Helping companies tell what they're doing – visually

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Photo full circle with United Way Day of Caring event

CSR photography charlotte north carolina at united way day of caring event

It’s always wonderful seeing a project come full circle. That happened this weekend when a pro-bono photo project we’ve been helping to drive came to fruition. On Saturday, the Lake Norman/Mooresville United Way held its annual Day of Caring volunteer event. We got involved several months ago to spearhead the communications work. Here are some of the images. For anyone interested in seeing more, I’ll post the link to the entire gallery at the end.

charlotte event photography of volunteer united way day of caring celebration in lake norman and mooresville

Several hundred volunteers showed up to spend the morning landscaping public spaces, handing out food at the Mooresville Christian Mission food pantry, working on Habitat for Humanity houses and more. So much more.

corporate social responsibility photography capturing employees and employee families helping their communities during the 2013 day of caring with the united way

My photo team jumped from work project to work project in order to capture volunteers in action. The United Way will use the photos to drive excitement for next year’s event and to help tell stories about how the United Way helps in the Lake Norman community.

Images to show how to photograph employee volunteers working in their communities at volunteer events

A few take aways I can share about the photography… Being involved throughout the event planning process gave me the chance to help shape a visually attractive event. We pushed for bright t-shirts and the colorful logo.

corporate storytelling and event photography charlotte north carolina, mooresville photographer, lake norman photographer

Notice there isn’t a date on the t-shirt. Avoiding the date was last-minute advice that will keep the photos evergreen. Imagine wanting to use these photos to advertise a 2017 Day of Caring event. Someone would have to PhotoShop the 2013 date away. Now they don’t have to.

photographs illustrating how to take strong event photographs at volunteer events. images made during the 2013 United Way day of caring celebration around the lake norman and mooresville areas.

probono photography and event photography by charlotte photographers patrick schneider photo. who is the best photographer in charlotte nc? who is the best event photographer in north carolina.

How to brand your event using photography. How much does event photography cost? How to find a great event photographer.

See the full gallery here: http://patrickschneider.photoshelter.com/gallery/CSR-event-photography-of-the-2013-United-Way-Day-of-Caring/G0000mrwv66tz4V4


executive portrait TES

Tiffany Eubanks-Saunders, sr vice president Bank of America

Portrait-palooza

Coming off a two-week stretch of back-to-back corporate portraits reminded me of the fun — and frustrations — of executive portraits.

On one hand, shooting corporate environmental portraits really gets my creative juices going. I start each assignment questioning the most-important story my client wants to tell. This is the fun part… especially when I can push the envelope or think outside the box.

executive portrait Brett Carter Sr VP Duke Energy

Brett Carter, senior vice president Duke Energy

Frustrations? These can be a lengthy list, topped off with uber-busy business executives who arrive saying “you have five minutes to photograph me… and they began three minutes ago” to skittish security guards who nix location requests because the images might “be used to help advance security threats.” Really?

My recent photo subjects were great to work with, especially those times we had to work in public spaces (it’s never easy to have your portrait made while people are looking at you).

But schedules were tight and we had to work quickly. All told, I easily spent more time hauling in gear from the downtown Charlotte parking garages and setting up lights than actually photographing my subjects. Nonetheless, the frustrations add to the challenge of making photos that support creative corporate communications. And that’s why I love being a corporate photojournalist.

Check out this sampling of my most-recent executive portraits.

We photographed Brett Carter at the top of the Duke Tower in downtown Charlotte. I've always liked how the architectural lines of the space really enhance the visual interest of the images taken in that area.

We photographed Brett Carter at the top of the Duke Tower in downtown Charlotte. I’ve always liked how the architectural lines of the space really enhance the visual interest of the images taken in that area.

Sonya Dukes Wells Fargo corporate communications portrait

Sonya Dukes, senior vice president of Wells Fargo, wasn’t at all phased by the non-stop foot traffic passing by just a few feet away. I asked to photograph Sonya in this hallway because I liked how the bright panels complemented her attire.

corporate communications portrait of Sonya Dukes of Wells Fargo.

Another view of the colorful hallway and Sonya Dukes.

corporate communications portrait of Sonya Dukes of Wells Fargo.

Although we had only about 20 minutes to make Sonya’s portrait, we jumped over to the Wells Fargo atrium area in order to capture a second look (and to help the designer with more options).

corporate communications portrait of Francisco Alvarado, owner and CEO of Marand Builders Inc.

Francisco Alvarado, owner and CEO of Marand Builders Inc., a general contractor firm serving the southeast.

executive portrait of Vinay Patel, president and CEO of SREE Hotels.

Vinay Patel, president and CEO of SREE Hotels.

portrait of Vinay Patel, president and CEO of SREE Hotels.

Vinay Patel, president and CEO of SREE Hotels.

corporate photography Louis Romero, owner of Network Cabling Systems

Louis Romero, owner of Network Cabling Systems

marketing photography Louis Romero, owner of Network Cabling Systems

Louis Romero, owner of Network Cabling Systems

executive portrait of Tiffany Eubanks-Saunders, senior vice president at Bank of America

Tiffany Eubanks-Saunders, senior vice president at Bank of America

portrait photography Tiffany Eubanks-Saunders, senior vice president at Bank of America.

Tiffany Eubanks-Saunders, senior vice president at Bank of America.


What the heck is corporate storytelling anyway?

Our last post touched on what visual storytelling isn’t. [Find that post here]

Now the much-harder question of what it is. In the 1960s, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart was asked to describe his threshold test for obscenity. He said: I can’t describe what it is, “but I know it when it see it.” Perhaps the same thing can be said for storytelling photography.

In many ways, visual storytelling can be defined not for what appears within the photo, but rather for the feelings and emotions the photo evokes. Does the photo make you stop and pause to figure out what’s going on? Or do you quickly click through to get to the other items on your must-do list?

Stories get told when photographers make images that go beyond what’s obvious and expected. Like here, instead of the expected people-at-table-making-announcement photo, this wide-angle shot puts the event in context. Notice all of the corporate branding.

Or this side angle, which carefully includes the stacked-up boxes to make readers wonder what might be inside. (They’re stuffed with donated school supplies).

And who wouldn’t look twice at the employee newsletter to see which of their co-workers dressed up like superheroes to race Red Radio Flyer tricycles for a good cause.

Next blog: What makes one storytelling photo better than another? Hint… think branding.


Image

How to engage with corporate storytelling

Lately, every time I turn around, my corporate clients are talking about corporate storytelling. It seems their bosses — and their bosses’ bosses — heard somewhere that storytelling is a great way to engage employees. It’s true, I say. And then we all nod our heads in agreement.

But then the other day, a new-ish corporate communications professional pulled me aside and asked, “But what exactly is corporate storytelling?” Trying to figure out what her peers were talking about, this young internal communications manager had searched the Web for examples and explanations of how to leverage storytelling in the business environment… but she had found very little.

Looks like storytelling is one of those things that everybody secretly thinks they are really good at. Unfortunately, the ability to tell stories is also one of those things that few people are really good at.

So let me take a moment (and maybe a few blog posts) to explain what corporate storytelling is — and what it isn’t. Later, in another blog post, I’ll give my 2 cents on how to find a storytelling writer, photographer, multimedia developer or whatnot and make the most of his/her talents.

First the easy part: What corporate storytelling photography ISN’T. It’s not the:
~ Execution at dawn photo, with team members lined up against a wall and “shot.”
~ Grape leaves photo. Similar to the execution at dawn photo, but here the team members have their hands clasped together in front of their groins in Adam-and-Eve-grape-leaf fashion.
~ Important person with oversized check photo.
~ Employee at work photo, where the obviously posed worker looks self conscious as he/she avoids looking at the camera.
~ Giant-scissor-yielding executive about to cut the giant ribbon photo.

Boring, right? But damaging too. A corporate Webpage, newsletter or annual report with a boring photo is worse than not having a photo at all. Why? Because the reader’s eye is drawn to the photo first. Therefore, a boring photo = boring story = boring event. Yawn.

Now the hard part… defining what a storytelling photo is. I’ll tackle that one in another posting.

P.S.: Are you wondering what’s going on in the image at the top of the post? Excellent! That’s a piece of storytelling photography. A photo should make readers look twice and study what’s going on. In this case, musicians perform among museum statues during the Wells Fargo Community Celebration event held in downtown Charlotte, NC.

You can check out the photos from this and other corporate-sponsored events at http://patrickschneider.photoshelter.com/gallery/Wells-Fargo-Community-Celebration/G0000x2v_e86hR00/C0000sLejZ1oE1sY


Engage readers with Shadows and Silhouettes

Many corporate communicators have shared their struggles with how to create photos that will engage their stakeholders, who might include employees, customers, shareholders and the public. This is especially challenging in today’s digital communications environment, which demands frequent updates.

They ask, “How can we keep our photos fresh and interesting, so people will come back to see what’s new?”

My advice is to throw shadows and silhouettes into your box of tools. You don’t want to do this every time you’re taking photos, but it’s good to be aware of how helpful this technique can be. Now and then, try throwing a shadow or silhouette photo into your corporate communications news cycle and see what reactions come in return.

Some suggestions for creating photos with silhouettes or shadows:

Had this photo exposed for both the juggler and the background buildings, there might have been too much activity for the eye to absorb your message. Placing the street performer in silhouette creates interesting contrast while also quickly showing readers that the performance was taking place in downtown Charlotte.

Notice how including just a bit of the footwear in the image below helps to quickly explain the unusual shape of the shadows. The goal is to make readers pause to study the image… and then jump into your text to learn more.

This next image is a partial silhouette. Notice how well the clean graphic lines of the frame and hammer offset the features of the woman, who is volunteering her time at a Habitat for Humanity build.

Getting low while shooting this silhouette eliminated background clutter (including the bunching up of the other boaters), and created an image with nice graphic elements.

Patrons at the Mint Museum of Art Uptown seem to become part of the artwork because they are captured in silhouette.

The shadow of this barbecue chef against his smoker.


Lowe’s jumps in with flooding relief in Florida

Photo of a Lowe's employee volunteer holding an American flag pulled from the mud during cleanup of Tropical Storm Debby in Live Oaks Florida.

In the 20+ years I’ve been covering natural disasters as a staff newspaper photographer (and now freelance photographer), I often come across companies and employee volunteers jumping in to help their communities recover from flooding, storms, forest fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and other catastrophes. Their instinctive responses are heart warming.

Still, even in today’s world of ubiquitous communications, I’m often struck by how few corporate do-gooders take time to document and share their efforts. Lowe’s (the North Carolina-based home improvement giant) is an exception worth pointing out.

Photo of the hoovercraft used by First Response responders. Lowe's donations helped buy the vehicle.

In full disclosure, I’ve been hired by Lowe’s dozens of times in recent years to create photos for annual reports, marketing materials, public relations/corporate communications needs, and also community-service activities like I’m showing in this blog. I’m hired as a freelance photojournalist (I’m not a staff photographer for Lowe’s).

Photography of Lowe's employee volunteers in action. Employee volunteerism and CSR photography.

In this particular event (Lowe’s employees helping to clean up Live Oaks, Florida after Tropical Storm Debby flooded the area in June 2012), Lowe’s donated money and products to the American Red Cross and first responders. Employee volunteers (called Lowe’s Heroes) jumped in to lend a hand. It was a spur-of-the-moment response, but Lowe’s also thought to give me a thumbs up to document the rescue and cleanup efforts. (I was in Chicago wrapping up a shoot for another client when Lowe’s called. A helpful US Airways ticket agent quickly got me re-routed to Florida and everything clicked into place).

Photo demonstrating how photography helps companies communicate their employee volunteers in action.

Lowe’s gets my professional respect not just for jumping in to help, but also for taking steps to tell employees elsewhere in their footprint about what’s happening in and around their Florida stores.

At many other events, such as with Rebuilding Together or Habitat for Humanity builds, Lowe’s employees volunteer side by side with the employees from other major corporations. Often, Lowe’s is the only one who hired a professional photographer to capture their efforts.

Photography of employee volunteers helping a flood victim move possessions from a flooded house in Florida.

As a photojournalist, I’m naturally biased when I argue that all companies should photograph their community efforts. If anything, they are great for the corporate historical files. Many times, the photos are helpful in annual reports or on the corporate website or blog. Always, strong photos help connect the companies with their single largest stakeholders: their employees.

In an August 6, 2010 article, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that many corporations have changed their corporate giving practices in response to economic difficulties. Some 54 percent of corporations were encouraging their employees to volunteer more, The Chronicle reported. Unfortunately, the article didn’t show how this percentage had increased from better times.

What caught my attention in the article was a paragraph connecting corporate communications about employee volunteer efforts with increased worker satisfaction levels. In that case, according to the article, Microsoft found that just publicizing its volunteering program to employees in Microsoft’s Egypt operations sparked workers’ satisfaction with the company’s commitment to society there. Microsoft told The Chronicle that workers’ satisfaction jumped from 61 percent to 91 percent (as determined by an internal survey).

A year earlier, in a November 15, 2009 article,  The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported interesting findings from a poll by LBG Associates and LBG Research Institute. Polling more than 8,000 workers and 213 managers of volunteers from 36 companies, researchers found that nearly 71 percent of employees surveyed said their employer’s volunteer program made them feel “more positive” about working there.

Personally, I argue that companies must go beyond just encouraging volunteerism and helping employees find volunteer opportunities in their communities. They should — no, they must — share those volunteers’ stories. Don’t just say X number of employees turned out to help flood victims move their possessions to higher ground.

Instead, share the words of the military vet as he pulled an American flag from the mud.

Charlotte based corporate photographer specializing in photographing employee volunteers in action and other corporate social responsibility efforts/CSR efforts.

 

Talk about the smiles an employee brought to flood victims’ faces as he belts out an impromptu song while strumming a child’s pink plastic guitar with bright blue butterflies.

Photo of an employee volunteer bringing levity during the flood cleanup in Florida.

Share one employee volunteer’s quiet utterance that “there but for the grace of God goes I.”

Photo of an employee volunteer's hand holding a photo salvaged during flood cleanup in Live Oaks, Florida.

As humans, we instinctively want to give and help others. Applaud employees when they do. If you are in corporate corporate communications, take steps to share their stories in order to inspire others to help as well. The key, I believe, is communicating these stories across your corporation.

CSR photo of Lowe's employees removing personal possessions from a flood-damaged home in Live Oaks Florida.

And when you do, strongly consider photographing their efforts. The photos you get back just might become a valuable tool in your communications tool kit.

CSR photography of Lowe's employees loading bottled water to be donated to flood victims after Tropical Storm Debby hit Florida in 2012.

Lowe's employees survey flood damage while being boated in to help homeowners carry out possessions after a hurricane.

Photo of first responders working with Lowe's volunteers helping after flooding from hurricane debby in florida.


Symphonic Sounds at McGuire on Lake Norman

Photo of Associate conductor Jacomo Rafael Bairos as he led the Charlotte Symphony in a free outdoor concert in June at the Duke Energy McGuire Nuclear Station EnergyExplorium on Lake Norman.

Associate conductor Jacomo Rafael Bairos led the Charlotte Symphony in a free outdoor concert in June at the Duke Energy McGuire Nuclear Station EnergyExplorium on Lake Norman. Many Charlotteans are familiar with the Charlotte Symphony’s Summer Pops series, which takes place at SouthPark mall’s Symphony Park venue. The symphony orchestra’s outdoor concerts in Matthews, Huntersville, Pineville, Kannapolis and Cornelius are equally good.

Hundreds of music lovers turned out to enjoy the outdoor concert by the Charlotte Symphony.

A rain storm passed through the area about an hour before the outdoor concert began. Fortunately, the rain (and thunder and lightening) was long gone by the time the musicians took the stage.

The McGuire nuclear energy station is packed with visitor-friendly amenities, including walking trails, a nature trail, picnic areas and Duke Energy's EnergyExplorium, a hands-on science center about electricity generation.

The McGuire nuclear energy station is packed with visitor-friendly amenities, including walking trails, a nature trail, picnic areas and Duke Energy’s EnergyExplorium, a hands-on science center about electricity generation. During the June concert, boats rocked gently nearby as their passengers listened to the music.

Photo of Associate conductor Jacomo Rafael Bairos, who is known for his passionate dedication to music education and community engagement.
Associate conductor Jacomo Rafael Bairos is known for his passionate dedication to music education and community engagement.

Photo of children playing tag at the McGuire energy station summer pops concert. Image is not model released.

A member of the Charlotte Symphony warms up before the outdoor concert at McGuire energy station on Lake Norman.

A member of the Charlotte Symphony warms up before the outdoor concert at McGuire energy station on Lake Norman.

The Charlotte Symphony performing during an outdoor pops concert at Lake Norman.

Another photo of the hundreds (thousands?) of music seekers who turned out for the June 2012 performance at Duke Energy's McGuire nuclear energy station.

Another view of the hundreds (thousands?) of music seekers who turned out for the June 2012 performance at Duke Energy’s McGuire nuclear energy station.

Photo of the Charlotte Symphony in an outdoor summer pops performance. The Charlotte Symphony is the largest and most active professional performing arts organization in the central Carolinas

A bit of Charlotte Symphony context (taken from the symphony’s website): Founded in 1932, the Charlotte Symphony is the largest and most active professional performing arts organization in the central Carolinas, giving nearly 100 performances each season and reaching an annual attendance of 200,000 listeners. Now in its 80th season, the orchestra employs 62 musicians on full-time contracts and is led by the acclaimed conductor Christopher Warren-Green, who began his tenure with the CSO in the fall of 2010. Mr. Warren-Green’s nearly four decades of artistic accomplishments most recently included serving as music conductor for April’s royal wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton, an event viewed by more than two billion people worldwide.

Photo of boats moored along Lake Norman at the McGuire nuclear energy station at dusk.


Urban Oasis along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway

Photography of a woman running along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Charlotte NC.

Charlotte’s newest park opened recently along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. The park, called Midtown Park, is an impressive project that is worth a visit. Charlotte’s Little Sugar Creek Greenway is a public area of more than 19 miles of trails and land connectors. The greenway was designed to interconnect neighborhoods, landmarks and public spaces in order to increase the Queen City’s pedestrian-oriented activities.

Photo of Midtown Park along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

Midtown Park, located next to the Metropolitan mixed-use development, was once home to a gas station. Today the park uses stone, artwork and other natural materials to bring new energy and life to the area.

Photo: Midtown Park and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is popular with residents and downtown workers seeking exercise.

Midtown Park and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is popular with residents and downtown workers seeking exercise.

Photo: A gleaming sphere, installed in April 2012, was designed to bring enjoyment of visual art to the sight-impaired. Artists Po Shu Wang and Louise Bertelsen blended Braille embossed dots with modified music box readers to create multi-dimensional pieces.

A gleaming sphere, installed in April 2012, was designed to bring enjoyment of visual art to the sight-impaired. Artists Po Shu Wang and Louise Bertelsen blended Braille embossed dots with modified music box readers to create multi-dimensional pieces.

Photo: public art in the Midtown Park.

Photo: A biker weaves through the winding pathways of Midtown Park.

A biker weaves through the winding pathways of Midtown Park.

Photo: Lunch-time exercisers run through along the greenway at Midtown Park.

Lunch-time exercisers run through along the greenway at Midtown Park.

Photo: The greenway provides such environmental benefits as stream buffering, wildlife habitats and flood control.

The greenway provides such environmental benefits as stream buffering, wildlife habitats and flood control.

Photo: The greenway provides such environmental benefits as stream buffering, wildlife habitats and flood control.

Photography along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown Charlotte NC

Photography along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown Charlotte NC

A stone archway frames the uptown Charlotte skyline in the background.

Charlotte NC lifestyle photography stock imagery of Charlotte NC

A couple steals a moment together at a table in Midtown Park.

Photography along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown Charlotte NC


Boy Scout Encampment at McGuire Nuclear Station

Boy Scouts from across North Carolina turned out for the 24th annual Duke Energy Merit Badge Encampment, held May 11-12, 2012 at the McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville. The two-day event gives Boy Scouts the chance to earn merit badges in such subjects as nuclear energy, environmental sciences and chemistry. Several boys in Troop 10 attended the encampment (I’m a volunteer leader at Troop 10, based at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Cornelius, NC). Because I was there as a leader, I took the opportunity to photograph the event while the boys were in classes. Several times a year I take photos for Boy’s Life Magazine and Scouting Magazine. Who knows, maybe the editors will be interested in a few of these.

Photo: Boy Scouts with Troop 10 execute the flag ceremony before sessions began on Saturday morning.

Boy Scouts with Troop 10 execute the flag ceremony before sessions began on Saturday morning.

Photo: Boy Scouts holding an American flag at the start of a flag ceremony during a BSA event.

Photo of Boy Scouts during a flag raising ceremony.

Photo: The Duke Encampment included camping along the shores of Lake Norman. Duke's McGuire Nuclear Energy Station is visible behind the tents.

The Duke Encampment included camping along the shores of Lake Norman. Duke’s McGuire Nuclear Energy Station is visible behind the tents.

Photo: Boy Scouts participate in laboratory work and classroom learning while earning a merit badge.

Boy Scouts participate in laboratory work and classroom learning while earning a merit badge.

Photo: Boy Scouts participate in laboratory work and classroom learning while earning a merit badge.

Photo: Boy Scouts participate in laboratory work and classroom learning while earning a merit badge.

Photo: Duke Energy employees lead the sessions to ensure the Boy Scouts are receiving real-world experience and accurate information.

Duke Energy employees lead the sessions to ensure the Boy Scouts are receiving real-world experience and accurate information.

Duke Energy employees lead the sessions to ensure the Boy Scouts are receiving real-world experience and accurate information.

Photo: Scouts practice their First Aid skills as they earn the BSA First Aid merit badge. The First Aid merit badge is required for any Scout working to earn his Eagle badge.

Scouts practice their First Aid skills as they earn the BSA First Aid merit badge. The First Aid merit badge is required for any Scout working to earn his Eagle badge.

Photo: Scouts carry an

Scouts carry an “injury victim” while practicing their First Aid skills.
Photo: Boy Scouts work on their first aid merit badge.
Photo: Boy Scouts earn their first aid merit badge.
Scouts interested in attending the 2013 Duke Energy Merit Badge Encampment should contact the Duke Energy Explorium at 980-875-5600.


Cultural can’t miss: Charlotte Shakespeare Festival

Photography of outdoor theater in uptown Charlotte NC

The 2012 Charlotte Shakespeare Festival is up and running until June 17 outdoors at The Green uptown. As the photos show, it’s a can’t-miss cultural event in the heart of the center city. Plus it’s free.It may also be the regions only free performing arts festival.

The Fish Fountain in The Green urban park uptown became part of the performance.

Shakespeare fans crowded in on lawn chairs and blankets to experience the romance and comedy of William Shakespeare and the acting talent of Charlotte Shakespeare, a professional theatre company offering intimate performances of the traditional and modern classics.

Photo of crowds attending the 2012 Charlotte Shakespeare Festival, held in The Green urban park in uptown Charlotte NC.

The non-profit performance company was formed in 2005 by Elise Wilkinson and Joe Copley under the name Collaborative Arts Theatre. This year the name changed to Charlotte Shakespeare.

Members of the Charlotte Shakespeare festival performing The Tempest in uptown Charlotte NC.

The 2012 production featured The Tempest.

Photography of the Charlotte Shakespeare festival performing The Tempest in uptown Charlotte NC.

Photo of The Green park in uptown Charlotte NC during the 2012 Charlotte Shakespeare Festival.

Photo of The Green park in uptown Charlotte NC during the 2012 Charlotte Shakespeare Festival.

Members of the Charlotte Shakespeare festival performing The Tempest in uptown Charlotte NC.

Elise Wilkinson is the executive/artistic director and Joe Copley is the managing director of the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival.

Charlotte The Center of the Known World statue on The Green park in uptown Charlotte NC.

Countless pieces of public art throughout The Green make an interesting backdrop to the performance. Image above shows the Charlotte signpost artwork (called “Charlotte — Center of the Known World) by Gary Sweeney, a contemporary artist from San Antonio.

Photo of The Green park in uptown Charlotte NC during the 2012 Charlotte Shakespeare Festival.

Learn more about the Charlotte Shakespeare Company and the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival at Collaborative Arts online.

Wide angle photo of The Green urban park in center city. Many visitors find it hard to believe The Green is actually the top floor of a parking garage.

The Green has become an iconic area of Charlotte and the Levine Avenue of the Arts. Walking through the tiered gardens, it’s hard to believe the center city park is actually the top floor to a parking garage. It’s a not-so-secret pocket park that makes up that long list of features making Charlotte so interesting.

The Ratcliffe Condos flank The Green, a pocket park in uptown Charlotte that is home to many pieces of public art, including The Fish Fountain shown in this photo.


Coca-Cola 600 on-track and off-track excitement

Few cautions, great weather and no big-bang crashes speed up NASCAR’s longest race

Photo: Lowe's Team 48 pit crew work quickly to get driver Jimmie Johnson back in the race.

In the 15 years I’ve been photographing Charlotte, I’ve captured on-track action during dozens of NASCAR races at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, located northeast of Charlotte in Concord, NC. Often I’m hired to photograph the behind-the-scenes actions of a specific team or the sports marketing efforts of a corporate client. This time, I set out to help the Charlotte Chamber document race day at the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race sanctioned by NASCAR. Here are some of the favorite images I came up with.

Photo of the new Coca-Cola 600 race logo during the 2012 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway got a new logo. The logo used during the 2011 race can be seen in the image below:

Photo of the previous Coca-Cola 600 race logo. Photo is from the 2012 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Held on Memorial Day weekend each year, the Coca-Cola 600 race always includes tributes to the United States military.

Photo: A paratrooper parachutes into the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a race held over Memorial Day weekend 2012.

photo: Members of the United States Marine Band wait to perform during opening ceremonies. The Marine Corp Band is one of the oldest US military bands, as well as one of the oldest professional musical organizations in the country.

Members of the United States Marine Band wait to perform during opening ceremonies. The Marine Corp Band is one of the oldest US military bands, as well as one of the oldest professional musical organizations in the country.
 

Photo: NASCAR race cars sit lined on the track for the start of the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR race cars sit lined on the track for the start of the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Photo of GoDaddy.com team driver Danica Patrick during opening ceremonies.

GoDaddy.com team driver Danica Patrick during opening ceremonies.

Photo: Colorful Coca-Cola 600 flags line the entrance to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the May 27, 2012 race.

Colorful Coca-Cola 600 flags line the entrance to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the May 27, 2012 race.

Photo: Colorful Coca-Cola 600 flags line the entrance to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the May 27, 2012 race.

Photo: Race fans capture a good view from atop a customized bus.

Race fans capture a good view from atop a customized bus.

Photo of country music star Tim McGraw taken at the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.

Country music star Tim McGraw attended the race.

Photo of Lowe's Team 48 driver Jimmie Johnson and wife Chandra during opening ceremonies.
Lowe’s Team 48 driver Jimmie Johnson and wife Chandra during opening ceremonies.

 

Photo of NASCAR fans in packed stands with NASCAR stock cars on the track.

NASCAR fans rally on the racers from packed stands.

 

Photo: GoDaddy.com pit crew members work to get driver Danica Patrick back on the track during a pit stop.

GoDaddy.com pit crew members work to get driver Danica Patrick back on the track during a pit stop.

 

Photo: Thousands of NASCAR fans at the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race show how popular stock car racing continues to be in Charlotte.

Thousands of NASCAR fans at the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race show how popular stock car racing continues to be in Charlotte.

 

Photo: A fan goes all out in his enthusiasm for NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.

A fan goes all out in his enthusiasm for NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.

 

Photo: A street performer entertains the crowds outside the speedway.

A street performer entertains the crowds outside the speedway.

 


Helicopter rescue training on Lake Norman

On location with aquatic rescue teams

Close-up photo of an aquatic rescue team member during a training exercise on Lake Norman, north of Charlotte, NC.

Members of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) refresh their skills during training exercises in May 2012 on Lake Norman. More than 60 National Guards troops, first responders and emergency management officials from across the state spent four days practicing rescuing survivors in various lake conditions.

Photography of aquatic rescue team members being lifted from Lake Norman during training exercises in May 2012.

NCHART combines the expertise of local rescue technicians with the training, maintenance and capabilities of the N.C. National Guard and the N.C. Highway Patrol Aviation units. The NCHART program became the first of its kind in the nation to implement a regimented training and response program that combines the best civilian rescuers with military aviation assets. HART teams were used extensively following hurricanes Frances and Ivan in 2004 to rescue an estimated 350 residents from fast moving water and areas isolated when landslides cut off roads and escape routes. Since then, the teams also have rescued numerous stranded or injured hikers from remote mountainous regions..Participating agencies: N.C. Emergency Management; N.C. National Guard; Lincoln County Emergency Management; Lincoln County Sheriffs Office; Fire Departments from Denver, East Lincoln, Sherrills Ford-Terrell, Mooresville, South Fork, Union, Asheville and Charlotte; Lincoln County EMS; Lincoln County Water Rescue Team; N.C. Wildlife; US Coast Guard Auxillary; Gaston EMS; Lincoln and Cleveland county Local Incident Management Teams; and North Carolina All-Hazards Incident Management Team.

On location photography in Charlotte NC of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises.

Photos created on location in Charlotte NC of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises.

On location photography in Charlotte NC of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises.

Photos of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises.

Photography taken in Charlotte NC of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises.

North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises held on Lake Norman, north of Charlotte, NC.


Charlotte Dragon Boat Race and Asian Festival

Teams of Charlotte dragon boat racers steady their boats at the starting line.

On your mark… Get set… ROW!

Thousands of spectators poured out May 5 for the annual Charlotte Asian Festival and Dragon Boat Races, held on Lake Norman at Ramsey Creek Park. Organized by the Carolinas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce (CAACC), Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation and the Charlotte Dragon Boat Association, the annual event celebrates Asian culture and traditions locally.

Dragon Boat racers paddle toward the end of the 500-meter course.

I’ve photographed the event a few times in previous years. What caught my attention this year were the number of corporations participating as a team-building exercise for employees. I believe two boats were powered by cancer survivors. Elsewhere in the park, Asian performers danced, sang and entertained the crowds.

Asian dancers in colorful costumes perform during the annual Charlotte Asian Festival held in Ramsey Creek Huntersville.

Dragon Boat racing is an important part of Chinese tradition. Originating more than 2,300 years ago in southern China, races now take place in communities around the globe. The Lake Norman races began in 2006.

An onboard drummer helps dragon boat competitors paddle in sync along Lake Norman.

Athletes paddle in sync to a rhythm pounded by an onboard drummer. The competing teams try to power their 40-foot-long canoe-shaped vessels across the finish line first.

Photo of the colorful face of a dragon boat ready to race in the Charlotte Dragon Boat races on Lake Norman.

Both the race and on-stage festivities make the community event a must-see activity. The event is also fun to photograph. The colorful costumes and brightly painted boats make nice photos.

A young performer fiddles with her costume before going on stage at the Charlotte Asian Festival 2012 event.

A young performer fiddles with her costume before going on stage at the Charlotte Asian Festival 2012 event.

Dragon Boat racers in the 2012 Charlotte Dragon Boat Races.

Teams power their dragon boats toward the starting line during the 2012 Dragon Boat Races in Charlotte NC.

The head of a dragon boat with competitors walking along the dock behind.

A young boy plays on the shoreline of Lake Norman during the 2012 Charlotte Dragon Boat Races.

I couldn’t resist taking this photo of a young boy playing on the shoreline of Lake Norman while a dragon boat floats by on the water.

Two Asian dancers perform on stage at the 2012 Charlotte Asian Festival, held May 5, 2012 in Ramsey Creek State Park in Huntersville, NC.


Hats, Horses and Hounds mark 2012 Queen’s Cup Steeplechase

Photo of boys thoroughbred horses clearing a jump and water feature at the 2012 Charlotte Queen's Cup Steeplechase.

There are horse races, and there are dog shows, and there are fancy-hat gatherings. And then there’s the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase, which has more than a bit of it all. The annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase took place earlier this month just down the road in Mineral Springs, NC.
Photo of boy with a brimmed hat decorated for the Queen's Cup horse race event.

An estimated 13,000 people came to the event, which is organized by the Charlotte Steeplechase Association Inc., a non-profit managed by Bill and Carrington Price. Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina was the beneficiary of the 2012 event.

The day-long festivities included a bit of everything, including people watching (or should that be hat watching), food, friends, Jack Russell Terrier races, and of course, the horses.

Photo of crazy hat shaped like a horse at the Queen's Cup Steeplechase event near Charlotte.

If you didn’t make it to this year’s event, here is a taste of what took place. The 2013 Queen’s Cup Steeplechase event is already scheduled, for April 27, 2013.

Photo of fox and hound riders.

Event photography from Queen's Cup Steeplechase event.

Photography of steeplechase horses clearing hurdle and water jump.

Photo of girl sharing a moment with her horse.

Horses racing on a grass course at Steeplechase.

Photo of woman wearing colorful hat at Charlotte Queen's Cup event.

Photo Charlotte Hunt Club.

Photo of a rider participating in the Queen's Cup Steeplechase near Charlotte NC.


Places to see: Charlotte 7th Street Public Market

As first glance, Charlotte’s 7th Street Public Market looks like any other farmer’s market offering locally grown food. Then one notices the bakery confections, and the coffee bar and the market’s many other offerings that make it so much more.

Still in its infancy after just opening in December 2011, the market is intended to be a business incubator where food entrepreneurs and culinary artisans can set up shop and hope their offerings take root.

It’s definitely worth a visit. Here are just a few of the images we created while checking out the market earlier this month. Even though the market, located at 224 E. 7th Street, isn’t in our daily stomping grounds, we’ll definitely stop by again as the harvest season hits full force. Enjoy the photos. The market was like visual eye candy and a photographer’s dream. Plus it’s yet another cool addition to the long list of cool things to see and do in Charlotte NC.

(Thanks to operations manager Jacqueline Venner Senske for being a model in the environmental portrait above.)

Coffee creations at the Not Just Coffee shop located in the market.

Ashlee Cuddy of Bond Street Wines was a good sport allowing me to create an environmental portrait of her also.

Peter Herr of Herr Fresh Flowers (above).

Michael LaVecchia of the Meat & Fish Co. has a clever business model with his delivery-by-bike service.

Erica Baez-Hortob is the food artist and owner of Cloud 9 Confections and Bakery.


Charlotte Taste of the Nation 2012: Great food – Great cause

More than 60 restaurants, chefs, mixologists and sponsors came together last week (April 11, 2012) to raise funds for and awareness of childhood hunger. Held at the Wells Fargo Atrium in uptown Charlotte, the annual event is a great chance to see — and taste — the culinary arts taking place around Charlotte.

Congratulations to the winners of the Best of Charlotte awards, sponsored by the American Culinary Federation.

Best Cold Dish:

– Amelie’s French Bakery – Peanut Butter Petit Four
– Fern Restaurant – Sweet Potato Meringue

Best Hot Dish:

– Enso Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar – Wagyu Taco
– Mimosa Grill – Benton’s County Ham Wrapped Shrimp

Best Table Display:

– Gallery at Ballantyne Hotel
– e2 emeril’s eatery


Moon over Duke Energy Tower in Charlotte NC

Full moon rising over Duke Energy Tower in Charlotte NC

Driving home from an evening photo assignment the other day, I had the good fortune of spotting the full moon rising over the Charlotte skyline. Taking a photo of just the moon by itself is never fun, so I zig-zagged through the city streets looking for a building to line it up with. The Duke Energy Tower made the perfect partner.

In 2009, I was able to photograph the full moon rising over Bank of America tower. This series shows the path of the moon around the tower that night. While I had happened upon the moon rising over the Duke Energy Tower the other day, I’d purposefully set out to photograph the moon against Bank of America tower after hearing meteorologists talking about how large the moon would seem that night.

Photo of full moon over Bank of America tower in Charlotte NC

Photo of full moon above Bank of America tower in Charlotte NC

Photo of Bank of America tower and full moon in Charlotte NC

It was very dramatic. We turned the photo into a postcard and it’s been one of our best sellers.

Photographing the moon against a skyline is challenging. Still, if you think through the likely path the moon will follow (I’ll often scout the path a few nights before the shoot), position yourself correctly, and then stay patient, you might be rewarded with a few good images. I can’t count the number of times I scouted the perfect location to capture the setting sun or a full moon rising against the Charlotte skyline (or a lighthouse, or interesting building), only to have a cloud float into place and kill the shot. Technology and PhotoShop could solve this dilemma, but I want my images to be real (with adjustments only for color saturation).

So if you happen to check out the links to my Charlotte skyline photos (below) and wonder about the vibrant colors of the sky in many of the images, yes, the sky really was brilliant pink or cobalt blue or Easter-egg purple on the days I took the photos. Often, during the 45 minutes or so as the sun sets (or rises) the color of the sky will transform itself many times, like in these photos, taken on December 15, 2010:

Charlotte skyline photo illustrating sky color transformation as sun sets over Charlotte NC

Charlotte skyline color transformation by sun

Setting sun transforms the color of the sky over Charlotte NC

Photo of Charlotte skyline changing vibrancy as sun sets

Charlotte NC skyline photo of sky color transformation at dusk

Photo: Charlotte NC skyline at dusk

Photography of Charlotte NC skyline after the sun as set.

The next image wasn’t from the photo shoot that night, but it shows what I’m talking about when the sky turns purple over Charlotte.

Purple sky over Charlotte NC skyline with Bank of America tower in photo

A few years ago, I set a goal of photographing the Charlotte skyline from every possible angle. I identified at least a dozen locations to shoot from, and have been knocking them off my list. Don’t the following images show how Charlotte has become one of the most-dynamic Southern cities?

This link goes to a gallery of my newest skyline images:

http://patrickschneider.photoshelter.com/gallery/Newest-Charlotte-Skyline-photos/G00002CaUiVTYOZM

A larger collection of skyline photos are housed in this gallery:

http://patrickschneider.photoshelter.com/gallery/Entire-Charlotte-skyline-collection/G0000W23wxERWbe4/

If you know of angles on the Charlotte skyline that I haven’t already taken photos from, please let me know. If I can make some nice photos from an angle you suggest, I’ll thank you with some prints of the photos I create.

And yes, if anyone is wondering, we do sell framed art of our images. We do the custom framing ourselves. Just call or email for information.

Finally, I’ll end this blog entry with some of my favorite Charlotte skyline images. I like how the sun turned the buildings gold for just a few minutes, completely transforming the look of downtown Charlotte. I took these photos in December 2011.

Photo of Duke Energy Tower in Charlotte NC at sunset.

Photo of Duke Energy Tower in Charlotte NC at sunset.

Photo of the Charlotte NC skyline during a brilliant / golden sunset.


Rock-like religion: Charlotte’s Elevation Church

Church goers of all ages are making Charlotte’s Elevation Church one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States. We stopped by recently to see what all the excitement was about. Excitement indeed.

Hearing the buzz about Elevation, I made arrangements to visit and photograph the Blakeney location. As the photos below show, it was a lot like attending a religious rock concert with a conservative theological message. This wasn’t like any church I’ve visited or photographed previously. These images are from a recent Friday night service.

According to the church’s website, Elevation Church began in 2006 in the atrium of Providence High School. About 121 people were in attendance that day. Today, the church has six locations around Charlotte; 10,000 people attend regularly.

Steven Furtick (above) is the energetic paster of Elevation Church.


Creatives: Get involved with Flashes of Hope

VIDEO:

Flashes of Hope multimedia video from Joshua Stilwell on Vimeo.

Several times each year, photographers and stylists volunteer their time and talents bringing bright moments to families and children battling with cancer. The cause: Flashes of Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating powerful, uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. View the Flashes of Hope site.

I got involved with the Charlotte NC chapter several years ago, and it continues to be one of the most-rewarding ways I can give back. It’s so different from the corporate photography I’m usually doing. The Queen City is fortunate to have a large number of Charlotte photographers who volunteer their time for the cause. We’re aided by volunteer teams of stylists (hair stylists, makeup artists, etc.) and Charlotte organizer Kelly Patterson. I believe Flashes of Hope operates in about 40 cities right now, and it’s hoping to expand. So colleagues, please consider getting involved.

During our March 2012 Flashes of Hope photo shoot at Charlotte’s Presbyterian Hospital, multimedia photographer Josh Stilwell videoed the shoots and created the multimedia show that’s at the top of this blog. The goal is to help creatives and prospective donors understand the workings and benefits of Flashes of Hope so they’ll get involved and will help the program grow.

Enjoy Josh’s hard work and I hope you like some of the portraits I had the pleasure of being able to create during our most-recent photo shoot.


PHOTO SHOOT: Filmmaker George Cochran

It’s hard for a photographer not to be intimidated when sent to photograph a visual media giant. So I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive when Our State magazine asked me to create some photographic portraits of Central Piedmont Community College professor George Cochran, founder of CPCC’s Film and Video program.

Read his bio for yourself from the CPCC site (http://sensoria.cpcc.edu/event/11/):

George M. Cochran has enjoyed a successful career in advertising, marketing, and visual media in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, working with agencies such as J. Walter Thompson, Young & Rubicam, Saatchi & Saatchi, and many others. He created and produced thousands of iconic images in commercial and as campaigns for Stouffer’s Food, Guerlain Perfume, Johnnie Walker Scotch, Max Factor, IBM, Mobile/Exxon, Sony and for 17 years, Miller Beer. Among his many awards are four Clio nominations, Art Director’s Awards, AIGA, for national commercials produced for Quaker Oats, Coors Beer, Betty Crocker, Jell-O, Wheaties, and National Child Help USA.

 Since moving to charlotte 10 years ago, he has consulted with large and small local companies, seeking communication strategies in print, TV, radio, and digital media through his company, Cochran Enterprises. By George’s own statement, his greatest accomplishment has been giving back, as founding director of the CPCC Film and Video Program. In this capacity, he finds an outlet, not just for his unique knowledge of the industry, but also for his belief in the importance of personal vision and artistic integrity through education. He is a board member of Channel 21 and created Image Tree for his Art of Production students as a conduit for their diverse productions ranging from a documentary on the Catawba River to their current documentary production of the ecological positives of the newly constructed Duke Energy Center, here in Charlotte. He is also a member of Ronnie Bryant’s Presidents Board of the Charlotte Regional Partnership.

 He is an alumnus of RIT; has lectured at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Fordham University’s Graduate School, and The Smithsonian Institute; and is contributing editor to the Focal Encyclopedia of Photography.

So do you blame me for heading into the shoot nervously? Turns out I shouldn’t have worried at all. Cochran not only was a great subject to photograph, he was a great conversationalist and really down to earth. His natural style and camera-friendly look made my job really easy.

Like the filmmaker shadow behind him in the photo at the top? I thought it would be a creative way to quickly show what Cochran does. That’s actually my assistant, Josh, posing to create the shadow for me.

Here are a few other images to show what we came up with for the magazine.

See what I mean about his great face? Eye candy for the camera.

CPCC filmmaking class in action (below)

See what I mean about being great fun?


Museum photography for Discovery Place, Charlotte NC

Charlotte’s Discovery Place science museum hired us to create new marketing images of its many offerings. We spent a Saturday this month photographing the cool hands-on exhibits Discovery Place offers. The goal was to show actual visitors enjoying themselves throughout the museum. Discovery Place asked us to apply our photojournalistic approach order to create photographic images that tell visual stories about what visitors to Discovery Place can expect to experience.

A few friends showed up to help during the shoot — in case we needed families/kids to help fill out some of the scenes. Turns out the museum was so popular that Saturday (and so many visitors were agreeable to letting us take their photos and sign model releases) that we hardly needed our stand ins after all.

We photographed the museum from open until close (about 10 hours) and Discovery Place’s marketing team walked away with about 80 production-ready images.

Here are a few of the scenes:

I’m not a snake lover. In fact, they really freak me out. So I wasn’t thrilled when one of our first shoots of the day was of this monster (top photo). Isaac, the guy holding the snake, was a good sport in the photos and clearly didn’t have the snake aversion that I do. Isaac was equally great with the iguana (below).

Parents and kids both enjoyed getting to touch sea creatures in Discovery Place’s touch tank.

As a photographer, it’s always great getting to photograph behind-the-scenes actions, like this scuba diver cleaning the glass on the inside of the aquariums.

This overhead shot (below) was a bit challenging to get… especially since we took it in the afternoon when the museum was pretty crowded. We got the image by mounting a camera to a pole, and then lifting the camera about 15 feet in the air. I focused and fired the camera using my computer. We also strategically placed four flashes throughout the scene to help brighten dark areas and highlight visitors’ faces.

This museum scene is particularly difficult to photograph since, without that overhead context, there is no reason to think the photo was taken in a science museum.

Here is the same scene closer in (had to stand on a chair to get this angle). Having the various strobes still strategically placed around the area really helps the camera capture the features on everyone’s faces. The strobes also helped brighten the entire space and allow the colors throughout the scene really pop. (Thanks to Quinn and Kendall, the two teenage “models” in front who jumped in to help in this scene).

I like the pure delight on her face as she plays in Discovery Place’s water area.


On-location photography for veterinary hospital marketing

We recently had the pleasure of photographing the veterinary practice of LakeCross Veterinary Hospital in Huntersville, NC (just north of Charlotte, NC). The practice just wrapped up a major expansion, which allowed the vets to increase the amount of animal care and therapy services they had room to offer.

We photographed the new space and expanded services, and also photographed the staff in action (and in portraits).

To give a sense of LakeCross Veterinary Hospital, we created this short multimedia video to highlight the range of medical services it offers. We like to create multimedia marketing pieces with still photos, rather than moving videos, because the still photos give viewers a chance to really absorb the scenes. Still images combined with music and narration invite viewers to pause and contemplate. I’d like to hear if you agree.

The foundation of this assignment was to create an archive of strong images the veterinary practice can use for marketing (brochures, advertisements, press release submissions), on its own website and in email blasts. Our goal was to give current and prospective animal owners a behind-the-scenes view of the medical clinic. We produced 93 photos from the day-long shoot.

Here are handful of images from the photo shoot:

This image shows a German Shepherd getting low-impact exercise in an aqua therapy area.

The genuine connections between the vets and pets were obvious.

The two images above show the process of a dog having his teeth cleaned while under sedation.

This dog was so relaxed during an electroacupuncture session. He hardly cared that we were taking his photo. Here are two detail photos of the therapy below.

Practice owners Donna Warren and Tom Hemstreet.

Portrait of practice owners Donna Warren and Tom Hemstreet.

Surgical suite

Photography of the surgical suite… and an operation in session.

Detail photo of sterile surgical area.

Photo of dog in therapy session.

X-ray session in progress…

Lab work going on behind the scenes.

Thanks to the entire staff of LakeCross Veterinary Hospital for their patience and help during the photo shoot!

Photo of LakeCross Veterinary Hospital staff.


We had the pleasure recently of photographing the newly expanded veterinary practices of LakeCross Veterinary Hospital, located just north of Charlotte, NC. Expanding the building’s footprint gave it the chance to add/expand its services as well.


Published works by Patrick Schneider Photography

Cover art for the Charlotte Major Employers directory