Bill Gallery, a corporate photojournalist with a designer eye, shoots corporate profiles, working portraits, customer stories, and special projects worldwide. Furthermore, he has worked with some international brands like Blackberry, Apple, Herman Miller, IBM, MasterCard, Coca-Cola and many more. He has won several awards thanks to his impressive work and he has appeared in famous art magazines and collections such as Communication Arts, and The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.
Production Paradise got the opportunity to have a chat with Bill. Let’s find out together more about the secrets of corporate and industrial photography.
Production Paradise: How did you start your career as a photographer?
Bill: My ﬁrst freelance photography job out of art school (RISD) was for Polaroid, based on a student portfolio of street photography. They hired me to document how customers were using their products, from photographers to scientists to educators in the US, Europe, the Middle East and South America. It was an extraordinary ﬁrst job which, in a surrealistic twist, included photographing some of the world’s most respected photographers as they worked; Arnold Newman, Ansel Adams, Judy Dater, Oliviero Toscani. Ironically I was shooting it all on 35mm Kodak Ektachrome. The work was seen, my documentary approach began appealing to other corporate clients/graphic designers and soon I was being referred to as a “corporate photojournalist”, which has pretty much continued to this day.
Production Paradise: Your corporate photography work is very cinematic; what is it you look for when you ﬁrst enter a corporate environment for a new brief?
Bill: I do have a motion picture background but stills is the language I speak most naturally. When I arrive at a location I like to do a quick walk around to get a sense of the physical layout, the general vibe of the place, where the activity is and where the good light is. Taking note of uncluttered spaces and backgrounds is valuable as well. Ultimately though I have to shoot where the subject is, the environment is not really mine to alter, opening the window shades is usually the most I can do to inﬂuence things.
Production Paradise: You have a knack for capturing intriguing shots of people while they work. How diﬃcult is this to acheive and how do you stop people from noticing you and feeling self conscious?
Bill: As a documentary photographer I do my best work when my subject’s are absorbed in their own work – that is when the real moments and opportunities present themselves. The idea is to become a forgettable presence, a part of the furniture, unthreatening. I work alone, without lighting or crew – it’s just me, a shoulder bag, a small tripod and developed sense of discretion. I am self art directed so usually the only other person with me is my escort. Minimal works for me. My cameras are very quiet, I use telephoto for the compression and “privacy” they aﬀord and I use wide angle for just the opposite.
Production Paradise: You worked for Apple, Herman Miller and Blackberry. Can you share with us this experience? What projects have you done for them?
Bill: I’ve shot several projects over the years directly for the Design Group at Apple; annual reports, internal culture/values pieces and customer stories. Images shot for the education market ended up on the walls of Apple stores. Working with people as smart as they are and watching Apple’s growth has been a heady treat. Blackberry’s creative director for branding Robert Matza asked me to shoot their lifestyle image library which involved shooting in several of their major markets; Dubai, Delhi, Hong Kong, Capetown, London and New York. We had to use talent but we set up activities, rather than shots, so I could approach in an available light, documentary manner. It was a great shoot but it did get comically awkward at times when the iPhone in my camera bag would ring. It was an honor to shoot for Steve Fryckholm, the legendary director of design at Herman Miller. He asked me to shoot the company annual report which he wanted to be a collection of black and white images portraying the humanity of the Herman Miller workforce. I think over 150 images were used. The company feels more like a family and community than any other I’ve known. We shot in Michigan, Illinois and Georgia.
Production Paradise: You also shoot landscapes and portraits, what’s the most enjoyable kind of shoot for you?
Bill: I don’t really promote my portraits or landscapes; they often are simply on a shot list “as long as I’m there”. I do enjoy shooting them when it’s a good one but I think Lucy in your oﬃce added the portrait and landscape parts after seeing a few on my site, but they aren’t really why people hire me. In terms of what is most enjoyable for me to shoot I’d complicate it by saying their are two types; those that deal with shape and form like a shipyard or airplane factory and those that deal with masses of people in recreational mode, whatever that may be.
We would like to thank Bill Gallery for taking the time to talk to us. More of his work you can find on his website or on Production Paradise. You can find more New York-based corporate photographers in our New York Directory.
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