A funny thing about publishing a magazine is that most of the time you’re working a year in advance. That means for the Thanksgiving 2020 issue of Eating Well magazine, I took photos on Thanksgiving 2019.
Eating Well planned a spread of photos from across the United States to show different ways we celebrate Thanksgiving. My assignment was to document the role small farms play in the process while covering the Midwest section of the story.
Liz and Nate Brownlee own and operate Nightfall Farm in Crothersville, Indiana. Here are some images as I follow them around southern Indiana on their distribution day.
Fun Fact: I took the image they published in the first 30 minutes of a 5 hour shoot. You never know which photos are going to be your best until you go through the entire process.
Eating Well Thanksgiving Issue
Click on the image below to head to the Eating Well website and see the full story celebrating the diversity of our country on one of our favorite holidays.
Dr. Erica Leazenby of Relish Health is a trained chef and M.D. She states that her practice, “combines the joy and art of cooking with the science of food, nutrition and medicine.”
Dr. Leazenby takes a holistic approach to working with patients. She helps them find dietary and lifestyle practices that are suited to the individual.
Relish Health Wellness Studio
These images are from a “wellness studio” event. These are live cooking demonstrations where Dr. Leazenby talks about specific connections between food and wellness, shows how to cook her latest recipes, and answers questions about nutrition and health.
This time last year I worked on a project documenting Indianapolis Public Schools. I went to 10 different schools over the course of four days in April & May to photograph students in classes and activities. The images highlight the special programs and opportunities each school has to offer.
Here are some of my favorites. What’s the same and what’s different from when you were in school? Tell us in the comments!
You see model trains a lot during the holiday season, but nobody does model trains like the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis. Jingle Rails is their annual train display. Models travel through famous local scenes and national landmarks from the American West. You’ll find downtown Indy, complete with a scale model of the Soldier and Sailor’s Monument, lights and all, along with Lucas Oil Stadium. There’s also Las Vegas, Yosemite, and new this year: Route 66.
The Men of Jingle Rails
Equally as interesting as the trains are the old men who are really into it. I happened to notice one gentleman making a repair, so of course I had to take a moment to capture it…
Jingle Rails is sponsored by the Indiana Railroad. Their signature red locomotive travels overhead throughout the entire exhibit.
Had enough trains yet? No? Here’s a few more…
Thanks for visiting our Jingle Rails coverage for 2018. We were there last year as well, so you can check that out here: Jingle Rails 2017. I work to take new angles each year.
2018 Holiday Events
As legendary Hoosier Michael Jackson once said, “Don’t stop ’til you get enough.” So by all means, please enjoy our other posts from this season. Click the image below.
In October I was commissioned to document the Indiana Pacers premium experiences. They want to give fans looking to purchase tickets a sense of the available spaces during a game. It was fun to get a first-hand view of all the awesome areas throughout Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.
In this post, I’ll talk about how I find good subjects, use available light, and layer images. These are three aspects I take into account in order to be able to tell a client’s story.
Finding Good Subjects
Another of the Indiana Pacers premium experiences are the Party Suites (above). This photo (and every photo from this shoot) was completely un-staged and un-rehearsed. These are real fans enjoying a Pacers game.
While shooting, I look for a combination of factors to be able to get this type of shot candidly. Good natural light and a location that give sense of place is typically where I start. Then I look for subjects who seem engaged. At a sporting event, this is usually people who are cheering, laughing and/or talking with friends.
In the above photo, select fans have the opportunity to line up as the players enter the court for high fives. For this image, I focus on one person to show their experience. I chose this kid for a couple reasons. One, his smaller size is a nice contrast to the larger players. Secondly, he seems to be in awe of the moment. Because of the low angle, the viewer can see things on the kid’s level, including how large the player’s hand is in comparison to his own. The other hands in the image provide depth of field and form a frame around the kid, drawing the viewers eye to him. Yes, these are all things I’m thinking in the moment I’m taking the photo.
Using Available Light
The Lightbound Cafe (above, left) is an Indiana Pacers premium experience that’s a courtside club: a full-scale bar with plenty of draft beers and pub food. For most shoots (including all photos in this post), I work only with available light. This serves two functions. First, it allows me to document a scene without disturbing the subjects. Secondly, it retains the atmosphere and ambiance of a location. The images better reflect what it’s actually like to be in the space.
The theater boxes in the Lexus Loft (below) are super spacious with all-inclusive gourmet food and drinks. My goal with the shot below is to use layering to show the space of the theater boxes themselves while placing them in the context of the arena as a whole. That way you can experience the view you have while seated in this space.
In my view, there are three different layers in this photo. For one layer, the focus is on the court, which is your focus when you sit in these seats. The second layer is the crowd as a whole. I shot wide here to show the full size of the arena and give a sense of the entire fieldhouse. The third layer is the theater box in the foreground. The wide perspective and my close proximity to the box highlight its size and space. As a result of these layers, a more complete story is told in one image.
Choose Your Own Indiana Pacers Premium Experiences
After checking out all the Indiana Pacers premium experiences, I’d have a hard time choosing one for me, personally. While courtside has amazing action, the food available in the suites and clubs is definitely a draw.
We took a quick road trip with the family to Oklahoma City to shoot some work for a client. While we were there, we did some exploring of the downtown area and the Midtown neighborhood. Both areas had a lot to see and do. Here are a few favorite images from a couple days in Oklahoma City.
“We seceded where others failed.” That’s the motto of The Conch Republic, the nickname taken on by Key West when they declared independence from, then war on, the United States in 1982. Key West does not disappoint! It has an amazing mix of scenery, history, food, drinks, entertainment and more.
Our four kids traveled with us on this road trip from Key Largo, to Key West and then back up through Marathon and Islamorada. Every link we have listed here was a worthy adventure for the whole crew. We browsed through shipwreck artifacts in the Shipwreck Museum and met all the Hemingway cats. We chatted with roosters while we dined and enjoyed street performances nightly in Mallory Square. The food in Key West is profoundly good and a couple of places we visited more than once (ahem, Glazed Donuts).
Key West is remarkably walkable: we strolled west to east and back a number of times during our visit. Our stay at the Margaritaville Resort was awesome. The location can’t be beat and we woke up to a new cruise ship outside our window every morning. If you haven’t made a trip to the Keys since you had kids, you’re missing a whole different island.
Here are some links to a few of our favorite spots…
Thanks for visiting The Florida Keys with us! Be sure to join our mailing list to see our latest documentary projects.
Special thanks to the Monroe County Tourist Development Council: www.fla-keys.com. For more of the Florida Keys, take a look at our posts dedicated to the state parks of the Keys and the greater Keys. And be sure to check out the online print shop, where for the whole month of May 2018 we will be donating 20% of our shop’s proceeds to help hurricane relief efforts in the Florida Keys.
An interesting fact about the Keys (which I didn’t know in advance) is that due to the coral reefs, shoreline erosion doesn’t happen in most areas and therefore there are very few natural beaches. Bahia Honda is widely regarded as the best natural beach. The Loggerhead Beach on the Atlantic side was closed at the time of our visit due to damage from Hurricane Irma, but Calusa Beach on the bay side was open and really nice. Loggerhead is slated to reopen at the end of June 2018.
While some parts of the Florida Keys State Parks are being restored because of Irma, there is still plenty of beauty to enjoy. Please go and support them! They use the funds to help their restoration efforts.
We spent about ten days driving from the mainland to Key West and back and spent a couple of days each in Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon. The upper, middle, and lower keys’ communities offer coral and rock beaches and blue green waters popular for fishing.
The Florida Keys are made up of around 1700 islands and many lie beyond the famous overseas highway. However! We loved every minute of this scenic drive. This stretch of America bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other is worth the time to witness.
Robbie’s Marina on Islamorada is a must-see where you can buy buckets of fish to feed huge tarpon (and sea gulls). Fish Tales Market and Eatery on Marathon had innovative and delicious seafood. We had a classic relaxed keys stay at the Coral Bay Resort with the friendliest guests who return year after year to enjoy their beach front property.
For our first post from the Florida Keys, we are sharing images from the communities of Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon. Posts about the amazing State Parks of the Keys as well as an extensive gallery of images from Key West are coming soon!
Here are links to some of the places featured in this post…
Morales Group is a leading staffing agency in Indianapolis. The Morales Group attributes their growth to their commitment to serve: their clients, associates, staff and the community at large.
Recently I had the opportunity to collaborate with them on a new photography catalog to be used on their new website and marketing materials. I photographed their real employees, without the use of models or staging, working in their actual jobs.
The first few sets of images are screen shots from the website (designed by Willow Marketing) followed by the original images. As an advertising photographer, I always have to be sure to shoot with space to provide room for type and to fit a digital layout. Utilizing my documentary photography approach makes this a unique challenge.
I love Bloomington! As a student at Indiana University, Bloomington became the first home that I chose myself. And even (nearly) 15 years since I last lived there, it’s still one of my favorite towns anywhere.
To start this month, I documented the Monumental Mile in downtown Indianapolis. This was a fun community event with a straight-shot run along Meridian Street from 12th Street to the finish line at Monument Circle where participants and guests could partake in some local beer and food from sponsors like Quaff ON! Brewing and Chipotle.
Holladay Properties is a full-scale land development, design/build and fully-integrated real estate company. They contacted me to document a sampling of the type of spaces they build and lease. This gallery shows warehouse, office, education/research and sports facilities in Indianapolis and Westfield.
Photos of conferences could easily become monotonous if they’re primarily focused on people talking on a stage. As a business, you can create more interest and engagement with your brand by following this advice on the type of photography you can create from your events and conferences. To illustrate my points, images center around one day of an event I did in Washington DC.
Images should capture unique perspectives and elements that give a sense of time and place. Giving life, energy, and movement to images draws readers/viewers into your content, whether in print or online. There are typically great interactions before, between and after events. Taking photos like this that can live past the specific event makes your marketing dollar go further as well.
Photos with the title of the event that’s not simply a straight-on shot of a sign can work well as a title page highlighting the event in an annual report, or a cover photo for a web gallery. These types of images can also stand alone on social media to draw people into a post to get more information.
These types of images can be beneficial for multiple reasons: The negative space can be used for graphic elements in design. An image that can be cropped into a strong horizontal is useful for web & social media banners. Photos that don’t highlight a particular person or event can be used to promote many types of future events.
This photo combines a number of elements that make an image both visually interesting and helpful to an organization: the business name, strong lighting, personal interactions, negative space to allow for cropping or text overlay.
Watching for speakers outside of their time on stage gives additional opportunities to highlight featured speakers in a different background. It’s also a great way to show VIPs interacting with each other and with conference-goers. This photo features International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde (left) and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
While it is important to have a few tight, clear shots of speakers, it’s also helpful to step back and have a wider view of the room. Being able to see the size of the crowd and the presence of media can illustrate the influence and reach of your events.
The bottom line is that there’s no reason marketing photos from events can’t have both content and an artistic aesthetic to them. If photos aren’t drawing the viewer in and creating engagement with your brand, then they’re just filler. Don’t settle for less!
Basketball in March. It’s crazy. Insanity. Lunacy. Delirium, even. There should be a term that applies specifically to this phenomenon. Any ideas?
With all of your basketball viewing options this time of year, IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals is among the best. A few of these players will go on to the NCAA to have the bragging rights of millions of office workers riding on their backs as they play in that most famous of tournaments. But the majority will play competitively for the last time on this day. And you can tell by the way they leave it all on the floor that they don’t want to walk away with any regrets.
This year saw three of the four games decided by 3 points or less. Were you at any of the games this year? What was your favorite moment? For many, myself included, it was watching Oscar Robertson (12x NBA All-Star and captain of the 1955 Crispus Attucks championship team – first in the nation from an all-black school to win a state title), as he placed medals around the necks of the 2017 3A champs from his alma mater.
Tell us about your IHSAA Basketball State Finals memories from any year in the comments below.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, you are a true basketball fan! As a reward, there are even more photos, viewable in full screen mode, in a super-secret gallery on my website. Click this link!
When a game is packed with fans, there’s an energy that undeniably affects how the players play, especially when a close game gets down to the final minutes. Indiana High School Athletic Association State Finals always provide this type of electric atmosphere.
Seeing small-town schools play is another great component to these championships because, in some cases, you have to assume the entire community is present. Frequently these schools bring as many fans as the largest in the state.
Add to this an opportunity for kids to play in a first-rate NBA arena, thanks to sponsorship from the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever, and you’ve got something you know all the players, coaches and fans there will never forget. Stop and watch these athletes before and after the games as they take in the experience. It’s a cool moment to actually witness someone form a memory of a day they’ll certainly look back on as one of the best of their lives.
You know wrestling is a popular sport in Indiana when the Indiana High School Athletic Association State Finals are held at an NBA arena. This was something to behold. Watching, it was easy to forget that these are teenagers. A clash of two titans in the 285-lb weight class, evenly matched, brought the entire arena to its feet in riotous cheers. And that was for 3rd place. In another match, after suffering what appeared to the crowd to be a broken ankle, fans watched as an impending forfeit turned into a victory.
Visibly bruised and battered, these student athletes left it all on the mat. It is important to note the “student” part as well. As finalists were introduced, most, if not all, had a GPA near or above 4.0 and many seniors were heading off to Big Ten and Ivy League universities in the fall.
If you have a chance to check out any wrestling meets next season I highly recommend it. You don’t even need a working knowledge of the sport to appreciate the skill and toughness of the athletes.
To call the new Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall at Indiana University a renovation is to greatly understate its transformative effect. Designed by CSO Architects and built by Shiel Sexton, the new south lobby features a soaring glass entry with modern design and technology, while retaining some key touches from the past to honor the program’s legacy.
When a client needs enough photos for a two-day shoot, but day 1 gets rained out completely, it means a 15-hour, sunrise to sunset shoot. Add to that carrying 20 pounds of gear over miles of trails, up and down hills and rocky terrain, and you have one hard-core day of shooting.
I was up for the challenge, and the resulting images shot for the Brown County CVB’s mountain biking guide were well received. In the “thank you” section of the guide the CVB’s agency and producer of the shoot, Three Sixty Group wrote…
“Thanks to our skilled photographer Zach Dobson (who managed to capture amazing shots of the trails and the mountain bikers while perching on precarious rocks, lying in the mud and risking poison ivy).”
In the end, there was no poison ivy. Just a bruised ego from a fall in the mud and a set of images I could truly feel proud of.
Taking stills on a video shoot is always an interesting endeavor. First off, the crew is always much larger than on a still shoot. There’s a lot more navigating tight spaces.
Having grips present to light the whole scene takes some of the pressure off finding the best lighting, but there are other tasks that become more challenging. Communication on these shoots is key.
I speak with the Creative Director of the ad agency to get info on how the images will complement the video, along with where they’ll be used and what they need to convey.
I talk to the director to see what angles they’re shooting with which lenses and whether I’ll need to shoot simultaneously with the video, or jump in between takes to get the stills separately.
If I do need to jump in between scenes, I always have to pay close attention and speak up when it’s my turn because the video crew is on a tight schedule and they’re not thinking about what I need. Understandably. That’s my job, not theirs. They have enough to manage.
I also communicate with the sound guy to see when critical audio is being recorded and whether the shutter click on the camera might interfere.