Part 1 in our blog series honoring the unique, inspiring and often incredible work of our clients.
What’s a photographer to do when shoots are few and far between, with the whole world pushing one of the biggest pause buttons in history? In an effort to come alongside our wonderful clients, many of whom are in the same boat as we are, we’re kicking off this series to share some of our favorite memories and the often extraordinary work of our clients. So, who should we spotlight first? We’ve worked with so many great companies, but Southeastern Grocers (SEG) seems the perfect pick, given their work on the front lines of this pandemic – normal men and women elevated by this crisis to the rightful place of brave heroes.
Since first partnering with SEG in the spring of 2016, we have had the great pleasure of spending a lot of time with the fine folks of this company – photographing over 75 community events, grand openings, conferences and charitable efforts across their four brands, Winn-Dixie, Harveys, BI-Lo and Fresco y Más. And our first shoot with the company, well it was nothing short of epic.
When we got the call in April of 2016 with an invitation to help the brand capture stills throughout the Southeast featuring their new buy local initiative, highlighting the companies priority to source as much as they could from the family farms and communities that the grocer serves, I was more than a little excited. Over the course of the trip, we visited a variety of farms, growing everything from peaches and pecans to squash and peppers, while introducing SEG associates to local farmers and some of the behind the scenes work that goes into delivering fresh, local produce to SEG’s customers day in and day out.
Since that first shoot, we’ve had the chance to travel the Southeast, photographing a wide variety of events and interacting with countless SEG employees, from cashiers and baggers, to the company’s leadership team, and everyone in-between. One thing that stands out time and again is the whole organization’s passion for truly serving their communities. I doubt there’s a month that goes by where the company isn’t actively giving back. It really is inspiring.
We’ve made a whole lot of wonderful memories with these folks, but one of the most touching of these was the reopening of the last four Winn-Dixie stores after Hurricane Michael absolutely devastated the Panama City / Mexico Beach communities on the Florida Panhandle. As you can see from the images being held above, the devastation to the stores was catastrophic, but after months of non-stop work, the stores reopened last year to the absolute joy of the communities they serve. During the reopening ceremony, I don’t think there was a dry face in the whole crowd, and that’s not just because of the downpour that swept in as the presenters were speaking!
And then, of course, we have the present. With the Coronavirus wreaking havoc all around us, grocers have emerged as a truly essential service which, if we’re honest, up until this point we really just took for granted. Besides the day to day heroics of serving thousands of customers while willingly being exposed to the chance of infection, SEG has really stepped up to the plate to serve us all, and especially the first responders, nurses and doctors on the front lines of this fight. Just this last week, SEG surprised these heroes by paying for all their groceries during their special hour for healthcare professionals and first responders – doing just that little bit more to make a big impact on thousands.
There’s so many more stories I could share, like the lightning-fast conversion of an abandoned grocery store in one of Jacksonville’s food deserts into a Winn-Dixie in about a month, but we’ll stop here. Here’s to our friends at SEG, while they may still be known as the Beef People, what I’ve seen is irrefutable evidence that they are also People People – who love both their employees and their communities – always eager to make this world a better place!
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