When Charlie was asked by National Grid to provide employee portraits for its internal Engage, Embrace, Excel campaign, the brief called for appropriately genial images of personnel for use in handbooks, posters and banners. Because asking your subjects to adopt their most approachable expression is guaranteed to have the opposite effect, Charlie focused instead on putting the NG staff at their ease and capturing moments of spontaneity – a crucial and often overlooked aspect of the photographer’s craft.
A recent assignment for global technology company Smiths took Charlie to Titeflex in Laconia, New Hampshire. As a provider of engineered components that heat and move fluids and gases for the aerospace, medical, construction and domestic appliance markets, Titeflex’s work is both essential and somewhat impenetrable to the uninformed observer. In the high-tech sector, especially, our point of access is often the people who bind a business together, and Charlie’s experience in the US reinforced the value to corporate communication of focusing on the skilled personnel who inhabit the shop floor.
After more than 20 years photographing industry in action, Charlie is accustomed to recording changes in working practices that extend far beyond the technology being developed and deployed. At Smiths Interconnect he witnessed one such advance in the form of periods of organised exercise. Assembling and testing electronic components is sedentary work, so enlightened managers have begun introducing fitness classes, not only into the working day, but also into the workplace itself.
Flexibility of a different kind was on the agenda when Charlie headed south to a manufacturing facility in Costa Rica. Another high-tech business, Smiths Interconnect is a world leader in technically differentiated electronic components and sub-systems, providing signal, power and microwave solutions for the global wireless telecommunications, aerospace, defence, medical, rail and industrial markets.
As technology changes the way we work and social responsibility plays a more prominent role in corporate strategy, a progressive approach to management involves recognising that employee productivity, morale and health are inextricably linked. When Charlie visited Anglo American’s office in Rio de Janeiro, he observed that staff didn’t even need to leave their desks to benefit from the expertise of a ‘personnel trainer’…