This little piece isn’t only about the technical difficulty in creating a good team photo; it’s also about the hidden messages and what the photo itself conveys.
The practical task of getting 9 busy consultants and designers in one place at the same time has been a near impossible task; hence our 2015 photo is still up on the website in March 2018. Even when we get everyone together, urgent deadlines take precedence and shouts of “can we do this tomorrow?” emanate around the office. Opportunity lost. As an aside, our new office isn’t blessed with lots of daylight, thereby making it more challenging to get a good photograph. Our previous office had an abundance of natural light. (Let’s not even get in to what effect this has on staff wellbeing.)
Onto the photograph itself and what it tells you about haa design. Have a look at our previous team photo; you can see why it was called ‘The Last Supper’. Nick complained about him being centre-stage; he secretly loves playing ‘The Messiah’ (though in truth, he’s a very naughty boy). Conventionally, Hugh would have been in the middle of the image, but he purposely chose to be off-centre. There’s only one person caught looking at the camera (interestingly, the only person who chose to look to the side when the portraits were taken), the rest are engrossed in what David is saying (obviously). It looks natural and ‘unposed’, though in truth the shot was set up (even the haa sign and the Glasgow Business magazine were positioned carefully). It’s the old team however. Half of the people in the shot have moved on to pastures new and the person behind the camera was a haa design employee.
Do we even need a team photo, or does it just fill a space on our website? We have individual portraits, so people can put a name to a face (with Gertie being by far and away the most popular). The answer is yes, we do need a team photo. We work collaboratively, so it makes sense to be shown together. It helps potential clients know who they might be working with and helps them see that the employees are valued enough to be shown as a team. Should it be wacky? I would argue that forcing people to act unnaturally is … well, unnatural. Does it need to be formal? Yes and no. Even the most natural team photo has a sense of formality around it as people have convened in one place specifically for the event. What about having props in the shot? The small chairs have become associated with haa design marketing over the years, so it feels appropriate that they appear in the photo, showing just a little bit of a different character to the team.
I would like to think that the new photo will be taken soon, but I’ve been thinking that for a while now…
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