I was asked to cover a couple Chevron’s Soccer Campswith the specific request to show the fun and emotion that happens at the camps. I am not a sports photographer which the client understood.
What the art director really wanted was the emotions, fun and engagement among the players and coaches, and I did just that. The coaches were dynamic, engaging and driven to teach and the kids were kinetic an ebulent and fun, so I had all the elements a photojournalist needs to create great images for a commercial client.
Overall I had an easy time of it because there were so many genuine moments. That said, my time as a photojournalist taught me how to anticipate moments of human interaction like which side heads will fall when you anticipate two people hugging or when there will be an emotional reaction after an event or who is most likely to emote in the most visual way. All this contributes to the success of an as a commercial event photographer.
I am beginning to get requests for corporate headshots and portraits that are out of the ordinary and that reflect authenticity. Often clients will see images on my website and ask me to duplicate the style or they will tell me “We want the portraits to be different. More authentic and stylistically different than what we normally see in corporate headshots”.
These are the clients I most want to work for because they will take a little risk and give me license to dome something more interesting than a typical corporate headshot and portraits They will also pay more money for what they want. They are the clients that I most love working with because it becomes a challenge; something I am in great need of these days.
The two images below were among a dozen corporate portraits that I created for Entertainment Partners which was seeking a stylistically different approach to the corporate headshot. Since they service the entertainment industry, they felt that they could be more creative in their portrayal of their leadership.
I was asked to shoot a series of portraits for Thales Corp. for a social media campaign. The challenge was making employees look authentic and interesting. Thales was adamant about the portraits not looking like corporate headshots.
So for these portraits, I set up blinds on either side of the subjects with colleagues on either side carrying on a conversation with the subject. So the subject was carrying on a a conversation with three people including myself.
My purpose was to force the subjects into a slightly disorienting situation so they would forget they were being photographed. Kind of like trying to juggle three balls and carry on a conversation.
Every body had fun and I was able to get from my subjects moments of authenticity that I may not have gotten otherwise. The client loved the portraits.
The images shot below were part of a series of portraits shot for Virgin Galactic. They asked for environmental portraits of their engineering and science staff but I found that the light from open windows was so beautiful I did not have to use any strobes. We just used reflectors and negative fills to shape and fill these corporate headshots.
Additionally, we have been doing composite business portraits to scale; although for these I work with a post production contractor to make the composite work affordable.
The images below are part of a large headshot project we did for Griffen Capital, who asked if we could shoot 110 people over two days and swap out the backgrounds on everyone. Initially I thought this would be a loss leader because I had never done this before but I would do it just to see how it could be done at a profit. I think it worked out for my client and myself and now we do this on a regular basis for other clients.
We do a fair share of corporate headshots and portraits in Los Angeles and I think swapping out the backgrounds is a great way to create a difference for the company wiling to use that option.
The project was born out of a restlessness with my current profession as a full-time commercial photographer; a lot of it has gotten easy, and EASY can be dangerous for any artist when the work becomes routine and sometimes boring. So I needed a challenge that was so far out of my league it would result in daily failures with only incremental successes. I needed to learn again.
The above piece uses a STAND-IN for Dr. Thorne who, after seeing my work, graciously allowed me to photograph him for the real piece. It only took 8 months to get an audience with him!
It is one of three prototype art pieces centered on three Caltech scientists , who do their research conveniently close to my house and coincidently, do research into science I have been interested in for a long time: Black hole theory, gravity, directed evolution and quantum physics. How hard could it be to understand something about these science ? Ugh….
I had read one of Kip Thorne’s earlier books on “Black Holes and Time Warps ” and became fascinated with Kips ideas.
I figured that no one was going to give me the time of day since I had no track record as an artist, so I created three pieces as proof of concept so the scientists would take me seriously. I am still working on the other two scientists.
My first piece was made with Astrophysicist, Dr. Kip Thorne, in mind, who along with two other physicists, first detected gravitational waves through their development of LIGO and consequently received the Nobel Prize for their efforts .
The mixed media piece above has the dimensions of 30 X 40 inches and I used digital and traditional paint to create it.
It took me about three months to complete, first because I had to study the science behind gravitational waves, so I could visualize the key elements of the science, then because I had the learn how to paint in Photoshop from scratch, create custom brushes and complex masking techniques. Lastly, I have a career as a commercial photographer that I have to maintain, so I could not do the art full time.
It is one of three pieces that I have made; the other two centered on Bio engineer and Nobel Laureate, Francis Arnold and quantum physicist Maria Spirapulu. Postings to come.
The last challenge to Kip’s piece was his demeanor was different than that of my stand-in. My impression of Kip is that, despite his rock star status, he is a deeply humble and amiable man without artifice or show of ego. My stand-in how ever, is a CEO with great gravitas and seriousness. So I am not sure that I was able to reconcile the different personas in the piece.
I had built a piece around my stand-in and not factored in the difference in person between the two. It is a good lesson for future projects.
The assignment was for Ventura Foods, Inc., which originally was going to be a commercial photography food shoot with chefs, then evolved into a chef shoot along with an industrial photography shoot and then evolved into a chef, industrial and business lifestyle assignment during one of our first production meetings.
The client liked that they did not have to hire three photographers. “Oh, I see you also shoot business lifestyle and industrial work as well. Would you be interested in shooting something like what is on your website for us?”
Much of my commercial photography work is B2B, so often I am dealing with folks that have not hired a photographer before; not so in this case. Ventura was working with a very smart consultant that knew her stuff, so we could talk the same language and our expectations were aligned.
She needed to come up with content that represented the company’s core message; that they are a food company and there is care taken in creating the food they make.
I got that in my first conversation with then and figured that this would be an available light assignment with lots of LED fill and color balancing involved. This was confirmed on the scout.
We ended up filtering and dimming the mixed color overhead lights with gels and then filling and highlighting with LED lights balanced to the ambient overhead lighting. Filtering the background light was done in post because it was going to be more difficult to ditch the blue shiftin the windows than filter the whole window.Total time to shoot the first day’s work was 14.5 hours.
The crew consisted of two assistants, a digital tech, an intern, hair and makeup artist, a stylist and two models. Additionally there was a technical scout with my first assistant and some post production; all done in house.
As we were shooting, the consultant liked the shallow depth a field in my pictures, as well as detail shots she had not planned on. So I would say the shoot went as smoothly as could have gone. Although during the shoot there were some technical issues with the laptop which we were able to work through fairly fast.
The second phase of this commercial photography shoot, on the following day, was a business lifestyle shoot for the company’splanned recruitment campaign. They wanted a feel for the company culture and environment; something I do a lot of.
The above and below images are composites since the ideal traffic flow at both locations would have happened earlier in the day. The post production allowed me to show the flow of employees that is often present in the building.
Most of the business lifestyle photography I shoot is not choreographed; because it would be impossibly disruptive or look too artificial if I tried to fake it with non-professional models. That said , when appropriate, I have no problem choreographing an image to represent a scene that might normally happen.
I figure my clients don’t pay me to wait around for the perfect moment . They pay me for results. My experience and judgment comes from many years of shooting annual reports and corporate sustainability reports.
Additionally, the client wanted to show their people in their environment so we just asked people we came across for a few minutes to make their portrait. Everything else was pretty much what was happening in real time. Although the client did not ask for environmental portraits, it seemed that portraits should have been part of the whole package.
Below are three portraits we made of employees. We had to be extremely mobile because there was a lot ground to cover, so setting up strobe lights was not an option. All of our environmental portraits where lit with small LED Lights or reflected speed lights which kept the look very natural.
The final day of shooting was at Ventura Foods processing facilities which was an industrial setting with a laboratory attached. Our lighting approach was similar in both environments and it made us much more productive because we could continue to move between sets at a good pace.
My style was pretty photojournalistic but with some subtle lighting and a lot of color metering to match the changing ambient lighting.
This commercial photography assignment was one of my favorite shoots of the year because of the variety of work I got to do and the disparate challenges involved. I was working on all four cylinders and I was happy with the images.
I get hired to shoot a lot of corporate events; sometimes for major corporations and sometimes for municipalities putting on public engagement events but in the end it is all about narrative and engagement. Continue reading “Corporate Event Photography”
Microvention called me to ask if I would be interested doing a healthcare photography project shooting images for their branding needs and content library.
The assignment was originally just images of surgeons using their technology but became much larger after we started talking. They saw my business lifestyle images as well as pharmaceutical work and thought I could handle all their needs during a three day shoot.
Phillip Chalk, art director at The Weekly Standard called me and asked me if I could shoot an editorial portrait of the Alt-Right artist Sabo, famous for his clever guerrilla street art mocking or poking fun at prominent political figures perceived to be on the left of the political spectrum.
He needed cover a photograph on his desk within five hours of the phone call and there was no budget for an assistant; sigh,…… So I rushed out of the house with all my lights knowing I probably would not have enough time to do a full editorial production, but I have been wrong before.
Part 1: Editorial Photography Assignment, Sulpher Springs, TX
The folks at Planet Magazine asked me to do a two-part editorial photography project for them in Texas. The subjects were Lufthansa executives in Huston and Vanessa Moreau-Sipiere who owns Centurion Freight Forwarding, in Sulpher Springs, TX, which specializes in shipping horses and cattle to the middle east.
I am told it is unusual for a woman to perform this role with middle eastern clients but she seems to fit right in. She actually flies with all the horses she and her family raise on the family ranch and delivers them personally. She is young, capable and runs the business alone. This is probably my favorite editorial photography assignment of the year.
On my first corporate photographyassignment for Virgin Galactic (The Space Ship Company) we had a really big work load to complete but they kept adding to it and I hate being rushed into a mediocre job.