In the fall of 2012, Brenda and I were approached by a brand management firm with an interesting project: two major Capital Region Orthopedic Surgery firms were in the process of merging. Northeast Orthopedics and Orthopaedic Associates of Saratoga were to become OrthoNY, and part of the project was a new website with new images of some 50 doctors, physician assistants, nurse practicioners, and management team members.
The requirements were a little daunting — because the merger was still unannounced and in the process of negotiations at the time, absolute secrecy and confidentiality was required. We knew from previous experience that doctors’ busy schedules and heavy workload would make them intolerant of anything other than a fast, professional session that took them away from their duties for the minimal time possible. In addition, the visual requirements were highly specific: The client wanted the photos to have a high degree of uniformity in terms of lighting, cropping, pose, and expression, and yet they wanted each person’s individual personality communicated in an approachable and attractive manner.
We quickly discovered that the biggest challenge was scheduling: just getting everyone in front of the camera in time for the target web site launch date in early January was an aggressive plan. And then, achieving the visual goals added another layer of stress.
Ultimately, we ended up completing the headshots in four separate on-site photo sessions. We essentially brought Upstate Photographers to one of their office locations, and set up a makeshift studio in some unused office space. We used four studio strobes and a 9-foot white seamless background, with all distances, heights and equiment settings carefully recorded in Brenda’s notebook to allow exact repeatability on subsequent sessions.
We selected the full-frame Nikon D700 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom for the camera. Two radio-triggered Elinchrom BX500ri studio strobes with large Elinchrom softboxes served as the main and fill lights, while Alien Bees AB-800’s lit the background through a pair of Creative Light stripboxes. We shot tethered to a 27″ iMac, allowing the client to see the results in real time, and facilitating the minute adjustments necessary to achieve the strict level of uniformity required in the final result.
To keep up with the sometimes unpredictable flow of subjects for our camera, on the second day we decided to add an additional makeup artist — professional makeup artist Barbara Whitchurch was joined by the unflappable Erin Marzilli, and we were able to move the physicians and staffers through the entire process of makeup, wardrobe selection, photography, and image selection rapidly, so they could return to their duties as soon as possible. Because the doctors sometimes arrived in groups of five or six, we set up an ad hoc waiting room with borrowed chairs and dunkin’ donuts coffee. We couldn’t help smiling at the reversed roles — now WE had the “chairs area” and the doctors were waiting there for US! Funny stuff. . .
The project was a great experience, and we learned more about the ins and outs of lab-coat steaming, tie selection and adjustment of neckties, and expression management than we ever thought possible! Here’s a screenshot of the new OrthoNY website, “Our team” page that features our headshots:
If your small business, corporation or practice is contemplating an image makeover of small or large scale, please consider retaining us for your photography needs. We have the experience, resources, and scale to get it done on budget, on time, in a smooth and professional manner, causing as little turbulence for you and your employees as possible!