Real Emotions, Real Connections

Spotlight / Shoot Spotlight
The Good Brigade
Sarah Foster
Dec 13, 2023
Traditional advertising has long championed an image of hyperbolic positivity, portraying an aspirational life detached from viewers' realities. However, our VisualGPS research indicates a growing discord with consumers who increasingly demand relatable content. In North America, 56% find more familiarity on social media than in traditional outlets. More than three quarters of people advocate for brands displaying empathy, particularly as 57% of us grapple with mental health amidst life's challenges. Acknowledging these struggles is pivotal, with 72% of consumers favorably viewing businesses that recognize and address their issues.
We see these trends in real time on our site. Over the past year, customers have searched for the concept of 'stress' as often as for 'happiness,' alongside nuanced emotions such as surprise, playfulness, shyness, curiosity, disbelief, and depression. The desire is for visuals that move beyond superficial clichés to capture the rich complexity of human experience. Emotions are not static; they are ephemeral, multidimensional, capable of swift transformation. A grimace may evolve into a playful raise of an eyebrow, and smiling eyes can unexpectedly fill with tears. It is this realness and spontaneity our customers want to see—a portrayal of real life it its full spectrum.
In response, our collaborative work with Exclusive creators focuses on crafting and curating honest, dynamic visual stories, each photographer and filmmaker bringing distinct visual styles and technical skills to their interpretations of our Creative briefs through the world around them. Among the shoots featured here, we see how documentary filmmaker Ben Garvin's black and white treatment captures the intensity of marathon runners, distilling fleeting personal moments into a universal and timeless narrative. In contrast, Kelvin Murray employs meticulous art direction in cinematic studio portraits, using rich color palettes and a locked‑down camera position to patiently witness his models' unfolding emotions. Annie Otzen's lens follows her children through daily life, offering an immediate and highly personal point of view with no pretense, only natural light and familial closeness. Meanwhile, Catherine Falls brings a more studied approach to her intimate domestic scenes, setting up painterly tableaus with sumptuous chiaroscuro light and shadow that reveal private moments with a quiet, studied tenderness. And working in a much different scale and equipped with a broadcast‑level production team, Lighthouse Films sets scenes in motion, using multiple cameras to provide layered perspectives—from wide tracking shots establishing a sense of time and place to close‑up tilts and pans revealing real‑time expressions and reactions.  

These aesthetic choices made by each creator play a crucial role in shaping the mood of the shoots showcased here, elevating concepts and amplifying the emotional tone for content that can be felt as well as seen. This commitment to authenticity, especially in an era where almost half of North Americans prefer experiences grounded in reality, emphasizes the unique richness of lived experiences both behind and in front of the lens.
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