Photography’s power in the time of ‘social distancing’

A great photo can help to create the feeling of community that is missing when people can’t gather together in person.

Why is photography important in this time of isolation?

Why not just write copy or do video conferencing when communicating with your staff?

Photographs create cultural memories. In the midst of the daily rush, we sometimes come across an image that truly resonates. For days, months or even a lifetime, this image might serve as a reminder of a moment in time or a specific feeling—a bookmark within our memories. A compelling photograph can solicit a call to action, substantiate information, and even elicit a deep-rooted feeling of empathy.

Photography inspires community.

Photography creates community through recognition and celebration of familiar people or places, from a new and creative point of view. Sharing your personal perspective with your community emphasizes the individual, as well as the group. This precious balance between the self and the whole creates a feeling of togetherness that inspires empathy, especially in uncertain times.

How and why should you show community through photographs when your team is dispersed both geographically and across various platforms?

The photographer’s objective is always to tell a visual story. We observe the world through the viewfinder and tell a story by combining various elements in the frame. But what if social distancing does not allow you to enter your workplace where people are making a difference?

Go to your archive and find photos of your people out in the community, whether it be your medical staff caring for patients, or a company-wide volunteer day.  Find photos of people in your company working together to make the world a better place.

Your role as a photographer is to tell the stories that might otherwise go untold.

If you are in the workplace, look around: What image would show the change your community is experiencing during this pandemic?

An empty campus, an empty terminal, empty streets? If your workplace is empty, your company is doing its part and your colleagues should find inspiration in this collective action to socially distance.

Photography brings beauty to our world.

When teaching photography, I am constantly telling my students to slow down, to separate themselves from the surrounding chaos. This allows us to take the time to really capture what is in front of us and to wait for the decisive moment to take the photograph.

Right now, we have been forced to slow down and view our world from a different lens, a different perspective. Slow down, look closely at your world and share a moment of beauty with the viewer.

An activity to promote this: Create a company challenge, share photographs of a moment of beauty to share company-wide, a moment of hope, of joy, of a belief in human connection.

Our lives and habits have been disrupted, and people fear the unknown. We must recognize our humanity through a showcase of past acts of compassion and the moments of beauty and joy that are found there.  Look for the moments that can elicit feelings of empathy, hope and compassion, and share their stories through photographs.

Eileen Ryan is an affiliate consultant at Ragan Consulting Group. She has been photographing around the globe, telling stories through her lens. You can view more of her work at Need help telling visual stories in your organization? Reach out to to set up a call with Eileen. Follow RCG on LinkedIn here.

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