Photography has always been a powerful business tool, used to communicate and engage with customers, employees, investors and wider stakeholder groups.

It’s often referred to as business photography or corporate photography or commercial photography, but actually it is just an incredibly effective medium for communication – whoever the audience is.

Like any form communication ‘business photography’ requires a clear objective, which means an understanding of the audience and what outcome or action is the measure of success.

The image is the message


As someone who was growing up in the 80s I remember the power and impact of the first ‘Colours of Benetton’ adverts that, through a series of photographs, celebrated diversity and inclusion.

Of course, this was an advertising campaign, but the creative idea was stronger than the photographic technique.

In Olivero Toscani, Benetton found, not only a great photographer but also a great communicator of ideas.

It definitely isn’t only adverts where this applies. Large corporates now spend millions of pounds every year on good causes but it’s photography that brings these initiatives alive, not words in a report. For example, HSBC’s CSR report for 2020 is clearly all about people, and as a photographic brief this might be considered slightly unimaginative.

By contrast, the coffee maker, illy’s fantastic ‘Scent of a Dream’ project saw them working with renowned documentary photographer, Sebastiao Salgaldo, to create ‘the largest photo essay dedicated to world of coffee.’ illy’s website describes the project as: “Scent of a Dream” is a journey through coffee-producing countries which, since 2002, has been based on sharing a common value: sustainable development, which for illy represents a fundamental principle and the means through which we have chosen to maintain our quality leadership.

Copyright Sebastiao Salgado

It’s clear that Salgado’s photography brings this ‘fundamental principle’ to life in ways that reports and presentations cannot.

Photographers are communicators

Therefore, when choosing a photographer to work with it’s important to find someone who understands your objectives and can offer a creative solution, rather than a technical one.

20% of what a photographer does is to operate a camera with skill. The other 80% is thinking creatively about what, how and when to photograph in order to achieve a specific objective. Your objective.

A good photographer will ask questions: What do you want convey? Why? How do you want an audience to respond? All of this helps to define what to photograph, when, and how.

An organisation that wants to convey a 24/7 operation is more likely to want to photograph at night. An organisation that wants to appeal to a certain demographic will most likely need to represent that demographic in its imagery. As photographers, the more we know, the more we can help.

Business photography doesn’t just have to be head shots of people in suits, or crowded around a computer screen pointing. It can be really engaging if you work with the right people; and the images can be used across multiple communication channels.