Research point: Contemporary awareness 4

As directed, I have looked at a range of contemporary advertising photographers, and have picked out half a dozen that I felt were noteworthy.

Looking at advertising photographers is interesting in as much as it’s not always clear how much to credit the creativity of the photographer for the end result. Is it more the concept of a genius creative director, adequately executed by an able photographer? Or is the look of the ad as important as the concept? Or did the photographer contribute to the concept as well as the visual execution? One can draw some conclusions if enough of a photographer’s work is available to see – a consistently engaging visual style, regardless of commissioning agency or brand, is a good sign.

A few words on the ones I didn’t write about in detail, and why. Some had little or no advertising work in their online portfolio. Some were straight product photographers more than advertising photographer. Some had some really interesting non-advertising work in their portfolio but quite pedestrian advertising work. Some had unforgivably bad web sites. Some just didn’t stand out in any way so I moved on.

Final observation: compared to the other genres I’ve been looking at on this course, advertising is very male-dominated…

James Day

As well as working on lots of very clever campaigns (re my point on conceptual credit in the intro), Day has a distinctive and pleasing visual style. He errs towards very clean, light, often pastel-hued backgrounds.

James Day

His work is a mix of good quality explicit messages and the cleverer implicit work that I find more interesting. He is good at either creating or interpreting the underpinning ideas that make implicit messages work successfully, such as the ‘packed with extras’ VW Golf sinking into the studio floor.

Andy Green

Green works more outdoors, though there is clearly a significant amount of lighting and post-processing used to get the looks he achieves. Some of his work is a little too artificial-looking for me – the kind of shots where I notice the over-processing before anything else, though maybe the aesthetic is intentional.

He produces some visually interesting, often witty, images – but rather maddeningly his portfolio doesn’t state who his clients are, so it’s difficult to judge the success or relevance of the images to the client’s product or brief!

John Lamb

Lamb produces high quality, stylised imagery. His ‘special effects’ work in particular is interesting.

This is the kind of work that I admire but have no real desire to emulate. The bulk of the work to produce such images will be done on a computer rather than with a camera. These are images that are visually striking but not necessarily conceptually interesting.

Peter Lippmann

Lippmann has an distinctive portfolio in that he very clearly delineates his commercial work from his fine art work, while others seem to blend them a little more. Much of Lippmann’s work is editorial rather than advertising, but theres enough overlap in terms of the visual language and intent, especially in the luxury goods markets that he tends to work in.

His is a rich, opulent style that suits the brands that he mainly works with. Now and again he takes on a more everyday commission like the Mikado chocolate one, and the execution is more light-hearted and reasonably witty.

George Logan

Logan is a photographer with a distinctive style in terms of the content of his images: very outdoorsy, often involving wild animals. He’s applied this approach to a number of disparate brands and concepts. It’s only when you see his body of work together that you see the pattern.

George Logan

He stood out as a great example of someone who specialises in a content type, which could be vey commercially-savvy. If you know you want a wild animal in your campaign, who you gonna call…?

Dan Tobin Smith

I really liked his work, probably most out of all these recommendations. He works in a more formal graphical (sometimes verging on abstract) way than the others. He finds ways of seeing products in interesting ways, using shapes, colours, lines, patterns.

His work appeals to me not just for the pure visual cleverness, but for the way it helps to get across brand messages using semiotics. They are more subtle than the deliberately ‘clever’ implicit ad; they’re more about lending an atmosphere or characteristics to the brand via the visual language, rather than getting across a feature/benefit message.


James Day (accessed 14/09/2016)

Andy Green (accessed 14/09/2016)

John Lamb (accessed 14/09/2016)

Peter Lippmann (accessed 14/09/2016)

George Logan (accessed 14/09/2016)

Dan Tobin Smith (accessed 14/09/2016)