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The New Look of Work

Brian Smale’s photos give corporate culture a lift

Portrait of Man peeking over a table, flipping the bird

Strong corporate culture is an established “must-have” for working millennials. That means it’s a must for hiring managers and CEOs as well. And recently, Photographer Brian Smale has been helping Microsoft with exactly that.

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Brian photographed Microsoft’s technology leadership team – a group whose limited internal exposure led them to be labeled “aloof.” Mario Juarez, Executive Communications Manager, explains, “Brian’s amazing portraits gave much-needed personality to our communications, and heightened the profile of our leadership team, revealing their true spirit, intelligence and diversity.”

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Corporate culture, after all, is much more than free lunch and bike racks. As a recent Huffington Post article points out, modern work is built around human creativity and capability. There’s not as much of a divide between who you are and what you do as there was in a machine-based economy. Millennials, especially, want to be recognized and valued for who they really are.

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This merging of work and personal identities is what makes Brian’s portraits so culturally powerful. “The team brings their own props and ideas,” explains Brian. “We only get about 30 minutes with each person, so I just try to make it comfortable and fun.”

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“Brian’s magic is, he knows how to get each of his subjects to come to life,” says Steve Clayton, Chief Storyteller at Microsoft. “Sometimes through patience, sometimes by having them do a handstand. Or blowing bubbles. Or becoming Ziggy Stardust. And yup, morale is up.” Adds Juarez, “This was definitely one of the best investments we made in FY 15.”

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Andrew Maguire moves mountains for Subaru

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When Subaru wants to capture the active, outdoor lifestyle the brand embodies, they turn to a photographer who does the same. Andrew Maguire, a longtime Colorado resident, is well-immersed in the world of hiking, camping, kayaking and climbing. He knows an authentic scene when he sees one, and how to shoot it. “Lifestyle imagery tends to look really posed and forced,” says Andrew, “I like to just wind ‘em up and let ‘em go, getting that real energy in the moment.”

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For this shoot, leisurely setups weren’t an option anyway. In five days Andrew shot photos of camping in Nederland, CO, trail running in Chataqua, lifestyle in Boulder and rock climbing and canoeing in El Dorado Canyon State Park. Not to mention myriad product shots of gear and accessories. “We had an epic sunrise and an amazing athlete for our climbing shot,” he recalls. “I could have stayed all morning – but with a shot list this heavy, we only had 10 minutes to get the shot.”

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Along with his crew of 12 (and 5 intrepid clients), Andrew toted along a Canon 1DX and a 5Ds with a Broncolor Move strobe pack, plus a truckload of grip gear to manage the intensity of the Colorado sun. “The Subaru aesthetic is well established,” Andrew explains, “and luckily my look is similar – we’re a perfect match.”

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Never one to sit still for long, Andrew also recently finished a series of shots for Nike’s Elite Trail Running Team in Chamonix, France. “Talk about intense,” says Andrew. “You hike in for hours and have one chance to get the shot. It’s not like the athletes are going to stop for a reshoot.” Nike is releasing the shots via their social media channels. Meanwhile, Andrew is, as always, off on his next adventure. We can’t wait to see what he chases down next.

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Steve Belkowitz Makes the Party

Photographer Steve Belkowitz brought out the wild side of Cleveland’s Hard Rock Rocksino in a recent shoot, acting not just as stills photographer but also Director/DP for 6 TV and web videos.

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Thirsty for fun at Hard Rock Northfield Park

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Post Road singer Sarah Marie gets ready to let loose

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Steve, who shared the DP role with a trusted camera man, had one main goal for the shoot. “Keeping my visual style and lighting consistent between the stills and the video – that’s the niche clients hire me for.” To that end, Steve was constantly in the mix during the 14-hour shoot days, carrying his shot list in his back pocket and checking things off on the go.

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The band that converted Steve into a country music fan

And go they did. Luckily, another of Steve’s goals is to have fun. “I always put together a fun crew, even when we’re literally running to make the schedule.” With country house band Post Road, plus cast, 10 extras, a full crew and clients on the set, creating that party atmosphere was no problem. “I even like country music now,” he laughs.

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The party starts…now
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Steve Belkowitz (front) and crew, behind the scenes
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Next up, Steve trades the party lifestyle for domestic bliss, with a video job for inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano. And check out plenty more of Steve’s well-awarded still and motion photography here. Party on.

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Headshots get human

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Photographer Brian Smale has shot the gamut of corporate headshots over his long career. But the trend toward business casual and efforts to recruit lifestyle-happy millenials means headshots aren’t what they used to be. And that’s a good thing. “There’s so much more life and creativity,” he says, describing his latest work for MicroSoft.

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No longer a stodgy portrait requiring a suit and air of detached confidence, employees are now encouraged to show their true selves. “We ask them to dress casually, bring along an object or a skill and just relax and have fun with it.

“just relax and have fun with it”

In his well-awarded career, Brian has earned recognition for his portraits of leaders in business, tech, politics and science. So he’s completely unfazed by employees with performance-shy pups or questionable juggling talent. Headshots may never be the same.

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Need a hero? Call Shane Johnson.

Sorry kids, Superheroes are for grown ups now. From movies to ads to magazine covers, it seems we can’t get enough of these powerful do-gooders. And that’s just fine, in illustrator Shane Johnson’s opinion.

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Destro’s Plan book cover
Destro’s Plan book cover
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Swamp Thing versus Arcane blog entry
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“Superheroes are a reflection of the best and worst of us,” says Shane. “Anger, nerdiness, outsider status…they reflect our own struggles in outsized ways.” Shane is more often called on to capture the ‘best’ side of the heroes. He’s been creating characters for ad campaigns, editorial and personal projects for over a decade.

Book Cover for 47 Ronin: The Betrayal
Book Cover for 47 Ronin: The Betrayal

And this trend isn’t going anywhere. According to Thomas Frey, Senior Futurist for the Davinci Institute, “Super heroes are serious business.” Among other reasons, brands align themselves with caped wonders because (unlike celebrities) there’s no risk of scandal, they transcend race, ethnicity and gender and highlight timeless values with endless story lines.

Collateral for Minds On, Inc., depicting their team as pro-wrestlers
Collateral for Minds On, Inc., depicting their team as pro-wrestlers

Indeed Shane has partnered with clients as diverse as Smithsonian Magazine, the Chicago Marathon and Coca-cola, and even turned regular employees into heroes for Minds On, Inc. He got his start the traditional way: doodling on his book covers in grade school. But he soon found his way to Pacific NW College of Art, and from there landing illustration gigs doing the thing he’d loved all along.

“Superheroes…reflect our own struggles in outsized ways.”

Shane begins each project with a pencil and blank sheet of paper, sketching rough thumbnails and gathering references for poses. After come two more pencil stages before he scans a tight drawing to his computer for ink and shade in Manga Studio. Finally he optimizes color in Photoshop.

Comic based on physicist Francis Halzen for Smithsonian Magazine
Comic based on physicist Francis Halzen for Smithsonian Magazine

“My favorite job was illustrating a four page comic based on the life of physicist Francis Halzen and his massive particle detector,” Shane says. “I love comics, and I love science.” Still, if he had to pick his own Superpower, he nods back to the classics. “I’d take Super Strength,” he says. “because my daughter already thinks I have it.”

You can check out more of Shane’s truly super heroes here.

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Filip Yip: Designer. Creator. Vampire?

Does he ever sleep? Designer Filip Yip has created countless stunning package designs, logos, characters and brand assets over his acclaimed career, and now in his ‘spare time’, he’s created a product that’s just as beautiful. Last month Nous Tea made its debut, inspired by Filip’s lifelong love of tea and a fortuitous reunion with an old friend.

Filip’s latest work, inside and outside the package.

On a visit to his native Hong Kong, Filip and a high school friend brainstormed ideas to combine their passion for natural health with their business acumen. A third partner brought Chinese Medicine expertise to the table. “It’s very personal. This is almost performance art for me,” says Filip. “I get to combine design and business. And everything is real: real people growing real organic teas, real NGOs, and of course, real intentions.” An impressive 10% of sales from the teas support NGOs in the regions where the tea is sourced.

 

“This is almost performance art for me.”

 

Of course, for Filip, no matter how fulfilling the product inside the box, a top notch design was required for outside. “I went through 6 full visual architectures,” he says. “It actually wasn’t hard to come up with something I like. It was hard to guess what consumers would like.”

Even the box tops received rigorous design TLC.

You can judge for yourself – Nous Teas are newly available online and coming soon to restaurants and retail chains. And rest assured, Filip won’t just be sitting around sipping tea. He’s already on to his next design adventures – some hush hush identity work for a major airline, as well as assets for Anheuser Bush/Miller beers. Below are just a few of his seemingly endless creations.

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Kids: A Photographer’s Survival Story.

Photographer Steve Belkowitz has shot around the world, with top models and top clients. But his latest project had him on his knees. When Kiddie Academy approached him for a campaign starring the 5-and-under set, he knew exactly what he was in for. “I’ve worked with kids a lot,” Steve says. “You have to be relaxed and patient. And work with a crew that’s the same.”

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The children were professional models, but for most of them it was their first shoot. Steve has seen his share of divas over the years, but with mini-Abe Lincoln he finally met his match. “He was a handful. At one point we just held up an iPad playing cartoons. That got his attention.”

 

“He was a handful. At one point we just held up an iPad…”

 

The client had a strong vision of their target audience but partnered closely with Steve on how to reach their goals. With casting decided, Steve hired a movie industry costume designer to custom tailor or create each outfit. He chose a Canon 5DS system and Profoto strobes for the shoot. But the biggest asset on set was the crew, who stayed calm and comforting throughout.

 

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Ultimately, Kiddie Academy will use the shots for ads, posters, website, emails and brochures. Meanwhile, Belkowitz is already on to more adult pursuits, having just wrapped a still and motion shoot for Wind Creek Casino Alabama, a project for Planet Fitness and a new product launch for Gripbell. Hardly child’s play.

gripbell website image

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Photographer Mark Rogers
can read your dog’s mind.

Mark Rogers has built his career on pet photography, capturing countless mutt mugs over the years for advertising and stock photo clients, along with private pet owners. Now he’s turned his passion for pets into his first book: Thanks For Picking Up My Poop: Everyday Gratitude From Dogs.

Partnering with Ulysses Press, Mark pairs awww-inducing photos with each dog’s likely thoughts. “My whole career has roots in volunteerism and giving back, so the gratitude theme came pretty easily,” he says. In fact, when not on professional shoots, Mark often donates his time to animal welfare groups, even offering free copies of the book as an incentive to sustaining donors for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco.

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Working with four-legged talent requires a unique approach. The first thing Mark does at any shoot is get down on their level. “I let them come to me while I tinker around with the photo bag and lenses. The bag has had so many dogs, cats and treats in it that it’s always an item of interest. It’s also been peed on a number of times so that’s generally a good conversation starter.”

 

“The (photo) bag has been peed on a number of times…”

 

Of course, Mark has his own muses at home, a rescue corgi-terrier mix named Bizzy and a cat named Jimmy Chew (James when he’s acting naughty). And what does Mark himself feel gratitude for? “I’d thank Bizzy for dealing with all the crazy props and costumes I’ve forced him to wear over the years. I have no idea why he lets me dress him up like I do.”

 

Thanks For Picking Up My Poop is available now on Amazon. And you can see more of Mark’s work at his brand new website.

 

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For Andrew Maguire,
Photography is always an adventure.

Taking shots for Colorado Lottery to new heights

In the past 3 years, Action Photographer and Director Andrew Maguire has travelled through Turkey, India, China, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, France and more. And that’s when he’s not busy shooting in the U.S. But it hasn’t always been that way.

After art school, Andrew’s first jobs were shooting office furniture and pharmaceuticals in the Midwest. But at the end of each day he felt bored and burnt out. So he began

building a portfolio around his own interests: extreme and outdoor adventure sports, tagging along with friends and local athletes and taking care to develop a style that stood out in the market.

In the San Juan Mountains of Colorado for Brooks Running
Boxing in Hong Kong, for Amway
Boxing in Hong Kong, for Amway

Wolverine Worldwide took notice and gave Andrew the open door he was looking for. He was soon shooting for their many brands, including Merrell, Chaco and Patagonia footwear. “That really kickstarted it,” says Andrew. “Total godsend.”

 

“our director was escorted from customs by armed guards”

 

Andrew rarely feels bored anymore, with each shoot bringing new excitement. “In India, our director was escorted from customs by armed guards and sent back to Hong Kong with no explanation,” he says. On another shoot an over-confident client panicked during a steep ascent and had to be carried down the mountain by the producer and an assistant.

 

Andrew Maguire, in his happy place.
Andrew Maguire, in his happy place.

After a week in the wild, Andrew is always excited to get back to his dogs, girlfriend, shower and sleep. But it isn’t long before adventure (and clients like Nike, Subaru, Comcast) call again. And Andrew is happy to answer.

 

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Summer Sightseeing

Carolyn Vibbert has been commissioned by some of the most renowned must-see travel destinations to illustrate their maps. Her illustrations have been recognized in Communication Arts, Print’s Regional Annual to name a few. Her style is visually engaging and reflects the character of the location. As travel enters its peak season, adventurers are bound to cross paths with one of Carolyn’s whimsical interpretations of their favorite attractions.

Nantucket map

Taos map

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See more of Carolyn’s work