Milwaukee-based photographer Darren Hauck’s work for NovaSpect came about as a way to show clients they were still open for business when the COVID-19 pandemic started. NovaSpec is a midwest-based company that provides and maintains industrial control valves. The resulting campaign with Darren showcased the company’s essential workers, highlighted their work and the importance of safely supporting infrastructure when many companies were shutting down.
The project came about after Darren received a call from Stir Advertising and Integrated Messaging, a local Milwaukee marketing agency with whom he had worked in the past. The creative director, Jeff Jasinowski, reached out to him because he thought Darren’s portraiture style aligned well with the direction for the shoot.
Jeff gave me a call saying he had a project that he thought would be perfect for me. The client was new, but the agency and I have worked on several exciting projects in the past, and it was fun to work with them again.
At the start of a strict lockdown, the project began where only essential workers were allowed to be. They shot the campaign over two days at two different factory locations in Illinois.
We used some of the client’s own factories to allow us more control. This allowed us to make sure the area was not being used and limit the number of people to ensure it was safe for all involved.
The portraits depict real employees of the company in power stances that communicate a “let’s get to work” attitude. Each subject is shown in their work area, keeping things running behind the scenes. The composition and lighting for each image do a great job of focusing on each individual and conveying the importance of their work.
Working in a large factory with mixed lighting and deep shadows can be tricky, but I love the challenge. I wanted to ensure it looked natural but that the lighting highlighted the subject interestingly.
During the shoot, Darren worked closely with the creative director to direct the talent and ensure he accurately captured the vision for the project. Going into it, Darren expected that working with actual employees would mean he would have to give them more direction than if they had hired professional models. Still, he found the experience rewarding and was pleasantly surprised at how well they all handled direction.
One of the things that I’ve learned with real talent over the years compared to professional talent is that you have to know how to get what you need faster as they will lose concentration, and things will start to fall apart where professionals are trained to work longer.
I love meeting new people and working in real-world situations, and for me, the dirtier and more authentic, the better. I love factories, worksites, and grungy locations, so, for me, this was fun.