During a recent project for technology publication EdTech, Reston, Virginia-based photographer Barry Harley photographed Dr. Curtis Cain, an assistant professor at Howard University School of Business, for an article about how Cloud Computing Degree Programs help fill workforce gaps.
EdTech explores education and technology issues that IT leaders and educators encounter when evaluating and implementing solutions. It’s produced monthly for the IT company CDW by the custom publishing agency Manifest.
Jamaican-born Barry has worked on a variety of environmental portrait projects in the past, ranging from entertainers to city officials. Tasked with a mood board and shot list provided by EdTech, Barry got to work, committed to using his distinctive style to capture the distinguished Dr. Cain.
Edtech wanted to profile the professor in a place that represented Howard University. The historical Georgian-style “Founders Library” was selected as the location — the main library of the renowned Washington, D.C. institution.
When Barry entered the set, he was taken aback by the historic interior of the library. The common’s coffered ceilings, aged and beautifully distressed rich paneling, and tailored rows of wooden tables and chairs embodied the feeling of being in a prodigious institution.
Where we shot was a dark wood-planned interior on the second floor. We also shot some images on the stairs leading up to the second floor.
On the day of the shoot, the university closed the library’s second floor so no one could interrupt. Although Barry had only three hours to shoot, he utilized all his experience to effectively and assertively capture Dr. Cain.
I had to be flexible and establish a common ground with the subject straight away.
Gaining Dr. Cain’s trust to allow for a laid-back and authentic shoot was vital for Barry. Using his experience and natural companionable manner, he immediately formed a strong rapport with the professor.
The shoot felt more like friends talking to each other as I got to know more about Dr. Cain. The PR manager, Sholnn Freeman of the university, was present to help facilitate us getting in and around the building.
With Howard being a historically Black university (it was founded in 1866 by missionaries as a training facility for black preachers), shooting in such a location was extremely empowering for the African-American Barry and Dr. Cain. A significant environment for the visuals of an article that also discusses the lack of diversity in the tech industry — noting that 68% percent of business leaders report a lack of diversity in their tech workforce.
The shoot, however, wasn’t always as straightforward as it appeared; the library had large windows, and the prospect of too much light coming through was a real possibility.
I had to decide whether I wanted the outside light to be the key light or the strobe to be the key light. One of the shots was done just with available light.
The shot of Dr. Cain on the staircase was created by photographing him on the stairs and photographing and lighting the background separately.
See more of Barry’s work on his website.
Production Coordinator: Julie Harley
Senior Photo Editor for Manifest: Sara Elder
Senior Art Director for Manifest: Andrea Heser
Senior Communications and Marketing Specialist at Howard University: Sholnn Freeman