For 10 years the Development Office at the Massachusetts General Hospital published an annual review highlighting the previous year’s successes and thanking past donors. Also used as a tool to recruit new giving, the report profiled select donors and described the specific programs they supported. Each report started with a meeting to discuss the creative direction and identify the donors we would photograph along with the programs they supported. Our goal was to come back with the photos to illustrate the articles.
Once the subjects were identified, we did all art direction and planning. With locations from New England to Florida to California it was important to schedule the shoot most efficiently. We met with the writer to learn the individual donors’ stories along with any insight into their personalities. We then designed photographs to illustrate the donors’ connections with the hospital so that the portraits visually echoed the accompanying copy.
For example, we photographed a donor couple who coached soccer for young AIDS patients in South Africa, shooting on a local soccer pitch with kids playing in the background. Another donor who lost his wife to cancer runs the Boston Marathon every year to raise awareness and money for cancer research; he was photographed on a training run in his MGH marathon jersey.
We shot all ten donor reports that MGH produced. The photography was central to the story, and the response was tremendous from the hospital and beyond. Probably my favorite assignment, the book was ultimately dropped as the web became a driving force in tracking development efforts. The book’s legacy lives on, hough, as framed photos from the reports still hang in the president’s office.
Sometimes we don’t need a face to face meeting to understand and execute a client’s vision. FSE is a manufacturer of boilers for everything from food processing to massive power plants. The FSE director of communications and her freelance web group were in California, FSE was in Louisiana, and the project that we needed to photograph was in Cordoba, Mexico. The goal was to take a series of architectural photos and details of the project in order to showcase FSE’s capabilities. I worked with the communications director so that I understood the creative message and coordinated with the web team so that I understood the physical parameters of the final use. I was told that they trusted my artistic vision and to just take photographs
We arranged all travel and lodging for the trip to Veracruz, where we met a company representative who drove us to the Cordoba location. There was a strict schedule—only one afternoon and the next morning for our shoot. When I saw the site, I realized that there was only one way to get a photo of the entire plant—get on top of a huge storage tank. My assistant and I climbed up the tank’s ladder half an hour before the anticipated shoot to set up. As we waited for the perfect light a thunderstorm rolled across the valley, threatening to drive us from our only chance to get the shot. It began to spit rain as the light grew perfect but we waited for the winning shot. We quickly photographed the plant and as we scrambled back down the ladder the clouds opened up and it poured. But we had nailed the photo for the client’s new homepage.