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