Atlanta, Georgia-based photographer Gregory Miller received a call from the Wilbert Group, a PR firm located in Atlanta. Greg had just finished an OSHA course on COVID safety protocols, gearing up for any projects he might get throughout the pandemic. Greg wasn’t the only one who had to adapt to the virus swiftly. The small 3D printing company ZVerse had just pivoted from manufacturing industrial vents and architectural models to face shields — or as they like to call them, ZShields.
Located in South Carolina, ZVerse has become “one of the most important players in the battle against the pandemic,” according to Fast Company. Known as a 3D printing company, they received a request from a local hospital for 5,000 face shields that day. John Carrington, the CEO of ZVerse, spent the next two hours with his team building a design for the shields, and overnight the requests came flooding in.
They became tremendously successful very quickly, and their need for marketing collateral was immediate.
ZVerse turned to the Wilbert Group to get the branding effort going as quickly as possible, and the Wilbert Group turned to Greg. The race to build the ZShield brand was on.
The Creative Director at Wilbert, Lea Friedman, has been working with Greg since 2007. Each project Greg completes reinforces the level of trust between the two — an essential aspect to a project that needed to be done quickly during such an unstable time.
With a short lead time and quick turnaround required for delivering content, plus the additional element of shooting early on in the pandemic, the agency knew they had to turn to someone they could trust.
Not one to sit back and wait when disaster strikes, Greg took every precaution during a time when the media could hardly decide whether we needed to wash our groceries or not. The pressures of the unknown were not to deter him, and Greg was able to successfully and safely dive into the project.
The agency knew my reputation for being good under pressure (not only with quick turnarounds but also with the introduction of COVID-compliance rules).
Greg was ready for the three-day shoot involving both video and stills. They shot in a parking lot, a restaurant, a pharmacy, and a school. Despite all these locations, they were able to keep the budget relatively low. They took advantage of the agency’s employees and worked with them for most of the talent, and ZShield was able to secure the locations through their network.
One of the partners for the client was part owner of a restaurant that was shut down. We also leveraged a connection with one of the partners who had at a private school that was exclusively practicing remote learning.
This allowed them to avoid some scouting and location fees while being able to showcase how the masks could benefit these environments. While other face shields look more like strange visors, these literally flip that concept on its head. By turning the idea of the face shield upside down, it allows for a more natural, less distracting appearance. This arguably allows the wearer to communicate a bit more effectively.
With the less obtrusive necklace-type design, the transparent shield is not the easiest thing to shoot. As always, though, Greg adapted.
The first day of shooting resulted in a lot of retouching to clean the shields up from dust and fingerprints. Before the second day, I sent the stylist some shields to practice her technique of cleaning and wiping them so we could cut down on retouches.
ZVerse was hit hard by the pandemic and was on the verge of layoffs when they received their first request for face shields. Now they’re producing hundreds of thousands of face shields each day. Greg also bounced back quickly, getting OSHA certified and fixing shooting schedules to comply with the project’s deadlines.
All the players in this project have something in common: their ability to adapt when challenged and thrive because of it.
See more of Gregory’s work at gregorymillerpictures.com.
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