M Doucette Production Gets the Details Right

By Jacqui Palumbo

M Doucette Production was hired by H&M to work on a 3-day shoot for their upcoming collection.

In March of 2011, Michele Doucette found herself in a sink or swim situation. “I was at a crossroads with both my professional and personal life,” she recalls. After 10 years of managing a business with a photographer she had both a professional and personal relationship with, she found herself on her own and in need of a renaissance. 

During the day Doucette reached out to every creative and photographer she had ever met during her career, and designed her Web site in the evenings. After three weeks without sleep, and without any clients – yet – the framework for M Doucette Production had been built. All she had to do was keep moving forward.

Her first client was Art Director Kathie Coe Renner of Wallwork Curry and McKenna, who contacted her looking for newborn and infant photographers. Doucette took on production for her shoot and held casting for the tiny tots, working on set between their nap schedules to assist in getting the perfect shot. In a short two years, she has expanded her client list substantially, from working on a 3-day summer shoot with H&M, to scouting authentic Boston locales for a still and motion shoot with the Boston Bruins for ESPN, to currently working on a shoot for Ralph Lauren.

Photos by Nils Odier

What makes Doucette such an invaluable asset to production is that her strength lies in a range of areas. She has experience in art direction, styling, casting, and most of all, customer service. “At the end of the day, a lot of photographers make a great shot, but did the client have a great experience all around?” she asks. That, to her, is an area that can be overlooked during the hustle of a photo shoot. Attention to detail also comes naturally to her. “I love details,” she says. “I notice everything, every stray hair on a model, every wrinkle in a piece of clothing – then determining if it’s a good wrinkle or a bad wrinkle.” 

Her core team includes photographers, location scouters, digital imaging artists, digital techs and photo assistants and a production coordinator. She says she looks primarily for people with creative talent and easy-going personalities, but they must also share in her belief that the customer comes first. “They must believe in the highest level of customer service from getting all the clients requests accomplished, to paying close attention on set, along with really caring about the small things,” she explains. Her production company is a well-oiled machine, and despite all they have to offer, you will never see her play the role of a salesperson. “I never try to sell people,” she says. “I just tell the truth, believe in what I have to offer and try to be there for [the client] when they are in a pinch.”

ESPN shoot photographed by Luis Sanchis

Doucette fully dedicates herself to her projects, and she takes note of everything and everyone wherever she goes. Her biggest challenge to date was getting the right cast for a State Street recruitment brochure. She had to find 30 real people within Boston who represented specific personalities and ethnicities from all over the world. “I never stopped thinking about the characters I needed, whether driving down the road, at the gym, or dinning in a restaurant,” she recalls. “I would just walk right up to people and invite them to the casting. I was very proud to see the finished piece knowing it looked universal and all were found right here in Boston.” She still finds herself mentally casting for that project, despite its completion. 

Even when she is not casting for a specific project, she makes a mental note of personalities. When her plumber showed up to fix a leak with “a wild handlebar moustache,” she took note. “If I was looking for him, I’d never find him. But I will remember that face for next time,” she laughs.

M Doucette Production is based out of Boston, Massachusetts and offers estimating, casting, prop and wardrobe styling, hair and makeup styling, location scouting, photography, retouching and more. Visit their Web site for more information.



PDN August 2016: The Fine-Art Photography Issue



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