I was hired by Memorial Health System (MHS) in Springfield, Illinois, this past year for two jobs that led to images for their 2012 annual report.
Memorial provides an array of healthcare services in several central Illinois locations, including Springfield, Taylorville, and Lincoln. Back in May, I did some work for Marty Ahrends at the Abraham Lincoln Hospital Foundation. Marty is the director for the Foundation and she'd hired me to photograph a donor event. Images from that event were used in the Foundation's electronic kiosk in the Lincoln hospital lobby. My consulting business completed that job, and here are two of the finished slides from the project.
Those images and slides were seen by the corporate public relations and marketing team in Springfield which then led to the annual report assignments.
The first job came in June and involved photographing Carol Cray, a hospice patient at Memorial. Carol had been granted a "wish" through Memorial's new Sharing Wishes Fund, and she wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride. Lincoln is known for its hot air ballooning community and the hospital connected Carol with a pilot here. Kelsea Gurski, who works in public relations for Memorial, contacted me to make the photographs. Since ballooning is weather-dependent, Kelsea acknowledged that I may have only a few hours notice before the launch. Fortunately, my schedule was flexible and I was able to make it to the launch on the day she called.
I photographed Carol and her family at the balloon launch and made several images while we chased her on the hour-long flight. She was delighted to get her wish. Here are two images that were used in the report and a spread showing how Carol's portrait appeared in the published copy.
The second assignment came in September. Ed McDowall, vice president of marketing and communications at MHS, called and asked if I'd be interested in photographing Ed Curtis, president and CEO, and Jim Bruner, chairman of the board, for the report. Of course!
I met with Ed and Sarah Riopell (who'd be designing the annual report) at Memorial in Springfield one afternoon to scout locations. The plan would be to photograph Mr. Curtis and Mr. Bruner in a "candid" scene discussing the affairs of the hospital. We looked at a couple of conference rooms and two or three other spaces in the hospital. My favorite setting is shown below, with Ed and Sarah standing in during the scouting photo. The decorative glass and windows brought a lot to the scene. Unfortunately, this was a busy area and it would have been difficult to set up a tripod and lighting equipment here with gurneys and staff whisking through every few moments.
We agreed that the upstairs conference room would work best. A few days before the shoot, however, Sarah informed me that the board would be meeting in that room and we wouldn't be able to use it. So we opted for a second, smaller conference room on the first floor.
The more limited space of the second conference room brought challenges. I needed to leave enough room around the subjects to give Sarah some margin to crop the image for publication but I also wanted to shoot with a longer lens to throw the background out of focus. The layout of the smaller room, however, wouldn't enable me to use a telephoto lens so I had to shoot wider than I wanted. So it goes.
On the day of the shoot, we had about 20 minutes with Mr. Curtis and Mr. Bruner before they would need to leave for the board meeting. I arrived about an hour-and-a-half early to set up lights and get my camera angle established. I wanted the lighting to look natural but still needed to get some separation from the back wall, especially since my options to blur the background were limited. Ed and Sarah sat in for my subjects while I adjusted the lighting. The main light was an Alien Bee B800 bounced into a 60" umbrella, directly in front of the table. Two Nikon SB-800 hot shoe flashes were set on either side of the long table to provide separation.
Here's a very sophisticated illustration of the set up, taken with the very sophisticated camera on my phone.
Mr. Curtis and Mr. Bruner took their seats at the table and I made several images of them in a few different poses, some with them facing one another, others with them facing the camera. This is the image that was selected for the report.
You can see the highlight on Mr. Curtis' right arm (he's on the right, facing the camera). That's from the SB-800 to his right. It's doing it's job perfectly--just enough light to set off the subject from the background.
The image above isn't what came out of the camera; it's been retouched. Here's the original, marked up to show what's been removed.
As you can see, eliminating those few small things better directs the viewer's attention to the subjects.
Here is the image as it appeared in the context of the printed report.
A PDF of the entire report is available on Memorial's web site.
These were challenging and enjoyable assignments. I'm grateful to Ed, Kelsea, Sarah, Marty, and everyone at MHS for the opportunity to work together this past year.