Category Blog

Client Work: iBec Creative

ibec creative

One of my favorite things about commercial photography is working with agencies like iBec Creative, a web design and digital marketing agency located in Portland, Maine. I’ve worked with iBec and owner Becky McKinnell to create original imagery for their clients for several years and it’s always been an enjoyable partnership.

The difference this winter, of course, is that I had the opportunity to turn my lens on iBec itself. The company has grown impressively over the past decade and now wanted some imagery that showcased their greatest assett—their people—and the environment in which they do their work.

I spent just a portion of one day with the team; with the goal of producing editorial-style images and portraits that captured the energy, environment and feeling of working there.

Some clients prefer having a firm shot list in mind for a shoot, but iBec was comfortable with letting me photograph whatever I wanted, and to tell their story in my own way.

Here are a few of the final images—a sort of a ‘day in the life’ of a modern creative workplace.  Enjoy!

 

ibec creative

ibec creative

ibec creative

ibec creative

ibec creative

iBec Creative

 

 

Five Clicks: Inspiring Reads for Cool Kids

I read, a lot.  But, that wasn’t always the case.  A few years ago I realized I was reading less and less, and decided that was a problem I’d like to do something about.  At that point, with a new business, a young child and plenty of ‘stuff to do’, I was averaging five or less books a year.

Last year, I read 46. “Read” is a relative term, since I consume less and less physical books each year and more e-books and audio books. As a result, I feel like my brain is being exercised and stimulated and the ideas and enjoyment I’ve gleaned from reading has made a big difference in my quality of life (and the way I do business).

Here are five of my favorite reads from last year (2017). All of these books held my interest from start to finish, of course, but more importantly they stayed with me long after I put them down.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiate As If Your Life Depended Upon It, Chris Voss
Former FBI Chris Voss takes you inside actual hostage negotiations and then explains the psychology behind his tactics. Then he uses real-world examples of negotiation that are a little more useful for the rest of us: negotiating a pay raise, a good price on a car, or dealing with contracts and estimates. I love books that change your perspective in fundamental ways, and this book definitely did that.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
If you are a closet nerd and/or are fascinated by 80s-era geek references, this book is for you (If you liked Stranger Things at all, you’ll love this book). I’m not going to spoil the story here, but I would highly recommend that you listen to the audio book version. It’s narrated by Will Wheaton, of Star Trek: Next Generation fame, and brilliantly so.

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, Ryan Holiday
I read anything I can from Ryan Holiday, all the while regarding his intellect with a bit of envy. This book is an introduction of sorts to the philosophy of the Stoicisim, repackaged for consumtion by modern audiences. The amazing thing is that, due to the nature of stoicism, it doesn’t need much cleaning up to resonate. Worth a read or a listen (I did, four times).

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, Oliver Burkeman
If you’ve listened to gurus like Tony Robbins or even charismatic positive preachers like Joel Osteen, you know what positive thinking is all about. I’m not against positive thinking at all—I’m a fan in general of positive thinking but always felt that there was something missing. Sure, the “Secret” makes you feel good, but….how the hell does visualizing success and saying positive affirmations actually make you happy? This book explores what Burkeman calls the ‘negative path to happiness’, in which the negative thoughts in one’s head and the negative realities of life aren’t sugarcoated or ignored, but recognized and confronted. Great read.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg
There are so many books out there on forming positive habits and breaking destructive ones, but this one—written by NY Times investigative reporter Charles Duhigg—breaks down the research behind habit formation and gives science-based tools to start forming better habits–today. It helped me to stop getting overwhelmed and to start taking action on great habits that I’ve managed to keep, now many months later.

Why Story Matters More Than Ever

brand stories
Alex Bessler, a young Mason at the Triangle Lodge No. 1 in Portland, Maine. These portraits of Maine Masons help tell the story of an evolving and dynamic fraternal organization with a deep sense of tradition and history.

What makes a good image a great image?

Conventional wisdom is that great images should be perfectly formed, flawless, masterpieces of technical expertise combined with a singular artistic sensibility.

If that were true, Robert Capa’s blurry, darkroom-damaged images taken during the Allied landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day would have never seen the light of day.

Instead, they are considered among the most iconic images of the 20th century. Once seen, the haunting images are never forgotten.

Capa’s images are compelling not because they are perfect, but because they tell a story of the hardships, danger and drama of war.

Brands looking to create connection with fans should keep in mind that when it comes to great imagery, ‘story’ is Job One.

Visual content—whether still images or video—should reflect a unique brand story.

All the rest of it—technical aspects like framing, layering, rule of thirds—are just icing on the cake. For some brands, where refinement and elegance is part of their ‘story’, such precise technicality becomes a critical part of their story. For other brands, images that are too highly polished and contrived would be out of place.

So when you think about your brand and the images you’d choose to represent it, think first about what your brand story is and approach your content creation with that story in mind.

brand stories

Showcase: GMRI

GMRI

I’m excited to share a small project I worked on last year with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), based in Portland, ME.

I’m used to working with education clients, but GMRI is unique. They manage to blend their missions of performing world-class science and cultivating scientific literacy, all while working with Maine’s coastal communities whose economies rely on Maine’s coastal fisheries.

The institute’s facility stands along a stretch of Portland’s working waterfront.  It’s a busy stop for fifth-grade schoolchildren from around Maine who experience the hands-on, high-tech lab known as LabVenture.  Meanwhile, researchers collect samples of acquatic life in Casco Bay, do cutting-edge research on the marine ecosystem, and work with fishermen, retailers, restaurateurs and others whose livelihood depends upon the health of the coastal waters.

GMRI

Client Work: Bangor Savings Bank

Bangor Savings Bank

 

Over the past year I’ve been lucky to work with Bangor Savings Bank on a variety of shoots showcasing their small business customers from around Maine.

If you’ve ever been into a Bangor branch in Maine, you’ll have seen images of their business clients prominently displayed. When I first moved to Maine I remember loving their campaign because it showed real Maine people in authentic, real ways. In truth, that campaign is the reason I choose to step through their doors and opened my first business checking account, way back when.

I’d guess the campaign still inspires people to sign up for accounts, just it did for me.

I’m excited to be able to show off the first of the images—taken of Ryan and Richard Carey, owners of Portland’s Noble BBQ last summer—featured on the Bangor website this week.   The brothers were fun to work with and their barbecue sandwiches, incredible.

2017: A Look Back

As fall morphs into winter and the holidays begin, it’s a good time to reflect on the year that is coming to a close.

It’s been a great year, though I’m getting a little sick of the term “fake news”. Who’s with me?

I’m very thankful for my many clients, both in Maine and elsewhere. Among other thing I had the opportunity this year to photograph:  a luxury high-end yacht company, a major-league bat-maker, an immigrant and former refugee from Egypt; cancer survivors and caregivers, Portland restaurateurs, a bunch of Maine Masons including Bob Crowley of Survivor fame; students in Port Clyde; some really cool structures, and many, many fun and interesting people whose portraits I made both on location and in the studio—200 and counting, to be precise.

The greatest thing about doing what I do is the inspiring and fascinating people that I get to meet.  The images I get to create are kind of the bonus extra, like the chips that come with my Chipotle burrito.

On a personal note, my daughter Maggie is gunning for ‘high honors’ in her fifth grade year and the smart money is definitely riding on her. She’s way smarter than dad. Beth finished her intensive year of training to become a full stack web developer and already has a dozen clients (my plan to buy a limited-edition golden Leica, a photo vest and fedora, and then retire to a life of gentleman photographer is well on track).

Until that happens, though, I’m going to keep on doing what I love and what keeps my clients happy.

So here’s to an eventful year and one that I’m grateful to so many for—my amazing clients, my family, and to the efforts of so many folks besides myself.

 

Client Showcase: Architectural Images for Zachau Construction

maine architectural images

I’m happy to show off architectural images I recently completed for Freeport, ME-based Zachau Construction, a builder of some very cool and unique properties in Maine and elsewhere.

The wide-ranging project included architectural imagery of some of their projects to showcase on their website.  Some of the images involved photographing people in the environment and others were more ‘straight’ architecture.

Now that the work has been published, I can release some of it here. I really enjoy the technical challenges inherent in doing this kind of work for my clients.

 

maine architectural images

 

 

maine architectural images

 

maine architectural images

 

maine architectural images

 

maine architectural images

A Healing Place: The Dempsey Center

healing This spring and summer I had the pleasure of working with the amazing Dempsey Center in Lewiston, Maine. The non-profit provides wellness and other support services to those whose lives have been touched by cancer—providing everything from wig-fittings to counseling to classes on topics like healthy cooking and yoga. It’s an amazing, healing place. Cancer has touched me and my family in very direct and personal ways, and so I was even more eager to find out how the Dempsey Center works and how it changes the lives of the many people who come through its doors.

healing

Once I was there, photographing, I realized that the space itself was as important as many of the wellness activities they offer. It’s a peaceful place of healing, with spaces to sit alone or with others, and plenty of quiet places for meditation and reflection.

As a photographer, it was an important reminder that the location and setting are a critical part of the story.

As I worked to tell the story of the Dempsey Center, I met and interacted with many of their staff and clients. It was truly inspiring to meet these folks and to hear their personal stories—all unique, all extremely personal.

It’s my hope that these images capture at least some of the feel of the Dempsey Center and of the wonderful people who work and heal there. Head over to Fitzgerald Photo to check out more images.

healing

Pho-tastic: Cong Tu Bot

The Portland food scene keeps getting better and better.

This fall I was fortunate enough to photograph Cong Tu Bot, a Vietnamese restaurant owned by Vien Dobui and Jessica Sheahan, published in the November issue of Down East Magazine and written by Food Editor Joe Ricchio (years ago, Joe was also involved in one of my favorite shoots of all time, involving a bottle of white wine and a Russian Ural sidecar motorcycle).  But, I digress.

Back to Cong Tu Bot.

The colors of the walls, the plastic chairs and the decor makes it feel like you’re walking into a food stall in Saigon.  The food looks (and tastes) amazing too. Jessica and Vien, who are married as well as business partners,  operated several pop-up Asian noodle bars in Portland, honing their offerings, before opening Cong Tu Bot.   Their dedication and experience definitely shows.

So pick up a copy of the latest Down East to read more.  Better yet,  just cut to the chase, and get over to Cong Tu Bot.

 

cong tu bot

cong tu bot

 

 

 

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.