My Five: Awesome Mobile Apps For Photographers

In ‘My Five’ I write about five tools, tips, books or other resources I’m excited about sharing.  Enjoy!

More and more these days, I run my business on the go—from my phone, specifically.

These are a few of the iOS phone apps that I use on a regular basis in my photography business:

Photo Editing

mobile apps

Snapseed by Google – Perfect for quick edits of iPhone images before posting on social media. Is quick, intuitive and does a great job. The price—free—is nice too.

 

 

 

Location Scouting

mobile appsMap a Pic – Great for establishing a digital archive of scouted locations, especially for a landscape or portrait photographer looking to have a ready catalog of possible shoot locations. It also gives ‘sun insights’ that provide precise times for dawn, golden hour, night, etc. Note: the developer’s site appears to be down, but the app in the Apple App Store has been recently updated.

 

 

mobile appsSun Seeker  – This is a very cool app that shows you the sun’s position in the sky at any location and any time of day in the future. The useful part is that you can point your phone at a scene and an overlay will appear over the live view, showing you the path the sun will take through the sky.

 

 

 

Timers, remote releases

mobile appsCam Ranger – One of my favorite tools for triggering my camera remotely, doing time exposures and multiple exposures. Using my phone, I can change my camera settings, including ISO, and trigger remotely, then view the images on my phone. It’s a great, complete, versatile triggering solution especially useful for landscape, wildlife, architecture and real estate photographers. The app is free, but the Cam Ranger device will set you back a couple hundred bucks.

 

 

General/Workflow

mobile appsToo many to list here, but I’ll mention one: Evernote Evernote is a free app with a paid subscription option. It allows me to take notes, but I use it to create lighting recipes for repeat clients, to create packing lists for shoots, for keeping track of projects, contacts, write blog posts and to compile information I’m researching. This app is probably my most indispensable daily-use app.

 

 

You’ve probably got some go-to apps as well for your creative or photography work.  What are your favorites?

 

Check out my work at my Fitzgerald Photo website or on Inspire Maine.

Turbo-charge your marketing, one mug shot at a time

mug shot

“Make sure you get the mug shot,” I heard my photo editor say as I carefully packed my camera bag, preparing for my first official assignment as an intern with the (now much-diminished)  East Valley Tribune in Mesa, AZ. I was a student at nearby Arizona State University, where I was also photo editor of the student-run State Press.

I’d heard the term ‘mug’ before–it was how we referred to the 6 x 9 pica-sized tightly-cropped headshots often run in newspapers and commonly associated with the mug shots of suspects taken and distributed by law enforcement.

There was nothing glamorous, sexy or artistic about them. They were straight-forward and not what I had in my mind as I contemplated all of the possibilities of the now-forgotten assignment I was about to shoot.

But Paul, my photo editor, knew better. A cool, wide-angle portrait that showed a person tiny in the frame, looking off-camera in an angsty way, surrounded by the light and shadows of the environment might play well across three or four columns as a lead image on a page. But if that story jumped to a new page, as it often did, or if we later decided to run additional follow up stories on the same subject, that cool artistic image would be much less valuable. More useful in those instances was a standard, straight-on headshot portrait, or mug shot. I quickly learned that if I took those headshots along with the artistic pretty portraits, I could guarantee a happy photo editor and happy page designers too. Fail to do it, and I found that as the intern I was the one sent back to shoot a 10-second mug shot of a subject because other photographers (or I) had failed to do so the first time around.

 

mug shot

 

Of the many lessons I learned as a photo intern, this was one I never forgot. It made me think about the practical uses of images, rather than just the artistic merits. Both are important considerations. It also taught me that people have a fundamental desire to see and connect with other people, and that having a mug or a headshot in a story made people much more likely to read it, connect with it and understand it.

That was true then, and it continues to be true in the world of Linkedin, Facebook and online media channels. Rather than a two-second mugshot, I create headshot portraits that take quite a bit more time and care. These headshots are unsung heros that are both simple and indispensible for many professionals. They are the yeoman workers who do the heavy lifting when it comes to a personal or corporate brand. When done well, they promote and propel a brand, build trust and connection, all without shouting, ‘look at me’.

mug shot

I used to say that a good headshot can’t help you, but a bad one can sure hurt you. In this visual, social media world, when I see a professional profile with a missing or obviously amateur portrait, my mind wonders: is it because you aren’t professional, are anti-social or simply because you can’t be bothered? None are an appealing scenario.

A good headshot is a long way from the ‘mugs’ we used at the newspaper. They are portraits, created with purpose, intent and function in mind. They convey real information and some intangible emotion as well. In short, they leave a few things unsaid so that the viewer can form their own opinion. They are straight-forward, and they communicate, clearly. Instead of being used in a purely utilitarian way, they must shine in their own right. No longer mugs, but finely-crafted portraits.

 

mug shot

 

I have a sister site called Maine Headshot, dedicated solely to these kinds of portraits, mostly taken in-studio. My tagline is, “Portraits that Work”, because a good headshot should do just that–work for a brand 24/7, 365.

 

A Bigger Boat: Sabre Yachts

My previous experience with watercraft consists primarily of floating down Arizona’s Salt River on inner tubes lashed together with several coolers of beer, so I’m not the best judge of things boat-related.

That said, I’ve learned a lot by living in Maine—both by osmosis, I suppose, and by photographing and traveling on boats of all sizes and kinds.   Until I photographed a feature on Maine’s premiere yacht builder, Sabre Yachts, I’d never really been aboard a boat that was also a work of art.

My latest Made in Maine feature showcases some of the work going on at Sabre Yachts’ Raymond, ME facility—one of two they operate in Maine—and can be seen in the August edition of Down East Magazine.

It was tremendous fun meeting the people who work at Sabre (in many cases, for decades) and to see first-hand the craftsmanship they put into each of their custom boats.

sabre yachts

 

Bluet Winery for Down East Magazine

A finished bottle of sparkling blueberry wine from Bluet Winery.

 

 

The thing I love most about the work I do, without a doubt, is the chance to meet interesting people doing interesting things.

Michael Terrien and Eric Martin are childhood friends who moved West from Maine.  Both worked in California, learning how to make wine in Napa Valley.  Martin, a novelist, moved to North Carolina while Terrien remained in the California wine industry.  They remained close friends over the decades and last year partnered to create the Bluet Winery.  I was assigned to photograph the pair for the July issue of Down East Magazine, and headed to the winery in Jefferson, Maine.

On that cold, icy day, Terrien and Martin were “disgorging”—or removing sediment and yeast from  bottles of their wild blueberry sparkling wine—in the cave-like cellar of a 1820s barn.   It was interesting and cool, but dark, cramped and cold.    The only light came from two narrow windows set along one wall, and from a few work lights strung from beams here and there.   This was the type of editorial assignment that required the creative use of strobes.   Due to space constraints, I ended up using off-camera speedlights almost exclusively.

You can see all of the photos in Down East, but I thought I’d include some visuals that weren’t included in the article.  When inspecting one of the dark bottles of finished wine, I held it up to a work light and saw that the wine had a deep, ruby red color.   I quickly set up a couple of strobes and, using the cellar stone walls as a backdrop, made a hero image of the wine bottle on the work bench that highlighted the intense red hues of the wine.

I love working fast in these kinds of dynamic environments.  It’s a good example of having a basic plan, but being nimble enough to adjust to the realities on location.   In all my years of photographing wine in the Yakima Valley, I’ve never photographed the disgorging process (video below).   Along with the scars and scratches on my camera body, I’m sure there’s some dried blueberry wine, serving as a reminder of my visit to Bluet.

 

 

 

 

Michael Terrien exits the cellar in the 1820s barn where his blueberry wine is made. Brian Fitzgerald/Fitzgerald Photo

 

Sealing a wine barrel for storage by burning a thin strip of sulfer inside.  Brian Fitzgerald/Fitzgerald Photo

 

Preparing to disgorge yeast and sediment from a bottle of Bluet wine. Brian Fitzgerald/Fitzgerald Photo

 

Michael Terrien of Bluet Winery.  Brian Fitzgerald/Fitzgerald Photo

 

Interested in more of my work?  Check out my portfolio at Fitzgerald Photo.

 

 

 

Creative Portraits for iBec Creative

Creative Portraits

 

When your client is a marketing agency, things tend to get interesting.   I’ve had the fortune to work with a bunch of great creative types at agencies small and large, and I find that collaborating with a talented team of creatives leads to great results.

iBec Creative is a Portland-based web design and development agency that I’ve worked with several times over the years on various client projects—always a fun experience. Recently they hired me to produce creative portraits of their own team for use on their newly-redesigned website.

It’s one thing for a creative agency to choose you to photograph for their clients, and another when being hired to photograph the agency itself. Given the many talented photographers iBec has worked with, I was honored to be asked to help.

iBec already knew the look they wanted: contemporary, fun and with a fashion sensibility.  They opted to be photographed on white seamless in the studio.  The lighting was simple, but purposeful: dramatic and directional, casting shadows on the background. Basically, it was like photographing a fashion shoot, but with less fans, stylists and featuring coders and programmers instead of models.

The idea was to photograph real moments, rather than static, overly-posed formal shots. The team did great (even those who probably don’t love having their photos taken). I love the variety of shots we got, and like the way iBec used them on their site: a black and white grid, overlaid with patterns that reference the areas each member specializes in, from web design and development to application prototyping to digital marketing.  The team page reflects the cool people and personalities that make iBec tick.  See more of the images, below.

 

Creative Portraits

 

To see more of my work, including many more creative portraits–please click here to visit my portfolio site, Fitzgerald Photo.  Thank you!

Client Work: Catalyst Paper

 

Catalyst Paper

 

I’ve been working with North American printing paper manufacturer Catalyst Paper for a couple of years now to produce content for their annual sustainability reports. They operate paper mills across the United States and Canada, including one in Maine.

They put together beautiful materCatalyst Paperials that highlight the work the company is doing to better manage resources, be more efficient and safety-conscious. The images themselves tell a story about the connection the company fosters–with the communities they live in, the people that work at the plants, and with the environment that makes their products possible.

In other words, the story of Catalyst Paper has less to do with paper, and more to do with people, environment and community.

This kind of project illustrates perfectly the need to be able to solve the complex issues that come up often when doing location industrial photography: challenging lighting, last-minute changes to schedule and location, and a sometimes unpredictable and active environment in which to photograph.

In other words, I love it.

Below are some of the images taken for the project:

 

 

Catalyst Paper

 

Catalyst Paper

 

 

Dove Tail Bats Makes it in the Major Leagues

Across the country, spring has begun and with it, a new season of major-league baseball. In Maine, where spring is more concept than reality (often referred to as Mud Season), baseball is a sign that warmer days are ahead even if the weather hasn’t yet gotten the memo.

Maine, a staunch member of Red Sox Nation, now has another reason to get excited about the sport. The Dove Tail Bat Company, headquartered in tiny Shirley Mills, Maine–not far from Moosehead Lake, smack-dab in moose country–produces one-of-a-kind, custom-designed bats for the major leagues that look more like art and less like tools for knocking the stuffing out of a ball. Increasingly, across the major leagues, they’ve done just that.

Down East Magazine sent me to photograph owner Paul Lancisi, a former baseball player himself who once tried out for the Red Sox, along with his crew as they turned Maine hardwoods–ash, maple and birch–into glossy things of beauty.

Please read more about the DTB story in the May issue of Down East Magazine.  I had a great time getting to know Paul and his talented crew.  See below for additional images.

 

dove tail bat

 

 

dove tail bat

 

dove tail bat

 

dove tail bat

 

dove tail bat

 

 

dove tail bat

 

Changing Mood By Photographing Opposites

mood

Before I owned a studio full of lighting gear and travelled with assistants, I spent years as a photojournalist who owned little more than a Domke F-2 bag with two camera bodies.  When you boil things down, I’m a location photographer who happens to have a studio.

When on location, I often have to travel quickly, adjust on the fly and create visual gold out of thin air.   When it comes to using light, I’ve learned to work fast and to think in opposites.  More on that in a moment.  The advantages of also having a studio means that I can test and experiment with my lighting before going on scene, which is a huge plus.

A recent collaboration with Virginia, a local actress looking for theatrical images, demonstrates the idea of “opposites” well.  The challenge was to create a series of distinct looks in the studio in a relatively short period of time, relying only on lighting and a few key elements. As a mental exercise, I try to challenge myself to create looks that are visual “opposites”–i.e., if I photograph a scene heavily lit, then I’ll try one completely using natural light. If something is very dark toned, I’ll try one scenario that is all light or white tones. It’s a way of expressing something completely different even with the same subject and location.

My favorite image of the day was of Virginia wrapped in a flowing red scarf, blowing in the breeze. In the absence of the background, the red scarf gives life and movement to the image and I love how it turned out. Then there’s the quiet moment of Virginia, looking dark with warm, low-contrast tones. Contrast these with images where she is looks unflinchingly at the frame, a study in bright tones.

One space, a few elements, and deliberate lighting to help convey a different mood. Virginia knocked it out of the park.

 

mood

 

mood

 

 

Everything I Know I Learned From ASMP (and Spiderman)

asmp

This week I was honored to have my work and an interview published by the ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) on their blog, Strictly Business.

I’ve been a member of the ASMP since 2007. That was a big year of transition for me, as I built my commercial and editorial business in a part of the country in which I was a relative newcomer. I had decided to quit my job as Assistant Managing Editor at the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, ending a 13-year career in newspapers. One month later, I did just that.  I had been a freelancer, a “stringer”, a staff photojournalist, a chief photographer and photo editor. I’d covered stories in places as varied as Hong Kong, Russia and Sedona, Arizona. I’d been embedded with troops in Iraq. I’d won lots of national and regional awards.

It was a complete and total blast.

Then, it was over.

Ultimately,  I left newspapers because I wanted to photograph and create content again.  I felt that doing so as an independent professional would give me greater flexibility, control and creative freedom to tell the types of visual stories that I wanted to tell.

Of course, with greater freedom comes greater responsibility, or so says Spider-Man.

As I contemplated building my new career, I knew I’d need help. Help to understand how businesses talk and what they need. Help to navigate the contracts and licensing that would keep me in business and my clients protected and happy. After a career in newspaper photojournalism, I knew two things about business: jack and squat. While I still have much to learn, I have a successful business working with brands I love–and it’s due in no small part to the tutelage and assistance of the ASMP and the help of many talented photographers.

Behind the Curtain with Maine Freemasons

Maine Freemasons

Having a camera is like having a Golden Ticket into the lives of others. It’s opened doors on people, experiences and places that otherwise I’d have never met, done or seen.

It’s an honor to be allowed into peoples’ lives, and it’s a trust that I hold very sacred. That’s why I was so excited that my camera recently opened another door: one that led to the Freemasons of Maine. I was chosen to produce an initial set of images for a website redesign the Grand Lodge of Maine has been planning for some time.

I should note that my sum of knowledge of fraternal organizations stems from brief visits to my father’s Elk Lodge as a kid and a long-ago viewing of the movie National Treasure.  I’m pretty sure neither qualify as research.   I was eager to meet real Masons and photograph some of the actual ceremonies in Portland’s gorgeous Masonic Temple.

Freemasonry has a long and storied history in Maine, with roots going back to the first lodge, chartered in Falmouth in 1762. Portland’s Triangle Lodge 1 still has their original charter, signed by Paul Revere in 1796 (yes, that Paul Revere).

The Masons still attract men—young and old—drawn by the many traditions and looking for camaraderie, connection and brotherhood.

You might not have suspected as much, looking at the Maine Masons website, which was in need of a redesign and new visuals. Most images they had showed members in tuxedos, wearing Masonic aprons in a formal lodge setting.  Although I did photograph some of these same things, one important part of the project I’ve done so far with them is a portrait series of Masons in Maine, both in and outside of the lodge setting.  Work is ongoing, but I’ve had a great time so far meeting with the members and learning about the organization–a peek behind the velvet curtain, so to speak.

What I found was a thriving group of individuals of all ages who are devoted to each other and to their community.  I plan to be able to add additional images soon.

Maine Freemasons

 

Maine Freemasons

 

 

Maine Freemasons