Designing a zine-type leave behind of his time at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, GDLOFT had the pleasure of working with commercial photographer, Andrew Zaeh. Zaeh spent three days at the nonprofit summer camp, serving children and their families coping with serious illnesses, volunteering his time and skills.
Wanting to know more about his amazing experience at the camp, and how his project with GDLOFT affected him personally and professionally, we sat down with Zaeh and asked him some questions.
GDLOFT: What drove your decision to photograph The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp?
Zaeh: Well thanks to an intro from GDLOFT, I met with Rose Disanto, an art director based in Philadelphia. Before every meeting I attend, I read up on who I'm meeting with and on Rose Disanto’s website she had written a piece about The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp so I knew it was something she was passionate about. Since my childhood was based on a lot of volunteer work, I was really looking for something to do where I could give back. Rose told me how the camp is always looking for volunteers and she would be happy to introduce me.
GDLOFT: What were you trying to accomplish?
Zaeh: I wanted to show special needs kids as KIDS - not “special needs kids”. For one week out of the year these kids are removed from their daily lives and are brought together in a place that facilitates all their needs so that they can just run and play, do the ropes course, all these amazing things that they might not be able to do on their own.
GDLOFT: Was this project different from previous projects you had done before, if so, how?
Zaeh: This was the first time I had worked with children with special needs. Doing this sparked a commitment to the cause within me. I love using my time and talents to benefit this community.
Working With GDLOFT
GDLOFT: Had you known of GDLOFT before this project?
Zaeh: Absolutely! I was researching the Philly area for design studios and ad agencies when I found and reached out to GDLOFT. We had a meeting and it felt “just right”. After that initial meeting, you guys were looking for someone to shoot images for Allan’s self-initiated works. I happily accepted the assignment and had so much fun shooting the project, getting to know the team and seeing a lot of archival work. After that experience that was so effortless and organic, I knew found the right people to do this project for me.
GDLOFT: When you came to us did you have any project specifics you wanted to follow?
Zaeh: Nope. I wanted you guys to do your thing! You guys look at promos all the time, so you know what the norm is. I knew you would do something that would capture someone’s attention. I basically just said, “Here are 50 images, choose as many or as little as you like and go!”
GDLOFT: Did you have any strong motivators tying to this project?
Zaeh: I knew I wanted this piece to appeal to potential Healthcare and Wellness clients. As soon as I saw the images, I felt that agencies would respond to this as they're constantly striving to capture real people in real situations. I knew that I hit something really special here that would if not open doors, at least be a great conversation starter once I’m in the room and it has been. Being able to have a promotional piece that was not only about me, but about something else that's larger, and drives attention to a great cause just felt like the right thing to do for me.
Outcome of the Project
GDLOFT: Were you satisfied with the outcome of this project?
Zaeh: Satisfied beyond my wildest expectations. My agents were speechless.
GDLOFT: Have you seen any benefits from this project?
Zaeh: 100%. I’ve gotten such a strong reaction from the clients I’ve sent this piece to / shared it with in meetings. The brilliant layout and tangibility aspects really force the viewer to physically interact with the piece.
GDLOFT: Did this project affect or enhance your portfolio, if so, how?
Zaeh: Yes. It reinforced the knowledge that the printed page will always stand out above digital promotional pieces.
GDLOFT: What did The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp think of the finished project?
Zaeh: It was received so well with such positive emotion. It was definitely an emotional piece for the senior executives at the camp. They loved it.
GLOFT: Has working with an organization like The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp changed your perspective as a photographer?
Zaeh: Completely. Prior to this project, I really tried to create the moment. This taught me that sometimes it’s best to let a scene unfold organically. There had always been an underlying low-level of anxiety for me when shooting a commercial project where my work needs to conform to the advertiser / brand’s vision, etc. After successfully completing such an out of the box type of project that The Hole in the Wall Camp was for me, I know I can do anything. If I can handle a situation that’s so humanly sensitive and get such great results, everything else is a walk in the park.