Taking it to the next level with commercial drones

Commercial Drone View
Kennebec Valley Community College

Fitzgerald Photo is an FAA-certified commercial drone operator

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are almost 900,000 unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, registered in the United States. For reference, in 2018—just four years ago—there were 110,000 drones registered domestically. Globally the total drone market is expected to grow from $8.15 billion to $47.38 billion by 2029, as reported by Fortune Business Insights.

Businesses small and large are taking increasing advantage of drones, for real estate, construction, inspection and other purposes.

Starting in 2021, Fitzgerald Photo added full aerial capability for both stills and video coverage. We’re FAA-licensedand fully insured for any commercial projects. The ability to have mobile, aerial cameras has been a game-changer for many of our clients, who can now get professional-level imagery of their locations and operations from a unique perspective. Having views that show scale and context easily also makes it easier to tell the stories we create with stills and motion.

Drones can operate year-round, though their use is affected by weather conditions. In New England spring and summer is a great time of year to create timeless, evergreen aerial imagery for your company or brand.

Contact us for more information about how commercial drones can benefit your brand.

 

© Brian Fitzgerald

Don’t Hire Me

Firefighter mowing
© Brian Fitzgerald

 

This is strange advice, especially coming from a photographer.

It may indeed make sense to hire a professional photographer for your brand.  It just might be that the timing is premature.

Signs that you might be pushing too hard to hire away your problems instead of thinking them through first:

  • False Urgency:  An arbitrary deadline is put in place to pressure you to make a decision before you’re ready to do so.  This may be dictated by the photographer or marketing agency, or other party.
  • Bandwagon Thinking:  Pressure to hire a photographer because it’s  ‘what everyone else is doing’.
  • Inner Voice:  A nagging, growing sense that you’ll have to blow your budget because the shoot wasn’t planned for.
  • Lack of Clarity:  You can’t describe succinctly (in a sentence or two) the types of images you need. Even if you don’t know what specific images you might need, you should have a specific use for the images in mind.
  • Unclear Goals: Are you trying to build brand awareness? Or to sell a service or product? The former has no measurable ROI, the latter does. Each requires a different visual approach and different strategies.

Marketing plans, including hiring a photographer can have a certain momentum that’s hard to stop once begun. Make sure you’re considering the downside as well as the upside associated with hiring a professional photographer. These obviously include the expense of doing so but crucially include the time it takes to plan and execute shoot(s) properly to ensure you get what you pay for.

Colby College: The Lunder Collection

 

Peter and Paula Lunder, © Brian Fitzgerald

 

It was my pleasure to meet and photograph two amazing Mainers, Peter and Paula Lunder, a few months ago.  The couple were sitting for video interviews for Colby College, and my task was to photograph them inside the wing of the Colby College Museum of Art that bears their name.  The couple are longtime supporters of Colby College and lifetime members of the board of trustees.  In 2007 they pledged their collection of more than 500 pieces of American art from the 19th through 21st centuries to create the Lunder Collection, where I would be photographing them. 

Meeting and photographing such an interesting couple was the fun part—but it was also necessarily brief.  We’d have less than 20 minutes—perhaps much less—to take several different portraits.  Given the nature of being around priceless art, we were limited in where we could set up and even how much power our lights could emit lest we damage light-sensitive artwork.    We arrived early, formulated a game plan and and set up several different options well ahead of time.   The Lunders were then delayed,  which cut a bit into our planned shooting time.  Thanks to my assistant, Colby student Joseph Bui, we were able to photograph the Lunders—three different setups—inside of the seven minutes remaining to us.

I love the challenge of creating storytelling environmental portraits on location.  Even more, I enjoy meeting people who have dedicated themselves to living lives filled with meaning the way the Lunders clearly have.  

 

 

 

The magic of creative constraints

portrait
Parivash Rohani, @Brian Fitzgerald

 

One of the best ways to engage one’s creativity is to first strip away options.   Constraint, not necessity, is the mother of creativity.   

For portrait photographers, the focus of the image is the subject.  Yet background elements and interesting locations help to tell a story and can result in a more compelling portrait.   They can also be a crutch.   One piece of advice I give to aspiring portrait photographers:  learn to shoot portraits with no background. 

The artist Platon is famous for his high-key white seamless black and white portraits.  They are so simple—just the subject, often shot with a very simple lighting setup—but each one tells a story and compels the viewer to linger over every portion of the frame.   

When you strip away all of the choices, you focus on the essential.  When you strip away the excess background elements,  the focus is solely on the subject.  

The photographer is forced to focus on connecting with the person being photographed and helping them to carry the weight of the image through expression and mood, captured in fleeting moments. 

New England Hyperbaric Oxygen

We recently completed video production for New England Hyperbaric Oxygen.  Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves the use of a special pressurized chamber to heal the body. It’s often used for wound healing, but also to treat traumatic brain injuries like concussion from sports or accidents.

We produced a series of videos showing the process at work as well as hearing from patients who continue to use the treatment to great success. In addition, we produced an instructional video for use with patients who use portrable chambers at home. Lastly, we created several short video stories for Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter so that New England Hyperbaric Oxygen could release those as part of their reveal campaign.

Although the long-form videos will be released later this year, I’m able to share an example of the short, 30-second social media video used for Instagram now.  

Creating a mood with cinematic portraits

Maine Game Warden
© Brian Fitzgerald

As a longtime commercial portrait photographer, I’m thrown into situations where a standard formal portrait isn’t called for.  What’s needed is a portrait that focuses on a subject and has a more “cinematic”—a treatment and approach that may feel more ‘movie-like’, using precise lighting and positioning.  The result is a dynamic, rich portrait with a contemporary feel that grabs attention. 

 

 

Showcase: InterMed, PA Portraits

I’m happy to share some environmental portraits I created recently of new InterMed CEO Roger Poitras, along with his executive team.   InterMed is one of Maine’s largest doctor practices and operates primary care facilities in South Portland, Yarmouth and Portland.  The assignment was to capture environmental portraits of Poitras that incorporated aspects of InterMed’s landmark Marginal Way building.     

 

 

 

executive team
InterMed executive leadership team (l-r) Stephanie Peters, Bill Ferentz, Roger Poitras and Stephanie Mills. @Brian Fitzgerald

 

 

 

Tips for great team portraits

lumber mill
© Brian Fitzgerald

The dreaded group portrait. Just the prospect of wrangling potentially dozens of subjects strikes fear in the hearts of many a photographer and can result in images that recall an old-school wedding party photo.

Team portraits in particular are a challenge for companies whose amazing image is no sooner published than invariably one member decides to quit or retire. Such portraits may have a limited shelf life, then, but still can be a powerful way to convey a mood and feeling around the collective that makes your company successful.

Allowing enough time for the portrait is critical. Lighting—enough to make your team members look great and minimize any distracting details in the background—is a must. Careful posing of team members can make even large groups look manageable: I do this by arranging large groups into smaller clusters of people, typcially no larger than five, placed at varying distances from the lens to create centers of interest. Last, backgrounds are critically important to telling the story of your team and the group being photographed. Keep them simple, graphic and relevant.

You may not be able to control how long your employees will stay with the company, but with some planning you can turn your team portraits into something they’re proud to be a part of.

Don’t Just Do It: create a winning social media strategy

Dog on Copier
© Brian Fitzgerald

 

If you’re responsible for marketing at your company (or one-person shop), one single word can induce sweating, bouts of self-doubt and even some wistful headshaking: content.

Since online content platforms (i.e., social media) are both inexpensive and readily available, any bottlenecks in producing consistent, high-quality (and brand-appropriate) content is usually on the production side (you), not on the delivery side.

So what’s your content strategy? What tactics will you need to take to produce great content and to share it consistently? When you hire a photographer to produce amazing images and video, are you asking questions like these?

You should be.

Tactics—like hiring a photographer—are easy and fun, or at least distracting and engrossing. They are all about the ‘doing’ part and it’s tempting to skip ahead. But strategy happens first. What are your social media goals? That is, what does your brand want to actually accomplish, long term? All of the following goals require different tactics:

Brand Awareness
Also known as, Getting Your Name Out There. Your content should be authentic to your brand, convey your brand personality and values…ie., your ‘voice’. It shouldn’t be overly promotional.

Grow Your Audience
You have to engage on your social media channels, and looking for ways to introduce your brand to people who haven’t heard of you before. Monitoring channels for specific keyword phrases will alert you to conversations that you might be able to contribute value to.

Engage Your Community
How are you interacting and staying top of mind with your current subscribers? Asking questions, being responsive and promoting user generated content can all help.

Generate Leads and sales
Integrate your service offerings and products into your social profiles. Run exclusive deals for your followers. Alert customers to new products and promos.

Drive traffic
Promotional posts and social ads that point viewers back to your website.

One last thing. You can’t do all of it all at once. Pick just two of the goals from the above list, and work on those exclusively as you measure your results.

Whether you are creating original content yourself, hiring a professional photographer, or simply curating and sharing, make sure to keep your goals in mind.

The Decisive Portrait Moment

Maine Deputy

 

Photography is all about light, of course—the literal meaning of the word in Greek is ‘drawing with light’.  Without light, there can be no photography.

But what makes photography remarkable and powerful is something else. While video and film are all about the story—how all the individual parts contribute to the narrative, the still image is all about moment.

Of the thousands of images you’ve seen or created in your lifetime, what makes the relatively few images stand out as special?

I’d bet it’s that these images capture a fleeting, authentic, remarkable moment. Moments can be a shared interaction between mother and daughter; they can be a simple expression in the eyes or on the lips. A moment can be a gesture, but it can also be a ray of sunlight hitting the perfect spot. It’s a person caught in mid-leap over a puddle, ala Bresson. It’s that peak moment of joy, of anguish, or of maximum exertion during a sporting event.

It can be hard to define in words what a photographic moment is, but you undoubtedly know it when you see it. Moments can be momentous or quiet and subtle. The impact of a true visual moment, however, is immediate and profound. It connects with the viewer and pulls them in.

If you want your images to be remembered, be attuned to what photography great Henri Cartier-Bresson termed the ‘Decisive Moment’. Don’t take photos: capture moments.