annual report photography

Eye See You!

Making a connection with your subject is paramount in creating an exciting and engaging portrait. Sometimes that connection comes from the most unlikely source. 

Commissioned by art director Amy Rajokivc thru the Dymun-Nelson agency, I was tasked to create a series of portrait images for the Heinz Endowments annual report. The job went along well with each person sharing their story and experience. The conversations went back and forth, with rapport quickly established. Then came the library. 

At the Homewood Library, we were photographing children in a reading program with their favorite book. Many of the children were somewhat shy at first, but I'm just a big kid so getting down at their level and letting my inner child take over did the trick. 

Then this little guy came in. From the moment he sat down he was beaming with a smile that could light up the room. Every time I looked into the finder of my Hasselblad, he let out a giggle or a loud squeal. Now, I knew I was good with kids, but he was way beyond anything I ever dreamed! Everybody on set was astonished. The expressions I was capturing were almost too much. The most dramatic reactions were coming every time I looked down in my camera. I was getting confused until he pointed and exclaimed "EYE!!!" He saw my eyeball reflected thru the lens of the Hasselblad, and it broke him up! We all had a great laugh and a great time. 

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Andre and Me

To know where you're going, you must know where you've been.

I've said it before, studying the history of art and photography provides you a broader view of the world. Filed away in the recesses of your mind will be snippets. Fragments that can be inspiring, even without consciously knowing.

In the case of "Oil Platform, 1992," I didn't realize the relationship between my photograph and one by Andre Kertesz, "The Balcony, Martinique, 1972," until several years later. Are they the same? No. There are subtle similarities, yes. Do I remember seeing the Kertesz picture before I made my image? Now, yes, then, probably not consciously. I'm sure it was always there, logged in my brain, bouncing between the synapses. Maybe a spark came through that day, or perhaps I just recognized an intriguing alignment of elements – lines, ocean, shadow, clouds, and colors. But whatever it was, seeing the similarities makes a case for studying art and the history of photography. You never know when you'll find a spark.

Oil Platform, Gulf of Mexico, 1992 – Terry Clark

Oil Platform, Gulf of Mexico, 1992 – Terry Clark

The Balcony, Martinique, 1972 – Andre Kertesz

The Balcony, Martinique, 1972 – Andre Kertesz

Get into the scene

Things I learned long ago. Get in close, put the viewer in the scene. It's a small frame, use every millimeter, edge to edge. 

Working with Landesberg Design on an annual report for The Pittsburgh Foundation this was a dance class. It was pretty "free form," which is another way of saying it was crazy. Kids were everywhere doing their thing. I just tried to stay in the middle of it all and key in on a few of the more expressive dancers. Everything came together in this frame, edge to edge. The moment I pressed the shutter, I could feel the gentle hand on my shoulder from my old professor, Joseph Costa. I knew that one would make him proud.

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