Helping companies tell what they're doing – visually

Posts tagged “small business photography

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.


How to engage with corporate storytelling

Lately, every time I turn around, my corporate clients are talking about corporate storytelling. It seems their bosses — and their bosses’ bosses — heard somewhere that storytelling is a great way to engage employees. It’s true, I say. And then we all nod our heads in agreement.

But then the other day, a new-ish corporate communications professional pulled me aside and asked, “But what exactly is corporate storytelling?” Trying to figure out what her peers were talking about, this young internal communications manager had searched the Web for examples and explanations of how to leverage storytelling in the business environment… but she had found very little.

Looks like storytelling is one of those things that everybody secretly thinks they are really good at. Unfortunately, the ability to tell stories is also one of those things that few people are really good at.

So let me take a moment (and maybe a few blog posts) to explain what corporate storytelling is — and what it isn’t. Later, in another blog post, I’ll give my 2 cents on how to find a storytelling writer, photographer, multimedia developer or whatnot and make the most of his/her talents.

First the easy part: What corporate storytelling photography ISN’T. It’s not the:
~ Execution at dawn photo, with team members lined up against a wall and “shot.”
~ Grape leaves photo. Similar to the execution at dawn photo, but here the team members have their hands clasped together in front of their groins in Adam-and-Eve-grape-leaf fashion.
~ Important person with oversized check photo.
~ Employee at work photo, where the obviously posed worker looks self conscious as he/she avoids looking at the camera.
~ Giant-scissor-yielding executive about to cut the giant ribbon photo.

Boring, right? But damaging too. A corporate Webpage, newsletter or annual report with a boring photo is worse than not having a photo at all. Why? Because the reader’s eye is drawn to the photo first. Therefore, a boring photo = boring story = boring event. Yawn.

Now the hard part… defining what a storytelling photo is. I’ll tackle that one in another posting.

P.S.: Are you wondering what’s going on in the image at the top of the post? Excellent! That’s a piece of storytelling photography. A photo should make readers look twice and study what’s going on. In this case, musicians perform among museum statues during the Wells Fargo Community Celebration event held in downtown Charlotte, NC.

You can check out the photos from this and other corporate-sponsored events at

Places to see: Charlotte 7th Street Public Market

As first glance, Charlotte’s 7th Street Public Market looks like any other farmer’s market offering locally grown food. Then one notices the bakery confections, and the coffee bar and the market’s many other offerings that make it so much more.

Still in its infancy after just opening in December 2011, the market is intended to be a business incubator where food entrepreneurs and culinary artisans can set up shop and hope their offerings take root.

It’s definitely worth a visit. Here are just a few of the images we created while checking out the market earlier this month. Even though the market, located at 224 E. 7th Street, isn’t in our daily stomping grounds, we’ll definitely stop by again as the harvest season hits full force. Enjoy the photos. The market was like visual eye candy and a photographer’s dream. Plus it’s yet another cool addition to the long list of cool things to see and do in Charlotte NC.

(Thanks to operations manager Jacqueline Venner Senske for being a model in the environmental portrait above.)

Coffee creations at the Not Just Coffee shop located in the market.

Ashlee Cuddy of Bond Street Wines was a good sport allowing me to create an environmental portrait of her also.

Peter Herr of Herr Fresh Flowers (above).

Michael LaVecchia of the Meat & Fish Co. has a clever business model with his delivery-by-bike service.

Erica Baez-Hortob is the food artist and owner of Cloud 9 Confections and Bakery.

On-location photography for veterinary hospital marketing

We recently had the pleasure of photographing the veterinary practice of LakeCross Veterinary Hospital in Huntersville, NC (just north of Charlotte, NC). The practice just wrapped up a major expansion, which allowed the vets to increase the amount of animal care and therapy services they had room to offer.

We photographed the new space and expanded services, and also photographed the staff in action (and in portraits).

To give a sense of LakeCross Veterinary Hospital, we created this short multimedia video to highlight the range of medical services it offers. We like to create multimedia marketing pieces with still photos, rather than moving videos, because the still photos give viewers a chance to really absorb the scenes. Still images combined with music and narration invite viewers to pause and contemplate. I’d like to hear if you agree.

The foundation of this assignment was to create an archive of strong images the veterinary practice can use for marketing (brochures, advertisements, press release submissions), on its own website and in email blasts. Our goal was to give current and prospective animal owners a behind-the-scenes view of the medical clinic. We produced 93 photos from the day-long shoot.

Here are handful of images from the photo shoot:

This image shows a German Shepherd getting low-impact exercise in an aqua therapy area.

The genuine connections between the vets and pets were obvious.

The two images above show the process of a dog having his teeth cleaned while under sedation.

This dog was so relaxed during an electroacupuncture session. He hardly cared that we were taking his photo. Here are two detail photos of the therapy below.

Practice owners Donna Warren and Tom Hemstreet.

Portrait of practice owners Donna Warren and Tom Hemstreet.

Surgical suite

Photography of the surgical suite… and an operation in session.

Detail photo of sterile surgical area.

Photo of dog in therapy session.

X-ray session in progress…

Lab work going on behind the scenes.

Thanks to the entire staff of LakeCross Veterinary Hospital for their patience and help during the photo shoot!

Photo of LakeCross Veterinary Hospital staff.