Straw Hat Visuals is an award-winning production and communication strategy company, established on the virtues of classic and authentic storytelling. We are pioneers in embracing the newest technology and techniques to captivate our audiences, creating effective, visually-stunning and compelling films.
We work with a wide range of commercial, advertising, educational, and editorial partners and clients from across the globe.
Director, Chief Executive Officer
A native Nebraskan Bill Frakes is a visual storyteller and educator based in Florida who has worked in every US state and in more than 138 countries for a wide variety of editorial and advertising clients.
His advertising clients include Apple, Nike, CocaCola, Nikon, Mars, Manfrotto, and Reebok. He directs music videos and television ads.
Editorially, his work has appeared in virtually every major general interest publication in the world. His still photographs and short documentary films have been featured on hundreds of Websites as well as on most major television networks. He is currently on the masthead of Sports Illustrated, and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.
He won the coveted Newspaper Photographer of the Year award in the prestigious Pictures of the Year competition. He was a member of the Miami Herald staff that won the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of Hurricane Andrew. He was awarded the Gold Medal by World Press Photo. He has also been honored by the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for reporting on the disadvantaged and by the Overseas Press club for distinguished foreign reporting. He has received hundreds of national and international awards for his work.
He has taught at the University of Miami, the University of Florida and the University of Kansas as an adjunct professor and lecturer. He is currently the Souderton Professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska. During the last five years, he has lectured at more than 100 universities discussing multimedia and photojournalism. Through his production company, Straw Hat Visuals, he prepares educational content that is disseminated in multi touch electronic books and platforms in 22 countries throughout North and South America.
In 2010 and 2013, he served on the jury of World Press Photo.
Senior Editor, Chief Digital Officer
Laura Heald, a graduate of the University of Florida, has a decade of experience as a filmmaker, photographer and senior editor for Straw Hat Visuals. Laura is a pioneer in the integration of high definition video, still photographs and audio into multimedia productions. Her work is regularly viewed by millions on websites like espn.com, npr.com, buzzfeed.com, apple.com, nikon.com and SI.com--as well as in the print magazine. In 2015, she and Straw Hat Visuals won first place in News Multimedia 48 hours.
Laura has been commissioned by Apple, Nikon, Manfrotto, the Education World Forum, the Westminster School and Knotion to teach workshops and produce curricular content, and has presented to over 20 universities across the country.
Producer, Communications Director
Sara is a storyteller, producer and communicator, working in the commercial, advertising and education fields. She's lead a variety of effective targeted digital campaigns and fundraising efforts. She is an experienced digital designer, specializing in user experience and data visualization. She has created and coordinated a higher education-based marketing training conference and has been a guest speaker at the HigherEdWeb Florida Conference. Sara holds a Master’s in Digital Design and Bachelors’ in Journalism and Political Science. Additionally, she has a certificate in Digital Marketing from Harvard’s Continuing Education program, and was an invited attendee at the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities Emerging Creatives Conference at Stanford University where she completed training in user experience and IDEO-based “design thinking” techniques at Stanford University’s d-School.
Editor, Production Assistant
Front-end Web Developer
CLIENTS, PARTNERS & SPONSORS
The Nikon Ambassadors are authorized by Nikon to demonstrate to the public and professional image makers the capabilities and use of Nikon imaging products, but the expressive content of their work is solely their own. Nikon Ambassadors are independent contractors and visual artists and are not employees of Nikon. Nikon Ambassadors are responsible for the content of their photographs, websites, exhibitions, and visual images and the manner in which such content and images are obtained. Any messages, beliefs, or viewpoints expressed in the Nikon Ambassadors’ photographs, websites, exhibitions, or visual images do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs or viewpoints of Nikon or any Nikon employee.