Saying Goodbye to Sam Palmisano

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I’ve been shooting Sam Palmisano since he was named CEO of IBM back in 2002, and as CEO’s go, I always found him to be a very honorable, straightforward guy. But I also knew that since he had reached IBM’s mandatory retirement age of 60 he would be stepping down, so when I got the call to photograph him a couple of weeks ago for what would probably be his last hurrah at the helm of the largest IT company in the World, it was a little bittersweet. I did three covers with him and made a lot of connections with IBM in the process. But connections aside, I was still ‘warned’ by the P/R person that Sam didn’t like being photographed and that he would only have five minutes. I assured her that I knew the drill and that Sam and I went way back…we would be ready to rock-n-roll the second he walked through the door. We were taken to the Board Room and went about turning an area that could easily double as the bridge of the Star Ship Enterprise into a white studio, then we quickly set up a second shot, ‘cuz I didn’t wanna come away with just just one since this might be the last time I got to bother Sam with my camera. And when Sam arrived, true to form, he warmly greeted us and asked how we had been doing since the last time I had to put him through a photo torture session. And then with the P/R person looking at her wrist, our five minute clock began to tick down…

The IBM Boardroom…

You can see how we set up both situations side-by-side, mostly because I knew if I had to walk Sam more than 50 feet a second shot just wasn’t gonna happen!

The simply ridiculous area we dropped our white background…

…how it looked on camera…

…and the final spread in the magazine…

The second shot was deceptively simple…I planned to work with the ambient light in the room and drop him against the stainless steel wall that I had lit with only two of my DIY Kino-Flo lights…

And the final image…

I just checked the metadata on the files. The first shot was at 17:06:54…the last frame was at 17:14:55…..Sam must have enjoyed our last session together ‘cuz he let me go over by three minutes and one second.


11 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to Sam Palmisano

  1. Killer stuff, Brad! Those DIY Kinos look sweet. What kind of exposure are you able to get out of them?

    ISO 800…1/60 @ f5.6….handheld…..controlled breathing! BT

  2. You beat me to it Ryan. Love the Diamond Plate Getto Flos!!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you Mr. Trent.

    I hope all is well!! If you’re ever in Miami, let me know!

    Take Care! Michael Piasrri Pisarri

    Getto Flos…Pisarri, you’re a pisser! And by the way, you even spelled your own name wrong!!! BT

  3. Great and effective way of shooting a very busy business leader!
    The boardroom looks really like a starship-interior – very modern, but in the nice way.
    Nice touch with the arrows on the bg. marking the place too – even though I like the other shot more (but just because of the starship-feeling 🙂 )

  4. Not sure of the previous shoots, but that U-shaped bench seating in the back looks like a nice spot for shooting as well (just a little tricky with all the windows maybe?). Curious: is one of the grid-spots pointed towards his pants or is that just light spill from the back light off his right shoulder? The shiny floor makes it funky to see where the stand legs are 🙂

    Great work. Merry Christmas! (Happy Hanukkah – Blessed Kuwanzaa … Happy Boxing Day?)

    There are no grids pointed directly at him…those four Elinchrom 500’s are aimed directly at the seamless…maybe the two on the bottom are turned in a bit more so that the light is just licking at his heel…but the highlight you’re probably talking about is coming from that small Chimera striplight camera left. BT

  5. hey Brad,
    looks great as always 🙂

    can you please say why in the setup shot you flagged the left kick light but for the actual shot you took it out?
    i mean, i can see the flare is minimal so it doesn’t really matter but just wonder why you took it out at the end. 🙂

    btw, remember the chat bout Color Checkers? bought one 🙂

    I pulled the flag out after we were done with the main shot and I swapped the 80mm for the 35mm simply to show the entire set, and even though it looks like the flare was ‘minimal’, with the 80mm it was waaaay too much to not flag! BT

  6. Just two weeks ago, I was at a conference at IBM in NYC and Sam spoke to my group. May be the last time he really speaks to a larger group. I found very interesting, affable and funny. Pretty good smile too, a lot warmer than he appears in these images, though that’s not a knock on you. I always thought he was pretty stoic until he spoke to the group. Good guy. Straight shooter. ~ Mark

  7. Damn, your DYI KinoFlos looking very good and tough for DYI. What “tutorial” you use for constructing this two Flos – or do you creating you’r own personal KinoFlos? 🙂

    Very nice! 🙂

  8. I can’t believe nobody caught the Macbook Pro sitting on the conference room table at IBM headquarters… now THAT is iconic 🙂

    Linked here from the Profoto blog – great write up.


    Ya know what…I never even thought of that…and at his seat on the table, as well! Good catch!!! BT

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