Corporate Reportage Photography

When we are approached to undertake corporate reportage photography in London we often get asked to photograph the subjects ‘in action’ or ‘fly on the wall’ as the word reportage is rarely applied to the corporate world.

The term reportage comes originally from press and broadcast media and describes the use of photography for reporting the news. The classic reportage images are usually in black and white and feature iconic moments in history. The term has now spread into most forms of photography from weddings to commercial and generally means a more natural photo, being less posed and contrived.

Reportage is not for all photographers as it is less controllable and you can be tripped up if you do not allow sufficient time and have a few little tricks to rely on. To get the corporate meeting and general office life photos take patience and concentration. There is no point wandering around the corporate building in the hope you will stumble on a great reportage photo. You need to recce the areas you can access and then decide which have the most potential and then wait for the interesting moments to happen. You also need to allow time for the people in the office to forget you are there and get on with their working day. When people are focused on their work you can capture some great reportage images. Certain points in the day lend themselves to better opportunities. Meetings are ideal as you have a group of people who are not moving around all focused on what they need to discuss. You get people looking professional and sometimes smiling and enjoying there work.

Lets look at some corporate reportage photos and understand how they were captured.

corporate reportage photography London

Taken in a meeting with the photographer using the back of a person as a out of focus shape and then capturing the director as he was talking to another member of his staff. It is best to be at the same height as your subject so you the photographer looks like he was sat at the meeting room table. Best to capture plenty of images as with all people/reportage you get plenty of out takes when people are talking and smiling.

corporate reportage photography London

These two samples were taken at a presentation but show the variety if you move around the room and test out better angles. The one thing you can be sure of in a corporate presentation is that most of the people will be looking at the presenter most of the time. So use this to position yourself to get a natural and action photograph.

corporate reportage photography London

When shooting reportage photography be open to the corporate environment and use elements of the office to assist your images. We often blur people to make them a part of the composition and not always the main point of interest. Without the person this photograph would be pretty bland the the figure who is talking brings the photograph together.

corporate reportage photography London

As with all creative arts you need to balance between peaks and troughs so remember the close ups and wider shots. Close ups are great for showing details of corporate life and they are simple to capture and as they often do not show an individuals face have a wider use on company websites as they can be used as generic corporate images.

Use interesting compositions to make the reportage photos graphic more interesting and this allows designers areas to drop in text. The photos above use the office environment to make shapes and reflections which take a fairly ordinary photo and give it an edge.

Use reflections to create quirky and unique corporate reportage photography. As long as the idea and execution of the photo is correct then anything can be used within the office area which is not the case in most other forms of corporate photography. Reflections on glass can be turned to the photographers benefit which you would normally try and avoid but in the above photos they add the images.

corporate reportage photography London

Lastly always consider every aspect of the clients building and we took this reportage photograph after we had finished the shoot. We were leaving the building and saw this image. Balancing people with building and signs can create excellent corporate photography. Without any one element in this photo it would not work as well but you could not take the man out of the image as he holds it together.

As with all reportage photography you have to be open to ideas and have plenty of time to explore them. We always tell our corporate clients in London that the reportage images are not just snapped as we wander around their offices. They will need to let has recce and spend several hours on site.

If this post was helpful you might like our tips on corporate headshot photography.

Peter Manseau on Photography.

Article from The LA Times by Peter Manseau on photography.

We might look back on 2017 as the year we argued about images.

The Trump era began in earnest when the White House contested aerial photographs showing diminished inaugural crowds. The fight over football players kneeling during the national anthem has played out, in part, through Photoshopped memes of NFL stars burning American flags. After Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, social media users passed around jpegs of sharks swimming along a freeway. Just how much distance was there between Sen. Al Franken’s fingers and Leeann Tweeden’s flak jacket? Did Sarah Huckabee Sanders really bake that Thanksgiving pie?

These debates reveal that the relationship between seeing and believing is rarely as simple as the old saying suggests. Even as we strive to maintain a tenuous grip on objective reality in this truth-challenged time, we tend to see what we want to see — and perhaps it’s best if we all acknowledged that fact.

After 180 years of living with photographs as part of human experience, we’re still not quite sure how to treat them. The estimated 1 billion photographs we collectively take every day have perhaps taught us to recognize, when we pause to think about it, that all images are framed, composed or selected. Yet we still hold them up as the ultimate documentary evidence. (“Pics or it didn’t happen,” goes the online mantra.) The emotional power of photographs to serve as, in the words of one early observer, “mirrors that remember” causes us to forget that, at best, images are never the whole truth; at worst, they can tell dangerous lies.

“Nothing can be so deceiving as a photograph,” Franz Kafka once said, and the technology of photography has been complicit in this deception from the beginning.

The earliest known photo depicting human activity was itself a work of inadvertent obfuscation. When the man usually credited with inventing photography, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, pointed his camera at the Boulevard du Temple in Paris one morning in 1838, the image he developed showed two figures — a shoe-shiner and his client — standing among trees and buildings beside an otherwise empty road. It’s a striking image. The view it provides is so bereft of movement that two men present could be the lone survivors of a plague.

 

Mandé Daguerre Boulevard du Temple in Paris Photography

That boulevard was in fact bustling when Daugerre took his picture. In the infancy of the art, exposure times were measured in minutes rather than fractions of seconds, and so the horses, carriages and pedestrians going about their business cannot now be seen. Only those subjects that remained as still as the trees or buildings would be recorded by history. Like any photograph, the scene it shows is proof only that a picture had been made, not of what it seems to portray.

As photography became commercial, the deceptive possibilities of this theoretically objective art became a feature rather than a bug. Some enterprising 19th century portrait artists offered to make stereoscopic blended images of young lovers, supposedly providing a glimpse of the faces of their future children. Others promised to touch up their photographs with paint to remove blemishes or make appearances more appealing. When the renowned photographer Mathew Brady took Mary Todd Lincoln’s picture in 1861, he allayed her fears that she looked too matronly by making her hands more dainty and shaving a few inches off her waistline.

Not long after, Brady helped photography find its most potent realm for deception on the battlefields of the Civil War. He and other chroniclers of the conflict, including Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’Sullivan and Peter Weaver, are now known to have staged photographs of the dead at Gettysburg. The very men rightly heralded as the progenitors of photojournalism were also pioneers of fake news.

In many cases, their intentions were honorable. As the New York Times reported on Brady’s and Gardner’s work, they succeeded in bringing home “the terrible reality and earnestness of war.” Their less scrupulous contemporaries, however, preyed on the widespread belief that photographs provide true depictions of reality. They fed American hunger for a final look at lost relatives via a booming post-war market in ghost pictures, including an infamous image of the alleged spirit of Abraham Lincoln himself.

The inescapability of photographs in our media-besotted and advertising-saturated times makes it difficult to appreciate just how miraculous they must have seemed when they were novelties, and how utterly convincing they were as a result.

Yet insofar as we are now more savvy in our relationship with images, it is only relative to those who saw them with uncomplicated eyes.

Even now, photographs remain beguiling enough that we are only selectively suspicious — and thus selectively naive — inevitably interpreting images through the lens of preexisting beliefs. The possibilities for altering and sharing images far surpass our capacity for detecting deception, and we are left only with our gut feelings and biases to separate fact from fiction. We remain desperate for photographic evidence while unable to trust what we see.

Peter Manseau is the author most recently of “The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost.” Follow him on Twitter @plmanseau.