Though every venue is unique and has its own style and approach that draws clients in, it’s nearly impossible to grab the attention of the general public without great photography in today’s photo-crazed culture. Whether you’ve considered producing a photo shoot so you can update your website or social media, or use the photos for printed paper materials, if this idea’s been in the back of your mind, it’s time to move it to the forefront.
We recently caught up with the owners of Catesby Farm Estate, who organized this stunning photo shoot with photographers Stephen Karlisch and Laura Ashbrook, and they were willing to share all the details behind their venue’s set up and how they thought best to capture it. Like many venue owners, they know that the best way to see Catesby Farm Estate is in person, but photos are the next-best option to getting potential clients on the property. Here’s how they created a successful photo campaign and booked real clients out of it.
Photography by Stephen Karlisch and Laura Ashbrook
Tell us a little about Catesby Farm Estate.
Catesby Farm Estate is a 240-acre estate in Middleburg, Virginia that truly allows guests to have a private and exclusive event experience. Our home becomes our clients’ home and there are so many ways in which our guests can enjoy the property. The five beautifully appointed homes on the property allow clients to host up to 34 guests for overnight accommodations. Catesby Farm Estate has so much to offer our guests – swimming pool, tennis court, pond for fishing and canoeing, and walking trails. Our Belmont style barn, greenhouse and vineyard also provide unique spaces for entertaining, as well as the gorgeous grounds including the Boxwood Garden. It’s a venue unlike anything else.
What inspired this styled shoot? Why did you decide to coordinate it?
A picture is worth 1,000 words and to see Catesby Farm is to believe it. The styled shoot was in conjunction with an opening event at Catesby Farm Estate because it is important to create a vision that people can see as a possibility for their own event. There are so many ways to host at Catesby Farm Estate that we decided to focus in on a few of those ways to create pictures of possibilities.
How did you go about coordinating the shoot?
We always partner with the best, so we reached out to vendors we knew would be able to capture the essence of Catesby Farm Estate and help bring our vision to life. It was also important to bring collaborators together who work well together and complement each other in their work style and approach. A good, cohesive team is the most important.
Why do you think it's important for venue owners to invest their time and energy into creating content at their venue?
To create the vision to share with the public is critical. We have 240 acres of endless possibilities and that can be overwhelming for many people so we took the time to work with our creative team and break it down into bite-sized pieces. On our website, you will see we open with a gorgeous video created by Films by J, in which he has used a drone. It allows our visitors to understand the scope of Catesby Farm Estate. As you continue through the website, we break it down into the smaller components as captured in stunning photos by Stephen Karlisch and Laura Ashbrook. The best way to see Catesby Farm Estate is in person of course, but that’s not always possible for everyone so we tried to capture and share as much as we could. We also have a very active Instagram and Facebook so that allows people to even see more details.
Have you seen an increase in business since the shoot came out?
We just launched our website and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We are very excited about the inquiries we are getting for weddings and corporate events.
What is your number one tip for venue owners looking to set up a styled shoot?
Do it! Your venue has a story to tell so it’s important that you share that in a way that creates the client environment you wish capture. Be thoughtful in your approach, take time to map it out, and to put together the right team for the project. Remember each styled shoot may require a different team with a different lens. Have fun with it. It’s hard work but the results are worth it.