Washington DC Potrait Photography: Portrait of an Author: Joel Backaler
The email was from friend and former client Joel Backaler.
Joel was close to finishing his first book, an exploration of Chinese companies expanding internationally. He needed a distinct professional portrait that would be used for the jacket cover. According to Joel, this portrait needed a different look than the the ‘standard’ headshot and corporate portrait so often used for websites and media. It would appear in his book, on his website, in major major media publications and at his speaking events around the world.
Based in Washington DC, Joel is a consultant with the international consulting firm Frontier Strategy Group. Before coming to Washington, Joel spent 5 years in Asia, working and traveling across Mainland China, Taiwan and Singapore. This gave him a unique and very personal perspective on the country and the commerce he explores in his book. Although this is Joel’s first book, he is no stranger to writing or to being published. His writing has appeared in several major publications including Business Week, Forbes and Fortune.
To the session.
We discussed the setting. Joel wanted a location portrait, somewhere in the city. He wanted the final image to be about him and not about the background or the context. He wanted to convey professionalism, strength and confidence. I settled on a location near the edge of the National Mall; the DC WW I Memorial. Lightly traveled, accessible and small in scale, it is a hidden gem among the iconic sights of Washington.
Joel made it clear that wanted a portrait that did not scream ‘Washington, DC’. No iconic monuments or memorials as a backdrop. This was the perfect place. It was in DC, but not of iconic DC. Columns for framing, a dome for shade and a broad colorful landscape beyond, for context and depth.
The session wasn’t without it’s share of challenges, but what would life as a professional photographer be if every shoot was like a stroll trough on the mall, literally. There was a special event at the site the day of the session. We worked between and among the people passing through, milling around and visiting. No problem, right. Piece of cake. Working quickly and quietly we captured 6-8 good ‘looks’. Within an hour we were done and on our way.
Joel’s book, China Goes West was released to critical acclaim.. A marathon of early morning, late night and non-stop weekend writing sessions finally come to a close. Now, the book tour begins!
Congratulations, Joel. It’s time to start racking up those frequent flier miles, again.
Yang Yuanqing – Chairman and CEO, Lenovo Group
“Smart, practical and highly readable… In China Goes West, Joel Backaler brings an important, accelerating global business trend into timely focus.”
Mark Duval – President, American Chamber of Commerce in China
‘Joel Backaler’s book is a real eye-opener. Written in a clear, precise, and ready-to-use manner, it tells the tale of contemporary China’s ‘Journey to the West’.’
Davide Cucino – President, European Union Chamber of Commerce in China
‘Joel Backaler’s comprehensive China Goes West will be the go-to-guide for those looking to get up to speed quickly on the greatest business story of our time.’