the online experience. But knowing that we would have creative talent on hand, including models, it made sense to create content specifically for the brand to use in their social media channels and marketing campaigns long into the future.

Embrace Variety

To create branded assets that fully communicate the Niagara’s Finest Hotels experience and help support the brand story, we opted for a mix of shots that would provide us with good coverage. In addition to photographing each hotel’s guest rooms, common spaces, and amenities, we took macro shots highlighting special accents and details, such as intricate crown molding or an elegant floral display. Since lifestyle photography and videography help target audiences connect with the brand, we also created content showing the models dining at the hotel restaurants, lounging in the guest rooms, and exploring Niagara-on-the-Lake. Now, when a visitor lands on the Shaw Club, Charles Hotel, or Harbour House sites—or on the Niagara’s Finest Hotels parent site—they’ll see images and videos that clearly and consistently speak to each unique brand. The end result of this strategy was a wide range of content, ready to be used in a variety of applications. 

Demonstrate Flexibility

A finely detailed plan was essential to getting everything done in only a few short days. Beforehand, we performed model searches, designed mood and storyboards, and coordinated everyone’s schedules—models, hotel and restaurant staff, management, and our team. However, even with all that planning, we had to account for the unpredictable: changing weather. When the light was right, our team had to move quickly, which sometimes meant rearranging the schedule or getting creative. Having both a solid plan and a go-with-the-flow attitude allowed us to meet all our goals and get some fabulous shots.

Bring the Team Together

While Neil, Dave, and Jon-Mark were naturally busy art directing and taking videos and photos, Geneva and Marisa also played a role. Geneva, Leap’s Project Coordinator, ensured the whole shoot ran smoothly. Marisa, Leap’s Writer, took the opportunity to learn more about the unique character of each hotel, including its fascinating history. (She was particularly intrigued by the Charles Hotel, which was built in 1832 by the brother of novelist John Richardson and was home to many important political figures in early Canadian history!) By bringing together a team of different skill sets and interests, we were able to accomplish several goals at once: capture beautiful imagery, deepen our understanding of the project, and start dreaming about the storytelling possibilities we would be exploring shortly through the website. In the end, we had a wonderful time working with Niagara’s Finest Hotels and spending a few busy days in Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you haven’t already, check out the website, where you can see our beautiful images, design, and storytelling in action.

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