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.

Corporate Lifestyle Photography for Convergint Technologies

Corporate Lifestyle Photography for Convergint Technologies

We had several shoots over the past week and my favorite was a corporate lifestyle assignment for SSI Magazine featuring Convergint Technologies, a Chicago-based security firm that designs, installs and services life safety systems for commercial properties.  The plan was to do a cover photo for the magazines’ upcoming issue of the three top executives as well as several interior shots that featured day-in-the life portraits and lifestyle images featuring the employees doing what they do best.

I love assignments like this because every scenario is very different, our timeline for this assignment required us to move quickly and every scenario we were working in, from the outdoor shot to the warehouse, required us to play around with the lighting quite a bit which for me with the time constraint is a fun challenge.

There was an opportunity to use just about every light in our arsenal along with each modifier and a variety of lenses, including the 70-200mm which I love for the compression effect and the 85mm prime which when shooting wide open produces a beautifully soft background.

Even better, the executives and staff at Convergint were a pleasure to work with.  Gotta love people with a great sense of humor who decorate their office with silkscreens of the characters from Caddy Shack and whose corporate mascot is Bill Murrays’ nemesis in the movie.  As an added bonus maybe as much for me as for them, they asked us to incorporate their life-size stuffed gopher in the shots which we did happily.

It’s a beautiful thing when everything goes smoothly and we have the chance to work with incredibly fun people who are also fantastic collaborators.  A big shout out to Marie and Tony who wrangled staff members, brought us lunch even though we were prepared to work right through and kept us smiling with plenty of humor and a few quotable moments.

And of course, hats off to this guy whose homework assignment is to watch Caddy Shack as he’s never seen it before. Something is missing from life when you haven’t had the chance to appreciate Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray in the same sitting.

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!

On Assignment: Commercial Photography for Cox Automotive

On Assignment: Commercial Photography for Cox Automotive

It’s a rare occasion when I head off to a commercial assignment without several cases of lighting gear and my Assistants in tow.  But when Cox Automotive asked me to head out to the Mannheim Auto Auction just south of Chicago to shoot their facilities, they were looking for a more editorial photography feel that comes with available light and I was all in.

 

Manheim is the highest volume operator of wholesale auto auctions in the world with 130 locations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Cox Enterprises purchased Mannheim in 1968 and also owns a majority share of Auto Trader which is one of the world’s leading providers of online and print automotive consumer information.

 

 (Click on an image for a larger preview)

The plan was to focus on different areas within the facility that focus on preparing cars that have just been sold in the auction for consumer use.  From under the hood inspections to brake repairs and detailing, Cox Auto covers it all.

From a lighting standpoint, I got lucky.  The facility was in a huge warehouse with plenty of windows to pull in a good amount of daylight and though the lighting was primarily fluorescents, between the daylight balancing and the white walls, any interference from the typical muddy green cast of the fluorescents was cancelled out.

 

 (Click on an image for a larger preview)

To simulate the look that the creative team was going for in post-production, I applied some desaturation and bumped up the details using a few filters found in the Photoshop plug-in offered by Topaz Labs called Topaz Adjust which is worth checking out.  There are so many options from color casts to alternative film processing filters that you could easily spend an excess amount of time playing around with each image.

I’ll be looking forward to the next round with Cox Automotive when I’ll be heading to Indianapolis and Cincinnati to produce more editorial photography with a focus on the Auction floor.

5 Answers You’ll Need When Hiring A Corporate Portrait Photographer

5 Answers You’ll Need When Hiring A Corporate Portrait Photographer

For many of the clients I work with, it may be the first time they have had to do the leg work of finding and hiring a corporate portrait Photographer.  Being new to the process, they may not be ready for the multitude of questions I ask that help me understand what the assignment entails and how to exceed the expectations of my clients.  Whether the project includes corporate headshots or environmental portraits, there are a few questions I consistently ask and if you’re looking to hire a commercial Photographer, you’ll want to have the answers to these questions ready.

 

1.) How Will The Photographs Be Used?

There is a huge difference in pricing between using images on a website and in internal communications as opposed to using those same images on a multi-state, billboard advertising campaign.  An environmental portrait that is done for a cover story of a magazine is also going to be priced differently than the same portrait photographed to decorate the walls of IKEA.  Although it’s the same photograph, the image itself carries different value for different uses.

2.) What Is The Schedule?

It’s critical for the Photographer to know the timeline of each project.  This includes when the estimate is needed by, the days that you’re looking to schedule the shoot itself and when the final images are due.  This gives us an idea of how much time we have to plan for the shoot, line-up our crew and process the final images so they are in your hands even before the deadline in case any modifications are needed.

3.) Corporate Headshots Or Environmental Portraits?

Of course you can do both options and it’s actually a good idea to do so if the time and budget allows.  I have seen clients use the corporate headshots for their company LinkedIn profiles and use the environmental portraits on their websites for variety.

However, if it needs to be only one of the options, you’ll need to know:

  • How many people will need portraits
  • The time that you have to accomplish all of this in
  • How many final images of each person you would like to be retouched
  • If you are doing corporate headshots, what backdrop color would you like to use
    • Keep in mind, for this set-up, it’s best to have access to an empty conference room that has plenty of space for the seamless paper and lighting set-up.
  • If the plan is to go with environmental portraits, will they be done in one location or several locations within the same office

Chicago-Corporate-Portrait-Photographer

4.) What Look Are You Going For?

In some cases, even with corporate headshots, I have clients who want to go with a very casual feel.  So, the subject is still photographed against a backdrop, however the cropping may not be the typical 3/4, there is more room for a greater variety of expressions, the images may be converted to black and white and the subject may be looking off camera.  There are so many options so make sure you have in mind the feel that needs to be conveyed and the branding that must be matched.

Chicago-Corporate-Portrait-Photographer

5.) What Is The Budget Range?

For each proposal that I work on, there are three factors I take into consideration.  The complexity of the assignment, the time it will take to complete the job from pre-production through image delivery and finally my clients’ price range.

In many cases, when I ask about this the answer has been that they are in the process of collecting bids which is totally understandable.  However, I always try to narrow this down to gain a better understanding of what the client has the budget for and then inform about what is possible within that range.  This transparency ensures that the expectations are not only met but exceeded.

Granted, not every Photographer you speak with may go into details such as this to quote a corporate portrait session however the more details and information we have before we even walk in the door, the more value we can provide.