Personal portrait projects are a great way to let loose and get creative, and at the same time can help a good cause. I reached out to my good friend Matt Wallace at the Heights Foundation in Fort Myers to pitch him an idea I had for the Foundation’s new community center in the Harlem Heights neighborhood of South Fort Myers.
“Harlem Heights is a severely distressed community, with kids living in poverty at twice the rate of the rest of Lee County.”
“The foundation is a grassroots, hands-on organization that celebrates the strength and diversity of the community and has the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty. Its work supports community development programs for individuals, students, and families, and provides charitable outreach projects in the community.” – Heights Foundation Mission Statement
The idea was to shoot fun expressive portraits of kids who benefit from the Heights Foundation, and then create large prints to help decorate the walls of the new building.
Matt suggested we photograph kids from the after school program at the center. The after school program is an integral part of the center’s commitment to the community.
I wanted to let the kids be themselves, expressive, fun and not feel like they had to pose for a typical school or family portrait. We shot over 40 kids during 2 days at the center.
I was able to negotiate a generous discount for the portraits to be printed 20×20 directly on foamcore locally by Suncoast Indentification Solutions, thanks to Corey Savage, their Director of Business Operations. They also donated prints to give out to the families of the children we photographed.
The success of the project is thanks to Matt Wallace who gave me the opportunity to shoot this project and coordinated with the center and the foundation to make this happen. The kids were amazing and had a great time mugging for my camera, the look on their faces say it all.
In this line of work, I meet a lot of people. Some people are fleeting acquaintances in life. Others, like Chelsea Santucci, have a powerful impact on me whether they know it or not.
Fit Nation Magazine assigned me photograph Chelsea working out at CrossFit Salvation in Cape Coral. When we met, I was blown away, not just her physical beauty but there was something in her face and eyes that was so genuine, unique and honest. I spent just over an hour shooting a few portraits and some action shots of her working out, the entire time completely in awe of her and her story. After the shoot I couldn’t help but give her a hug and grab a quick photo with her thanks to gym owner and trainer Lauren Brooks.
Later as I was editing the shoot I brought my kids, ages 4 and 8, over to see some of the photos and explained to them how important it is to live each day to its fullest, never give up and never stop doing what you love, just like Chelsea.
As luck would have it we ran into Chelsea a day later while leaving a restaurant and both kids immediately give her a hug, apparently I wasn’t the only one she had a powerful impact on.
Read the story here http://fitnationmag.com/crossfit-out-cancer/
Her story in her own words here http://bloodieknucklez.com
Support the fight here http://www.chelseasarmy.com
CrossFit Salvation http://www.crossfitsalvation.com
Creatives from Blount International contacted me to shoot a series of ads for a new line of high powered battery operated electric trimmers and pole saws for their Oregon Cordless brand. The tools are aimed at professional landscapers as well as consumers and they wanted to showcase their use at a golf course. Being electric the tools are considerably quiet compared to their gas powered counterparts.
Because they are based in Oregon, the abundance of lush green golf courses in sunny South Florida was an obvious choice. Unfortunately the scheduled shoot days ended up being cold and wet, coincidentally very similar to the weather our creative directors left behind in Portland. Rescheduling was not an option for them and we managed to overcome the weather challenges and produce a series of images that everyone was excited about.
Even though they sky was overcast and we were dodging raindrops for the majority of the shoot we relied heavily on large reflector panels from California Sunbounce to subtly bounce ambient light on to our model, adding some pop but keeping the images looking as natural as possible.
Fit Nation Magazine approached me with a cover idea March 2014 issue featuring high school athletes. I initially expected athletes from the usual high school sports, football, basketball, softball, etc.
Instead I was introduced to Jordan Griffith, a fencer currently competing in matches around the country, (dig his skull and crossbones socks!). We also had Adrian Dougherty, a spitfire 15-year-old competitive weightlifter, who kept us cracking up during the shoot with her quick witted sense of humor.
We started the shoot with Jordan and had him move through a few different fencing stances and motions. Adrian showed up shortly after with a few hundred lbs of weights that looked like giant lifesaver candies.
We shot a ton of images of the both of them and together on white seamless lighting them with a large Octa and then individual shots of them with the colored seamless using a Mola Demi beauty dish. Everything went great and we had a blast shooting these two incredible athletes.
German financial news publication Handelsblatt recently contacted me to see if I would be interested in photographing a New York based financial advisor Thomas Rudy for an upcoming feature they were doing on him.
Rudy, who was born in Germany, was in Florida for the week and we had a narrow window of time to photograph him for the story’s deadline and before he left the country on vacation.
Fortunately he was staying at the historic Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, a gorgeous hotel that didn’t look overly touristy, Tropical or or even Floridian for that matter. Hotel management agreed to give me exactly 15 minutes to photograph Thomas in the lobby. Everything went great and we were able to set up, get the shot, and breakdown in the 15 minutes with out a hitch.
Random Palm Beach Travel tip: Get breakfast at Greens Pharmacy, its an old school luncheonette inside a drug store that hasn’t changed much since the day it opened in 1938.
Thomas Rudy Photographed at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach for Handlesblatt.
Thomas Rudy Photographed at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach for Handlesblatt.
Mid June in Southwest Florida isn’t exactly my favorite time of year. Its crazy hot, usually damp and what you think might be a dragon fly is usually just enormous mosquito. That said , when Florida Gulf Coast University’s Pinnacle Magazine asked if I wanted to head out with the Southwest Florida Amphibian Monitoring Network to document them collecting data on frog populations, I grabbed my muck boots and started packing gear.
The group of trained volunteers on “Frog Watch” as they call it, head out once a month from June through September during our rainy season and travel nine established routes through three counties making 12 stops on each route to collect data on the frogs. Volunteers take notes on mating calls of specific species, intensity of the call, as well as traffic noise, water levels and other environmental conditions.
I love meeting other people who are passionate about what they do, and I had a great time with FGCU environmental studies professor Win Everham as he guided us along the route that included a variety of habitats for different frog species.
The shoot was challenging because of the darkness and my light sources were mostly street lights and flashlights, and I didn’t want to try and throw a strobe into the mix. The unbelievable high ISO capabilities of the Canon 5D Mark III, shooting with a tripod and slowing down the shutter speed helped bring out the night sky and even some light pollution from nearby Fort Myers, Estero and Bonita Springs.
Florida Trend recently featured the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs, FL for it’s annual “Florida’s Best Companies to Work For,” issue, and I was assigned to photograph the hotel’s guest services manager Neil Swetz with members his staff.
The hotel, which was recognized as one of the “Best Large Companies,” in the issue has a reputation for taking great care of it’s employees and everyone had a great time hamming it up for the light hearted shoot around the hotel’s property.
Big thanks to Patricia George, Manager of Public Relations and Marketing Communication at the hotel, for helping coordinate the shoot and making sure everything went smooth.
Also a big shout-out to Frank Gumpert for assisting and standing in with the inflatable shark, lugging gear in the intense heat and humidity that is Summer in Southwest Florida and working the scrim to try and combat the midday sun during the shoot.
Frank stands in with “Toothy” the shark before hotel staff members take their spots.
Photographed Spartan Racer James Del Sordo for an inside spread in Fit Nation Magazine. James was great to work with and not afraid to get a little muddy in the studio for us. We made sure to use “manure free” organic mud.
The Spartan Race is a grueling endurance race that combines distance running with physical challenges such as mud, pools of ice, barbed wire, stinging electrodes and greased 15-foot walls.
Endurance racing is gaining widespread popularity with mainstream races the Spartan Race, Tuff Mudder and Warrior Dash, all competing for their share in the endurance fitness phenomenon.
I was commissioned by aerospace company Rockwell Collins to photograph a talented South Fort Myers High School senior Curtis Collins with a robot built by the school’s engineering program and sponsored by Rockwell Collins FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge program.
Rockwell Collins has a great story about Curtis and his mentors at this link: http://www3.rockwellcollins.com/csr/BuildingOurCommunities/EmployeeStories/
These images are part of a series I did for Florida Gulf Coast University’s Pinnacle Magazine on military veterans who are trying to return to civilian life as college students. It was incredible to hear their stories and struggles of how they are dealing with PTSD on a campus filled with younger students fresh out of high school.