Making it Through the Winter

Washington's guard, Valley Forge Park

Washington’s guard, Valley Forge Park

It’s been hard to get through this winter. It feels like no sooner do we get ourselves dug out from one storm the next one comes in directly behind it.

George Washington surveying the wintery scene at Valley Forge Park

George Washington surveying the wintery scene at Valley Forge Park

To get my mind off of all the plans that this week’s weather is ruining, I decided to drive out to Valley Forge Park yesterday and have a short walk.

Washington's Headquarters, Valley Forge Park

Washington’s Headquarters, Valley Forge Park

All in all, there have been worst winters — It was nice to get some perspective.

 

At Work

Props help create a purpose and direct action.

Props help create a purpose and direct action.

Prospective clients visit your website not just to find a way to contact you, but to learn about you and your staff. Many times it will be the first impression your business makes on that client.

Good head shots are important, but they don't have to be your company's only face.

Good head shots are important, but they don’t have to be your company’s only face.

Traditionally a company’s website might have a scrolling page of head shots with a short blurb with each person’s bio. This is very useful and efficient way of showing every member of staff. Presenting your staff only as a mosaic of smiling faces misses an important opportunity to communicate with current and prospective clients.

Let your clients put a face to the voice on the telephone.

Let your clients put a face to the voice on the telephone.

Showing the “Team At Work” on your website communicates more than just competence, it can show your organization’s personality.

Reviewing paper work.

Reviewing paper work.

The trick to making these photographs successful is to make them feel as natural as possible. For these images I use minimal lighting that looks natural and allows the camera to move around the action, and ask the subjects to pretend it is a normal day and I am not there.

An improptu meeting on the street.

An improptu meeting on the street.

This last part can naturally be the largest hurdle because the normal work day usually doesn’t include a photographer, a photographer’s assistant, and flash bulbs firing. But, if I take my time, give them some props, some minimal direction, and let them talk about their work, people will fall into their normal banter and I can get the best images.

Always Looking Up

Clock tower ceiling of The Palace of Culture, Warsaw, Poland.

Clock tower ceiling of The Palace of Culture, Warsaw, Poland.

Sometimes it’s easy to ignore the ceiling. It’s always a good idea to look up when sightseeing, there might be a special visual treat the architects want you to notice.

Philadelphia ceiling.

Philadelphia ceiling.

Whether it’s a large landmark, store, restaurant, or someone’s home, somebody gave that oft ignored ceiling some thought.

Ceiling at a private residence, Poland.

Ceiling at a private residence, Poland.

Those small, or large details sometimes make for just as interesting a photograph as the front facade might.

Department store ceiling, The Hague, Neatherlands.

Department store ceiling, The Hague, Neatherlands.

Dresden

The Dresden Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady)

The Dresden Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) was not rebuilt until 2005

Dresden is a city that lived at the edge of my imagination, but without distinct shape. A fuzzy blob shape created from history book and Vonnegut pages.

The reality is a beautiful city of breathtaking architecture made even more remarkable by the fact that so much of it was destroyed in February of 1945.

The Procession of Princes (Fürstenzug)

The Procession of Princes (Fürstenzug)

The Procession of Princes mural, 102 meters of porcelain tiles, survived the bombing largely undamaged.

The Fürstenzug on Augustusstraße

The Fürstenzug on Augustusstraße

More photos from our, all too brief, trip to Dresden can be seen on my Flickr feed.

The Dresden Zwinger

The Dresden Zwinger

 

Working all the Angles

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If you drop in on a photography critique you might hear a mantra repeated over and over, a directive to simplify a composition. Photography is the art of exclusion, or leaving out of the frame things that are not important to tell that story.

It is the reason that advertising images are careful orchestrated and artfully retouched to remove any distracting objects that dilute that campaign’s message. And also the reason that a lot of catalog photography is done on completely white or simplified backgrounds.

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But rules are not universal and there are reasons to add things to a composition. Context is very powerful, and when photographing events like conferences, lectures, banquets, etc I try to give my images depth by showing the subject in the context of the event.

Finding a better angle by showing more members of the audience.

Finding a better angle by showing more members of the audience.

Conferences are often held in larger rooms so audience members can have empty seats around them and more comfortably set up their computers, notebooks, coffee cups, etc. The two images above were shot within a minute of each other — I shot the image on the right first and then worked to find a better angle.

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The more useful image to my client shows that the event had a healthy turnout and because of that the discussions were more vibrant.

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Photographs of the speaker also have more depth when we see at least a hint of the audience. It no longer is a solitary person standing at a podium, they are now in a room filled with an attentive audience.

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These sort of events will often include breakout sessions, or a break for lunch or coffee. This is another chance to show people interacting.