About a month and a half ago, I was contacted by the good people at Vetrepreneur Magazine to shoot the cover of the May issue. The subject was Kaney O’Neill, a military veteran who was injured during a hurricane in 1997. She didn’t know it at the time, but I was photographing her for being awarded with the “Woman of the Year Award.”
After being awarded the job, we went through all the prep for the shoot…scheduling the date, finding the location, and getting all the tech details down. Unfortunately, most did not go as planned but being open-minded turned out to be the difference between the shot and leaving with nothing.
A couple days leading into the shoot, we had scouted an office at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. We had plans to use some pretty cool backdrops in an office called, “1871,” which is a entrepreneurial hub for digital startups. When the shoot day came, we were told we could not use the areas we had scouted. All the work leading to the shoot was scratched and I had to act quick to find a new spot. My subject also only had about 2 hours before she had to be on a flight!
I found a cool spot with live moss on the background, and began setting up for the shot. I took a quick snapshot and emailed it to my art director who was based in Pennsylvania to get an OK.
We decided that we would shoot here and then on a wall in an office for a second option. After completing the portraits, we had about 15 minutes to get another shot done, which was to be used for the inside spread of the magazine. This shot was to mimic a scene in which there was a speaker and Kaney would be taking notes learning how to improve her business.
After all the craziness, we were able to get everything shot before Kaney left for California.
Vetrepreneur Magazine Cover (May 2015)
The best part of being a commercial photographer is the freedom I get to really play around with things…lighting, styling, different looks, etc. While my clients will obviously always have certain shots they are looking for, they will almost certainly be looking to the photographer for something different as well. Note: I’ve never been on a shoot where things “actually” go as planned. I plan ahead for a certain look by testing and come shoot day, it will most certainly need tweaking.
This tweaking of lighting is just the beginning of the creative fun I get to have. Many of my favorite images have come from shooting a certain ‘planned’ look into a “HEY! Let’s try this real quick!” When I get pumped up, everyone else does, too. And this attitude is what keeps everyone going. Check out some recent images that have been derived from this “finding time to play” attitude!
2014 has been an amazing year. I’ve worked on some great projects, worked alongside great photographers, met more great people, and received an amazing honor from the college from which I graduated. With the holiday season upon us and a little more down time, I’m able to reflect on the past year and look at things to improve on as well as keep on doing. It’s these thoughts that help keep the drive alive as well as helping plan for the next year.
One of the most important things I’ve learned and experienced is to keep in touch with people and always work your a$$ off! Some of the best jobs I’ve gotten this year arose from these types of circumstances. You really never know when someone you have worked FOR will throw your name out to take on some pretty great projects to call your own. Note: Make sure your work will back the story up. Just because someone gave out your name doesn’t mean a thing. They can always go elsewhere!
One of my most recent publications came from this sort of situation. My name got out there but had work they also liked. Check out this link to see the full story featured in November’s issue of Fender Bender Magazine.
Discovery Clothing had me in again a month ago to shoot their winter and holiday clothing line. Helping and watching your images help a company grow is a really great feeling. A company that started here in Chicago is now in 3 other states. Cheers to that! It’s very excited to help a company like that expand and be part of their growth and branding.
A new client I’ve been working with, IVY, reached out to me from New York. They’ve been expanding to major cities here in the US with a goal to establish a dynamic global community across 50 global cities, and create lifelong collaborative bonds between countless inspiring people who would otherwise never meet through creative collaboration, camaraderie, and inspiration. Creating images for such a social community has introduced many new people as well as some great connections.
Among other accomplishments, Harrington College in Chicago awarded me with a “Distinguished Alumni Award” for my work after graduating only just a couple years ago. I’m extremely humbled to have stood next to the best graphic and interior designers in their respective careers. Thanks to all the faculty and teachers that have helped me along the way!
As 2014 closes, one of the most important things I’ve learned is clients rarely last a lifetime. Positions change within companies, marketing directors move from company to company, but if one thing’s for sure…every job should be treated like it’s your last. Go out of your way to do extra work, edit a bit more, and just go the extra 10 yards. They’ll remember.