A Photographic Lesson in Perspective

It was a day full of media creation:

  • Interview an agronomist on-camera about current disease pressures.
  • Interview an energy manager on-camera about propane safety.
  • Film a propane sales specialist conducting an in-home safety check.
  • Take various photos during each of these video shoots to have stored in our photo library for use down the road.

We arrived at the homestead where we were going to shoot the in-home propane safety check and I was impressed. A beautiful home which sat off the road, a well-manicured yard, and flawless landscaping that seemed to put a bow on the entire package.

I took many photos that day and have since used them extensively over the last two years.

Fast forward to Tuesday of this week. I asked our CEO to give a promotional piece a final review before sending it to print.

“The detailer looks good. Accurate. But that photo needs replaced. It is terrible,” said our CEO.

“What photo?!” I responded. I work to ensure every print piece that comes out of our office is professionally done and pleasing to the eye.

“The propane one. What do you see when you look at that photo?” he asked.

I studied it.

Propane Fill

“A man delivering propane on a sunny day. A clean truck,” I was quick to remark.

“Weeds! Two weeds. Big weeds. They really stand out,” he responded.
I laughed. “Those aren’t weeds! Those are flowers. That’s part of the landscaping around  the tank. Black eyed Susan’s. They’re just not in bloom,” I defended my use (extensive use over the last two years) of the photo. It had been on every social media channel and used in several print pieces.

black-eyed-susan-rudbeckia-pixabay_12719
Black eyed Susan

He studied the photo. “Those are weeds. Goldenrod. They need pulled or sprayed.” He was steadfast in his conviction of weed identification and treatment.

goldenrod_canada
Goldenrod

I asked why, if the photo bothered him and it was used so many times, had he not mentioned it before now? He revealed that he had confidence that I would notice the weeds, remove the picture from things and the problem would be solved. Boy was he wrong!

I was taken back by the misunderstanding, so I tried explaining that the very reason we shot at that particular customer’s home was because it was so well tended.

Well groomed.

Landscaped with colorful details waiting to emerge.

No weeds.

Immaculate.

Our CEO then explained that anyone who sees this photo won’t know that. They only see a guy delivering propane with two big weeds in the way. Our audience didn’t drive up the driveway and see the house, the yard, the barn. They only see the goldenrod (black eyed Susans).

He was right. Unless you know your flowers pre-bloom, these plants looked like weeds.

I appreciated that particular photo because of the natural lighting that day. The clean and well-maintained propane truck. The faceless driver, intentional so no one associated the image with a particular person. The spotless propane tank. And finally, the two flowers awaiting their time to shine.

But unless you were in my shoes – or, the shoes of the homeowner who planted them with intention – you wouldn’t know those were flowers. You may think those were weeds.

It was a classic lesson in perspective: What one person sees, another may not.

That is why it is critically important to value perspectives as we move through life experiences, careers and relationships.

In fact, the key to successful relationships lies solely in our ability to value the perspective of another and find the ability to look at things from a point of view other than our own.

It can be tough, but it can be done.

Is there an area in your personal life, career or relationships that might benefit from a change in perspective?

To step out of your shoes and into another’s?

To ask questions in order to learn, rather than assume? Especially during this time of uncertainty and unpredictability.

Perhaps now is the time. I know that a brief conversation in the corner office earlier this week sure changed the way I’ve thought in the last couple days, and it will continue to do so. I’ll certainly remember this lesson when I am tasked with the job of taking photos or video on behalf of our cooperative.

Now, I’d love to visit more with you about perspective, but I’m spending the rest of the morning replacing the goldenrod (black eyed Susans) photo on every piece of promotional material on which it has appeared.

Spring farm fill

By Lindsay, Communications Manager

 

Screen Shot 2019-11-06 at 11.52.30 AM