Corporate Portraits is a colour photographic series that seeks through humour, to explore and critique the everyday and ubiquitous use of the corporate portrait. The project is informed by the LinkedIn profile photograph and the photographic series “People of the 20th Century” (1929) created by August Sander (b.1876 – 1964). In 2018 I set up a temporary photographic studio in the Warburton Arts Centre, the town of my childhood and photograph people who lived and worked in the area in the style of a corporate portrait. These photographs were printed and exhibited at the Warburton Arts Centre in June 2018.
According to LinkedIn the profile picture is “your first chance to communicate that you are friendly, likeable, and trustworthy. These attributes are crucial to getting prospects to engage with you.” The corporate portrait is a way of “building your personal brand on LinkedIn and making yourself stand out from other recruiters.” The subjects of my project are people who would not necessarily think they need a “corporate portraits” and to who the notion of a “brand identity” might be absurd.
August Sander was a renowned German photographer who documented a generation of workers from all walks of life, demonstrating an almost anthropological attention to detail.
This project considered how someone like August Sander might approach the corporate portrait or head-shot in Australia in 2018 and what makes for the most desirable LinkedIn profile photo.
Corporate Portraits engages critically with the fields of documentary photography, portraiture, social-media and digital identities. I am particularly interested in making representations of occupations who might be overlooked in the creation of a corporate portrait or digital profile photo.
Since moving to Melbourne in the early 90s to study and work, I have established a critically engaged arts practice, exhibiting around Australia and overseas, however I had yet to undertake a project in my home town. Corporate Portraits explores work, identity and portraiture and was an interesting way to engage with the local community and reflect upon my experience growing up in the Valley. Growing up in the Upper Yarra Valley I had no idea of what I was going to do, or who I was going to be when I grew up. The town has very little employment opportunities and at times I can still feel a teenage existential dread when visiting the region. This project teased out these underlying question that is still relevant to people who live in regional areas today.
Documentation of the installation of the exhibition can be seen here.
An online presentation of the ongoing project can be seen on Instagram here.