A Flying Visit To and Then Around Casa Bonay, Barcelona

Inés Miró-Sans, co-founder Casa Bonay Hotel in Barcelona
Inés Miró-Sans, co-founder Casa Bonay Hotel in Barcelona

One of the first really interesting job of the year was a shoot at Casa Bonay, a boutique hotel recently opened by Inés Miró-Sans in the centre of Barcelona.

Receiving an email that is a possible job is always a little like Christmas, when it comes from another country even more so, because apart from the appeal of the exotic, it often means they might actually pay you a reasonable amount!

Living in Spain is all too often an exercise in stoic acceptance of clients pleading poverty, not understanding the value of things, or just plain penny-pinching, but what the hell, the sun shines most days and the wines good and cheap.

So, sometime back in March I get an email that boded well, ostensibly from a Miami based magazine called Le Miami, but via an agency in London, so I guess that infers extra exoticness.

Several people were CC’ed into the email. Experience told me that this would likely complicate the process and on top of that the shoot meant organising 6 busy people to be at the location the same day, the same hour, for group and portrait shots.

When I look back on the email exchange it lasted about 3 weeks and jumped from magazine to agency quite a lot and of course each had distinct ideas of the look. Basically it went from sober examples of Time portraits to the Day-Glo mayhem of a summer edition of Italian Vogue for men.

Some grandiose ideas were floating around my mind for the Casa Bonay shoot. I had recently purchased a new and rather large light modifier and was going to use it come hell or high water.

I also decided to dig out the war chest with just about everything I own and haul it over to the location in a taxi. No amount of experience seems to sink in with photographers and the overly cautious or overly enthusiastic make a rod for their own back (and risk injuring it as well) with the amount of kit they are willing to drag around.

Arriving extra early I made my presence known and then went off to scout locations. They hired me to do ‘environmental portraits’ a term I have used on my site and which may have therefore got me the job. I was not really photographing Casa Bonay per se, but the people concerned in its design, etc, so it was a backdrop to the portraits.

I assumed the staff would inform these people where I was when they arrived, but no, that did not happen. So caught up in my location hunt was I, that I did not see the time passing and when I finally went to check if anyone had actually arrived I found them all chatting in the bar. Lucky for me they did not seem put-out by my apparent late arrival. Of course this ate into my shoot time and like most people they assumed doing portraits is a simple click and shoot affair and there was I, wielding gigantic flash lights on stands…

In the end I ended up doing 5 portraits in 7 locations and one group shot in about an hour.

Not ideal, but in truth I find that kind of stress to be conducive to creativity; if you can think on your feet your ideas rarely fall flat.

Included here are the original images, as the ones in the print edition were cropped a little too much for my liking. Also apart from the photo they used of Inés for the cover, you will find the one I prefer; after shooting for a while she suddenly lit up with this wonderful smile that kind of melted my heart a little.

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