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  • Welcome to my blog

    "I am a Boston-based commercial photographer and short film maker. This blog is a companion to my main website. Instead of simply offering up more photos, it is the place for behind-the-lens glimpses into campaigns, reflections on the photography/marketing industry, and a more expanded view of a shoot - not just the best image. Enjoy!"

Boston startup iVexSol CEO Rod

What do you do when a new company wants team portraits in their brand new offices, but the offices haven’t been built yet?

This was my quandary when iVexSol asked me to help them with their site rebrand.  Based in Worcester, MA, they are expanding and moving to more modern offices in Lexington, MA.

The photo above is a portrait of Rod Rietze.  Rod is the co-founder and CEO of iVexSol, a company that does scientific work well beyond my understanding.  But it has to do with Lentiviral vectors and gene transfer tools.  I think.

The beauty of photography is that you don’t have to understand the intricacies of a company’s product to understand their message.  From my conversations with Rod, it was clear that he wanted photos that would say “great minds are doing rock solid serious work.”

Rod gave me a tour of his beautiful and expansive offices.  When I say beautiful, I mean that I could see that they would be beautiful.  Right now, they were just I-beams, cement floors, and large windows.  Rock solid.

You don’t need a finished office to generate a finished photograph.  We used the construction site just as it was and leaned into its simplicity.  What’s apparent in the photos is the quality and commitment of the person, no matter what stage of development their offices are in.

When iVexSol’s rebranded site goes live, I’ll include the link here.

I work with people I like on projects I support.  I don’t engineer it this way.  It just happens.

For example:

One of my lifelong friends sits on the board of the Connecticut Democracy Center.  The Center’s mission is to “inspire people of all ages to engage in civic life and strengthen their communities.”  They host nonpartisan discussions with civic experts, run the Kid Governor program for 5th graders, and curate the historical museum that is the Connecticut Old State House.

It’s really a beautiful state house.  Historically, it is the seat of the CT government during most of the 1800’s.  Now it’s a museum and civic space.

So when the president of the organization approaches me to create portraits for their leadership team, I jump at the chance.

Whenever I take on a new client, one of the first things I ask is “what is your message?”  In other words: what do you want the pictures to say?  For the CT Democracy Center, it’s all about the integration of civic responsibility and history.  Or: embracing history and looking towards the future.

So I naturally gravitated towards photographing the team in the historic State Senate chambers at the Old State House.  This is a beautifully preserved grand hall.  It has giant windows and high ceilings.  And the elaborate furniture is over 200 years old.

It’s always great to have a photogenic environment to shoot in, but it’s even better when that environment has a personality and connection to the subjects.  These aren’t just portraits of the team, they’re portraits of the history that the team celebrates.

The CT Democracy Center has just updated their team leadership page with these new headshots.  When you click on the headshot, you get the environmental portrait.  You can see the new team page here.

And yes, that’s a wooden bow-tie.  Awesome.

 

Portrait of CT Democracy Center team by David Shopper

Portrait of CT Democracy Center team by David Shopper

Having a marketing background, I have been on more than my share of photo shoots, but there are few photographers I’ve enjoyed working with as much as David.  He made a very diverse group of people – many camera-shy by nature – feel comfortable and relaxed, and brought out the best in everyone, while chasing the best light across the room during a long day of shooting.  The finished photos were well done, polished and inspiring to look at: just the touch of “magic” we were looking for to present our leadership team to the world.
                                       -Bill Bevacqua, President and CEO, The Connecticut Democracy Center

David Shopper

 

David Shopper

David’s candid workplace photography puts grey matter front and center.

 

It’s a shame to work hard on a project that barely sees the light of day.  Then again, maybe it’s a testament to how valuable the project really is.

In a previous blog post, I talk about work I’ve done for Boston boutique consulting firm Bulger Vogel.  Great client.  A bunch of intense shoots.  Captivating imagery.  But I’ve never seen the final results until today, when I checked out their ad agency’s website.

Bulger Vogel’s corporate website was gone before I could see it.  The reason?  Behemoth Ernst-Young bought the  firm to incorporate it into their monster offering.  This was probably the hoped-for outcome of our rebrand, and it warms my heart that Bulger Vogel was able to leverage the photography in this way.  A moderate investment for a huge payoff.

The screen grabs above show what the short-lived website looks like.  The graphic design is great.  I love the way the design elements frame and intensify the imagery.

This project is a collaboration with two agencies: Create + Conquer and Xavinci.  Xavinci is showcasing this shoot on their website, which you can see here.  Referring to their role as art directors of the shoots, Xavinci says:

Bulger Vogel wanted to have authenticity to their brand imagery. All the images captured are of employees actively engaged in work, to illustrate how they deliver for their clients and to convey a collaborative culture of the firm.”

When you get right down to it, authenticity, collaboration, and engagement is what every company wants to project.  But you can show these themes in different ways.  The visuals can be complex or simple.  Colorful or monochromatic.  Up-close or removed.  None of these styles is good nor bad – they just have to work with the marketing to define the message convincingly.  Good website photography is consistent, graphic, and adheres to the message.  It’s always the message that should define the photography, not the other way around.

 

Expertise.com has again named David Shopper Photography one of Boston

Thank you to Expertise for again choosing me as one of the best portrait photographers in Boston.

How do they choose?  Expertise.com started with 221 Boston portrait photographers and picked the top 10% for this distinction.  They based their choice on 5 qualities: availability, qualifications, reputation, experience, and professionalism.  All attributes I hold dear.

But wait: if there are 220 local portrait photographers now, imagine how many have come and gone over the years since I opened my studio in the ’80s.  Literally thousands.  How do you stay successful over that amount of time?  Offer the whole package.

Plus, you have to listen.  I try to really understand what my clients want to say with their images.  What the win looks like.  And I try to communicate clearly how I will present their message, both before and during our shoots.  No one likes surprises.  I offer consistency and predictability.

When a science company wants to spark interest in their research or attract discerning career candidates, words don’t always do the trick.  Sometimes still photos don’t either.

A short promotional film is called for.  I use the term “film” because it tells a story with cinematic visuals. A scientific “video,” on the other hand, might show what the labs look like.  What specific instruments they use.  It might have lab techs talking about their methodology.

That’s not the approach I use.  I try to capture the mystery and excitement of the research.  The expertise of the techs.  The engagement of the team and the company as a whole.

Selecta bioscience is a Boston-based life science company.  They asked me to produce a video for them that would introduce the company.  It goes live on their About Us page today.

The video above comes from a single day of shooting.  I tried to distill their R&D down to a handful of proprietary processes and areas of research.  I took advantage of their brand new lab space, which was bright and well-appointed.  I tried to distill the message of the company into a dozen or so iconic clips.  My hope was that these clips would work together to illustrate the many ways Selecta conducts its research.  I also wanted to put a face on the lab teams who form the core of the company.

This was shot during Covid, so the periods where the lab techs were unmasked was very brief.  I also keep considerable distance from the subjects while shooting.

Probably the most unusual shot is the one from inside the mixing container, where the camera is under water.  By positioning the camera at the bottom of the container, we were able to get an immersive clip.  It’s one thing to show what experiments look like, it’s another to show what experiments feel like.