Helping companies tell what they're doing – visually

Posts tagged “corporate communications photography

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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Lowe’s jumps in with flooding relief in Florida

Photo of a Lowe's employee volunteer holding an American flag pulled from the mud during cleanup of Tropical Storm Debby in Live Oaks Florida.

In the 20+ years I’ve been covering natural disasters as a staff newspaper photographer (and now freelance photographer), I often come across companies and employee volunteers jumping in to help their communities recover from flooding, storms, forest fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and other catastrophes. Their instinctive responses are heart warming.

Still, even in today’s world of ubiquitous communications, I’m often struck by how few corporate do-gooders take time to document and share their efforts. Lowe’s (the North Carolina-based home improvement giant) is an exception worth pointing out.

Photo of the hoovercraft used by First Response responders. Lowe's donations helped buy the vehicle.

In full disclosure, I’ve been hired by Lowe’s dozens of times in recent years to create photos for annual reports, marketing materials, public relations/corporate communications needs, and also community-service activities like I’m showing in this blog. I’m hired as a freelance photojournalist (I’m not a staff photographer for Lowe’s).

Photography of Lowe's employee volunteers in action. Employee volunteerism and CSR photography.

In this particular event (Lowe’s employees helping to clean up Live Oaks, Florida after Tropical Storm Debby flooded the area in June 2012), Lowe’s donated money and products to the American Red Cross and first responders. Employee volunteers (called Lowe’s Heroes) jumped in to lend a hand. It was a spur-of-the-moment response, but Lowe’s also thought to give me a thumbs up to document the rescue and cleanup efforts. (I was in Chicago wrapping up a shoot for another client when Lowe’s called. A helpful US Airways ticket agent quickly got me re-routed to Florida and everything clicked into place).

Photo demonstrating how photography helps companies communicate their employee volunteers in action.

Lowe’s gets my professional respect not just for jumping in to help, but also for taking steps to tell employees elsewhere in their footprint about what’s happening in and around their Florida stores.

At many other events, such as with Rebuilding Together or Habitat for Humanity builds, Lowe’s employees volunteer side by side with the employees from other major corporations. Often, Lowe’s is the only one who hired a professional photographer to capture their efforts.

Photography of employee volunteers helping a flood victim move possessions from a flooded house in Florida.

As a photojournalist, I’m naturally biased when I argue that all companies should photograph their community efforts. If anything, they are great for the corporate historical files. Many times, the photos are helpful in annual reports or on the corporate website or blog. Always, strong photos help connect the companies with their single largest stakeholders: their employees.

In an August 6, 2010 article, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that many corporations have changed their corporate giving practices in response to economic difficulties. Some 54 percent of corporations were encouraging their employees to volunteer more, The Chronicle reported. Unfortunately, the article didn’t show how this percentage had increased from better times.

What caught my attention in the article was a paragraph connecting corporate communications about employee volunteer efforts with increased worker satisfaction levels. In that case, according to the article, Microsoft found that just publicizing its volunteering program to employees in Microsoft’s Egypt operations sparked workers’ satisfaction with the company’s commitment to society there. Microsoft told The Chronicle that workers’ satisfaction jumped from 61 percent to 91 percent (as determined by an internal survey).

A year earlier, in a November 15, 2009 article,  The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported interesting findings from a poll by LBG Associates and LBG Research Institute. Polling more than 8,000 workers and 213 managers of volunteers from 36 companies, researchers found that nearly 71 percent of employees surveyed said their employer’s volunteer program made them feel “more positive” about working there.

Personally, I argue that companies must go beyond just encouraging volunteerism and helping employees find volunteer opportunities in their communities. They should — no, they must — share those volunteers’ stories. Don’t just say X number of employees turned out to help flood victims move their possessions to higher ground.

Instead, share the words of the military vet as he pulled an American flag from the mud.

Charlotte based corporate photographer specializing in photographing employee volunteers in action and other corporate social responsibility efforts/CSR efforts.

 

Talk about the smiles an employee brought to flood victims’ faces as he belts out an impromptu song while strumming a child’s pink plastic guitar with bright blue butterflies.

Photo of an employee volunteer bringing levity during the flood cleanup in Florida.

Share one employee volunteer’s quiet utterance that “there but for the grace of God goes I.”

Photo of an employee volunteer's hand holding a photo salvaged during flood cleanup in Live Oaks, Florida.

As humans, we instinctively want to give and help others. Applaud employees when they do. If you are in corporate corporate communications, take steps to share their stories in order to inspire others to help as well. The key, I believe, is communicating these stories across your corporation.

CSR photo of Lowe's employees removing personal possessions from a flood-damaged home in Live Oaks Florida.

And when you do, strongly consider photographing their efforts. The photos you get back just might become a valuable tool in your communications tool kit.

CSR photography of Lowe's employees loading bottled water to be donated to flood victims after Tropical Storm Debby hit Florida in 2012.

Lowe's employees survey flood damage while being boated in to help homeowners carry out possessions after a hurricane.

Photo of first responders working with Lowe's volunteers helping after flooding from hurricane debby in florida.