Category Blog

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

A Portrait Of Martin’s Point Healthcare

healthcare

I can’t think of any other industry that touches everyone’s lives at one point or another like the healthcare industry does.

Not surprising that one of the constant themes of my work over the years has been photographing doctors, nurses and first responders. As a journalist I covered endless procedures, including open-skull brain surgery, in-home hospice and spent nights at hospitals and with paramedic crews.

Now I work for agencies and healthcare providers directly, creating imagery that increasingly focuses on patients and on desired outcomes (instead of showing doctors, show the healthy lives enabled by quality healthcare). It’s a fun challenge. That’s why I was excited to take on a more editorial-style project about Martin’s Point, a Maine based care center located right on Casco Bay.

Instead of focusing on patients, I would focus on the “story” of Martin’s Point–a series of images that speaks to the experience of being there, the environment and the mood of the main clinic. I did photograph some procedures and patient care, but my focus was on the feel of the place, on the caring interactions of providers and even behind-the-scenes images of places where patients don’t normally go. A multi-faceted portrait of healthcare in Maine.

The project was a step back to my editorial roots and a lot of fun. Please check out the complete story on my site to see all of the images.

Workplaces, Work Faces

Faces of Work

Work.  It’s always been a big focus of my life and definitely a focus of my professional body of images.   I photograph people at work, doing work, and showcasing the results of their work.   Work—hopefully, meaningful work—gives our lives value and helps us get up in the morning, ready to put in long hours away from family, from home and from friends.  I’m fascinated by what drives people to give so much blood, sweat and tears to companies they own or companies they punch a clock for.

To me there’s no better lens through which to view our changing society than by photographing the work people do and how they do it.

This is one of my favorite portraits from the last year, part of a series of images (here and here) documenting the changing look and feel of the modern workplace.  It’s of Nate Tower, who leads marketing strategy efforts at Energy Circle, a marketing and technology company and one of the fastest-growing businesses in Maine in 2016.

Stay tuned to this blog for additional work that I’ll be rolling out throughout 2017, showcasing the interesting workplaces…and the people I find there.