When approaching a new project, a small amount of tension is a good sign that I’m paying attention. Every now and then, the healthy tension turns to jitters. I’ve skydived, scaled buildings and in racing sailboats, I’ve climbed to the top of a 5 story mast to perform repairs, while the boat was pitching and bobbing on a turbulent Lake Michigan. None of this has given me jitters. Enter hedge fund guru Thyra Zerhusen,CEO and CIO of Fairpointe Capital.
Thyra Zerhusen shared a 2010 Smart Money Magazine cover with Warren Buffett and considered one of the world’s top investment managers. I was given the assignment of photographing her and business partner, Mary Piersen, for the May, 2017 cover of Real Assets Adviser Magazine.
The corporate lifestyle images for the inside spread of the magazine were going to be shot in a photojournalistc style;I wasn’t going to be interrupting their workflow. However, the cover shot called for a formal portrait with backdrop. Naturally, I set up a makeshift studio within their office. I knew that I had to be quick about shooting the cover image;Thyra and Mary don’t have time to waste. Taking their eyes away from the pulse of the market could be costly. On the particular day that we scheduled the shoot, the FED didn’t help matters by announcing an interest rate hike. Fortunately, the equities market had already factored in the rise and finished up for the day.
During trading hours, we didn’t know how things were going to shake out, so our portrait session for the cover had to be condensed. I always plan for how I’m going to shoot a session; with this particular shoot, I planned as if it were a NASA moon shot. Aside from having stand-ins for the lighting and positioning, I also came with 4×6 cards in hand for a variety of shot setups. Shooting two people is exponentially more complex than shooting one. We quickly cycled through a series of different looks giving our editor, Mike Consol, several options for the cover.
This particular assignment felt like needing to sink a 3 point basket with 2 seconds on the clock. It felt great to swish the net.
As the trading day started to wind down, I was able to enjoy a wonderful conversation with Thyra, Mary and Marie Lorden, a third principal of this powerhouse, women owned and managed firm.