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
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.
I’m fortunate that I get to meet a lot of very interesting and very cool people in the course of my daily work as a commercial photographer in Maine. Every person has their own unique story and are fascinating in their own special way.
Some just happen to work in environments that take ‘interesting’ to another level. The Portland Boxing Club, a 1900s-era former wood-drying kiln set tucked behind Morrell’s Corner in Portland, is one such place. It’s there, enclosed by thick brick walls and floors of concrete, sweltering in the summer and freezing in winter, that Head Coach and owner Bob Russo has honed fighters of all ages and sexes for almost 30 years. On concrete and on the canvas, they strengthen their bodies and toughen their minds.
I’m excited to release this short video profile of Coach Russo. This was originally done as part of a larger piece on the gym for Inspire Maine several years ago but edited recently. Enjoy!
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.
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!
I love creating environmental portraits. That’s good, because I make an awful lot of these as a commercial photographer.
One challenge when doing such location portraits is that the benefit—the environment, which can offer very cool, very visually striking contextual cues—can also be a severe liability. Imagine showing up to a shoot to find you are limited to shooting portraits inside a tiny conference room with orange walls, or in the middle of summer using an interior of a steel shipping container (both are recent examples).
So what do you do when the environment detracts from, instead of adds to, your portraits?
I opt to shoot portraits with very shallow depth of field, in order to throw my distracting backgrounds out of focus. Then I carefully add in lights to create depth and color as needed. Given the time of day or the situation, this may require using ND (neutral density) filters or high-speed sync to achieve this look, but it’s worth the extra effort.
The results are tack-sharp portraits that pop from the soft background, minimizing the things I don’t want while giving a sort of cinematic feel that I love.
Early last fall, I completed a fun (but hectic) project for Maine Medical Center that I can now share. It was a readiness drill simulating a mass casualty incident involving biological or chemical contamination, as in a spill, industrial accident or terrorist incident. Involving dozens of medical staff, doctors, students volunteering as mock patients, observers and hospital administration, these types of drills give the hospital staff hands-on practice coordinating assets to triage, decontaminate and treat an overwhelming number of patients.
Much of my daily work is very purposeful and planned, so going into a large scenario like this one was like stepping back into my newspaper photojournalism days.
It was fast-paced and fun, at least for me (I’m not sure the college kids being scrubbed down in decontamination showers would say the same).
These images became part of the documentation used by the hospital to certify their ability to respond to significant mass casualty events.
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: