Photography: Special Report - Adland's greatest shots

A striking image that engages and intrigues is what great photography is all about. Five creative chiefs pick their favourite advertising shots.


"Photo op"

I haven't seen any photographic images in advertising recently that are any good. I try to set my standards and expectation through frames of reference outside of the ad industry itself. The one image I did see this year that really caught me was Peter Kennard's and Cat Picton Phillipps' Blair montage. It was first shown at the Santa's Ghetto exhibition in December last year, where it caused a suitable amount of controversy. Its savage humour and brilliant execution makes it totally unforgettable. It cleverly utilises the self-made, borrowed reference culture of the YouTube generation. They are great artists; if they would stoop so low as to collaborate on a sub-artistic project, I would work with them tomorrow.

Title: Photo op

Artists: Cat Picton Phillipps, Peter Kennard


Air France / "skate"

Working mainly online, we do a lot of illustrating, video shoots, designing and animating in Flash, rather than commissioning a great deal of bespoke photography. From "traditional" campaigns, I like some of the work that John Offenbach has done, particularly for Air France last year. Ben Stockley's work for Nike was also every arresting.

At the moment, there are three photographers that have caught my eye. On our recent pitch for Eurostar, we looked at a lot of work by Rick Guest. I love his stuff. He is fantastic with light, colour and movement.

Another photographer I admire is Phillip Toledano. His subject matter is extremely broad, often surreal and conceptual, but all of it extremely arresting. He has done commissions for Absolut, Federal Express, ESPN, GQ and Kodak, among others. Annie Collinge is another photographer. She deals in the surreal, but with real wit.

Title: Skate
Agency: BETC Euro RSCG
Client: Air France
Creative director: Remi Babinet
Art director: Romain Guillon
Writer: Pierre Riess
Art buyer: Isabelle Mocq
Photographer: John Offenbach


Nike / "St Wayne"

Having thought about recent examples of photography in advertising, one person whose work I really admire is Nick Georghiou. His work has featured in many award-winning campaigns, most notably Land Rover, Adidas, Nike, Trident (the Metropolitan Police's initiative against gun crime), Vodafone and Selfridges, to name a few.

His work for Trident is particularly powerful and is beautifully shot. The stark reality of the gun-crime victim in the morgue has a real resonance. It aims to shock, but what Nick has achieved here is, in dealing with a particularly difficult and tricky subject (ie. gun crime), he has shot the campaign and made it look dramatic. However, considering the subject matter and location, rather surprisingly, he's managed to make it look quite beautiful to the eye.

Another campaign that demonstrates his ability to capture the mood and personality of the product is the image of the footballer Wayne Rooney for Nike ("St Wayne"). This is a really strong image. You simply can't walk past this campaign and not look twice, it has a definite head-turning quality. This in itself is both testament to the photographer and to the concept itself - this Nike campaign was in conjunction with the World Cup finals. Nick has managed to make Rooney look iconic, while in turn capturing the mood and personality of Nike. His style of photography adapts to the personality of whatever brand he is shooting. Without a doubt, this image of Rooney is very strong, and is an example of Nick's work as multi-directional, dramatic and distinctive.

Title: St Wayne
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
Client: Nike
Creative directors: Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth
Art directors: Chris Groom, Stuart Harkness, Guy Featherstone
Writers: Chris Groom, Stuart Harkness
Typographer: Guy Featherstone
Photographer: Nick Georghiou


Golden Wonder / "Ginger boy"

He seemed to loom everywhere. An eerie child, naked from the waist up, a thousand-yard gaze and hair the colour of a rusty phone box. He was here to announce the arrival of Golden Wonder's new Golden Skins. I love this picture. It seems so wrong for crisps and so perfect for PlayStation.

Title: Ginger boy
Agency: JWT
Client: Golden Wonder
Creative director: Nick Bell
Art director: Adam Scholes
Writer: Hugh Todd
Typographer: Tivy Davies
Illustrators: William Seldon, Stuart Westcott, Lightbulb
Photographer: William Seldon


Channel 4 Shameless / "The Last Supper"

When I got a call saying can you pick a campaign that uses great photography and write a few words about it, I thought it would be easy. Then I had a think about it and nothing recent sprung to mind. I asked a few people in the department, and they struggled to come up with anything.

If I had to pick just a single ad, then it would be easy. "St Wayne", the Nike ad featuring the footballer Wayne Rooney, is a fantastic shot and is also a great image.

In the Nick Georghiou style, it's a shot that's iconic, but really enhances the idea of the ad.

The last campaign that stuck in my mind for photography was a while ago. It was the Channel 4 poster campaign for some of the shows that were on at the time, such as The F Word and Shameless. They depicted the stars of the shows, which is nothing new for TV channel advertising. But the shots all had a really original take on the celebrity portrait.

I can remember thinking at the time that the photographic style also gave Channel 4 a very distinctive visual personality. It seemed really fresh and in perfect keeping with the channel. This proves that when we get photography right, it can add far more than just pretty pictures.

Title: Shameless "The Last Supper"
Agency: 4Creative
Client: Channel 4
Art director: Tom Tagholm
Writers: Tom Tagholm, Uche Ezugwu, Kirsten Rutherford
Post-production: Fiscus Production Company
Photographer: Jim Fiscus