Photography

Technology has accelerated the pace of online innovation changing how we communicate and engage audiences. This was keenly expressed in the topics explored at Cannes Lions last month, with AI and neuroscience highlighted as strategies for the future of creative communications. From behaviour-driven marketing to interactive media—the emphasis is on integrating algorythms and encouraging corporate and community sectors to adopt interactive technologies that speak to our digital culture.

Visual media is still a powerful language for generating impact and emotive engagement―but what we want to see, and how we use it, is changing. In this series of conversations, BEJournal looks at creative communications in the age of AI. Our first interview is with Dr Rebecca Swift, Director of Creative Planning for Getty Images. Her conversation with Inga Yandell explores imagery and its influence on culture, creating visually relevant narratives, and the responsibility of media to represent diversity, equality, and authenticity.

Dr Rebecca Swift, Direct of Creative Planning for Getty Images at Cannes Festival 2019. © Anthony Jones / Getty Images
CANNES, FRANCE – JUNE 20: A general view of the Time to Step Up: Smashing Beauty Stereotypes Talk at the Palais des Festivals on June 20, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Antony Jones/Getty Images)

How is Getty Images engaging new generations through creative collaborations and innovative storytelling models?

The Gen Z audience has a greater desire for transparency in imagery. As ‘digital natives’, this demographic has grown up with the internet and as a result are much savvier to marketing than previous generations. Getty Images recognises and understands this generation’s desire for authenticity, and is a passionate champion for the realistic representation of all through imagery and is proud to be leading the visual industry in the creation and promotion of powerful, relevant imagery which celebrates diversity and authenticity in every area of life.

All the projects we are working on internally are tackling different aspects of the same need for realistic representation. An example of this would be the decision we made as a company in October of 2017 to stop accepting creative images depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner — this was a first in the industry. Since then we are putting our energy into who is both in front of and behind the camera- whether that is someone who is a professional creator or someone who hasn’t had their break in the industry yet.

Image Credit: Natalie McComas / #ShowUs Getty Images
Image Credit: Natalie McComas / #ShowUs Getty Images

What percentage of imagery reflects gender equality?

As today’s creative industries are constantly changing and evolving, we aren’t able to put an exact percentage on gender equality in imagery. We are seeing more women as business leaders in advertising imagery, we are seeing more men as caregivers but it is not yet mainstream and when you analyse it across ethnicity, lifestyle, age etc, more work is needed.

What I can say for certain is that there is more imagery of women than men BUT because the commercial industry has been dominated by men, a very narrow definition of women dominates. As we have delved deeper into gender representation as a company, we have found that rather than percentages, it is the less quantifiable — the depiction of gender — that needs more attention. Both men and women are stereotyped and this is what needs to be adjusted.

How can we elevate the presence and impact of women in visual culture?

In this digital age, imagery as a communication tool is more important than ever before. The more we can get images of diverse women in the media landscape, the more quickly these concepts become normalized. And it’s not just about who is in front of the camera — the power of the female gaze behind the camera is just as vital to positive change. While we’re seeing changes in the way women are visually represented in popular culture, the closer we get to gender equality behind the lens, the more real these representations will become.

Image Credit: Natalie McComas / #ShowUs Getty Images
Image Credit: Natalie McComas / #ShowUs Getty Images

Where are you witnessing this shift and awareness?

In 2012 we began noticing the beginnings of what turned out to be a sea change in the ways women and girls were being talked about and portrayed in media. We noticed this trend was reflected in our own image sales. Our top selling image of a woman in 2007 showed a woman who looked like a perfect model, naked, covered only by a sheet, and lying in bed without very much to do. Five years later, our top selling image of a woman looked completely different. She was much more relatable, she was on a train looking out of the window at the horizon, going on a journey. And, most significantly, she was wearing clothes!

Finance brands for example have been very careful to bring diversity into their imagery in their ATL communication but when you start to analyse the more prevalent digital communications across all sectors, it starts to look less impressive.

Why is this representation vital to responsible branding?

We believe that anyone who has a role in creating, distributing and selecting imagery at any level and in any industry has the ability — and responsibility — to better represent the diverse audiences they are speaking to. At a time when imagery is the most widely spoken global language in broadcasting and branding, it has never been more important to produce and promote a visual language that is progressive and inclusive and to support diverse voices in doing so.

Image Credit: Natalie McComas / #ShowUs Getty Images
Image Credit: Natalie McComas / #ShowUs Getty Images

What is the value of showcasing women creatives in shaping the future of storytelling?

As much as we all like to think we are open-minded and objective, we are affected by unconscious biases that stem from our experiences. There are certain nuances and visual cues that some people are blind to if they haven’t experienced it themselves. Female creatives are needed in order to accurately portray the female experience — ultimately raising the standard of storytelling in visual culture at large.

Follow #BEJournal and @EarthEndeavours for more conversations from this series. And #ShowUs to learn more about Getty Images inclusive campaign for authentic and relevant media.

Our world is made up of more water than land, much of which is yet to be explored and its secrets revealed. At its depths lie a sense of beauty and calm witnessed by few. This rich stillness is found beyond human reach, and artfully distilled in the images of award-winning underwater photographer, Christian Vizl in his new book, Silent Kingdom: A World Beneath the Waves (Earth Aware Editions, 2019, $50.00).

Photographer Christian Vizl explores a world beneath the waves in Silent Kingdom.

The photos are purposefuly devoid of color, remnicient of a Japanese ink painting, reflecting dappled light and dulcet tones. Seen in black-and-white, water imparts a story, and its magic is captivating.

Through a range of undersea scenes and moods—from the ferocity of sharks to the playful dance of dolphins—Vizl turns aquatic creatures and marine seascapes into visions of sublime grace and beauty suspended in time and space. With each turn of the page, venture deeper into the one realm in which humans do not reign and discover an unforgettable world that few have ever seen.

Christian’s minimalist style evokes a deep reverence for nature. © Christian Vizil

Though the ocean covers over 70 percent of planet Earth, over 80 percent of that vast underwater wilderness remains unexplored. As the impact of human activity reaches these once-untouched regions, it is more important than ever to acknowledge both the preciousness of our seas and the necessity of protecting one of Earth’s last truly wild frontiers. Silent Kingdom is an ode to the beauty of the ocean and the magnificent creatures that inhabit it as well as a call to action to preserve our planet’s fragile underwater world.


Christian Vizl was born in Mexico City and has been a photographer for three decades. He has won dozens of professional photography awards, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year and International Photographer of the Year, and his images have been published in numerous publications, including National Geographic and Ocean Geographic.

Dr. Sylvia A. Earle is president and chairman of Mission Blue. She has been called “Her Deepness” by the New Yorker and the New York Times, named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, and chosen as Time magazine’s first “hero for the planet.” She is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer.

Earth Aware Editions is committed to broadening awareness and understanding the unique challenges of our time through powerful and provocative publications. From climate change and conservation to the accelerating loss of diversity in our planet’s species and cultures, the continued erosion of our biosphere and ethnosphere cannot be ignored.

Planning to sneak a few extra days over Easter? Most of us relish the thought of extending the long-weekend into a ten-day-break. For some, it can be the perfect opportunity to up-skill a hobby—transforming their passion into a promising new career.

Photography is a hobby with wide appeal, it is both universal and unique. The visual language of photography transcends many barriers which other forms of communication cannot and accommodates all interests (landscape, food, culture, wildlife). Best of all, it continues to become more and more accessible—with the entry of Full Frame Mirrorless cameras diminishing intimidating learning curves and making professional quality equipment affordable.

Newly released, the EOS R Full Frame Mirrorless from Canon is a prime example of added value without added bulk or cost. The light and adaptable body can be fitted with an E-Mount adapter expanding the range of lenses to encompass a broader selection of options—wonderful news for DSLR users who have already invested heavily in their kit, this makes transitioning to mirrorless a more attractive proposition.

If becoming a professional photographer is something you’ve dreamt about, the EOS R is solid motivation to get cracking on that new career.

Thank’s to the folks at Canon, I have been given the latest kit on the block (EOS R 25-105mm) for review and fully intend on making use of the ten day break over Easter to explore how intuitive, versatile and enjoyable this Full Frame Mirrorless camera makes learning the art and skill of photography?

UpSkilling Strengths of the EOS R

Canopy Climb: EOS R / 50mm F1.2 L, 1/500, f/2.8, ISO 800
  • Weather and Waiting: All professions have good and bad aspects which come with the job, and when your work involves unpredictable or uncomfortable situations as with outdoor photography—it can test your physical stamina and patience. Take wildlife for example, critters abide their own rules and don’t generally accommodate schedules, optimal composition or other creative direction. For that matter, weather forecasts don’t always reflect the whims of nature which can turn nasty quickly, especially in ecosystems with fickle micro-climates. This can and will lead to soggy stake-outs, no-shows and long days in less than forgiving environments. So, the lighter your kit the better! Whilst the EOS RP (485g body and battery) has the edge over the EOS R (625g body and battery) in weight, the ergonomics of the latter are more comfortable (due to its larger grip). Even with kit lens attached the load is not overly fatiguing—I spent 4 hours in a forest climbing uneven terrain and found my neck, shoulders and forearms were all in decent shape by the end. Also, it is a more robust model, lending nicely to adventurous photographers.
Mountain High: EOS R / 50mm F1.2 L, 1/100, f/2.8, ISO 100
  • Instinct and Intuition: Great photographers make an end shot look effortless, but the truth behind the image usually involves hours or days (sometimes weeks or months and on the odd occasion years) of dedicated and stealth observation. Developing an intimate knowledge of the landscape and its wildlife informs their choice of lens and settings. There are no shortcuts to intuition or insight of this nature, but the learning curve is less imposing with Canon’s Dual Pixel on-sensor autofocus system (said to achieve 5655 AF points). This covers 88 % of the frame horizontally and 100% of the frame vertically. Making it a versatile feature for various contexts by minimising the need to frequently adjust settings to accommodate different scenarios. In conditions where you want to reduce the number of focus points, you can use the four-way-controller (be prepared to invest some time though, as there are 65-85 positions to choose from). A better option is to use the touchscreen to touch and drag AF, this also works well when taking group shots where multiple faces are detected but you want to accent only one. A Still subject is optimal for portraits when utilizing eye detect (fidgeters create fuzzy shots). Adaption to low light is remarkable in S-AF, enabling you to capture images like a pro. At distance and when using a longer lens, C-AF also fairs well (although at shallower depths of field the tracking is less consistent). So, if you are shooting outdoors in AF, a sudden overcast shouldn’t be a problem but a gust of wind could result in a blurry image (especially at close range). A manual approach is more often required for adjusting the exposure, as the evaluative metering favours brightness to the focus area. This means two images taken moments apart with the same composition may vary in exposure dramatically, as a result of this behaviour.
Hobbit Hollow: EOS R / 50mm F1.2 L, 1/100, f/2.8, ISO 160
  • Functionality and Fun: Photography should remain a passion even when it becomes a profession, but if technology complicates the creative process some of that joy is inevitably lost. Having a camera that is both functional (thoughtfully designed with accessible features) and fun (making advanced techniques easy to adopt) will help you hold on to that passion as you develop your professional skills. The EOS R has a top LCD Panel to register at a glance your settings, easy access to your memory card, a bigger battery than the EOS RP (up to 350+ shots per charge), max frame rate 4K/29.97p, two options for AF selection (rear touch LCD and four-way controller), a very flexible silent mode (great for wildlife), AF tracking 5FPS, Full Frame Sensor (modelled after 5D Mk IV), 30MP resolution… these are but a few of the features which make the EOS R a great mirrorless option for those wanting to enjoy the process of mastering the art and skill of a photography.
Ant Party: EOS R / 50mm F1.2 L, 1/100, f/2.8, ISO 200
Dusk Rose: EOS R / 24-105mm F4 L, 1/250, f/5.6, ISO 500

Mirrorless Muse: Themes To Explore Over Easter

  • Earth Day (22nd April) enjoy the tiny treasures hidden in your garden, take a trip to a wildlife sanctuary or nature reserve.
  • Anzac Day (25th April), observe the reverence across generations.
Next Generation: EOS R / 50mm F1.2 L, 1/200, f/4.0, ISO 100
  • Visit a chocolatier, capturing the artisan craft. If you live in Melbourne checkout: chocoholictours.com.au
  • Join the hunt for Easter eggs, celebrating the wonder of children, the patterns and colours of artfully decorated eggs.
  • Customs, crafts, cathedrals, feasts and family, are but a few themes to hone your eye and develop your skill in the art of photography.

Resources

Download the Brochure

Body Only RRP: $ 3,099 AU (Shop Online)

Kyōyū – it’s Japanese for share. Kyoyu is an Australian camera sharing community brought together by Canon. It lets you rent out your Canon camera gear or hire the gear you need, quickly and easily.

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