Category Client Work

Photographing AI leader Amanda Stent at Colby

Female Scientist
Amanda Stent, inaugural Director of the Colby College Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence.  ©Brian Fitzgerald

I’m excited to share one of the assignments I did for Colby College recently. This was to photograph Amanda Stent, the inaugural Director of the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence at Colby—the first such cross-disciplinary institute at a liberal arts college.

Professor and student discussion
©Brian Fitzgerald

Stent, a renowned expert in Natural Language Processing (NLP), transitioned from her role as NLP architect at Bloomberg L.P., where she led their AI team. She has authored or co-authored more than 100 papers and is co-inventor on more than 30 patents in NLP. In short, Stent is a big deal in the world of AI, and her leadership of the Davis Institute will allow Colby to fulfill its goal of integrating AI and machine learning into a liberal arts framework.

Luckily, the Colby Campus provided a number of interesting environments for portraits and for interactions with students. It was important to try to give a sense of the academic environment as well as the innovative work being done there at Colby.

Female Scientist
Amanda Stent, inaugural Director of the Colby College Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence.  ©Brian Fitzgerald

 

 

 

A Tradition Forged in Iron

 

The artists and craftsmen who call Maine home share a cultural heritage with those who have gone before them.  This link to the past is epitomized by Sam Smith, an aptly-named blacksmith who operates several forges across the state as guildmaster of the  Maine Blacksmith’s Guild.

Smith and the guild use and teach 19th-century techniques and practices and have an active apprenticeship program. Smith also teaches and works his trade in Germany and Brazil for months each year.

“Preserving the skill set of working iron by hand and not allowing machines to do the work is my mission,” says Smith.

I spent time with Smith last year as part of a larger project on Maine craftsmen and artists and am happy to be able to show it here.  Smith was crafting a Brazilian Churrasco BBQ knife with a handle made from Peroba wood reclaimed from a 120-year-old home.  

 

Brazilian Churrasco Knife, © Sam Smith

The Business of Life with R.M. Davis

Home-buying couple

In 2022 I had the opportunity to shoot and produce video footage for a fun campaign for a longtime client, R.M. Davis.  RMD is a financial advisory firm based in Portland with deep roots.  With a 45-year track record of working with wealthy individuals, estates and businesses, they worked with Burgess Advertising & Marketing to create a concept called ‘The Business of Life’.   My job was to create images that illustrated the concept; basically a series of vignettes showing transitional moments like college graduation or building a new home as well as individuals and business owners meeting with financial advisors.  

Here are a few of the final images as used in the campaign.  As is more often the case with my advertising clients, we built the shoots so we could take video footage as well as stills.  This was later incorporated into a Business of Life video.

I think the campaign is a powerful example of people- and client-focused marketing that really works.  

College Graduate

 

Industrial business owner

 

Couple in coastal home

 

The Art of Location Portraits: Conquering Constraints

Female Portrait
© Brian Fitzgerald

Throughout my career as a photographer, from my earliest days as a newspaper stringer to the present, one thing has always been necessary:   the capacity to create impactful, engaging portraits on location, quickly (if not sooner). 

Epic and breathtaking locations lead to epic, breathtaking portraits that incorporate background elements to tell a compelling story.   Typically, I’m faced with a problem:  how to minimize a busy background and transform it into something less distracting and more aesthetically pleasing.  It’s the ability to make cinematic, impactful portraits—often strapped for time and without the ability to see or choose the location—that has served me and my clients best year after year.

The adage goes that if you want more interesting images, shoot more interesting things or places.  That’s true. What’s also true is that being a professional photographer means delivering consistent results despite constraints imposed by less-than-interesting locations.

When there is no background, or when it’s too busy or distracting, I try to create more cinematic, shallow-focus images that pop from the background and put the focus where it belongs: on the subject. Knowing how to light creatively and on the go is key, but also so is how to use the advantages of any environment (and there are always some) to the subject’s benefit. 

 

Male College instructor
© Brian Fitzgerald

 

Male attorney
© Brian Fitzgerald

Capturing Reality with Scientist and Innovator Sarah Martinez Roth

 
Sarah Martinez Roth, at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston, MA ©Brian Fitzgerald

A few months ago, Colby College commissioned me to photograph one of their distinguished alumni, Sarah Martinez Roth. A 2011 Biology graduate, Martinez Roth went on to earn her master’s degree and Ph.D. in tumor biology at Georgetown University.

As a senior scientist at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston, Martinez Roth develops treatments for sickle cell disease and has received the Ainslie Alumni Achievement Award from the Posse Foundation for her work.

My challenge was to capture Martinez Roth immersed in her work within a bustling laboratory. I aimed to reveal that even when working at the forefront of technology, being a scientist still involves hands-on tasks in small labs filled with well-used equipment. I appreciate that the labs she works in are clearly spaces where work happens – far from the pristine, symmetrically gleaming, and unrealistic labs depicted in TV and film. My goal was to integrate as much of that authenticity as possible into her environmental portraits.

Scientist Sarah Martinez Roth
Sarah Martinez Roth, at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston, MA ©Brian Fitzgerald

Capturing Spontaneity: Photographing First Lady Jill Biden’s Visit

 

Jill Biden
© Brian Fitzgerald

 

As a longtime newspaper photojournalist, I’ve covered my fair share of visiting dignitaries, from President George Bush (’44) to U.S. Senators and others. But, as I learned the hard way on assignment for the Arizona State University school paper, the State Press, showing up late means the Secret Service won’t let you in, even if you ask really nicely.

So, when I was recently assigned to cover First Lady Jill Biden’s brief visit to Southern Maine Community College for the Maine Community College System, I made sure to arrive early. These events are highly scripted, with an advance team marking out where the media will stand, cordoned off well away from the First Lady. Each photo opportunity has been planned, with impactful visuals virtually guaranteed — as long as you show up on time — from the positions of the people to the carefully-placed American flags.

But, just because the stage is set doesn’t mean there isn’t room for spontaneity. As a photographer, my job was to capture the story and mood of the event, even within the constraints in place. I positioned myself strategically, changed compositions, and varied my lens choice to anticipate and capture those unscripted moments.

The result was a set of images that told a genuine story, full of spontaneous moments that spoke to the human emotions and connections present at the event. As a former newspaper photographer, I’m grateful for the laboratory that experience provided me that still allows me to capture moments even in highly-controlled settings.

© Brian Fitzgerald
© Brian Fitzgerald
© Brian Fitzgerald
© Brian Fitzgerald

 

Show off your brand personality

 

Port Property
How can brands show off their unique personalities?  One way is by showcasing the people who together make the company special. Over the past few years, I’ve been working with Port Property and the creative team at Longfellow Communications to capture personality portraits of their employees.

As an operator of rental and commercial properties in Maine and North Carolina, Port Property’s staff interacts with their clients on a daily basis. They are, essentially, the company brand. When Port Property decided to rebrand a few years ago, they opted for two styles of staff portraits: one, a more traditional headshot portrait and the other that aimed to capture the personality of each person in a unique way. They asked each person to bring some physical item signifiying their answer to the question, “Home is…..”.  Everyone on the team—accountants, property managers and the maintenance crew—took part.

The result is far from the typical corporate portrait. Instead, it reveals real people, with real lives, and gives the company a dynamic and fun vibe.

I had a lot of fun doing this ongoing project and think it’s a simple but impactful way to impart a human touch to a company brand.

Port Property
© Brian Fitzgerald

 

© Brian Fitzgerald

 

© Brian Fitzgerald

 

Showcase: York County Community College

 

YVCC
York County Community College, © Brian Fitzgerald

Over the past few years, I’ve worked with the Maine Community College System (MCCS) to highlight the workforce training programs at their seven campuses across Maine. These programs are designed and targeted to the needs of employers in Maine and are often a pipeline directly to well-paying professional jobs immediately upon graduation. Programs are diverse, ranging from nursing and culinary arts to project management and Amazon Web Services (AWS). The list is endless and always changing to adapt to the needs of the state’s employers.

We highlighted a few of the workforce development programs at York County Community College last year and tried to also capture some of the sense of community and connection between students and their faculty. It was a great opportunity to tell a story about a Maine institution that offers such incredible value to the community.

 

YVCC
York County Community College, © Brian Fitzgerald

 

York County Community College, © Brian Fitzgerald

 

York County Community College, © Brian Fitzgerald

 

York County Community College, © Brian Fitzgerald

 

York County Community College, © Brian Fitzgerald

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.  

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