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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!"


I just finished a portrait shoot for Katz Nannis + Solomon, an established CPA firm in Waltham, MA.

My challenge was to unchain them from the bonds of gray-backgrounded postage stamp headshots.  They wanted a modern, dynamic, and approachable look.

Stylistically, I approached this shoot like any other.  I found a common area with good architectural structure and complimentary natural light (you can see what this normally looks like on this entry).  But technically, I took a different approach.  Instead of using a long portrait lens, I used a very fast normal lens (the Nikon 50mm f1.4).  Huge difference.  With this lens, you have to stand closer to the subject to fill the frame.  This proximity subtly comes through in the photo – it’s more intimate.  You can see the unusually narrow depth of field did some funky things to the background.  It’s softness brings the execs forward and makes them look sharper.

I think these CPA portraits do a nice job of celebrating the individuals who make up KNS.   They brand the Boston company as forward-thinking, personable, and trustworthy.  All important qualities of a firm that you entrust with your finances.

Resources: further reading on what makes for a great portrait.

I was recently asked to create professional employee headshots of all the people at DataRobot‘s Boston office.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with DataRobot, the company harnesses machine learning to help customers build predictive models.  This may or may not mean anything to you (I had to look it up).  The important takeaway is that there are a lot of smart and enthusiastic people bouncing around their offices.

Millennials appear to make up the majority of their employees, with a smattering of GenX’s and some boomers.  With an open-plan workspace and casual atmosphere, the office has a comfortable social aspect that inspires innovation.  Meals are catered so everyone eats together.  Their t-shirts sport the company mascot, which is a simple illustrated robot on a new employee’s shirt.  But if that employee sticks around for a while, their shirt-bot gets an upgrade: a ray gun or jet pack.

As with so many of the new breed of high-tech companies, their culture is their product.  The employees and their collective brain power is what makes DataRobot a force.  Often, headshots like these illustrate a culture and help sell the company to potential recruits.

So how do you make headshots like this happen?  You skip the ties, stuffy studio lighting, and dappled backdrops.  You simplify the production.  You let personalities and great attitudes take center stage.  You maintain the highest standards of quality and the lowest confines of formality.

Here a few headshots from our shoot.


“We have an incredibly unique culture here, and David and his team did a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of our employees with the headshot shoot. It was wonderful to work with David and everyone is so happy with how their images turned out (no easy feat!).” – Alex Chang, DataRobot Corporate Events Manager

When I take on a new assignment, it’s never a rote exercise.  I don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach.  Sure, every photographer has a style, but good photographers morph their visual style to support their client’s message.

When Chestnut Hill Realty asked me to help them rebrand their family-owned company for their new website, my homework was simple – figure out what defines this company.  Of course I was interested in the physical areas where we’d be shooting, what people would be wearing, if they wanted grooming on set (they did).

But most importantly, my job was getting to know the people that make up the company, from Ed the founder to Tim the landscaper.  A lot of businesses describe themselves as “a family,” but I particularly felt the cohesiveness of this group.  Their camaraderie defined the company vibe, which shaped these photos.

We shot in two of their locales: their corporate offices and one of the properties they manage.  We sought out areas that would give a sense of well-appointed space and (of course) had great light.  I can’t help going for the great light.

But really it’s the personalities that shine through.  It’s their openness, their approachablity, their professionalism.

These portraits will populate CHR’s rebranded site, which will be coming out in the new year.  Can’t wait to see it.



Addendum: The new Chestnut Hill site is live!  You can see the portraits we did below:

Boston corporate portrait photographer David Shopper

On the occasion that I come across a particularly well made or useful piece of tech, I like to share it with you.  I had the good fortune to procure a set of custom made thumb drives that I am loving.

These come from Florida-based USB Memory Direct.

My drives are made from redwood, which is a warm, glowing wood with a lot of depth.  The cover is held on by two strong magnets, which give a satisfying snap when you close the unit.  Being a woodworker myself, I appreciate the quality of the craftsmanship.  The surface doesn’t have a heavy gloss or urethane, — it’s more like a dry oil that gives a nice sheen.

The logo applied is crisp – I mean really crisp (the “lozenge” in the center of my logo has a small opening in it, which they nailed, even though it’s only a couple of mm wide).  The logo doesn’t scratch off with your fingernails.  It’s simple yet bold, and smacks of integrity.

I pay attention to these details because the quality of the workmanship contained in the drive should be reflected by the drive itself.  This small piece of tech is a leave-behind for clients when there’s too much data to post it to my ftp.  It may stay on a client’s desk for years, so it’s a piece of advertising that I don’t want to skimp on.

Under the hood, these drives have 32GB of storage and a USB 3.0 transfer speed rated at 24-40MB/s.  This rate, of course, assumes the native copy buffer is empty.  For me to copy 8GB to the drive, it logged in at 8 minutes.  For clients, downloading this data off the drive takes a little less than 2 minutes.

Here’s the link to find wooden USB drives like this.  A professional company that sweats the details.  After all, that’s what it’s all about.

When it comes to photogenic companies, Partners Capital is high on the list. I mean, the pictures kind of take themselves.

Of course accessing the company is hard.  I’m not talking getting the gig – I’m talking about getting my equipment into the Federal Reserve Building in Boston.  It’s TSA with your shoes on.  Armed guards everywhere you turn.  Brave New World I suppose.

Unlike many companies where I’m brought in to shoot portraits and then we end up value-adding candid work, Partners knew it needed candid shots from the outset.  Of course now I’m shooting their portrait, too.

Here are some samples from our first corporate slice-of-life shoot.  Like I said, pretty squared-away.