U.S. Government Accountability Office for Government Executive Magazine

Before I jumped into the world of self-employment, I would walk past the U.S. Government Accountability Office every day on my way to and from my full-time job.  It always struck me as a very plain looking building, and the street level offices always looked so boring.  I don’t know why, but I would always wonder what the rest of the building looked like inside as I’d walk by.  I had no idea at the time, but I’d eventually get my chance to feed that curiosity.

I got an e-mail from the team at Government Executive Magazine asking if I would be able to photograph David Powner who is a director at U.S. GAO and Gene Dodaro who is the Comptroller General of the United States and the head of U.S. GAO.  I jumped on the opportunity, and we got right to work on the art direction.  The idea was that the portraits would run side-by-side, and they were wanting to them to look similar.

When scouting out the building for locations to photograph Dodaro and Powner, I was shown a handful of conference rooms and we eventually narrowed it down to one.  However, I was still wanting to find one other place to photograph the two subjects.  While walking from the chosen conference room, I walked past an extremely long hallway that was also very wide.  I stopped and immediately asked my escort if we could set up right in the middle of it.  Location number two was a “go”.  When shooting in the hallway, I absolutely loved how the ceiling lights added depth to the portraits.  The conference room was a really interesting location.  I loved the blue tones in the carpet and chairs mixed with the warmer color of the conference room table.  It was also impossible to miss the really crazy mural at the one end of the room. 

Both Dodaro and Powner we great to work with.  They’re incredibly friendly guys and were very willing with their time.  The final layout was great both on the Table of Contents page and the article spread.  In the end, the team at Government Executive Magazine and I were pretty happy with how it all turned out.  Sadly though, when the issue was released, I received word that this would be the final printed issue of the magazine.  I did a lot of work with the publication in 2015 and met several interesting people who work for the U.S. government.  However, it’s not all sad as I’ll continue working with Government Executive on special future projects.  Thanks for an incredible year!


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© Willis Bretz 2018
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