Along with Spring has come an upswing in corporate photography work, a great sign that the business and corporate worlds are moving steadily back to normal. A perfect example was a request for headshots from Cloud Campaign, a small Portland start-up specializing in web optimization for strategic marketing. Energetic, team-spirited and full of creative ideas, Cloud Campaign quickly became emblematic of the wave of new energy bubbling up in corporate photography.
Kerri Garfield and I teamed up for the May 5 shoot. Kerri and I have photographed together for more than ten years, swapping roles back and forth- me as photographer, Kerri assisting, then Kerri as photographer, me assisting. Full disclosure: Kerri is the owner and operator of Kerri Ann Garfield Photography, a family-focused studio in West Linn. Over the years we have worked together, the boundary between our roles has blurred. We each bring visual ideas to a shoot, no matter which one of us is actually holding the camera. Both of us offer feedback on images as the shoot unfolds, and yes- both of us do the dirty work, helping to move the lighting gear, set it up, and tear it down. This cooperative relationship has been the basis of many great shoots in the past, and I hope many more in the future.
So, Kerri and I were all set for the May 5 Cloud Campaign shoot… just a few days out. And just days before the shoot (dramatic pause), Kerri injured her arm. While the doctors were trying to figure out how serious the injury was, Kerri put on an arm sling and informed me she was still going to assist at the Cloud Campaign shoot. I distinctly remember asking her “are you sure?” . Kerri pretty much ignored the question and showed up for the shoot.
So last Thursday, we parked in front of Cloud Campaign’s Portland office and were greeted curbside by four of their staff. I should add here that no one had told them about Kerri’s injury. But the four team members proceeded to introduce themselves, spontaneously unload all the photo gear and haul it up two flights of stairs to their office. I sensed this gesture was a good sign. It got even better. Upstairs, Kerri and I then improvised a new way of setting up the equipment. Kerri mostly used her left hand (the one not in the sling) to assemble smaller components, while I set up heavier tripods, stands and camera. Somehow, as if by magic, the setup seemed to go faster than usual. In forty minutes, we were ready to go.
Portrait photography is all about establishing a relationship between photographer and subject. You’ve got about three minutes to do it. It’s a whirlwind exercise in creating a safe, fun, comfortable environment for improvisation. At Cloud Campaign, the relationship began by Kerri and I introducing ourselves, explaining a little about the lighting and the process. I tried a few shots. Kerri spotted helpful wardrobe details I missed, like a stray hair or an unbuttoned button. We both suggested poses. Kerri encouraged smiles. The pace picked up. The camera shifted into high gear… sometimes six frames per second when the action peaked, letting each person explore their own direction for presenting their best, truest self.
Cloud Campaign’s staff seemed to rise to the occasion. They brought an underlying joy in the way they embraced the camera, trying out our ideas for poses, and bringing their own ideas. Time seemed to fly as we photographed all twelve team members, and Milo, the team’s canine consultant.
The grand finale? Kerri and I reprised our new skills for rapid equipment set up, just in reverse. We packed up. Cloud Campaign’s gracious team members helped us carry the camera gear back down the stairs and into our car. What else can I say but Great Shoot! Thank you Cloud Campaign! And thank you Kerri. The hero-of-the-week award goes to all of you.
Illustrations below: Kerri in the finished set, followed by Cloud Campaign team members Emily, Becca, Kienan, Ken, Ross and Milo.