Growing up on a farm in central Pennsylvania – surrounded by mountains and fields – Brian Riedel, an architectural photographer based in Hazle Township, Pa., was inspired to look at the space around him differently. His fascination for architectural design, buildings, and the stories behind them led to a self-assigned project photographing the charm and intrigue of the Townley House Hotel.
The Townley House is located in the historic district of Easton, Pennsylvania and was built by John Shipe in 1816. For nearly 100 years – from 1916 to 2012 – the historic structure served as an apartment building. However after years of neglect, the property was overgrown, dilapidated, and falling into disrepair until it was purchased by Restaurateur Mick Gjevukaj in 2018 with the intention of giving it new life. After nearly two and a half years of renovations, the timeless style of this richly historical building was restored and converted into the distinctive boutique hotel it is today.
The goal of the project was to capture the history and details of the structure.
Once at the hotel, Brian was greeted by the hotel manager Cassondra and given full access to the property and permitted to shoot in any area of the hotel he wished. The main challenge was working around the guest check-ins. Eager to get started Brian began shooting the interior of the Townley House. The first shot was of the hotel’s popular first floor suite – The Red Room.
Luckily the Red Room was available for shooting that morning. I wound up staying the whole day, capturing some beautiful lighting.
Later in the afternoon, Brian moved to the outdoor spaces of Townley House. First stopping in the courtyard garden that is accessible through the hotel bar. The courtyard is a lush open space that patrons find chic and refreshing. Brian then captured an amazing shot of the sun illuminating the main entrance highlighting the beautiful stone steps.
Walking into the first-floor powder room at Townley House you might recognize the Scalamandré zebra-print wallpaper, as seen in Margot Tenenbaum’s bedroom from the film The Royal Tenenbaums and Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite. This iconic design was originally created for the New York restaurant Gino of Carpi in the 1940s. After the original wallpaper was destroyed in a fire, Flora Scalamandré, wife of Franco Scalamandré, free handed the signature motif that would come to be known as the iconic Scalamandré Zebras design. This playful design continues to be used on a variety of fabrics across the world.
This project didn’t require Brian to use any special techniques. Other than some minor staging and working to find the balance in different lighting conditions, the charm of the property spoke for itself.
I had a good time interacting with the patrons as they moved about the space.
For post-production, the emphasis was on amplifying the use of shadows and light to create a soft almost cinematic feel. Playing with the lighting allowed Brian to see how far he could push it so that the space would be seen properly lit. The challenge was to balance both the natural light shining in from the windows and the warm incandescent lighting of each room.
Anytime Brian has the opportunity to explore a new space, especially a historic property like Townley House, he admits it’s easy to get enamored by all the intricate details. Brian found himself wanting to spend all day capturing the timeless characteristics each room had to offer: the carved wood of a handrail, a beautifully detailed door hinge, exquisite tile decorating the fireplace, and the ornate decorative brick that covered the exterior of the hotel, just to name a few.
This project was a truly wonderful experience; I can’t wait for the chance to do another one.
See more of Brian’s images on his Instagram.
Management Group: Enjoy with Gusto