The impact of photography on Corporate Social Responsibility projects is paramount in illustrating the company’s social and environmental activities that enhance their overall reputation. Photographs depicting people whose lives have changed thanks to the presence of a company that has invested in worthy local projects talks volumes for itself.
CSR is a way to minimise the negative aspects and maximise the positive ones. Bringing out a brochure full of colorful photographs on the company’s corporate social responsibility programmes of a particular year will show its shareholders and investors that it has integrity and high business ethics. It is no longer an obligation that a company feels it has to develop, but one that is now an integral part of their business. Many, in fact most Corporate Social Responsibility schemes I have photographed are sustainable with a long-term outlook.
I work a lot in the oil and gas section, often in Africa, so I have photographed many local waste management companies who have either had financial aid to get going or have expanded and grown thanks to part of a CSR programme. This in the long term will reduce costs to the corporation and immediately benefit the local community creating employment. A company I worked for recently in Senegal supported a plastic re-cycling project set up by a young girl who 2 years down the road employs a number of local people and is expanding her business. Re-cycling and waste management are both popular sustainable development projects that are certainly topical and show those businesses in a good light.
Over the years I have photographed all sorts of sustainable corporate social responsibility programmes. Installing water tanks and bringing drinking water to outer reaches of Kenya and Ghana, and the setting up of schools and medical centres in remote areas. I once bounced along for 4 ½ hours to witness hundreds of malaria nets being delivered to local communities in Cameroon, and same for Ghana. I have photographed colorful openings to new projects presided over by African chiefs dressed in all their regalia in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Mozambique.
Not all the corporate social responsibility programmes around the world are directly related to the actual business. Many help women who are in dire need of making some money thus acquiring financial independence. The training of women in various different skills that they can earn money from has multiplied all over the world. Microfinance has been crucial in this, allowing people to take out small loans that they repay over short periods of time with low interest rates. I have worked for several companies who have invested in this, taking pictures in rural villages of happy women working whilst their children go to school. Investing in education is another popular project that is often part of such a programme.
The company’s logo is often represented on tee shirts, uniforms and overalls and buildings. Great, colorful images of those local people getting on with sustainable jobs are an important form of communication to the investor and shareholder in addition to photos of the product, the manufacturing and the workers.
Corporate Social Responsibility has become so important that Forbes has come up with the top ten rated companies in the US over the last few years and has written numerous related articles . https://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2017/09/13/the-10-companies-with-the-best-csr-reputations-in-2017/#cb6f10c546bf
Not surprisingly these are also some of the largest corporations, but medium and small businesses are also investing and it’s global. What better way to advertise and communicate this tendency than by photography!
I am basically a reportage photographer. For years I have worked for many magazines and weekend supplements, often on stories that I had discovered and implemented myself, so photographing Corporate Social Responsibility projects is simply part of doing what I do best. It has also become an integral part of my work, as more and more companies are realising the importance of it photographically as an important part of it’s advertising and communication in brochures and annual reports.