Guest Post: Nicole Ross

Nicole and Penny
This is Nicole.

In 2013, she founded Creative Quarterback, collaborating with other talented freelancers to provide small businesses and nonprofits with solutions to their creative needs. Her expertise and generosity make Nicole a bright light in Indianapolis and the world.
Nicole loves her beagle Penny, horses, cupcakes, and doing interesting and beautiful things. This month, one of the many things she’s done is to write a blog post for Paul. Thank you, Nicole!

Living in the Moment…Forever
By Nicole Ross, Founder, Creative Quarterback LLC

Most adults agree, their memories aren’t as good as they used to be. It’s not just aging that’s to blame. We work longer hours, spend more time on screens, and juggle dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of personal and professional responsibilities 24/7/365. Our poor noggins simply can’t keep up.

Ask me what I did today, and I can probably recall a few highlights. Ask me what happened last week, last month, or last year on this date…and I have absolutely, positively no idea. The same is true about very formative periods in my life – like “growing up,” “high school,” or “college.” At the time, I thought every memory, every event, every person, and every lesson learned was deeply etched into my memory. Apparently not.

I spent the last decade working for ExactTarget – a fast-growing tech startup that was eventually acquired by Salesforce in 2013. To say I witnessed a lot of change would be an understatement. Time at “ET” was like dog years – more happened in 10 years than in 53 years at other companies. Unlike the blurry memories from my formative years, however, I have vivid, lasting memories of every major company milestone, program, and event. Why? Two words: Paul D’Andrea.

From our early years all the way through the acquisition, Paul essentially served as ExactTarget’s visual historian. We hired him to take pictures of every company meeting, user conference, volunteer outing, company picnic, holiday party, and new hire class. When I moved from Marketing to HR, I also recruited him to document everything from internal program materials to video shoots (yes, we took pictures of video shoots), our annual employee anniversary celebrations, and more.

10yr Place Settings

If HR sneezed, I wanted a professional photo of it.

Sound over the top? Looking back now, I can honestly say professional photography had the greatest return on investment of ANYTHING I did in Marketing and HR—combined. Here are 5 reasons why:

Milestone moments (and memories) are fleeting. Your company’s history gets longer every day (literally), and you’ll wish you had high-quality photos from every stage of its evolution. If you miss the moment, it’s gone forever.

Cell Phone Stage Photo

What you see is what you get. Whether you’re trying to sell your software to a client, a new wellness program to your employees, or a new idea to your executives, professional photos set you apart and get you noticed. . You’ll be amazed how much more polished your programs, team, and events appear when you promote them with professional photos. Perception is reality.

JW Connections Empty Room

Stock photos are hit and miss. You can’t shoot a custom photo for every scenario, but you can create a custom ‘stock’ library of your actual offices, employees, swag, and clients that you can reuse over and over. Avoid downloading generic photos online (or, God forbid, using clipart). Your audience will gravitate toward authentic images over staged ones every time.

10yr Photo Collage

Get people invested. Your company’s “old timers” shouldn’t be the only ones who understand and are proud of your history, culture, and programs. Photos allow you to share key milestones and important information with new employees and get them invested faster.

Corporate Challenge 2

Tell me about it. Professional photos are like the gift that keeps on giving. Even after you leave a company, you’ll find countless uses for the images you gathered – from your LinkedIn profile to presentations to articles and beyond. Best of all, you’ll have them to look back on when you want to reminisce about the good times you had.

B&W Band Crowd

Now, as owner of my own ‘virtual creative agency,’ professional photos are one of the first things I recommend to my clients. Doing a website refresh? Creating marketing collateral? Launching a new program or product? Custom, professional photography is a must.

Bottom line: Do what it takes to create memories that last. You won’t be sorry.

Cover Shot: Rook Security

At the end of the winter (doesn’t that sound wonderful?), Paul made pictures for an Indianapolis company, Rook Security. Here, J.J. Thompson, Rook’s CEO (right) poses with CloudOne’s Jim Goldman for a magazine cover: InfoSecurity Professional. The bank vault door illustrates the sense of security they hope to convey to clients who entrust them with protecting their data.
Paul has already blogged about the challenges of working in this very office with its moody lighting (see that article here).
The amazing meeting room is sleek and industrial—actually the inside of the bank vault. The transparent dry-erase board is amped up with a blue glow of its own, and a combination of overhead cans and under-table lighting complete the work space.
However cool the environment, though, photographs of people in dark rooms are not always flattering or even clear. Paul needed to use his own lights to allow the people to show up nicely; but his lighting cancelled out the blue glow of the work board.
Rook Security Meeting Room
So then some Photoshop magic was necessary to combine two images—the people looking good in one image (above), and the moody blue room by itself in another (not pictured). The two get together for a striking final product.
Rook Security Blue Room
Have a challenging work space that you’d like to have photographed? There are people out there who love to play with lights and solve puzzles. Get in touch!

Client Work: Careerable

These portraits of Katie Lindahl Smith were taken at the vibrant offices of Trendy Minds, downtown on Market Street. Katie is a career development coach, serving Indianapolis through her own business called Careerable. (Visit her blog for some truly inspired articles.)

Katie in Office

The space is clean and bright, but at the same time, warm and full of little details of interest.

Katie w client

Katie is great to photograph, and is radiant with passion for her work and her interactions with people.

Katie with Client

Getting the light in an office just right is sometimes a puzzle. Finding a solution is often the key to a great looking photo in your own space. Paul combines the existing office light with tricks of his own, drawing from his years of experience playing and working with lighting.


Indianapolis Client Work: Converge Street

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who will take off their coats in the biting Polar Vortex, and those who make portraits of the coatless ones.

Paul met with Sean Sullivan, owner of Converge Street, a digital marketing company. They chilled out together on Indianapolis’ Monument Circle. Sean was cheerful and unfazed. Paul gritted his teeth and pretended to be cheerful and unfazed. The result was, in my opinion, some really cool pictures on the Circle. Paul had an enjoyable challenge to blend his own lighting with the ambient evening light.

Now that temperatures are rising, Paul’s schedule will be filling up with other unique outdoor photo shoots. Have a favorite public space, or an interesting place of business to use as a backdrop? You don’t have to be out in the cold.

Sean with lights of North Meridian Street in the background

Sean in b&w at Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Sean on Monument Circle, Indianapolis

Sean on Monument Circle, Indianapolis

At Soldiers and Sailors Monument Indianapolis

At Soldiers and Sailors Monument Indianapolis

Client Work: Productive Leap

Naomi here, writing for Paul today.

Here’s one of our favorite people, Chris Yates.
Paul met with him last year and played in Fountain Square, downtown Indianapolis.


They took some wonderful portraits that show off a lot about Chris’s personality. I see several of the things I like most about him in these expressions and settings: the unique sense of style Chris has for himself, his no-nonsense professionalism, and his yes-nonsense attitude of fun and spontaneity. I think Paul and Chris worked well together building this set of portraits.


Chris offers strategic consulting through Productive Leap, and works full time through SmarterHQ, combining all those qualities I mentioned above.




Paul offers fantastic corporate and brand photography sessions—in his studio, the workplace, or your choice of Indianapolis sites that help represent you.




Client Work: Rook Security

Recently I paid a visit to Rook Security at their offices in a repurposed bank here in downtown Indianapolis. They needed new portraits of their employees and location photography for their new website.

I love when clients have ideas for unique portraits and Rook had a great one. In their conference room (which is in the bank’s vault) they have a see-through lit-up dry erase board onto which they drew up a cool-looking flowchart for me to use as a backdrop.

I do like a challenge, and doing portraits in a nearly pitch black bank vault using a dimly-lit dry erase board as a backdrop certainly qualifies. In the end I wound up lighting the board myself with a small speedlight, and since it was so dark I couldn’t even focus, I used the modeling light of an extra studio strobe to add some extra light to my subjects.

Here’s a few of the portraits:

And here are a few of the location shots:

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