Brian Doben and UPS Find Essential Common Ground
We’ve known since he began that Brian Doben’s 'At Work' series would be an inspiring project for anyone who would take a look. The series grabbed UPS’ attention and used it as inspiration for their latest campaign. “UPS came to me because of the At Work project and how I capture the authenticity of the moment and the subject in that series,” explains Brian. “They essentially wanted to create images that felt as tangible and as honest as possible because it’s really what the UPS brand is. UPS believes in small business whole-heartedly and will work with them to develop a strategy to grow. I never knew any of this!” It’s a little known fact that when Amazon was still in its infancy, UPS took the gamble of partnering with them after Amazon had been turned down by other carriers. Obviously the relationship proved very successful, thanks to the opportunities UPS was able to offer.
That passion for the underdog and understanding how entrepreneurs and passionate business owners do their work every day is a bold line through the campaign. It brings us into the working lives of these people who are, in all essence, the root of how these companies work. When a business is only a few characters, their work is so much more about the people because they make up how the business runs and what the business is. UPS has made themselves about connecting people and creating systems that allow those connections to interact most seamlessly. “What I tried to do was create images that really told the story of the person and their business,” says Brian. “My concept for At Work is about embracing and celebrating the person behind the work. I truly feel like UPS has that same feeling of wanting to help and appreciate small businesses and wants them to grow and thrive.” Making each of these characters unique and personable is a part of the challenge of photographing real people who aren't models. While Brian draws out their personalities, B&A stylist Karen Schijman helps them look natural and composed at the same time.
Each of the images offers a glimpse into the daily operations of real businesses that partner with UPS, but perhaps none are as affecting as the image of the baby in the hospital. This ad is particularly meaningful for Brian who accessed his own familial understanding guaranteeing a successful composition. “Creating that image was quite powerful for me because I, as a father, know what it’s like to feel helpless and the touch of my child is incredibly powerful,” Brian says. “What it came down to was my own feeling of when you touch your child you’re willing to walk through fire. You will do anything for your child.” Brian already takes all of these photographs so personally, but the challenge here was ever deeper and it paid off.
For Brian, it’s a dream come true to have his passions taken on by brands and Art Directors like Melissa Hoke, who want to tell stories the same way that he wants to tell them. “I’m just so honored and grateful for these opportunities that embrace the authentic image,” says Brian. “It’s so moving to me that we’re going to that place of honest imagery.”