So what's the point?
Why do companies bother to send a photographer to capture employees in the workplace? Much more than the year to year demands of the annual report, many companies are now not content to rely on stock imagery, bland, often not observed but posed and far from candid. Perhaps those ‘ready to wear’ images sourced from a photographic library lack one thing above all: Authenticity. It is because these pictures are taken with the aim to be as vague to sell as widely as possible, allowing a variety of uses to depict business, supply, manufacture.
Beyond the requirements of an annual report, surely there is value investing in the internal communications message. In diverse structures where many have little idea of how the various branches of the company actually come together, telling the story internally drives understanding by employees, and externally by potential employees, regulators, government, media, customers, and investors.
I love to shoot in a documentary style, with the focus on one or two people at work, help to ensure the images look genuine and natural. I believe that staged shots can detract heavily from the authenticity of the content. My aim to 'make it real' rather than stiffly posed, capturing real settings, avoiding what I see as dull lifeless imagery in a studio set up: Candid moments of life, observed not posed. Not ‘job done' but 'job doing’. People engaged, proud of what they do, acting with commitment, and perhaps humour, interacting with one another as they go about their work.
Just outside Bangalore city, I was working on a production line that was packing tetra packs of whisky into boxes and the employees were beautifully dressed in colourful flowing saris, as if they were heading out to a special family event rather than at their factory work. Carrying that idea of authenticity in my mind, I was concerned that everyone had 'dressed up' for the arrival of the photographer from England. No, I was firmly told, nobody has dressed for the photography, this is how they come to work every day. In a casual, matter of fact way, it was explained to me that people felt so proud to work here that they always want to look their best.