One hundred and eleven large-format aerial photographs of Dresden for a photo art series. What an exciting challenge! “Bellevue – Dresden from above” is a photo art series that was established on behalf of an order of the Bilderberg Bellevue Hotel Dresden. The name of the hotel already bears its wonderful view (la belle vue) over the Elbe city. This is where the image concept “Bellevue – Dresden from above” follows. Over 100 motifs accompany hotel guests on their journey through the city without having to set foot in front of the door. Captions help to classify what can be seen. The bird’s eye view of the photographs invites you to perceive well-known places and architecture in a new way and to pay attention to details that you have never noticed on a tour of the city.
Conception of a hotel photo art series
When Katja Marocke, who is also an interior designer, approached me in October 2019, much was not yet clear. As part of the interior redesign of the Bellevue Hotel, Katja had a challenge that she wanted to solve together with me. In the corridors of the Dresden hotel there are over 100 maintenance shafts, which are not very beneficial in the otherwise high-quality interior. The idea was to cover the shafts with a series of photographs and at the same time to use the space of the corridors to tell a picture story about the city of Dresden.
In a brainstorming session with the team for interior design and the general manager of the hotel, we played through various concepts for the art series. The abstraction and the simultaneous realism of the drone images quickly became a favorite. From a distance, the aerial photos look like a modern mix of textures and colors. When passing, however, they reveal an intimate glimpse into everyday life in Dresden.
A huge advantage of a specially commissioned art track is its adaptability to the existing interior concept. The hotel corridors of the Bilderberger Bellevue are characterized by warm tones such as the cherry wood paneling, the copper-colored door signs and creamy wallpaper. The color mood is only interrupted by the neutral gray carpet.
The aim is for the pictures to be integrated into the interior, but also to be eye-catching at the same time. Therefore, in the pictures of the Bellevue series, primarily muted yellow and red tones with neutral gray surfaces reflect the colors of the room. The color composition is interrupted by small accents of intense blue and subtle bluish shadows. In order to not interrupt this style with the green tones of leafy trees, we agreed on a shot in late winter.
“The final series of pictures shows Dresden from a completely new perspective, in which even some“ locals ”like me have to ponder for a long time where the picture was taken. This view arouses curiosity and shows the urban architecture from a completely different perspective. The series of images rounds the overall room renovation project perfectly off and enhances it in a unique way. The series makes the way to the room a very special experience of its own. As Bellevue Hotel, we have long been part of the city’s history and the cityscape. I am proud that the city is now also part of us. And in a completely new way. ” – Sebastian Klink (General Manager of the Bilderberger Bellevue Hotel Dresden )
The 111 art prints in the corridors of the hotel have a second task in addition to enhancing the appearance of the corridors. They cover over 100 maintenance shafts in the walls. In addition, the pictures in the area of the lift landings help you to find your way around the house. Each hanging location requires special formats. In the aisles, 1: 2 and 1: 1 formats alternate in sizes between 100cm and 150cm. The lift landings already have stucco frames in which the pictures are inserted in a particularly long 1: 3 format.
Planning of aerial photographs
Finding the right motifs for such a large photo series and preparing the recording in a legally secure manner was the greatest challenge in this photo production. The planning phase began with an intensive examination of the Bellevue Hotel and its location Dresden. In order to present Dresden as a city as comprehensively as possible, a few beautiful pictures of the old town are not enough. My goal was to create a representative pool of images from the categories of living, traffic, leisure, nature, culture and industry. For me, Dresden represents a mix of modernity and history and of natural and urban space. This concept is also reflected in the Bellevue Hotel. It consists of an old and a new building and looks south over beautiful green spaces on the Elbe. In the north you can watch the lively life of the new town. These worlds should also reappear in the pictures.
Two weeks of digital overflight over Dresden on Google Maps followed. Quadrant by quadrant in search of possible motifs, the composition, leading lines, colors, structures, incidence of light and many other points influenced each motif choice. With the support of my intern Julia, some bird’s eye view emojis also came on the list. I wonder if the architects have already considered that at the time?
In the next step, in coordination with the Dresden Public Order Office, the various property owners and the state aviation authority, I arranged the appropriate ascent and photo permits. After all, there were also some sensitive areas, such as the Military History Museum or Dresden City Drainage, where we had to work with special conditions. In the end, all preparations resulted in a detailed shot list with around 100 locations, which formed the basis for the photo production.
As with any of my shoots, it is a good plan that ensures the success of the photo shoot despite spontaneous challenges. We had planned a time window of two weeks for the recording with the drone. Actually more than enough time for the five required recording days. Choppy spring weather, strong winds and the beginning of restrictions due to Corona, however, took a toll on us. Thanks to the exact timing of the shot list, I was able to use every good weather window and finish the recording in four days without incidents.
The result of the 44 ascents and approx. 100km flight distance were over 4,000 recordings of 311 different objects. Choosing the best motifs is very difficult. On the one hand, the hotel manager and the interior designer were enthusiastic about most of the motifs and found it difficult to deselect them. On the other hand, the drone photos had to be sorted according to format, content and color in order to create a coherent overall result for the series.
Print photo art correctly
As always, I was able to rely on my long-term partner when printing, namely Whitewall who has already printed many of my exhibitions and is always available to advise me with a lot of expertise. During the image processing I got whole motifs as well as 1: 1 detail sections with whitewall sample prints, to which I could align the final result of the processing. In order to combine durability and a good price-performance ratio, we decided to print directly on Alu-Dibond. The pictures, which are up to two square meters in size, are provided with a narrow, modern ArtBox frame, so that the guests and pictures in the hotel’s much-frequently visited corridors are well protected. In less than two weeks, Whitewall delivered nine pallets of well-secured images. With the arrival of the delivery, the hotel staff gathered in front of the pictures and inspected every detail of the beautiful prints with fascination.
With the Art-Hanger recommended by Whitewall, the pictures hung perfectly aligned on the wall over the entire hotel in 1.5 days.
“The biggest surprise during the production for me was the really impressive moment when all the pictures were hanging and I was walking through the hallways. Even if the great cooperation in the run-up gave an idea of the positive result, it was still a wow experience! “- Sebastian Klink (General Manager of the Bilderberger Bellevue Hotel Dresden )
The use of the photo series does not end with the printing of the pictures as photo art. In the next step, the use of the photographs for customer gifts, the hotel shop and advertising material is planned. This makes the images an important part of the hotel’s corporate identity.
Below you can see the entire photo series “Bellevue – Dresden from above” with 111 aerial photos that give a special insight into the city of Dresden.
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