Washington Dulles International Airport's GEM (Going the Extra Mile) Customer Service Program promotes good character among employees at the airport. When a passenger has a good airport experience it often goes unnoticed, but when employees give exceptional service, the traveler is often compelled (and encouraged) to write in, and nominate the employee for a "Gemmie." I recently photographed the first four awardees of the GEM Customer Service Award, for inclusion in a new GEM Portrait Gallery. You can view the gallery (and my employee portraits) by visiting Dulles' South Finger, which is located beyond security on the Arrivals level overlooking the Main Terminal AeroTrain station, just before the Exit for Baggage Claim. Or for more advanced Dulles travelers, the Gallery is underneath the new TSA Pre-Check.
Photography, lighting, and retouching are by J. David Buerk. Final Graphic Design and Printing was accomplished by CSI in Falls Church, Virginia. They did an amazing job with the text overlays!
Here are my portraits of all four GEM awardees which are now on display. See the bottom of this post for the original portraits without graphic overlay.
The award ceremony itself was mid-day, but free food and prizes were provided for all Dulles employees the entire day. Food was catered in part by Chick-Fil-A, and many employees posed for pictures with the cow!
The awards were presented by Airport Manager Chris Browne, who then hung the portraits in the newly formed Portrait Gallery.
Randomness: In one of the offices I dropped in on during some behind-the-scenes event planning, I found there are proud Browncoats at Dulles! I am an leaf on the wind...
And finally, the Choir from Stone Bridge High School performed for employees and passengers stopping by.
Be sure to check out all the day's photos, including all employee pictures with the Chick-Fil-A Cow, right here.
Here are my portraits, before graphic design by CSI. Since this is a photography blog, I'll give you some background info on how I shot these lovely portraits.
First, I was photographing some of the friendliest people the airport has to offer! That means every one of these folks were very fun and easy going; that's why they were recognized, after all!
The first two images, of Linda and Jack, I used a single 600EX-RT with 1/2 CTO gel in a 48" Softbox, and broad lighting. These photos were taken in Dulles' Main Terminal AeroTrain Station, atop one of the passenger bridges. There was enough ambient lighting that I used as fill. The softbox was about 7 feet off the ground to eliminate glare from Jack's glasses.
The next image, of Hailu, was the only image shot outdoors. Due to the extremely bright sunlight, I positioned the car with the sun behind, and got the remainder of Fall colors in a sunlit tree in the background. I then used two bare 600EX-RTs at full power and zoom aimed directly at Hailu and the driver's door. As the car was angled 45 degrees, the reflective Washington Flyer Taxi logo and car number didn't noticeably reflect in the final image.
The final image of Dave was shot in the United Airlines 1st Class Lounge, and I used a 600EX-RT in my 48" Softbox camera right as key, and another 600EX-RT into a 30" umbrella camera left as fill. Both lights were about 7' in the air to avoid reflections in the glasses, but careful placement of the lights was needed to ALSO avoid reflections in the two windows behind Dave. Additionally, I made sure to keep the United Airlines logo visible on the tail, just outside the lounge's window.
All photos were shot using my EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM. It's my all-time favorite lens! Strobes were triggered via the PocketWizard Flex system.