Posts tagged maine editorial photographer

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.

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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.


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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.


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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.

This is a Time for Heroes

Deputy Sheriff
York County Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Thistlewood.

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.

emergency drill
Maine Medical Center staff during a biohazard drill–part of the extensive preparations they’ve undertaken to prepare for the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Behind the Curtain with Maine Freemasons

Maine Freemasons

Having a camera is like having a Golden Ticket into the lives of others. It’s opened doors on people, experiences and places that otherwise I’d have never met, done or seen.

It’s an honor to be allowed into peoples’ lives, and it’s a trust that I hold very sacred. That’s why I was so excited that my camera recently opened another door: one that led to the Freemasons of Maine. I was chosen to produce an initial set of images for a website redesign the Grand Lodge of Maine has been planning for some time.

I should note that my sum of knowledge of fraternal organizations stems from brief visits to my father’s Elk Lodge as a kid and a long-ago viewing of the movie National Treasure.  I’m pretty sure neither qualify as research.   I was eager to meet real Masons and photograph some of the actual ceremonies in Portland’s gorgeous Masonic Temple.

Freemasonry has a long and storied history in Maine, with roots going back to the first lodge, chartered in Falmouth in 1762. Portland’s Triangle Lodge 1 still has their original charter, signed by Paul Revere in 1796 (yes, that Paul Revere).

The Masons still attract men—young and old—drawn by the many traditions and looking for camaraderie, connection and brotherhood.

You might not have suspected as much, looking at the Maine Masons website, which was in need of a redesign and new visuals. Most images they had showed members in tuxedos, wearing Masonic aprons in a formal lodge setting.  Although I did photograph some of these same things, one important part of the project I’ve done so far with them is a portrait series of Masons in Maine, both in and outside of the lodge setting.  Work is ongoing, but I’ve had a great time so far meeting with the members and learning about the organization–a peek behind the velvet curtain, so to speak.

What I found was a thriving group of individuals of all ages who are devoted to each other and to their community.  I plan to be able to add additional images soon.

Maine Freemasons

 

Maine Freemasons

 

 

Maine Freemasons