How Many Hot Lights Fit In A Hotel Room?

7 years ago  •  By  •  0 Comments

Homewood Suites | Florida | December 2009.
Video by Larkin Donley

I received a call inquiring if I was available to shoot again for Homewood Suites, one of the hotel chains in the Hilton Family. I did a panoramic shoot for them earlier in the year in Texas and Georgia. They sounded happy with the photography and wanted to do a similar shoot, this time with talent. It is always fantastic to be invited back by a great client. This next shoot would take place in December 2009 near West Palm Beach, Florida.

When I was told this would be a shoot with talent, the first thing I asked myself washow many hot lights can I fit in these hotel rooms? The first shoot was architecture only, which means there were no people. Having no people in the shot meant I could shoot at any shutter speed I cared for, because there was no movement I needed to “freeze”. So, I decided to use hot lights. I subcontracted motion picture gaffers and grip trucks in both Dallas and Atlanta. Hot lights are great to work with because like any normal light bulb, you see what you get. When more light power is needed to freeze movement, strobe lights are generally employed because they give off a tremendous amount of energy in a short burst. This saves energy, requires less equipment, puts off less heat and is less expensive. It is very nice to use hot lights, if you don’t have to freeze action.

But now, I have been asked to create the same look, this time with people in the shot. I will need a tremendous amount of additional light to freeze the models’ movement. What I’m concerned about is—how many hot lights can I have set up in this tight space before I set off the fire sprinklers? Hot lights are named by description—they are very hot. Gloves must be worn to protect the hands and tremendous power is needed to run them. Only the smallest of lights can be plugged into a household outlet (1200 watts or smaller). I know we’ll need a lot more than that. The thing I’m not sure about is, the temperature at which the fire extinguishers in the ceiling will be set off. I have heard of it happening and would like to make sure it won’t happen on this shoot.

Here is a final use of the work I did for Homewood on the previous shoot. I believe this ad ran in the Wall Street Journal.

Working with my gaffer, Jeremy, we determined we would need around 25,000 watts of light. Next, we figured out how we could set up that many hot lights without without overpowering the room (and the fire sprinklers). We decided on replicating the sun for our key light. This was a great solution. By putting a 10k light outside and shining it through the window, we would able to dissipate the majority of the heat right out into the Florida air. The rest of the lights inside could be handled by the air conditioning.

So, Jeremy set off finding a key grip and a grip truck in Florida. He found Marty and a 4 ton grip truck with a 50,000 watt generator. Meanwhile, Stacey—producer extraordinaire, started working on booking talent, wardrobe styling, prop styling, and makeup in Florida. Stacey, my SF crew, the agency and I would fly out from SF. Jeremy flew from LA. The client flew out from their offices. Here is a final image and some behind-the-scenes shots. Thanks for all your great work everyone!

Final Shot
(Shot at night using artificial light through exterior window)

Behind-the-scenes