Posts tagged maine editorial photographer

Want Headshots and Portraits for your Brand? Consider This.

Headshot treatment for Ecommerce marketing agency iBec Creative: bringing personality to the standard head-and-shoulder portrait.

 

You’ve long suspected that your company’s staff portraits are in need of updating (Ted’s skinny tie has gone in and out of fashion since his portrait was taken. Twice).   Your biggest competitors on LinkedIn, have amazing portraits (is that a tiger in the backround?) and between the shame and the frustration, you’re determined to hire a photographer, now.

Hold on just a second.

If you’ve waited this long, it’s worth pausing a moment to reflect.  ‘Everyone else is doing it’ is not a good enough reason.  A well-done portrait is an investment in time and money. Chances are you’ll be using those portraits for years (or until Ted’s tie goes in and out of style one more time).  So it’s worth considering what your goals are.

When to get new headshots

The single most important question to ask when contemplating a new headshot project is, simply, ‘are my current portraits working for me?’ Your brand portraits aren’t just a nice-to-have. As a business tool you should expect them to do some heavy lifting representing your brand to potential clients, around the clock.  Your portrait, in effect, should work harder than you do.   If your existing portraits are obviously outdated, are wildly inconsistent, or just have a style that doesn’t fit your brand (cool ‘tech’ style portraits wouldn’t inspire confidence if used for the staff of a venerable investment bank, but they may be a good fit for an online banking startup that offers services exclusively through mobile apps) then your portraits are actually working against you.

Branding Portraits

What makes a ‘good’ headshot

Your company portraits must be consistent in style and professionally executed in terms of lighting, of course. They also need to be purposefully thought out so that they reflect your industry and your brand in particular.

A professional photographer can help come up with appropriate and creative looks for your brand.

It’s true, a great portrait can help your brand communicate the message you want to your audience.  But poorly-done and poorly-conceived portraits will absolutely hurt your brand.

What makes your headshots successful

Beyond hiring a professional photographer you ‘click’ with and who understands your brand,   you need to have buy-in within your company.   Everyone needs to be on board.  Don’t attempt a headshot redo unless you can count on everyone to participate.  Give yourself adequate time to do the portraits right—a two-minute assembly line approach will result in headshots, but they won’t be anything special.  Set the tone that these portraits are a critically important component of your company’s image that you are invested in doing right.  For many employees, having their portraits taken is a challenging or even downright scary proposition. Communicating why youre have them done, and giving them plenty of time to prepare, tells them that you care about their experience and want the best results.

Formal headshot vs. Environmental portraits

Formal headshots—i.e., a more typical head-and-shoulders portrait with a backdrop—is a traditional approach that still has its place.  They are especially useful on platforms like LinkedIn, where seeing the person’s face (and not getting distracted by a background) can make them stand out.

Environmental portraits are those that are typically done in a way as to show elements of an office or other location in the background as a way of conveying contextual information or a certain mood. They may appear more visually interesting and can look less ‘formal’ and thus more approachable than a more formal headshot portrait.

Your photographer should work with you to suggest the best approach for your brand. Sometimes my clients will opt for both, so they have options that may work best for different uses.

In the end, portraits are a necessary part of doing business in an internet-connected world. Approach them as an opportunity to extend your brand and send a consistent message, and you’ll find the investment is a solid one.

 

 

Showcase: Rwanda Bean Coffee Company

Rwanda Bean Coffee

I’m happy to share an image I took for the cover of Down East Magazine‘s August 2021 Food & Drink section.  This was part of a feature on Maine’s Rwanda Bean Company, which operates three locations including the newest on Portland’s Thompson’s Point.    

I was envisioning rich dark coffee beans softly lit with warm early morning window light. Unfortunately, my assignment was scheduled just after noon on a gloomy, cloudy day.  The only way I could get the image that I most wanted was to create an early-morning sun look, using lights placed outside the shop, shining through the windows with warming gels attached.  You’d never know that it was threatening to rain outside.   Sometimes as a photographer, you need a little morning to go with your coffee.

 

Ben and Danielle Graffius at the newly-opened Rwanda Bean Roastery and Espresso Bar at Thompson’s Point in Portland, ME. The two are business partners with founder Mike Mwendata.

Showcase: Mad Patti Hat Co.

Mad Patti Hat Co

A couple of months ago, just as the weather was warming up and widespread vaccinations were becoming the norm, I met and photographed Meg Patti, owner of Mad Patti Hat Company, at her studio in Brunswick, ME for the June issue of Down East Magazine.

Meg is a hat maker, which is kind of like saying Tesla is involved in the transportation business. While true, it doesn’t capture the detailed craftsmanship or the unique, one-of-a-kind hats that Patti hand-makes and ships to clients throughout the United States.

Part of her unique process is to ‘age’ each hat, giving each–as she says–their own stories. Lucky for me, that process involves at one stage the strategic application of fire to burn off the wool peach fuzz and create other effects that, once applied, make each hat a one-off instance of wearable art.

The profile is featured in the June, 2021 edition of Down East Magazine. Watch the video below to hear Patti talk about her creative process.

 

Hatmaker
Hatmaker
Hatmaker

Fitzgerald Photo: new look, new work

female lobsterman

I’m proud and excited to relaunch the Fitzgerald Photo website with a brand-new look and lots of new work, including commercial video production.


Primarily, I’m a portrait photographer who is known for producing impactful work on location. With my photojournalism background I consider more of a storyteller—whether conveyed through environmental portraiture or in the form of a multiple-image photo essay.


On the website I’m introducing video work for the first time. I decided to add motion because of the unique storytelling aspects that motion imparts to my work. The still image is incredibly powerful, but sometimes stories are best told in sequences with motion and audio. It’s yet another set of tools that can help me to tell more impactful, powerful stories for my clients.  


Stay tuned for more motion projects, and new work from Fitzgerald Photo.

Not sure how to incorporate video into your content marketing? Contact Fitzgerald Photo. We can help!

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

Fighting Cancer with a Warrior Spirit

Trevor Maxwell
Trevor Maxwell, founder of Man Up to Cancer.  Cape Elizabeth, ME.
© Brian Fitzgerald.

Mostly we experience all three in succession—phases, rather than permanent states. That certainly seems to be true of my friend Trevor Maxwell, the founder of Man Up to Cancer, a support network to connect men dealing with the disease.

I’ve known Trevor since we both worked as journalists at the Portland Press Herald, now officially a Long Time Ago. At different points in time and independent of each other we both ended up leaving the paper, and our journalism careers, deciding to strike out on our own—me as a commercial photographer; Trevor as a communications and media consultant.

He discovered, like me, that with age comes inevitable physical changes and health challenges. Unlike me, he was faced with a true monster—a stage IV colon cancer diagnosis in 2018 at the age of 41.

As he related later, the diagnosis hit him hard, with depression so strong on top of the physical sickness that confined him to bed on most days. Eventually, he made a promise to his family that he would get the help he needed to regain his mental and physical health.

Trevor Maxwell
© Brian Fitzgerald

Two years later—and despite the Covid-19 pandemic, no less, Trevor launched Man Up To Cancer, along with a podcast that continues to grow and support men who, like Trevor, once felt isolated and alone in their struggle. The company’s howling wolf logo and tagline, “Open Heart, Warrior Spirit” speaks to Trevor’s approach, somewhat unique among cancer support groups that tend to be softer, more feminine and involve pink ribbons.

Clearly, Trevor has decisively moved into a phase of purposeful action, even as he continues treatment for his own cancer. 

I photographed Trevor this summer near the grand oak tree that has stood on his family’s Cape Elizabeth property for decades (check out the moving, beautiful tribute created by Roger McCord). I’m inspired by seeing how far Trevor has come and how he’s made it his mission to help others using his own unique talents and voice.

In normal times that would be something special. In 2020, it seems downright heroic.

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Read more about Man Up to Cancer or  subscribe to the Man Up to Cancer podcast.

 

Showcase: The Women of the Maine Fisheries & Wildlife

Cartographer
Michele Watkins, GIS Specialist-Cartographer.  © Brian Fitzgerald

 

Beginning in 2019, I worked with the great people at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (MDIFW) to create location portraits for an ongoing recruitment campaign. These portraits were to feature the game wardens, biologists, educators, cartographers and others who together protect Maine’s wildlife, habitat and the people who enjoy them.

It’s hard to imagine it would be difficult to find people willing to sign up for a job where their office is the great outdoors, but being part of the MDIFW team also means sacrificing physical comfort—especially on winter days spent outside when the thermometer never breaks north of zero degrees. And as with any job in law enforcement, Maine game wardens must confront difficult and dangerous situations, often in remote places.

I spent some very cold days with a few of the MDIFW team members at several locations around central and southern Maine. It was a blast. My favorite kinds of portraits are those that rely on mood, connection and place to create a real moment and tell a story about a person and a place. I hope in some small way that these images successfully do just that. My hope is to capture a sense of each person’s personality while showing the variety of environments they work in—their ever-changing office—day in and day out, in every season of the year.

 
Maine Game Warden
Sarah Miller, Maine Game Warden.  © Brian Fitzgerald

 

 
wildlife biologist
Sarah Spencer, wildlife biologist.  ©Brian Fitzgerald

 

 
field biologist
Sarah Boyden, biologist.  © Brian Fitzgerald

 

wildlife biologist
Danielle D’Auria, wildlife biologist.  © Brian Fitzgerald

 

Marine Biologist
Liz Thorndike, fisheries biologist. © Brian Fitzgerald

 

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

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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