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"We need to up our game in terms of images" - The Drum Live creative experiment proves the power of great photography


By Gillian West, Social media manager

July 9, 2014 | 8 min read

Despite photography being able to transform perceptions it's often the "last thing clients consider in the role of storytelling" according to Opposite Days Mel McVeigh who chaired today's 'Reel Stories' session at The Drum Live.

"As creatives we need to up our game in terms of images in work. Photography is all about memory and how we see ourselves in images. When it comes to brands we'll either see ourselves in their images or not," explained McVeigh.

A departure from the usual question and answer panel, the session saw creative experts take part in an experiment to uncover the power of photography.

Developed as part of a She Says session three years ago, the format saw Jane Austin, head of UX at the Telegraph, Bats in Belfries partner Rochelle Dancell, SapientNitro's creative director Cheyney Robinson and Toni Winn creative director at Precedent faced with images from the Getty Images library for the first time and sharing their immediate reactions with The Drum Live audience.

"Images are all about storytelling, and what stands out is individual identities, the terms we type into Getty or Google aren't what's important it's the great stories that come out of that," added McVeigh.

Here's a snapshot of the images shown today as well as Austin, Dancell, Robinson and Winn's reactions.

Jane Austin, head of UX, the Telegraph

"This image makes me think of make-up, the mask. I didn't wear make up until I was 25, I don't know if it was because as a feminist I felt I shouldn't wear make up, it would make me look less serious. Now when I look back at myself pre-25 I realise I was a scruffy mess.

"It covered a lack of confidence, now as I get older it's different, again it's about confidence but it's a different kind of confidence from when I was younger."

"This reminds me of friends...and hair. It brings to mind images of gender roles as well.

"I go to a lot of meetings where I'm the only woman and I guess I've only just started to notice it, I'm not sure if that's a part of getting older. Thinking about how I present myself.

"When you get older your vibrancy begins to fade."

"In my 20s I was diagnosed with Chron's disease which is a horrible, painful and embarrassing disease and I almost died a couple of times and then this new medicine came along and I was given my life back.

"It's taught me to live every second after spending day-after-day in a hospital bed.

"At New Year I decided not to have New Year's Resolutions but to instead have New Year's Whims, so I've been learning Arabic and I've been to the Northern Lights and I'm going to Burning Man and festivals for the first time this year.

"Every second is precious."

Rochelle Dancell, partner, Bats in Belfries

"The first website I worked on when I moved agency side was for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). I wanted to do a good job and I had a good relationship with the digital manager and the brand manager but like all things, I didn't know if it would work.

"I went down to GOSH and I had my mock ups and my prototype and wanted to have a walk through for ideas for things like headers and banners.

"I was immediately struck by how open and joyful and inquisitive the kids were and I thought if this site isn't for them and for the benefit of them then what's the point. I asked them what they'd like to see, what information would make things easier for their parents when they're coming down, what would make their stay easier."

"I used to run the social media feed for a popular food programme, now I like going out to eat, but I don't cook. I remember thinking that this was how I was learning about different kinds of food and what goes into them.

"It was a competition-based show and I remember thinking at the end the best thing ever for me is when I go home and eat beans on toast or what my mum leaves in the fridge. Despite all the weird and wonderful creations and restaurants, especially here in London, that kind of food is still the best."

"This reminds me of visiting the Tate Modern for the first time. I did a drama degree and there was a performance art programme. Now this was in the late 90s/early 00s and I was walking around the Tate and it was the first time I had genuinely questioned the value of my degree. It really made me think about what people are willing to pay for.

"There was this fire extinguisher on the wall and we were all looking at it and then I realised it was the actual fire extinguisher. We all felt pretty silly but we realised that people actually pay for this kind of shit."

Cheyney Robinson, creative director, SapientNitro

"I've become more nostalgic about Halloween and other holidays from America since having moved. It was always my dream to move to the UK but I never realised how much I cared for the traditions before I moved.

"Especially Halloween and Thanksgiving."

"This is a particularly beautiful image and it makes me reflect on the time I had with my mother who I lost a year ago. It really makes me nostalgic for the beautiful moments I had with her."

"This photo reminds me of my uncle. He's 86 years old and he lives up north, he's in poor health and I offered to bring him anything he wanted. I said "If I could bring you anything in the world what would you want?

"I offered to bring him a really nice bottle of whisky and he said it would be like "BYOB to a distillery". It made me realise he's still got it."

"Of course this reminds me of the game last night, that was painful, but to me it's also identity and aspiration.

"The dream and the hope."

Toni Winn, creative director, Precedent

"This takes me back to a project from a couple of years ago with the London 2012 Olympic Games. I worked with an agency in London who created the London mascots and I learned a lot about the Olympics and the Paralympics and sports I had never even heard of.

"I really admire people who go out and do what they do even with their own challenges."

"This image speaks for itself. They look like a fantastic couple who are really comfortable in themselves.

"I'm very intrigued by them."

"I love hats. In wintertime when I get home sometimes I don't take off the hat, I find something comforting about hats and I have a large collection.

"There's just something comforting about that warmth around your head. To me, this pair are a couple on honeymoon to Iceland and they obviously love fantastic hats too.

"They're both injured, maybe in some sort of bobsledding accident. I'd call them Jane and Ted."


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