Getting Tough with Metal Executives

Yesterday I had the opportunity to work with a great company that I’ve done some photography for before, AM Castle & Co., an international metals company based in Oak Brook, IL. They brought me on about a year and a half ago to take some really fun environmental photos in their warehouse and factory (I even got my own hard hat!) and I was so excited to come back for my fourth job with them.

It was still 40 degrees (come ON, Chicago!!) and cloudy when my assistant and I arrived at 3pm. We schlepped the gear up to the 2nd floor of the atrium where the company office was. It’s a pretty snazzy place (my assistant may or may not have gotten lost a couple times). This time I was there to photograph the members of their board of directors who were coming to the end of a long day of meetings.

There was an IT group meeting in the room we were designated to use, so we waited about fifteen minutes for them to clear out before we turned the meeting room into a full-fledged photography studio. It was pretty basic three-point portraiture lighting: using a key light, a bit of a kicker and a backlight to create a flattering “short light.”

We photographed eleven business men. These guys make multi-million dollar decisions about maneuvering difficult markets like construction, or oil and energy, but put them in front of a camera, and they’re totally disarmed. If I had taken a moment to realize it, I might have had a bit of a power trip. “Forehead forward! Nose this way! Not that way, this way! Shoulder down! Smooth that wrinkle!” In fact, as I got to the end of the queue, the report was going around that I was “tough”! Yep, photography boot camp instructor in the making, that’s what I am.

Actually, I don’t really know where that came from. Maybe you kind of assimilate into the environment you’re in. When I’m photographing kids (especially my grand daughters) my voice goes about an octave higher than usual and I can’t imagine anyone on earth would find me intimidating, but maybe those business professionals just needed to be pushed around a bit! So I jumped into the role, and it worked.

It was a fun reminder though, as my assistant observed that everyone kind of finds their own gig where they get to be the professional. Those guys know about metals and construction and business deals, but I know about lighting, capturing a marvelous expression, and making people look comfortable and at ease, even if they think I’m giving them a hard time!

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