Following our discussion on creative communication, it might be useful to spend some more time illustrating the idea of photographing the same subject in different ways, in order to facilitate multiple application of the photos.
To support this discussion I will use an earlier photo shoot I was commissioned to do, photographing a young scientist, Dr Tumi Semete, whose exemplary research was to be featured in a number of publications.
The first point worth noting is that the shoot coincided with an interview with the scientist, conducted by the company’s publications editor. This had the advantage that the focus was not exclusively on the photo shoot, so I was free to move around and photograph different angles and subjects. Also, by paying attention to what was being discussed in the interview, I had more insight into what I needed to capture to compliment the article and other related applications.
Secondly, I was briefed beforehand that the photographs would be used in a number of different publications, so I needed to be comprehensive in my coverage.
Following below are examples of the different angles and types of images that can be captured during a science photography shoot, illustrating the range of applications that can be covered without spending much extra photography time.
The documentary angle. Capturing some shots during the initial interview phase, enabled us to get good informal, natural and unposed documentary style images highlighting the personality of the subject.
The person-focused lab portrait. Technical action portraits can be created by photographing the scientist in his/her work environment. Being a portrait, the focus needs to stay on the person, and techniques like shallow depth of field can be effectively used to blur the surrounding detail in the shot, thus ensuring that the environment does not draw the attention from the subject. Such a portrait could effectively illustrate a primarily person-focused article.
The technology-focused lab photo. While keeping the human subject prominent in the frame, this photograph differs from the portrait above in the sense that the laboratory equipment is kept in focus, and it takes up a prominent part of the image. Focus therefore shifts to the technology, making this photograph useful in an article with a more technical research angle.
The people in action lab shot. If other laboratory personnel are available, it is useful to set up some shots, or photograph from such an angle, that other people are introduced, either as part of the focus of the image, or in the background. This results in a more generic laboratory image which can be useful as a general illustrative image for brochures and other publications.
The technical details. While photographing a scientist in a laboratory environment, keeping an eye out for interesting details and technical equipment for detail-shots adds another dimension to a shoot. These types of images can be used effectively as additional design elements in publications, websites etc, and often end up being useful to the client even after the person-specific portraits become outdated.
The traditional portrait. Pretty much a must-have during a shoot like this, capturing a good formal, corporate portrait is critical. For a more corporate feel, and to provide variety from the laboratory images, this photo was staged in a boardroom environment.
The informal portrait. While traditional, formal portraits are important for corporate publications, having a more funky, informal portrait can often be invaluable. In this particular series, this image ended up being used extensively, in particular in publications aimed at promoting careers in science to younger audiences.