Photographing newsmakers can be a straightforward assignment, but photographers shooting business stories often face far more ambient instructions: Illustrate Facebook’s IPO, for instance, or Apple’s introduction of the iPhone 4s in China, all the while adhering to the tenets of photojournalism. Bloomberg’s year-end collection of its best photos include many attempts by photographers to thread that needle.
Scott Eells shot his photograph of a person under an umbrella passing by the corner of Wall and Broad streets in New York on May 9, when stocks had fallen sharply and Greece’s political troubles were threatening to drag on many country’s economies.
“The thing is in terms of shooting a concept like that, I don’t set out making it look a certain way,” Eells said by phone. “It just so happened it was a rainy day.” Eells works on the New York Stock Exchange’s floor a couple days a week, and he relies on serendipitous circumstances like the man under the umbrella passing by to spare readers yet another view of traders holding their heads in their hands.
Bloomberg encourages its photographers to think about how photos can be used again. “Every story we shoot we try to add value by thinking about its secondary value,” said Natasha Cholerton-Brown, Bloomberg’s global team leader for news photography. Bloomberg’s photos get used through its internal verticals but also make their way out on wires. Eells’ Wall Street photo, for instance, has been used to illustrate stories about stocks rising, why living in New Jersey is better than living in New York and President Obama seeking support from business leaders.
“We really try to look at the point where business or an issue or an economic issue meets human being,” Cholerton-Brown says. Bloomberg doesn’t expect its photographers to “understand what a credit default swap is,” she said, “but we need them to understand the story.” An Eells shot of Ben Bernanke, whom Cholerton-Brown describes as “not a particularly charismatic character,” shows the Federal Reserve chairman bathed in light, peering out over a murky foreground that dwarfs him.
Another example: Cholerton-Brown said Bloomberg spent months trying to get permission to shoot London’s “Gherkin” skyscraper from a neighboring building. “We had also been trying to capture this view for some time,” she said. When Bloomberg got the OK this past July, “it was absolutely heaving down with rain,” she said, so photographer Jason Alden “went out onto the roof protecting his gear as much as he could, and given [what] the economic indicators were at the time, this was a perfect illustration.”
In the final image, you can see people working in the tip of the massive skyscraper as the light from the rest of the city forms a halo around them in the rain.