An Annual Challenge: Creating a Cohesive Look with Multiple Photographers

If you want to find examples of superb photography, you can certainly look at publications like Time, Newsweek and National Geographic. But if you want to see how some of the biggest photographic challenges are met today, you should look at the publications here.

That’s right — corporate annual reports.

This is not what people tend to expect. Most people assume it’s the major news magazines that create the biggest challenges for photographers and agencies. Actually, the requests made by corporate clients can often be tougher.

Sometimes, tight deadlines cause the difficulties. But the biggest -— and most common —- challenge is having to assign multiple photographers to the same project while still producing a unified look.

We might get a call from a corporation or a design firm saying they have assignments in New York, Philadelphia and a half-dozen other places around the world. We have to activate the Black Star network, get everyone in position, get them informed … and get the images on the client’s desk on time.

When all those challenges are combined —- as they were recently when an annual report client asked us to complete 200 assignments in six weeks -— we have to make sure that we eliminate as much uncertainty as possible. The client tells us what they want, but if there are holes in what we’re hearing, we start to ask questions: What is the aim of your project? What are you looking for? How do you wish to bring everything together?

That does not mean that each photographer must simply follow instructions and produce exactly the image we describe. We tell the photographers the effect and the look the client needs, but we expect them to be able to think on their feet when they reach the shoot and produce an outstanding image based on what they find there.

If the location features a beautiful staircase that no one knew about, for example, the photographer is welcome to use it as background for an executive portrait — but only as long as the image can be shot in such a way that it stays within the overall concept of the project.

So next time you flip through an annual report, don’t just admire the quality of the images you see. Admire what you do not see; the careful planning that was necessary to create a cohesive visual experience.

You can view photos from some of Black Star’s past annual report projects here.

[tags]Black Star, Ben Chapnick, Annual Reports [/tags]

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