The return of black and white
by Nickie Wang
it takes a lot of artistry to take stunning photographs in black and white. as opposed to popular belief, mono tone images are quite tricky to produce as you need to employ skillful lighting techniques to come up with good results. Though there is no play of colors involved in black and white photography, the outcome, when done creatively, is classy, elegant, arresting and full of character.
Thirty-five photographs are currently on view at the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel. and yes, all of them are in black and white. Yet, like the popular adage “a picture paints a thousand words” every picture installed at the lobby, the upper lobby, the lower basement and the Escolta restaurant at the five-star hotel speaks of a thousand tales of happiness and contentment.
Until Oct. 31, the hotel’s grandiose entrance serves as a temporary gallery for the 35 photographs taken by beauty and fashion photographer Sarah Black, who has been taking pictures for the Peninsula for the last seven years.
the exhibit’s main theme revolves around the celebration of the hotel’s 35 years in the business. instead of chronicling its history to portraiture, the hotel decides to feature the main force behind the Peninsula Manila’s success as one of the premier hotels in the country.
Known for its luxurious and iconic façade and sumptuous cuisine, the hotel is also famous for its people who are now honored in “35 Years Celebrating the Anniversary of the Peninsula Manila in Photographs.” the exhibit put a face to the meaning of a great hotel capturing staff at work—a delightful behind the scene moments of the people serving the hotel. from the engineering to security, from housekeeping to kitchen, all 830 hotel employees are represented in the photo exhibit.
take for example the two ladies know as the “Chocolate Girls.” the two are hearing-impaired and work in the Chocolate Room, creating at least 17 types of hand-made chocolates every day. the smiles on their faces clearly communicate how they value their work and how, amid being differently-abled, they found a home and a family in the hotel.
another interesting tale caught on photograph is the love story of two staff member who met 23 years ago in the hotel. the now happily married couple is just one classic example of finding love in the workplace.
the impetus behind the photo exhibit is to go to the heart of the guest experience at the Peninsula Manila. “a lot of what makes our hotel’s style of hospitality is the personal connection our staff have with our guests,” says Sonja Vodusek, the Peninsula Manila general manager. “we are celebrating our staff who are continually striving for service excellence with this exhibit. After all, while good business is ensuring a seamless guest experience, I also believe that good business is supporting the staff that runs the business.”
In an interview with the Standard Today, Mariano Garchitorena, the hotel’s director for Public Relations, compares the hotel to a beautiful swan gracefully moving on the water. He related the effortless movement of the bird to the hotel’s status and reputation.
“the hotel is very beautiful…very grand, but like a swan, for it to move, its legs have to furiously pedal underneath the water, which nobody can see,” Garchitorena expressed.
the hotel official furthered that it’s time for them to show the different side of Peninsula by showing the behind the scene moments on how its people put up or prop up a product. It’s like telling the story behind the food you eat, the refreshment that quench your thirst, the bed where you would comfortably rest, or simply the place where you would stay either for a meeting or a get together.
at the lower lobby of the hotel, photographs on view are those of the staff working in the kitchen. interesting tidbits can be read through the captions further detailing what the eyes can already see. Picture of lady staff members squeezing oranges comes with fascinating trivia like the 3,500 oranges squeezed a day to meet the hotel’s juice requirement or the Senior Sous Chef who is part of a team that cracks a daily average of 1,000 eggs and churns 50 kilos of butter used in whipping up pastry delights, including the best-selling enseymada and napoleons.
some of the photographs also showcase how the staff members of the Peninsula enjoy off-work activities. among them is the seasonal inter-hotel sports fest. Apart from the serious calorie-burning, hard-action competition of the annual sports fest, personnel also look forward to is the Miss Pen pageant, a beauty and brains competition in the tradition of Miss Universe and Binibining Pilipinas.
“if you’re going to look closer, the exhibit centers around good service, but good service does not just mean taking good care of your guests, it also means taking good care of your staff,” Garchitorena concluded.