Posts tagged maine editorial photographer

Showcase: Work Lifestyle Shoot, Dunham Group

 

Tech Company
Guideline  | © 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. 

Technology
Guideline, Portland, ME ©Brian Fitzgerald

 

Clothing Manufacture
American Roots and Flowfold © Brian Fitzgerald

 

–30–

 

After the Shoot

construction silhouette

© Brian Fitzgerald

It’s a great feeling knowing that the shoot you’ve been planning for is complete. But just as the real work of planning begins long before the actual shoot date, there is still much work to be done after shoot day is over and the gear is packed away.

It may be days until clients get to see their images, but our job is just beginning. We start by archiving our precious files per our 3-2-1 system and scanning releases and other paperwork. Most critically, our post-shoot ritual involves a reflection on the shoot itself: the shoot post-mortem.

Post Mortem
The post-mortem is based on the After Action Report methodology used by the military and other organizations to retrospectively analyze our performance and improve it for the future benefit of our work and our clients. This is especially true when things don’t go according to plan (It’s important to note that this is a feature, not a bug; being flexible and able to pivot leads to often surprisingly great results). Discussing these unplanned events, as well as outright failures, leads to big leaps in understanding that help us when it comes to future projects.


We use checklists, write notes and have discussions about everything from subject interactions to shoot timing to gear performance. We’ll brainstorm how to improve in the future. These notes will be organized into actionable steps and to-do items that get added to our calendars and followed up on later.

Editing
Over the course of the next several days, we edit images using a multi-step culling process. First, we discard the obvious ‘bad’ images—out of focus frames, technical snafus, or closed eyes, for example. Subsequent editing rounds cull down even the largest shoots down to a manageable number that will in turn be toned and shared with clients so that they can make their final selections.

Post-Production
Once clients select their images, we process them for delivery and use. Our goal is not to make people look unrealistic and “Photoshopped”, but to apply toning and contrast, and clean up issues with skin, hair, or backgrounds. It may involve perspective correction and ‘merging’ multiple images together. More typically, it consists of mitigating skin blemishes, correcting skin tones and producing high-resolution image files that will reproduce well in print and online.

Image Delivery
Because our clients are businesses, agencies and creatives who utilize digital files for their own uses, we deliver high-resolution digital images optimized for their intended use.

We use Photoshelter.com for our client proofing galleries and also to deliver final electronic files to clients. We may utilize WeTransfer or Dropbox as well, depending on client needs. Photoshelter is a great, visual, easy-to-use system that works great for our clients in most situations.

Once files are delivered and in use, the shoot is over—yet the work of continual improvement continues. When we arrive at a shoot location, we bring with us the knowledge acquired from hundreds of previous shoots. Our clients benefit—as do we—from each part of our system having been tested and vetted through real-world application and use.

–30–

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 to expect when shoot day arrives

Success on Shoot Day is No Accident

Policeman shoot

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.

 

–30–

 

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

Enjoy it While it Lasts

Lake Kayak

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we’re already in mid-August and those of us in Maine know that means cooler days are not far away.

This summer of the pandemic has been strangely busy.   Busy,  primarily, because the work of a commercial photographer doesn’t just stop when things get slow; but also because I’ve been taking advantage of more time to start creative projects, edit my work and learn some new skills.  

Taking control of my own creativity, and reassessing the direction and trajectory of my business and my creative efforts, has been an unexpected benefit of these past few months.  


In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting some new images, along with updates on a brand-new portfolio of work that I’m pretty excited about sharing. In the meantime, as summer winds down I’m enjoying getting out and doing what I love—kayaking, hiking, and spending time with my family.

So here’s to using well the summer we have left to us, and being ready to create meaningful work when we all return. 


–30–

You’ve Hired Us. Now What?

 

Beach Path
© Brian Fitzgerald

If you’ve made the decision to hire a professional commercial photographer for your brand, company or organization, you’re likely wondering: what happens now? At Fitzgerald Photo, our goal is to showcase your brand and make your products, people and services shine. In order to do so, we follow a well-defined path that we know leads to great results.

Onboarding
As soon as the ink is dried on your contract and terms, planning starts in earnest on your project. From your perspective as the client, you can expect to receive regular and clear communication from your visuals team. If you’ve never worked with us before, you’ll get a welcome packet with information about our company, the services you’ll be using and our workflow. We use specific software and other tools to collaborate on projects and this is where you’ll find out how that all works. You’ll also discover the answers to many of the logistical questions you might have; everything from the size and type of image files you’ll receive to our post-production process and the protection and long-term storage of your image assets.

Planning
Planning for success includes meetings to discuss expectations, goals and logistics (whether in-person or, these days, online or over the phone).  We’ve found that the more work and care put in at this stage, the smoother (and better) things are when it counts—on shoot day.  These meetings don’t have to be a huge time commitment; we have no love for unneeded meetings and can guess you don’t either.  Depending on the project, this may simply be a series of detailed emails outlining and getting consensus on the shoot day plan.  At no point should you be wondering why you haven’t heard a word from your photographer a few days before a big shoot.

Scouting
Site visits are an important part of the planning process. There’s nothing like seeing the spaces we’ll be shooting in to prepare us for the possible hitches we may encounter or the opportunities we can take advantage of.  In cases where an in-person visit isn’t possible, we may request phone snapshots of the site(s), which in combination with Google street view images help form as complete a picture of the location as possible.

Useful Communication
We believe in clear and appropriate communication. This means that you’ll know when and if anything changes that might affect you, from the weather on shoot day to unanticipated changes that affect delivery schedules (unlikely, but it can happen). You’ll get confirmation every step of the way, including the shoot day schedule, the specific team members you’ll be dealing with, as well as arrival, setup, breakdown and departure times. While we can’t keep surprises from occurring, we can minimize the amount that occur just through regular communication.

Shoot Day
Shoot day often involves last-minute, unexpected and unanticipated events. These can be as minor as a model getting delayed in traffic by five minutes or as dramatic as a power failure that shuts down the site an hour before shoot time. Most are somewhere in between. You’ll be prepared because we will have outlined what to expect should many of these minor or major events occur, ahead of time. You can trust that we have the experience to roll with whatever changes come;  in fact, we welcome changes and believe that flexibility leads to more creativity and better results. The last thing we want to do is be so rigid in our planning that we stick to the schedule no matter what, instead of taking advantage of a better visual opportunity—or a serendipitous need—that arises on the fly.

Having a solid plan, but being flexible to changing the plan as needed, enables shoots to proceed and be successful no matter the circumstances. Unplanned changes often mask new visual opportunities that may end up showcasing your brand in ways we hadn’t imagined, but end up being far more interesting, genuine and authentic.

–30–


Want to know more about our process? You might be interested in our post on the questions to ask yourself before hiring a photographer what to expect on shoot day, or what happens after the shoot is complete.

Before hiring a photographer, interview yourself

 

Tough Guy
©Brian Fitzgerald

Hiring a photographer can be a challenge. For those who don’t go through the process very often, it usually means spending hours on Google or social media to find qualified professional photographers; having multiple discussions; then vetting estimates that (hopefully) come in under budget and on time. That’s in addition to whatever work is already on your plate.

Things change quickly  in the photography world. If you don’t regularly work with a preferred photographer, you might find that the one you last relied on is no longer in business, or is too busy to take on new work. You’re soon typing terms like “best commercial photographers” into your search bar and scratching your head at results that include everything from weddings to pet portraits to products for catalogs.

Sorting all of this out takes time, and then once you’ve connected with a likely short list of photographers, the process of outlining goals and requirements begins. This is followed by evaluating the estimates, which can vary wildly between photographers due to their varying backgrounds, experience and preferred ways of doing business.

I’ve written before about the questions to ask when hiring a professional photographer. Before your initial conversation, here are a few tips to better prepare you for the process of determining the “best” photography professional for your needs. Doing just a little prep work before you make that call or send that email will reduce your effort, frustration and will maximize good results.

Where are your photographer leads coming from?
You can make some quick assumptions depending on where your leads are coming from.  Referrals from a trusted colleague or other source are great because you can assume the photographer is a known quantity, and move on from that basis. Referrals from a professional photography association or paid listing website (ASMP, APA National, NPPA,
, and others) allow you to view photographers by specialty and portfolio. You can assume these are experienced pros that have the experience to guide you through the requirements process and will ask questions you might never have considered. The most common referral source, Google and social media, is great but requires a bigger investment of time to sort, weed out and establish fit. I’d recommend it as a supplement to the first two sources.

What is your brand all about?
How would you describe your brand and brand mission? What key adjectives best describe your brand? What are your long-term brand goals and objectives?

What are your goals for this project?
Is this photography project a quick one-off or are you building a brand-consistent visual library that you’ll use for years to come? If you’re after a quick hit, you can always pivot if it doesn’t work as you’d like, or if the photographer isn’t the best fit. If it’s the latter, choosing a photographer for a long-term relationship is a better approach.

What is your budget?
Photographers will always ask—or should. Knowing your numbers isn’t a license for the photographer to charge the maximum fees they can while hitting strategically below your top line. What it does is put you in the driver’s seat. Of all the variables that comprise a good estimate—time, money and quality—a photographer needs to have a sense of your limits and expectations for all three in order to come up with an estimate that works best for you. A budget helps orient your photographer and gives them necessary information. Is the budget close to what they feel the job is worth, requiring a little negotiation or adjustment of services to meet? Or is the gulf between the two so vast that it’s a waste of your time and theirs to proceed? It’s helpful to know this fairly early in the process. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable; for professional photographers it’s a routine and necessary question and they’ll respect you for having defined what you can spend ahead of time.

What are the ideal outcomes from doing this project?
Do you hae specific outcomes in mind (selling a service or product), or more general (creating brand awareness)?

How long do you plan on using the images?
Will these images really be useful to you in a couple of years? What about after 10 years, when (perhaps) many of the team members in the images are no longer with the company and the clothing/hair styles start to look a bit dated? Depending on your brand and industry, images may age very quickly or very slowly.  Knowing the answers to this question can save you money, since in most cases the longer you use an image (i.e., the more value you derive from it over time), the more it can cost. 

How do you plan to use the images?
Are the images going to be used for a specific print or online campaign? Will they be part of a display ad? Or will they be added to your library, to be used in less specific and more numerous ways for years to come?  Will they be part of local or regional advertising or will they be used nationally or world-wide?  


Who are your target audience/clients/customers? Why are you reaching out to them?
Who are you trying to reach?  When they see these images or video, how do you want them to feel?  Do you want them to take specific action (buy something) or to emotionally connect with you and your message, building a long-term relationship?

What problems can the photographer help you to solve?
Professional photographers are more than just button pushers. We are masters of organization and logistics. We help hire models, makeup stylists, arrange for locations, art direct, and can help strategize with you on the creative direction a shoot should go in. We can be a straight service provider, creating images to a pre-defined specification, or we can be a creative partner using their vision to create something unique. What is helpful to you, your brand and your organization at this time?


These are the types of questions that you can expect your photographer candidates, in one form or another, to ask to you. Knowing what photographers are looking for and the information they most need will help you to be prepared to make decisions based on your brand values and goals, and will lead to a much better process and estimates, too.

–30–

 

Want to know more about our process? You might be interested in our posts on what to expect once you’ve hired a professional photographer,  what happens when shoot day arrives or about our process once the shoot is complete

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
 
 
 
 
–30–
 

What’s Your Image Worth?

Portland Firefighter
Firefighter Chris Tillotson, @Brian Fitzgerald


As a professional commercial photographer, my job is to protect my client’s images as well as their image. This entails safely archiving their digital files so they can found months or years after a shoot, but it also means that I safeguard how those images are used and who gains access to my clients’ images in the future.

Depending on my specific contracts and releases,  I often have the legal right to reuse images for multiple purposes after they are first used. Aside from incorporating some of the images into my blog and portfolio, I almost never do so, especially if the images were taken on assignment for a client (rather than taken as part of a self-assigned project). Why? Because once I photograph someone, I take on the responsibility—sometimes legally, always ethically—to safeguard their images so they aren’t used in ways my clients wouldn’t be comfortable with.

The most obvious example might involving selling images I’d taken for a corporate client as ‘stock’ images through a stock agency like Getty. Imagine my client’s surprise when they see a billboard advertising a competitor across town using an image of their staff or clients that they paid me to take a year before. In very short order, I’d be looking for another line of work.

The number one job of a professional photographer is to serve our clients and their interests first, not our own. In effect, we’re a member of their team and need to be careful to make sure their images are not used in off-brand or unapproved ways.

A less obvious example occurred this past April.  It appeared in the form of an email sent by a photographer agency to its member photographers including me, requesting we submit gritty portraits of workers on the front lines of the pandemic: rescue personnel, healthcare providers, delivery drivers and others. A national (and unnamed) insurance agency wanted to use these images in a 6 month national ad campaign. They’d pay $3000 per image used, split evenly between photographer and the agency.

I considered the request. I have a large library of images of front line workers, mostly created not for clients but as part of personal editorial projects. Technically, I have the copyright and releases allowing me to reuse and resell these images. Back in April, with the pandemic shut-downs in full swing and uncertainty about future income, it was a tempting offer.

I could imagine the result of the campaign—a video depicting grave-faced police officers, firemen and nurses with a dramatic voiceover and swelling background music. At the end, the logo of some national insurance company would appear, and the unwritten message would be: we want to associate our brand with these popular heroes so you’ll think we’re special too.

Then I imagined the surprise of my portrait subjects in seeing their image being used to shill for a company that they’ve never heard of for a service they’ve never received. I thought of them, essentially being used to confer their heroic status to a large insurance company that doesn’t care about them personally but just want them for the uniforms they wear and the trust they confer.

I declined to participate.  Just because I can legally do something doesn’t mean that I should.   Whether a paying client or not, anyone who ends up in front of my camera are relying on me to protect their single most valuable asset—their image—and make good choices on their behalf.

I can’t judge photographers who chose to participate, either because of their financial situation or due to agreements negotiated between them and their subjects beforehand.

This anecdote highlight the importance of having discussions about future image use between photographers and their clients and subjects, with clear expectations written into a contract. In absence of such an explicit agreement, photographers should always remember that image, and reputation, is worth more than a quick hit of cash. Protect your brand and your images and make sure your photographer does, too.

–30–

Adjust Your Hustle

Tech Worker

We hear so much these days about the ‘pivot’. Faced with unprecedented health and economic crises, small businesses and freelancers are hunkering down to weather the storm. Many are panicking, understandably. Those who can are using the opportunity to shift their focus to the things they can do: becoming more useful, more disciplined and more prepared to safely get back to work when it’s time to do so.

I’m most grateful that I’m healthy and that my very large, far-flung family is as well. Number one priority for me has been to stay healthy and to keep my business healthy as possible.

I’ve had more family time than I’m used to, and it’s been both challenging and rewarding. My daughter Maggie is 13 and in seventh grade. She’s not the World’s Biggest Fan of online learning and misses her friends, but by now she’s turned into a bit of a corporate lawyer: from waking up at 5:30 to get work done before her school day starts, to pausing her earbuds, forefinger raised, to tell her parents that “I’ve got back to back Zooms from 9:30 to noon; I’ll catch up with you for lunch before my 1 o’clock.”

I’ve been using my time to brush up on skills—taking a handwriting course, of all things, and studying Russian again—and to work on new ones, like shooting video and editing in Premiere Pro.  That’s been fun and I’ll have more work to show soon.

It’s also been a welcome opportunity to re-edit my work and website. I’m embarrassed to say how long it’s been since my last major website portfolio update, but it’s not for lack of new work.  Finally I’m incorporating personal and client images from the past couple of years and can’t wait to reveal those soon. As I refocus my marketing and other business systems, I’m streamlining things to make my workflows easier and my client experience better.

My studio is clean, organized and prepped for reopening. I’ve even done a few no-contact and social-distancing client shoots this week, following the state guidelines as service businesses like mine reopen.

In this time of social distancing, the most surprising and unexpected benefit has been connecting (and reconnecting) with friends and family sadly too long neglected (by me, usually, not by them): a high school friend now serving in the Navy in Spain (a nurse, no less); my octogenarian Uncle Michael in Washington State who proudly wears a ponytail; former newspaper colleagues around the country.  I love Virtual Happy Hours….a bit too much. I’ve learned not to schedule more than two of these in a weekend.

In April, I helped to form a group of fellow creatives located around the world. We meet weekly to discuss marketing, how to elevate our work and our value, and to hold each other accountable. The group includes a photographer from Montreal; a Florida filmmaker; a podcaster and a designer, both from Portugal; a Budapest furniture designer and a German copywriter. After just one month, it’s become a hugely valuable part of my week and one positive outcome of this strange time that I plan to continue long after the pandemic ends.


I’ve realized that just because the world slows down, there is work to be done: maintaining health, relationships, and working hard to pivot your business, your career and your skills.  I’m adjusting my hustle, though more work needs to be done.  

Now if I can just wean myself off of these happy hours, I think I’ll be in good shape.


–30–

Showcase: Dove Tail Bats

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.


                                                                                                              –30–

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.