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.
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.
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.
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.
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. During the June concert, boats rocked gently nearby as their passengers listened to the music.
Associate conductor Jacomo Rafael Bairos is known for his passionate dedication to music education and community engagement.
A member of the Charlotte Symphony warms up before the outdoor concert at McGuire energy station on Lake Norman.
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.
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.
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.
Boy Scouts with Troop 10 execute the flag ceremony before sessions began on Saturday morning.
The Duke Encampment included camping along the shores of Lake Norman. Duke’s McGuire Nuclear Energy Station is visible behind the tents.
Boy Scouts participate in laboratory work and classroom learning while earning a merit badge.
Duke Energy employees lead the sessions to ensure the Boy Scouts are receiving real-world experience and accurate information.
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 carry an “injury victim” while practicing their First Aid skills.
Scouts interested in attending the 2013 Duke Energy Merit Badge Encampment should contact the Duke Energy Explorium at 980-875-5600.
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.
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.
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.
The 2012 production featured The Tempest.
Elise Wilkinson is the executive/artistic director and Joe Copley is the managing director of the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival.
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.
Learn more about the Charlotte Shakespeare Company and the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival at Collaborative Arts online.
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.
Few cautions, great weather and no big-bang crashes speed up NASCAR’s longest 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.
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:
Held on Memorial Day weekend each year, the Coca-Cola 600 race always includes tributes to the United States military.
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.
NASCAR race cars sit lined on the track for the start of the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
GoDaddy.com team driver Danica Patrick during opening ceremonies.
Colorful Coca-Cola 600 flags line the entrance to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the May 27, 2012 race.
Race fans capture a good view from atop a customized bus.
Country music star Tim McGraw attended the race.
Lowe’s Team 48 driver Jimmie Johnson and wife Chandra during opening ceremonies.
NASCAR fans rally on the racers from packed stands.
GoDaddy.com pit crew members work to get driver Danica Patrick back on the track during a pit stop.
Thousands of NASCAR fans at the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race show how popular stock car racing continues to be in Charlotte.
A fan goes all out in his enthusiasm for NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.
A street performer entertains the crowds outside the speedway.