Crain’s Communications is a relatively large publisher with over 30 business and trade magazines under its’ brand, several of them which are based in Chicago. As I have been putting much of my focus on corporate photography, I had been targeting two of their magazines for over a year in hopes of setting up a portfolio viewing but had not gotten very far on my own. Shortly after I started up with the Agency Access’ Marketing Campaign Manager, their telemarketing efforts paid off as they had gotten me appointments with both Crain’s Chicago Business as well as Business Insurance Magazine.
Both meetings went exceptionally well and I was awarded editorial photography assignments from each publication. Specifically, Business Insurance was sending me off on a full-day shoot in Indianapolis to photograph their cover story for an ongoing feature highlighting the2013 Risk Managers of the Year.
The scheduling was crucial as we needed to drive over 3 hours one-way, set-up our different scenarios including a group shot with of over 12 people, not break a sweat and get back to Chicago to process the files for approval. With the help of the Photo Editors’ direction and my contacts in Indianapolis, we were able to nail down the timing, complete the required four shots and with time to spare, snuck in one more scenario for good measure.
One of things that stuck with me that day was the formal cautioning I received from the Risk Managers’ Assistant prior to shooting, when she said our main subject was extremely formal, held her breath for a few seconds and seemed to be glaring at me. I had given no indication that she could expect anything less than absolute professionalism so I could not help but think she was concerned that I look as if I may have just gotten my license to drive though I am about to hit the big 4-0.
I took note of her advice and when speaking with Michael, the Risk Manager of focus, proceeded to let him know what I wanted to show through his portraits: Approachable Authority. He immediately agreed, both relieved and confident in how I was coming at the story, opening up just a little bit more as the day went on.
Finally, after completing our last shot, Michael asked me if we wouldn’t mind coming up to his office to do a “quick” portrait of him with the Capitol rotunda in the background. While I was with him in the office, he was completely appreciative, remarking on how easy we made this whole production appear and thanked me for my professionalism. I am not entirely sure what he had been expecting but I was certainly relieved we gave him what he needed to feel comfortable.
Once the job was delivered, my Photo Editor and Creative Director were thrilled as was Michael and all of the staff at Simon Properties.
Whether it is just taking one more step in the marketing cycle, not just an e-mail or a postcard but reaching out though a phone call. Or taking the time to not only listen but absorb what our subjects have to say as they will always tell us what they need to in order to be more engaged and open. The whole process from seeking out this client to delivering the final product reinforces the idea that excelling truly lies in the details.
So, last weekend, my gal pal and I decided to take a very unplanned, impromptu, we have no idea what we are doing, road trip down along the Mississippi River. This is very unlike me. Not the road-tripping part but the lack of any idea as to what we will be doing as I am orderly, perhaps to a fault.
We took of on Friday, after filling up the cooler with one peach, 3 bags of ice, a 12-pack (priorities) and a PDF map on the i-Phone. We did have a few ideas as to where we might like to stop. First on the list was lovely Davenport, Iowa which is close to the Quad Cities on the Illinois side. The plan was to find a super cool bar/pub/brewery near the river and relax. As we had not done any research on this, we ended up driving for over an hour until we landed at the Rhythm City Casino where it was free beer Friday, an all-you-can-eat buffet and needless to say, it was on the river.
On the plus side, I was carded, which being middle-aged, was a compliment as I am somewhat proud of my baby face made possible by an excess of fudgesicles and too little time on the treadmill. But the pluses ended there as the sneeze guard over the buffet led my mind to wander and the smoke-filled slot rooms were testing my lung capacity. Next option. T.G.I.F. Friday’s. Oh, so excited. One can never have enough spinach-artichoke dip in their lives and what a view.
The next morning, after checking out our route online, Monica noticed that we would be passing through Nauvoo, Illinois. Being a big fan of American History, this place was a goldmine. Way back in 1839, the Mormons, led by Joseph Smith, bought the small town and set up their own community. They hung out there for quite awhile until Smith was murdered while serving a jail sentence and Brigham Young took over, leading the refugees to Salt Lake City.
Now, there are over 40 historic sites from that period, including the cemetery where Smith, his wife and brother Alvin are laid to rest. What was even more fascinating was that the whole town resembled a Mecca for Mormons, their place for pilgrimage. With all of the slacks, ties, button-downs and dresses, I was feeling a little disrespectful in shorts and a t-shirt, so we made our visit short. But on our way out,we see the best tribute to Alvin Smith ever:
Moving along through sleepy river towns, abandoned farm houses, roadside vegetable stands and a lack of bathroom facilities, we would occasionally step out of the car for a breather and stretch our legs. And luckily, one of our stops was perfectly timed, as speeding is the norm for me, we may have passed it. A sunflower farm in bloom.
We were there for close to an hour. The wind was pretty strong and I wanted to be sure to stop the motion, expose for the highlights but capture the shadows and get as many variations as possible. Just because. You see, one of the things that makes professional photographers different than someone with a camera, is that we shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Every angle and each setting is modified so we get to see the same person, place or thing in as many ways as possible. It was just a random stop, along an unplanned trip but it managed to serve as a good reminder for me. Tori, keep shooting.
The rest of our trip went off without a hitch. I have spent several thousand dollars in my mind on a motorcycle as even these tiny, rarely travelled backroads were crowded with weekend warriors on their Harleys. I was jealous. I have also decided to do these unplanned trips a little more frequently and the key is not to anticipate much but be ready when something does happen. A little visual inspiration, maybe. Because after you get to where you didn’t know you were going, it can be pretty beautiful.