Category On Location

Showcase: H.B.Fleming Inc.

 

Portland Maine

 

Sometimes, the best way to get a storytelling image is to get up high.   I’ve worked with South Portland-based construction company H.B. Fleming for a few years, documenting some of their impressive projects throughout Maine and New Hampshire.   The scope and scale of much of the work they do—building massive retaining walls and cofferdams, for example—are most apparent when viewed from above.  In 2020 Fitzgerald Photo became a FAA-certified commercial drone operator.  We’ve since been using drones for photography and video production for clients throughout New England.   I’m happy to share some images from recent H.B. Fleming projects.    

 

Construction Workers

Want better portraits? Work on your backgrounds.

Boxing Coach
Portland Boxing Club owner and head coach Bob Russo.  © Brian Fitzgerald

 

To most photographers—those whose focus is on people and portraits, certainly, but also those who specialize in structures, food and products on location—the subject is the star of the show.  

Location-based photographers know that the unsung hero of any successful portrait is the environment behind and around the subjects.   Often, the environment offers clues and context that tells the story better than the subject themselves can.  

In short, your backgrounds matter more than just as a place to put behind your subject.  

Give thought to the environment around your subjects as deeply as you think about your subjects.  Make sure that anything that shows in the frame is there for a reason.  

 

Maine Gives Back, 2020 Edition

Linda Holtslander
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
Elizabeth McLellan in a warehouse filled with medical supplies destined for countries in need around the world. © Brian Fitzgerald


Rose Barboza
Rose Barboza, founder of Black Owned Maine. © Brian Fitzgerald

Environmental Portraits: Take it Outside

Female Lobsterman
© Brian Fitzgerald
 
 
This June, after several months of working remotely (almost entirely indoors), I’ve been fortunate to be able to get back to creating new images for my clients.   Now that the days are growing warm it’s been the perfect time for my clients to take advantage of the short but beautiful summer season here in Maine by having their commercial portraits done outside. 
 
There are two primary types of portraits I’ve been making.  One is an editorial-style environmental portrait, where the setting is an important storytelling aspect of the final image.   Context is an important part of this type of portrait, since the background ends up being a secondary subject in the image. 
 
The other portrait type is more of a cinematic headshot portrait, where there is an environmental feel but the focus is entirely on the subject–it’s a great way to photograph a doctor, lawyer or financial professional far from their normal work environs and still make it seem professional and natural to do so.  
 
 
 
Businessman outside

© Brian Fitzgerald
 
I’m finding myself taking my studio on the road more and more often, photographing my clients outdoors and on location where conditions may be more changeable and unpredicatable but the results are often more striking.   It brings me back to my roots as an Arizona photojournalist, hauling out my Norman 200B flash heads to compete with the sun to make a memorable portrait.   
 
So consider outdoor portraits as an option that could work for your business or brand.  
 
Businesswoman outside
© Brian Fitzgerald
 
 
 
 
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Certainty in Uncertain Times

During this time of uncertainty, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Not long ago all of us were still making optimistic plans for get-togethers, projects and trips for the weeks and months to come.


The events of a few short days have changed and challenged our perceptions and plans.


Stuck at home, certain only of our uncertainties, bouncing off of loved ones and compulsively checking our news (and non-news) feeds for scraps of information, we instead learn second-hand from the gossip of others.


What’s clear is that we are all in the same boat. None of us asked for this and the control we have is limited to that which we exercise over ourselves. We have the choice to limit ourselves for the good of the whole. We also have the option to spend some of our now extra time doing things we’ve long neglected—at least, that’s my plan. I’m choosing to look at this upheaval as a gift of time: time to spend with my family; time to reset and plan; time to learn and reflect.


In a few weeks or months when things calm down and normalcy returns, as it surely will, I hope to look back and know that I spent my time the best way I could. Today, I plant a seed for that day.

On Giving More

A little initiative and a lot of hustle turned a project to photograph firefighters for a fund raiser into a project depicting firefighters as always on duty and (over) committed to their work, called “Everyday Heroes”.

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.



Cinematic, environmental portraits

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.

 

 

 

 

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Image Library

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:

 

dartmouth medical center

 

 

 

 

Showcase: Tyler Technologies

 

Tyler Technologies
Tyler Technology’s new expansion at their Yarmouth campus totals more than 94,000 square feet.

 

Happy to be able to show some of the work I’ve been doing for Freeport-based Zachau Construction. They recently had me photograph the recently-completed $24 million expansion of Tyler Technologies’ Yarmouth, ME campus, looking to capture the unique feel and design both inside and out.

Architecture seems like a departure from my portrait work, but I think it’s not as different as it seems. Location and context have always been key components of my work, whether featuring people or spaces (sometimes with people in them). Creative use of light is always an important element as well, as is the combining of existing, ambient lighting with flash in an artful, storytelling way.

Buildings and spaces tell stories about the people who design them, live in them and and work in them. The process of architecture work is a bit different, and often more technical, than portrait photography but the goalto convey a mood and a feeling, and to capture a moment.