Steve McCurry & Dow's Human Element

Steve McCurry & Dow's Human Element

Conspiracy theorists might have reason to be skeptical of a chemical company that appeals to our humanity after selling Napalm to the US Military. But that was then and this is now (and silicone breast implants are back en vogue too). Last year, the Dow Chemical Company introduced “The Human Element” advertising campaign, which was developed by the ad agency Draft FCB.

The campaign has aged well, and more recently I’ve started to see some of Steve McCurry’s (of National Geographic “Afghan Girl” fame) images from southeast Asia being used in various contexts (truth be told, I saw them in Seed Magazine!). Big props to Draft FCB and Dow for pushing magnificent photojournalistic images in their ad campaigns. When people complain about stock photos looking bad, a large part of blame goes to the image buyers for not “pushing” photography further.



The fisherman image from the Weligama on the south coast of Sri Lanka is one of my favorite McCurry images.

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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. M. Scott Brauer at 8:07 pm

    This brings up an interesting issue regarding model releases, I’d think. For the top two images, I’d imagine they aren’t necessary, but the fishermen image (one of my favorites of his, as well) would require four releases if it were a picture of Americans or western Europeans. Do the ad agency and Dow chemical just take a calculated risk that the fishermen and their families will never see the ad or, if they do, never think about a lawsuit? I know Getty has releases available in a variety of languages, but I’d question what a release for the American legal system would even mean to a Sri Lankan fisherman (or someone presumably better educated), i.e. would their signature really hold up if it could reasonably be argued that the signee doesn’t know what the release means. I’m particularly interested in this because my work (while surely not as consistently good as McCurry’s) is sometimes similar in style and geography. If model releases are not required in this case, then my work is available for a lot more types of licensing than I’d previously thought….

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