MAYER BROTHERS CIDER FOR M&T BANK

Garett Mayer climbing ladder in an apple orchard. Garett is the 5th generation owner of Mayer Brothers Cider Mill in the Western NY town of West Seneca. Garett, The 165 year old cider press, and surrounding orchards were photographed as part of a success stories campaign for M&T Bank, with which Mayer Brothers has been doing business for 90+ years.

I made a frantic dash to the store to buy a new pair of rain boots the night before this shoot.

We knew it was going to be a wet morning long before my team and I headed out to Gasport NY for a shoot at New Royal Orchards. The motion crew for this project had been there a few days before to shoot the broadcast component of this campaign, and it rained the whole day on their shoot. In fact, it had been raining heavily for the better part of a week (or maybe it was weeks? Hello, Western New York in the autumn!) before our pre-dawn arrival at the orchard to photograph Garett Mayer in what we thought was going to be a torrential downpour. We were suited up in new boots, rain jackets, and equipped with enough umbrellas, covers, and sandbags to keep the gear dry and in one place (because who wants to chase runaway umbrellas on a windy day?) We were ready for anything from a flood to windstorm…

…But what we got was a light drizzle and a gorgeous sunrise; however, the boots still helped with our early morning trek through the mud as we carted gear out to those perfect rows of apple trees that we had scouted at New Royal. If you can’t tell, I come from a long line of “I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it” types — here’s to being passionately in to over-preparation!

Garett Mayer standing amongst apples and trees at Royal Orchards. Garett is the 5th generation owner of Mayer Brothers Cider Mill in the Western NY town of West Seneca. Garett, The 165 year old cider press, and surrounding orchards were photographed as part of a success stories campaign for M&T Bank, with which Mayer Brothers has been doing business for 90+ years.

In the last few months of 2018 we spent several weeks working with the kick-ass team at Crowley Webb on a series of print ads for M&T Bank to accompany the commercials that were being shot by the aforementioned (and also kick-ass) film crew — you can see their spot here. We created portraits in Buffalo NY, Harrisburg PA, and Baltimore MD, that focused on successful businesses and community organizations that had strong relationships with the bank — and worked at locations that ranged from rain-soaked orchards, to funky ice cream parlors, to an NFL playing field. Some were chosen for their growth & success, some for the quirky appeal of their business, and others for their legacy & longevity in their communities.

Garett Mayer is the 5th generation owner of a cider mill and growing beverage business that’s over 165 years old. In fact, it’s one of the oldest family-owned businesses in all of New York State, and their relationship with M&T has lasted for over 90 years.

How’s that for longevity?

Garett Mayer sitting on an apple crate at New Royal Orchards in Gasport NY at sunrise. Garett is the 5th generation owner of Mayer Brothers Cider Mill in the Western NY town of West Seneca. Garett, The 165 year old cider press, and surrounding orchards were photographed as part of a success stories campaign for M&T Bank, with which Mayer Brothers has been doing business for 90+ years.

A trip to the Mayer Brothers store for fresh hot cider and donuts is a REQUIRED fall activity in Buffalo, and I’m pretty sure that autumn would actually get put on hold and Halloween delayed if the mill and store failed to open — you have to go at least once (the apple is our state fruit for a reason).

And as important tradition a visit to Mayer Brothers is for many, it’s easy to lose sight of the enormous amount of work that goes into products like cider — from planting, cultivation, and harvest to pressing & bottling. That’s why it’s so endearing to experience Garett’s connection with and deep reverence for the farmers that grow apples for Mayer Brothers in person. As we spoke with him during the shoot and in between setups he told the crew and I what qualities he’s looking for in the apples they press into cider, the relationship that he has with the orchards, how he plans to grow the business, and about his family history in the area — going back to the beginning when his great-great-grandfather bought the cider mill to serve as a place that farmers and families could bring their apple harvests to be pressed.

Garett Mayer holding an apple amongst the trees at New Royal Orchards in Gasport NY. Garett is the 5th generation owner of Mayer Brothers Cider Mill in the Western NY town of West Seneca. Garett, The 165 year old cider press, and surrounding orchards were photographed as part of a success stories campaign for M&T Bank, with which Mayer Brothers has been doing business for 90+ years.

The final ads are below, and I’ll be sharing even more stories of incredible businesses from this campaign in the coming months. This was one of the most fulfilling and fun projects for me to work on last year because the subject matter is so close to what I am interested in as a photographer (and it doesn’t hurt that the team from the agency and the client have been incredible to work with!). I’ve spent so much time documenting the journeys, struggles, and successes of unique entrepreneurs, makers, and doers in Buffalo — and now I’ve been given the opportunity to help tell those stories on a much bigger stage and in other cities across America through this project. I can’t wait to share more with you.


ON ASSIGNMENT: ST MARY’S COLLEGE ANNUAL REPORT

Brenda Martinez - St Mary's College of California Alumni
How’s that for a dramatic sky?

St. Mary’s College of California sent me and my team on assignment to photograph Brenda Martinez for an alumni profile in their 2014 annual report. Brenda is a sixth Grade teacher in Western NY who runs a bilingual classroom as part of the Teach for America Program. Having taught in San Francisco and Mexico prior to taking her current position in Buffalo while she works on her masters, St Mary’s wanted an image that took Brenda out into the landscape of the region she now calls home. Though she’s a native of the far warmer climate of Pittsburgh, California, Brenda was more than happy to tough out a very windy autumn day on the shore of Lake Erie to get this shot.

Our location that evening was Wilkeson Pointe, a spot just outside of the city that’s recently been turned into a great public green space that includes paths and wind powered sculptures – it’s definitely one of the nicer places in the city to catch a great sunset. Despite the beauty of the shoreline at the Pointe that day, It was tricky working with the strong winds that were coming off the water, but thankfully we were able to set up some screens and wait for brief breaks in the gusts to make sure her hair wasn’t blowing all over the place – the result was this image that’s calm, but still has a beautiful sense of movement to it.

ON ASSIGNMENT: NADINE STRELESKI FLANDERS FOR PHOENIX FOCUS

Nadine Streleski-Flanders of Kaleida Health for Phoenix Focus Magazine photographed on the Niagara River

In June, Phoenix Focus reached out to me to photograph University of Phoenix alum Nadine Streleski-Flanders for their fall 2014 issue. Nadine is the Director of Clinical Education for non-profit health care provider Kaleida Health in Western New York. It’s a great story about how her return to school to further her knowledge of nursing, business, and education catalyzed an unexpected career turn that found her in a new role at Kaleida – one that was created specifically to make use of her unique combination of skills. Continue reading “ON ASSIGNMENT: NADINE STRELESKI FLANDERS FOR PHOENIX FOCUS”

Small Town Girl

Nichole at Knox Farms

Nichole at Knox Farms

I spent a day photographing Nichole Linsay at two of the most scenic rural areas in Western NY – Boxler Farms and Knox Farms, near East Aurora NY.  Scouting the expansive property at Boxler Farms during the day in search of locations had us wading through the shallow  streams above a waterfall, trekking through fields of early spring wildflowers, and meeting many of the exotic animals that roam the property including camels, zebra, oryx, wildebeests, llamas, and emus. Later in the day we moved to shoot to the site of Knox Farms, which had previously been the famous estate of the wealthy Knox family before becoming a historic park. It is one of those perfect places that exists in its own little timeless bubble so distant from the encroaching suburbia just outside its gates.

Nichole with horse

The whole day was a distillation of so many of the things that I most love about being a photographer, and I am rarely happier than when a project becomes indistinguishable from an adventure.

Nichole in WNY stream