One of my favorite parts of my current job is taking photographs, and at the brewery there are no shortage of subjects. For every new beer that comes to market, we take context photos (aka 'beer on bar') and studio photos for our website and advertising needs. If you've come to a Harpoon festival (Harpoon Fest is right around the corner), there's a good chance I've asked to take your photo. We organize photo shoots for promotional campaigns, create content to support programming like Harpoon Helps, and, sometimes, are asked to take headshots for events and/or news articles.

Photographing people can be a challenge, but it's also hugely rewarding. A well-done headshot of a colleague helps show them—and the company—in the best light possible.

I like to position people very close to a large window so they are lit by natural light and the background can more or less fade away. At the brewery, a pint and the taps imply the company connection. Keeping the subject physically lower than the camera (I do this by standing on a chair) practically guarantees a flattering angle and some version of a 'you-look-so-goofy-right-now' smile.

Al Marzi / Image Property of Harpoon Brewery
Smiles can be tough. Lots of folks get stiff and look forced when asked to, 'smile!' I work around this by asking a friend or two to come to the shoot and keep the subject talking while I snap plenty of photos. Taking a lot of shots has two benefits: it makes it more likely that you'll take a keeper and it makes it much easier to see the difference between a genuine smile and a forced one.

Carolyn Orth

By and large, I am not a very tech-focused photog. A dear friend once taught me that it doesn't matter what you shoot with as long as you're shooting the same things. But, just in case you're curious, we use a Canon Rebel T4i frequently paired with a Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens. 
More after the jump >

'Sketching Block'

As an industrial design student, you are required to do roughly eighty ga-million sketches over the course of 4-5 years. The prompts for those sketches vary widely; sometimes they're extremely specific and sometimes they're as vague as 'do ten pages of sketches.' So it's inevitable that every student (and professional designer, for that matter) will get to a point when they just don't know what to sketch next.

Over the years I've come up with a few ways to keep sketching, even when you're feeling supremely stuck. Fittingly, I put those tips together in a sketch in preparation for the evening class I'm teaching this semester. Do you have any tips for getting un-stuck?

Milk Bubbles

Can I tell you a secret? 

Photography is one of my primary responsibilities at work, and I never took a photo class in college. 

We had a brief introduction to the photo studio, but that was mostly so we could document our work using cheap point-and-shoot cameras. When I bought my DSLR (almost a year after graduation), I figured out how to use it through trial-and-error. But I've been shooting photos for my entire life, spotting potential compositions and interesting details everywhere I go (yes, I'm utterly smitten with Instagram.)

That being said, it seemed like it was time to get a little more technical when I added 'professional photographer' to my resume. So I signed up for Digital Camera I at the New England School of Photography. The night class met for two hours once a week, covering the basics (aperture, shutter speed, etc. etc.) and critiquing weekly assignments.

The final assignment was a series of photos. The subject could be anything, but the photos were meant to reflect what we had learned during the course. Here's my take on it, with a few extra alternate shots included for good measure.

 I like the proportions here and the fact that much of the photo is dark, but you can still see the sewer lid and the line on the pavement. It was lucky that someone was standing outside the liquor store because people always add interest to images.

 Ever stop to consider how many options there are in grocery stores? This photo is edited, but I kept the yellowy hue to hint at the florescent lights of the cooler.

More photos after the jump  

other people's places

A little more than a year ago I moved in with myself. After two years of living with outlandish roommates, I'd had enough. When a dear friend extended the opportunity to (temporarily) be the sole occupant of her city home, it was an easy thing to say yes to.

This, of course, is not your typical living arrangement. For the past year I have eaten my meals at her dining room table, watched movies on her couch, let my books live on her shelves. The space is very clearly not mine.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons I get so much enjoyment out of seeing other people's personalities shine through their living spaces.


In the span of time that I've been living alone, three good friends from college have moved within four hours of Boston. And we've spent two out of the last three weekends all together.

Like many rentals, their apartments have neutral walls. Instead of being bland, though, they serve as a canvas for bright pops of color that come through in stacks of book spines, succulent plants, secondhand rugs, and that beautiful green sofa. There are hints that the occupants are warming up to adulthood (you actually bought that coffee table?) while still holding tight to their 20's (hey PlayStation.)

All of which begs the question: how do you make a space your own? Is it entirely deliberate, or is part of it a delightful byproduct of living there?

Park Slope

every opportunity

I spent this past weekend working Harpoon Fest and the 5 Miler, slinging a camera through both events and documenting everything from beer pouring to beer drinking to road racing (and all the things that happen in-between.) Before the start of the race on Sunday, a security guard got my attention.

"I have a question for you," she said.

Anticipating an inquiry about how to get to the nearest bathroom or where to find a bottle of water, I walked over. And she caught me off guard.

"How do you get into your profession? ...into photography?"

My answer was far from straightforward because I never really considered shooting photos at a professional (really, semi-professional) level until it became part of my job description. That was a fortuitous collision of hobby (photography) and career (design), fueled by persistence. I took photos almost every day through college, before I owned either an SLR or iPhone. Over time, I started seeing the world as a series of potential photos, anticipating which ones might work better than others. And I got comfortable behind a camera.

So when my employer needed someone to take photos, it just... clicked.

The photos I'm sharing here were taken for the organizational chart at work. The standard for org chart photos is pretty crummy—the function of being able to recognize an employee wins over the form of making sure it's a beautiful portrait. But I saw this little series as an opportunity to show our new hires in their best light, and got lucky with an abundance of natural light.

more photos after the jump -->