Portraits of Power: Andreas Franke’s Evonik “True Leadership”

Imagine staring down the lens of a camera, peering deep into the core of leadership, past its superficial layers to the very essence. This is the stage that was set by Austrian photographer Andreas Franke, as he meticulously captured the striking and not-always-pretty faces of management culture for Evonik Industries’ “True Leadership” campaign. 

The prints were more than just stills; they were profound commentaries, dramatizing the historical negative aspects of leadership, laid bare in unapologetic detail. With every flash of the Broncolor system, the eccentric, arrogant personalities were frozen in time, their overplayed expressions reflecting a deliberate antagonistic touch. This bold and unconventional approach, leveraging Franke’s expertise and a complex shoot set up in Poland, resulted in an award-winning campaign that won Platinum in the Graphis Photography Awards 2023.

In this blog post, we’ll take a behind-the-lens look at this extraordinary campaign, the creative genius behind it, and how the meticulous staging, careful lighting, and strategic distribution played out to engage audiences.

By: Andreas Franke

“When it comes to chemistry, most listen and look away immediately. That’s why the digital-first campaign for the specialty chemicals group Evonik focused on a topic that most people listen to and look at: management culture. 

“The heart of the campaign is a one-and-a-half-minute film that is aimed at the European, Asian, and American markets in German, English, and 10 other languages. There are also various short versions, a making-of, 16 still image motifs, social media assets, extensive content marketing, and a landing page. 

“The special feature? The campaign was primarily designed for LinkedIn and played out worldwide in order to reach the target groups of existing customers, new customers, and decision-makers in business and politics. 

“The renowned Austrian photographer Andreas Franke worked with his Phase One for the stills, which were realized as part of the complex shoot in Poland, in order to be able to ensure the highest possible level of detail reproduction. The settings were prepared with stand-ins in order to be able to optimally utilize the short time slots of the actors parallel to the shoot. The most striking, historically negative examples of a management culture were staged in an impressive way, with the lighting playing an important role. A Broncolor flash system was used for this. 

“The task was to capture the eccentric, arrogant personalities at the right moment, to stage the overplayed, snooty facial expressions with a deliberately negative touch and a reduced background in a striking and expressive way.”

Check out more from Andreas Franke here.

Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, Behance

Discover more Photography 2023 winners here. If you want to enter our Photography 2024 Awards competition, click here.

Author: Graphis