Why An Image Works #3: The Crowd

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Image Source / Shannon Fagen

An archetypal image is visual shorthand for a universal idea that connects with all of us and it’s why creating an archetypal image is the holy grail for a stock photographer. But how do you make something familiar feel fresh? Creative Manager Denise-Taylor Secretan shows how this image of a ‘Crowd’ is potentially a classic archetype

Getting a stock archetype right is tricky. There are many unsuccessful examples, but when an archetypal image is interpreted with a modern twist it taps into a universal language, and an instant message is created. From a production point of view this image of a crowd of people is successful – it’s well cast, the models are believable in a business context and they are good actors who play the role in an authentic way.

It’s always tricky capturing everyone doing the right thing at the right moment, but in this picture it really does feel like they are all anticipating a storm.

The styling is neutral businesswear, it won’t date, it’s graphic and simple and adds weight to the subject matter.

Crowds are complex to shoot and expensive to produce so there is less competition in the market. For this reason, a ready made image is appealing to a client who wouldn’t want the risk of producing a crowd shoot.

Having more then one person featured allows it to be an interpretation of the universal economic downturn.  The composition of the crowd being huddled together suggests we are all in this together.  To reinforce this point the surroundings do not make reference to any specific place, so there is no limiting territorial context.

This image is about the future, forecasting, insurance and finance, it’s about community and creates an awareness that we are all in the same boat. Its about being prepared, the question is, are this crowd prepared enough for the storm that is about to hit?

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