Corporate Lifestyle Photography for Praxis Life Sciences

Corporate Lifestyle Photography for Praxis Life Sciences

We were recently invited back to Praxis Life Sciences in Lake Forest for a full day of business headshots, corporate lifestyle photography and coverage of their annual meeting.  Our morning involved setting up for the corporate portraits on a white backdrop to replicate the headshots we’ve done for Praxis in the past.  I’m a big fan of using a white backdrop since it’s such a clean look and it feels less formal to me as well especially with the lighting scenarios we use.  Cross lighting with a parabolic umbrella as the main, medium softbox as the hair light, 2 reflectors on the backdrop and the Westcott Eyelighter as a front fill.  This handy tool creates such a beautiful wrap and spectral highlights that I use it whenever possible, even for environmental portraits.  After wrapping up the corporate portraits, we had some time before the start of the meeting, so we staged a few corporate lifestyle shots in the hallway and in the lobby as well.

Moving on to the meeting coverage my initial intention was to bring in some lighting for fill.  But as the day moved along, the sun made an appearance and we had plenty of available light to work with between the daylight streaming in and the overheads which worked out perfectly since the use of strobe would have proved distracting.  When covering smaller meetings, it’s critical that I’m unobtrusive and ideally, I’d like my subjects to forget that I’m even there so that I’m able to capture the candid and genuine moments and we certainly managed to do that on this round of images.

A shout-out to my Assistants Whitney and Chris who once again proved to be invaluable!  And of course to everyone at Praxis, especially Jamie who helped to coordinate, schedule and prepare so that our day went so smoothly!

Kickstarting 2018 | Event Photography for Hyatt Corporate

Kickstarting 2018 | Event Photography for Hyatt Corporate

Wrapping up 2017 entailed some time off with friends, family and plenty of well-earned downtime.  I had a chance to catch up on some reading (I recommend Quiet by Susan Cain) and throw myself into a Netflix binge of which I refuse to divulge the shows I was watching due to potential embarrassment.  Before you think less of me, it was not Fuller House.  

A week into an incredibly frigid January, where I had not left the house for several days due to the 10 below temps and accompanying windchills that pushed me and my puppy into hermit status, I was happy to dress myself in the appropriate ensemble of black shirt, black jacket, black pants, black shoes and make my way to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago for two challenging and fun days of event photography for their corporate sales and event managers’ meeting.  

As a Chicago event photographer, I have covered many meetings at the Hyatt and also photographed a few environmental portraits for various hospitality magazines in their beautiful, skylit lobby so it’s one of my favorite hotels in the city to shoot in.  So, I was excited to be called in by their event manager to cover their annual meeting where the focus would be on not only the speakers, attendees and candid images but also highlighting the room set-ups, food, beverages and in general wonderful spreads that the Hyatt Regency Chicago consistently delivers.  And they surely did not disappoint.

 

 

Above: The theme of the meeting focused on the Chicago seasons, history and fun things the city has to offer.  In the morning meeting, the color scheme reflected our wintry season complete with couches and blankets.  The evening reception hosted in the lobby restaurant was based on a Zoo theme (think Lincoln Park Zoo-one of the oldest zoos in North America and also free admission).  The tables were dressed with various animals made of stretched bamboo and gigantic trees walked their way through the reception.  Click on any image for a larger preview.

 

 

Above: The breakfast selection that was offered made me want to be an attendee at this meeting as breakfast is simply the best meal of the day.  The chefs had pulled together everything from fresh smoothies, to lox and bagels, breakfast sandwiches, beautiful fruit and nut selections as well as a variety of incredible looking pastries and homemade granola.  The morning meeting included a presentation from former NFL quarterback Tom Flick who kept the audience engaged with his thoughtful and often pretty funny presentation.  Lunch was all Chicago.  The cities’ neighborhoods and their foods were represented including Greektown, Chinatown, Pilsen and Devon Avenue.  Then it was off to the afternoon sessions where smaller groups got together to dive deeper into discussions.  Click on any image for a larger preview.

 

 

Above: The last night wrapped up with an evening reception that was a throwback to the Chicago that most everyone is familiar with through movies and historical figures.  Think Blues Brothers, prohibition and flapper girls who loved their boas and their jazz.  The set-up was beautifully lit, the food looked fantastic and the entertainment was certainly amusing with a Blues Brothers tribute band who played like they were on a mission from God and vaudevillian dancers from the musical Chicago.  And of course, there is always dancing when a cover from Wild Cherry comes on.  Click on any image for a larger preview.

A great introduction to 2018!  A new client.  Fantastic people to work with.  A beautiful event. And awesome images as a result (said humbly).  Here’s to the new year!

The Website Redesign Shot List | 4 Must Have Images

The Website Redesign Shot List | 4 Must Have Images

The day is here and it’s finally time to redesign your website.  Your website is critical for your business and it’s typically the first impression a potential client will have of you.  You’ve got your custom web developer, written out all of the content and now it’s time to consider the imagery.  Images can be a powerful type of content that will enhance the user’s experience on your website.   At the highest level, images help your visitors connect and feel comfortable on your site. Since 65% of the population describes themselves as visual learners, you have to plan for people who want to look at pictures instead of reading words when you tackle a website design project.  So, the photos you choose to run with on your site should be custom and representative of your brand.  

 

 

With that in mind, here’s the list of the 4 kinds of images you’ll need when launching or redesigning a website.

1. HERO IMAGES

Chicago-Commercial-Photographer

The hero image is the featured photo on the home page of the website that is placed front and center.  These are also typically placed on the top of each primary page of the website as a banner.   Since this is the first visual the potential customer has of your services, the photo should present the most important information and is often accompanied by text and a call to action.  

 

2. PRODUCT PHOTOS

Chicago-Commercial-Photographer

When your product is a tangible item such as a burger, bike or a backpack, what you make needs to be featured on your website constantly and consistently.  Consumers expect to know how a product looks from multiple angles before choosing to make their purchase.  If you’re selling a service, this can apply as well.  For instance, a contractor who specializes in tile work, could show before and after images of a backspace installation.  The more appealing the photo of your service or product is, the more likely someone is to work with you or put that product in their shopping cart.                                  

 

3. PORTRAITS

Chicago-Commercial-Photographer

Whether you business is a service or it’s a product that your company provides, it’s the people behind the scenes that make it all possible.  We all like to know who we’re working with and who we are buying from which is why it’s essential to include head shots of the key members of your team.  In recent studies, it’s been found that website users spend 10% more time viewing portrait photos than actually reading the biographies even though the biographies consume much more space.  

Keeping the head shots current on the About US and Contact Page current helps to put a face to the name and humanize your company because potential customers are just as interested in who you are as what you do.

 

4. SERVICES PHOTOS

Chicago-Commercial-Photographer

When the business you’re in is a service and you’re product is an intangible one, you’ll need to find creative ways to show off what you do.  If you’re a lawyer or realtor, for example, you’re product is you and your professional expertise so you’ll the photos to feature you working with your clients and your team.  If there’s a process involved, break it down, and feature that process in photos so potential clients can see behind the scenes of your services.

 

Studies show that we process visuals much faster than text and not only do we process images more quickly but we also retain much more information when it’s transferred to us visually.  The most important factor to consider when pulling together a photography shot list for a new or redesigned website is that users pay attention to information-carrying images.  So, the more professional and compelling your site’s photography is, the more business you’ll conduct over time.  

Spring Marketing Campaign | Portraits for COD

Spring Marketing Campaign | Portraits for COD

It has been way too long since I’ve had a chance to swing by the blog to do some updates.  Lucky me, I was asked by a client to do some traveling to various cities south and east of Chicago to shoot corporate lifestyle in the last months of 2016 so that kept me super busy though December (fill you in on those travels on a blurb to come). By the time I came up for a little air, I needed some time to binge on Netflix and check off some novels on my Good Reads list.  But now it’s time to get to it.

The last thing I shot prior to this travel assignment was for the College of DuPage, which is the largest community college in the state.  I’ve been working regularly with their marketing and communications team for the last 2 years or so and am always happy to get their call.  The assignments normally revolve around a series of environmental portraits of students who have made the most of their time at COD and then we catch them doing what they do.  We’ve worked in the computer labs, architecture classrooms, welding facilities, professional kitchens, hospitals and local fire departments.  Incorporating the students’ work space into the shots helps to tell their success stories more than a standard headshot and a few lines of text. 

It’s always a pleasure to meet with the students and talk to them about their plans, especially those who are returning to school in hopes of making a career change as I can relate.  After years of working at a staffing agency, I decided it was time to try to do my own thing and I thought photography would be a challenge and continually keep my interest.  I was enrolled at Columbia College in Chicago for a few studio lighting classes, learned as much as I could and started assisting around town.  Getting myself back into school was the first step in making the big change and kudos to anyone who takes those same chances.

Chicago-Portrait-Photographer

Here we are working in the nursing lab at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.  Every day, every location, every subject looks a little different than the one that came before it which definitely keeps us on our toes. This project took us from the COD campus in Glen Ellyn to Elmhurst Hospital, over to Old Orchard Mall where we were treated to a fantastic lunch at Roka Akor and back to the campus library.   Looking forward to more of these kind of assignments in 2017 for sure.

On the Road for Manheim Auto Auctions

On the Road for Manheim Auto Auctions

Recently, I wrapped up a multi-day assignment for Manheim Auto, photographing several locations in the Chicago area as well as Milwaukee.  Working with our Art Director, the goal was to illustrate a day in the life on the auction floor as well as the fast-paced action that happens during each sale day.  Manheim has locations throughout the North America, Europe, Asia and Australia and is the largest wholesale auto auction in the world.  Each location differs from the next and the goal of this shoot was to emphasize their innumerable offerings and personable customer service that is available at each auction.

There is so much going on once on the auction floor, from the drivers making their way into the lanes, auctioneers talking a mile a minute,  buyers competing for the best deal, the middle men and women mediating each sale.  It’s loud, it’s busy, it’s totally entertaining and the personalities are as big as the sale itself.

Photographing these assignments for Manheim is a contrast to any event I have ever covered and the corporate marketing materials I have worked on but the end game is similar.  Capture the overall vibe including the non-stop action and collaboration.

Next round, Houston, Texas.  3 locations in 2 days with 95 degree heat in August.  Bring it!

Covering Events From Every Angle | NACS State of the Industry Summit

Covering Events From Every Angle | NACS State of the Industry Summit

I photograph a considerable amount of corporate events annually and in each case there are a variety of critical moments that need to be covered, from break-out sessions to networking, awards presentations to keynote speakers.  In some cases, the event is arranged so that there are several speakers in a row and from an event photographers’ viewpoint, the key to making the images memorable and compelling as opposed to repetitive and uninteresting, is to cover the speakers from every angle and perspective.

Larger events have more allowance where I can cover the room from one side to the next and front to back while being unobtrusive whereas with smaller events it’s imperative to get the photographic coverage keeping in mind never to draw attention to yourself.  The idea is to simply blend in and be stealth.

Covering speaker sessions, I mostly rely on a longer telephoto, 70-200mm for tighter audience and speaker photos and move to the 24-70 for full-room shots.  In order not miss a beat, I carry two camera bodies with lenses attached using the Spider Pro camera holster which may be the best purchase I’ve made this year to date.  The cameras with attached lenses and battery grips can begin to feel excessively heavy during a 10 hour day but with the holster balancing the weight on both hips, I can last so much longer and without the strain of carrying gear via shoulder straps.  Changing between bodies is super fast and much preferred to swapping lenses using one camera body, not to mention so much safer as I can attest to dropping at least one lens on the ground at a conference when trying to do a lens swap.  Sure, it’s a little lighter but after ponying up the $600 to repair that lens, the dual system is now my go to method.

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I also play around quite a bit with apertures while covering an event.  First, I’ll adjust the exposure settings for a normal depth of field at f/5.6 and move between this number and f/2.8 depending on my subject.  If I’m highlighting the full audience, I’m at 5.6, for an individual audience member, I’m at f/2.8.  That full-stop shift can create a frame around the individual audience member and when I can catch them at the right moment, it makes for an impactful image.

As for on-camera flash, I do carry this on my camera, typically on the shorter lens but rarely have I ever used this in a meeting as it’s distracting and doesn’t give me the reach I need when shooting further into a crowd.  With most corporate events, there is ample available light to simply bump up the ISO, engage the lens’ image stabilizer and play with the depth of field.

Once I get an overall feel for where the camera settings need to be and where I can take them, I start to move around the room so as to photograph the event from every angle.  I’ll move to the front, both middle, right and left sides.  I’ll go directly parallel with the speaker to photograph them from the side.  In some cases, I may be able to move behind the stage and shoot through the stage paneling for a silhouette.  And then it’s on to the middle of the room where if a seat is available, I’ll shoot through the audience members, using their heads and shoulders to frame the speaker….a look I’m very fond of as it captures the speaker from the audiences’ perspective.

And last but not least, the full room shots covered from the front of the stage and also photographed from the back of the audience.  Every detail that goes into these presentations needs to be covered including the powerpoint and graphs displayed on the stage screening.  Capturing the speaker with the stage displays puts the images into context that highlights the messages of the conference.

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The images that I supply from each corporate event are used to engage followers in social media during the event as well as to promote these conferences and conventions for the upcoming years.  With as much planning that takes part before I even enter the scene, it’s essential to appreciate the details and supply event coverage that reflects continuous audience engagement and speakers that are captivating.  Granted, this may not always be the case as there have been plenty of assignments I have taken on that are a little less exciting and very low-key.  So, I keep shooting, wait patiently, play with angles, change my settings and offer a variety of images that are both compelling and illustrate the essentials of each corporate event.