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.
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?
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.