Towanda Brooks for Government Executive Magazine

Back in December, I was asked to shoot three assignments for Government Executive Magazine’s upcoming issue. For each assignment, we had limited time with our subjects so as usual with a majority of my work, efficiency was key. I enlisted my trusty friend, Rich Kessler, for this and the other two assignments as my assistant. If possible, I highly recommend having an extra pair of hands on set, especially when time is of the essence.

So this first assignment was to be photographed outside at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Yes, outside, on a freezing cold December morning. Rich and I arrived extra early to scope out the location and see what would work best for the portrait. My editor eventually arrived and we collectively decided on where we would eventually shoot. Rich and I made some test shots and dialed everything in. Once things were all set, I rang our subject and told her we were ready for her outside.

I have to hand it to Towanda Brooks. She was a real champ when it came to standing in the cold without any coat or gloves on. Did I mention it was pretty windy as well? I had gloves and a heavy winter coat, and I was freezing! We took periodic breaks to change the setup a bit and allow Towanda to warm up with her coat on. She could have totally told us she was done after the first three minutes, but she was a real team player and hung in there.

I’m pretty happy with how the final shot turned out. My editor wanted a nicely lit portrait, but still wanted it to look natural and not overly done. Since the article is about hiring employees, the windows in the background help portray the people who work inside. The portrait was featured on the Table of Contents page as well as a second similar image appearing with the article.

My editor and I reviewing images.

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