Linda Holtsinger, 77, Preble Street Resource Center volunteer. ©Brian Fitzgerald
Fundamentally, making a difference starts with doing something that has an impact on someone else. This may entail something huge and world-changing (think of something like Matt Damon’s Water.Org), but more typically it’s a small kindness, a comment, a small gesture extended from one person to another. Small acts of this sort occur all around us, and they usually remain unseen and unknown except by those directly involved.
That’s why I loved being part of Down East Magazine’s annual “Maine Gives Back” feature published this November. I got to meet and photograph three remarkable Mainers whose efforts are changing the lives of others: 77-year-old soup kitchen volunteer Linda Holtsinger, who despite the pandemic never misses a day of volunteering; Rose Barboza, a mother who decided to create the nonprofit website Black Owned Maine as her contribution to racial and social justice; and Elizabeth McLellan, whose Portland-based nonprofit Partners for World Health distributes donations of needed medical supplies around the world.
Truly one of those assignments that energizes me and makes me feel better about humanity in general. Below are some of my images used in the issue, but read about many others in the November 2020 Down East Magazine feature, “Maine Gives Back”.
Elizabeth McLellan in a warehouse filled with medical supplies destined for countries in need around the world. © Brian Fitzgerald
Rose Barboza, founder of Black Owned Maine. © Brian Fitzgerald
Behind the Scenes is a quick snapshot of where I’ve been and what I’m doing on location. Enjoy!
Beginning in 2019, I worked with the great people at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (MDIFW) to create location portraits for an ongoing recruitment campaign. These portraits were to feature the game wardens, biologists, educators, cartographers and others who together protect Maine’s wildlife, habitat and the people who enjoy them.
It’s hard to imagine it would be difficult to find people willing to sign up for a job where their office is the great outdoors, but being part of the MDIFW team also means sacrificing physical comfort—especially on winter days spent outside when the thermometer never breaks north of zero degrees. And as with any job in law enforcement, Maine game wardens must confront difficult and dangerous situations, often in remote places.
I spent some very cold days with a few of the MDIFW team members at several locations around central and southern Maine. It was a blast. My favorite kinds of portraits are those that rely on mood, connection and place to create a real moment and tell a story about a person and a place. I hope in some small way that these images successfully do just that. My hope is to capture a sense of each person’s personality while showing the variety of environments they work in—their ever-changing office—day in and day out, in every season of the year.
I’m happy to be able to show some of the work I did for NAI The Dunham Group and agency East Shore Studio & Print this past year. The goal was to feature the commercial spaces of actual Dunham clients for an ongoing ad campaign. Rather than photographing static rooms devoid of people, we tried to show how the spaces enable each business to do optimal work and thrive.
When the ostensible subject of a photo shoot is an inanimate object (like a building, a space or a product), or some generic concept —technology services or real estate, for example—the best way to provide emotional connection is to show how the object, space or concept actually impacts people. People just like you and me. Every good sales professional knows: focusing on features rather than benefits leads to more sales. If you can show how something benefits people—or changes their lives, for better or worse—you create a more powerful, resonant image in people’s minds that stays with them.
These are just simple images, but the concept and the goal are the same. The following are part of the ad campaign, showing people at work in some prominent and growing Maine companies. Two of those companies (clothing maker American Roots, of Westbrook and outdoor gear manufacturer Flowfold, of Gorham), have pivoted during the pandemic to produce PPE—protective gear-—for front-line workers and individuals. The other is Guideline, a 401(k) technology solutions provider.
Shoot Day is finally here.
You’ve planned for success, arranged for staff, customers, or talent to be on hand. Your space is cleaned and you’ve gotten confirmation from all parties including the photographer. The day you’ve been planning for has finally arrived.
The adage, “failure to plan is planning to fail’ is an apt one when it comes to a shoot. Avoiding details and decisions until the day the photographer and crew show up means, at a minimum, leaving the success of your shoot to chance.
If you have a talented photographer working with you, you may get lucky. They will likely get interesting images that accurately show what is happening in your business.
What you won’t get—except by accident—is purposeful imagery that goes beyond the obvious and allows you to propel your brand visually. This kind of work only comes from planning and conscious decision making before shoot day.
An experienced pro photographer will not arrive without a plan (even if it’s a minimal, stripped-down one), formulated in communication with you beforehand.
It’s not the size or complexity of the plan that matters; it’s whether there is a plan at all, whether the right questions are asked and answered, and whether the plan is appropriate to the task at hand.
A portrait shoot requires different planning and approaches than an event shoot. But what unifies them is knowing beforehand what are the deliverables, the must-haves, and what would (in your mind) make the shoot a success. Assuming these are in place, your shoot day is on its firmest possible footing. The hardest work should already be done. Today is the culmination of the work done days or weeks before.
You can expect the photographer and crew to arrive at least an hour before the start of your shoot. If it’s a complicated production or involves video, this setup period could be several hours rather than just one.
The photographer will go over the basic shoot plan and will be in constant contact with you or a designated point of contact throughout the shoot. If you’ve planned to be involved in the direction of the shoot, or to view images as they are being created, there will be constant interaction as the shoot progresses. Otherwise, there may be short updates as the shoot progresses.
If changes occur over the course of the day—as invariably they do—the photographer will update you and if decisions need to be made, will be ready with recommendations and options.
What you should expect from your photographer, always, is great communication. If they are unclear about something, they will ask you rather than making assumptions that lead to reshoots later on.
Your photographer is also there to protect you. This means, among other things, managing the set and crew. This means not putting people or equipment in dangerous or damaging situations. This means having commercial insurance sufficient to protect you and their crew in the case of an accident. It also entails ensuring model and property releases get filled out by the necessary parties, protecting everyone in the process. On a less dramatic but no less important level, it means being a de facto member of your team; mindful of situations that are good for you and avoiding that which isn’t. On scene, we are your ambassador and act accordingly when dealing with your team members and/or customers.
At the end of the day, you can expect that the shoot location will look the same as it did prior to the photographer’s arrival hours earlier. I joke that our job is primarily to move stuff around and occasionally we pick up a camera. We want to leave behind a positive experience and not create extra and unnecessary work for anyone else. Your brand is our brand and on shoot day we’re all on the same team.
Want to know more about our process? You might be interested in our posts on the right questions to ask yourself before hiring a photographer , what to expect once you’ve hired a professional photographer or what happens after your shoot day ends.
Dove Tail Bats by Fitzgerald Photo
During the past two months I’ve been busy with ongoing projects, especially with video production of work I started before the stay-at-home orders shut things down.
I love the impact of the still image and it’s my primary way of telling stories visually. Often, a crafted campaign built on remarkable still imagery is the most effective and impactful way to tell a story. Other times, a single still image alone isn’t sufficient and that’s when I turn, increasingly, to video storytelling.
I’m excited to release a new video showing Dove Tail Bats founder Paul Lancisi in his manufacturing facility in Shirley Mills, ME. This was part of a photo assignment for Down East Magazine. While I love the portraits I produced for the magazine, I decided to incorporate video as well because it better conveyed the processes that make Dove Tail Bats so special.
I love how Lancisi pivoted from a woodworking business to one that embraces his lifelong passion for baseball. What he and his wife Theresa have created is amazing: a Maine company that crafts beautiful, one-of-a-kind baseball bats sought after by major league hitters and top college athletes. The bats might look great hung on a wall above the fireplace, but—just like Dove Tail Bats—are destined for greater things.
It’s inspiring to be able to show Maine companies doing such remarkable work and and achieving great success far outside of our state.
Ready to level up your storytelling content with photography, videography and multimedia? Contact Fitzgerald Photo to see if we’re a good fit for your brand or project.
These are extraordinary times. Extraordinary for many reasons, yet perhaps the most striking is that most of us are being asked to do our best by…doing nothing at all.
At least, it feels that way.
Staying at home. Keeping our physical distance from others. Helping our kids, our loved ones and trying to stay sane ourselves.
Life is not normal for us. We may be staying in one place, but we aren’t exactly doing nothing. We are willing ourselves to not take action so that we can protect others, often at great personal and financial cost.
But what about those who don’t have the choice—whether by necessity or by mandate—to stay home?
I’m referring of course to many of the people who I’ve spent a career photographing: the police, the firefighters, the paramedics, and the medical professionals. But this group also includes the sanitation workers, the grocery store workers, the pharmacists, the pizza guy and the mail carrier. All are front-line workers in this time of fear and contraction.
So take a moment and reflect on the sacrifice so many are making while many of us stay home. We all must do our part.
I grew up Catholic, which might explain why I have a deep-seated belief that anything good in my life must be accompanied by a healthy amount of suffering.
That’s not the healthiest story to tell oneself, but I’ve come to replace it with another, more powerful story: if you want good value or results—a great shoot, great assignments, great clients—then you have to first give great value.
What does ‘value’ mean? It means that you should do your best to be remarkable in your work, your attitude, your professionalism. It means that you ask first how you can help before you ask for help. It means that you give more value than your client expects. It means that when you are on a shoot, you go that extra mile: look for an extra angle, take a creative risk and push yourself to take something different once you’ve satisfied your client’s needs. Sometimes you’ll end up with something that surprises you and delights your client.
If you consistently do this and have the attitude of giving more than you are getting, you’ll find—like I have—that you get an amazing amount of value in return.
It starts with you.
With the latest boom in commercial and residential construction, have you ever wondered what happens to all of the tons of used (or unused), broken or left-over materials used in the building industry? Some of it ends up in landfills, but much of it—wiring, piping, metals, wood—can be recycled, resold and reused.
I recently finished a project for ReEnergy Holdings, photographing their recycling operations throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. These facilities process tons of construction material and repurpose what they can. It’s often a dirty, dusty, mucky job but one I’m glad they are there to do.
Location work like this is challenging because it requires creating great images no matter the situational challenges that arise. At busy industrial facilities like these, the machinery can’t just stop while I set up lights and get everything just right. It’s more of a run-and-gun situation, photographing people and processes as they happen and making lemonade out of lemons (I’m into recycling, too). The primary challenge is to take advantage of the visual opportunities that are there—even when they don’t easily present themselves—and stay on the move….all while dodging moving trucks, loaders, and spinning machinery.
The shoots were done indoors and outdoors, in dry, extremly dusty conditions and on days that it was pouring rain and the mud was several inches thick. I’ve found that extreme situations such as these, though unforgiving on cameras and lenses, offer plenty of visual gold. Enjoy!
The best thing about my job as a photographer—aside from the interesting and creative people I get to work with on a daily basis—has to be the cool locations I get to photograph in.
A few months ago, I photographed a project for a large medical advocacy group that involved the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH. I’ve photographed hospitals on both coasts but I’ve never seen a medical lab setup like they have at the Laboratory for Clinical Genomics and Advanced Technologies (CGAT)—two wings full of technicians, scientists and analysis equipment.
I finally can show some of the work from that quick—but very intense—shoot, all done while the busy lab remained in full operation: