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PopCap CEO David Roberts sits with confidante, office companion and security dog, Noni, at company headquarters in Seattle. The screens in the background constantly rotate various PopCap images.

By Alan Berner

Things immediately look up when the CEO of a successful, local company meets you for a portrait session instead of the company’s public-relations spokesperson.

David Roberts of PopCap, an online game developer and publisher, met me in the lobby and gave a quick tour of the floor. Roberts started the tour with his office, where his Dachshund, Noni, provided the next greeting. Noni’s high-pitched barking-at-the-heel calls brought out Roberts alpha-dog status to quiet her.

As a lifelong dog owner, I knew she was just saying, “Here I am! Look at me, way down here! Don’t ignore me! I have a bed in his (our) office. I have a door to this office.”

Roberts was going to leave her there, but I thought Noni would add surprise and personality to the photograph. With patience and a little time, this photograph trumped the “at-the-desk” portrait. The lighthearted setting reflects the company’s products and, more importantly, the photo exemplifies the personalities of the subjects.

This photo assignment greatly contrasts dealing with another local, high-profile company executive. It took weeks of discussions with the company’s public-relations staff for permission to do the CEO’s portrait. When the shoot was scheduled, 15 minutes total was granted. The spokesperson said, “I have moved heaven and earth to get you this.”

I quickly shot three different looks of the subject in a well-lighted stairwell by his office. He was gracious and cooperative.

But after 12 minutes the handler said the session was finished—time to go.

May I point out the second richest man in the world owes me three minutes?