Helping companies tell what they're doing – visually

Archive for May, 2013

executive portrait TES

Tiffany Eubanks-Saunders, sr vice president Bank of America

Portrait-palooza

Coming off a two-week stretch of back-to-back corporate portraits reminded me of the fun — and frustrations — of executive portraits.

On one hand, shooting corporate environmental portraits really gets my creative juices going. I start each assignment questioning the most-important story my client wants to tell. This is the fun part… especially when I can push the envelope or think outside the box.

executive portrait Brett Carter Sr VP Duke Energy

Brett Carter, senior vice president Duke Energy

Frustrations? These can be a lengthy list, topped off with uber-busy business executives who arrive saying “you have five minutes to photograph me… and they began three minutes ago” to skittish security guards who nix location requests because the images might “be used to help advance security threats.” Really?

My recent photo subjects were great to work with, especially those times we had to work in public spaces (it’s never easy to have your portrait made while people are looking at you).

But schedules were tight and we had to work quickly. All told, I easily spent more time hauling in gear from the downtown Charlotte parking garages and setting up lights than actually photographing my subjects. Nonetheless, the frustrations add to the challenge of making photos that support creative corporate communications. And that’s why I love being a corporate photojournalist.

Check out this sampling of my most-recent executive portraits.

We photographed Brett Carter at the top of the Duke Tower in downtown Charlotte. I've always liked how the architectural lines of the space really enhance the visual interest of the images taken in that area.

We photographed Brett Carter at the top of the Duke Tower in downtown Charlotte. I’ve always liked how the architectural lines of the space really enhance the visual interest of the images taken in that area.

Sonya Dukes Wells Fargo corporate communications portrait

Sonya Dukes, senior vice president of Wells Fargo, wasn’t at all phased by the non-stop foot traffic passing by just a few feet away. I asked to photograph Sonya in this hallway because I liked how the bright panels complemented her attire.

corporate communications portrait of Sonya Dukes of Wells Fargo.

Another view of the colorful hallway and Sonya Dukes.

corporate communications portrait of Sonya Dukes of Wells Fargo.

Although we had only about 20 minutes to make Sonya’s portrait, we jumped over to the Wells Fargo atrium area in order to capture a second look (and to help the designer with more options).

corporate communications portrait of Francisco Alvarado, owner and CEO of Marand Builders Inc.

Francisco Alvarado, owner and CEO of Marand Builders Inc., a general contractor firm serving the southeast.

executive portrait of Vinay Patel, president and CEO of SREE Hotels.

Vinay Patel, president and CEO of SREE Hotels.

portrait of Vinay Patel, president and CEO of SREE Hotels.

Vinay Patel, president and CEO of SREE Hotels.

corporate photography Louis Romero, owner of Network Cabling Systems

Louis Romero, owner of Network Cabling Systems

marketing photography Louis Romero, owner of Network Cabling Systems

Louis Romero, owner of Network Cabling Systems

executive portrait of Tiffany Eubanks-Saunders, senior vice president at Bank of America

Tiffany Eubanks-Saunders, senior vice president at Bank of America

portrait photography Tiffany Eubanks-Saunders, senior vice president at Bank of America.

Tiffany Eubanks-Saunders, senior vice president at Bank of America.

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What the heck is corporate storytelling anyway?

Our last post touched on what visual storytelling isn’t. [Find that post here]

Now the much-harder question of what it is. In the 1960s, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart was asked to describe his threshold test for obscenity. He said: I can’t describe what it is, “but I know it when it see it.” Perhaps the same thing can be said for storytelling photography.

In many ways, visual storytelling can be defined not for what appears within the photo, but rather for the feelings and emotions the photo evokes. Does the photo make you stop and pause to figure out what’s going on? Or do you quickly click through to get to the other items on your must-do list?

Stories get told when photographers make images that go beyond what’s obvious and expected. Like here, instead of the expected people-at-table-making-announcement photo, this wide-angle shot puts the event in context. Notice all of the corporate branding.

Or this side angle, which carefully includes the stacked-up boxes to make readers wonder what might be inside. (They’re stuffed with donated school supplies).

And who wouldn’t look twice at the employee newsletter to see which of their co-workers dressed up like superheroes to race Red Radio Flyer tricycles for a good cause.

Next blog: What makes one storytelling photo better than another? Hint… think branding.