Editor’s note: Inanna Caterina Riccardi is a freelance multicultural ethnographer-anthropologist for Photo Workshop Consultancy, Copenhagen, Denmark. 

In marketing and insight research, more and more attention is given to visual materials, both due to the fact that part of everyday life is performed on social media, where images are crucial, and also because it has been widely recognized that we are – at least in the West – a highly visual society, in which images and visual inputs invade and influence many aspects of our lives.   

Agencies often hire professional photographers or videographers to ensure that the respondent’s life is captured. This method has well-known advantages, such as producing aesthetically beautiful and pleasant content to look at, and visual inputs that can catch moments and expressions which may otherwise slip away.

In fact, being a photographer or videographer means to respect certain rules as concerns the composition of a shot. Using a set of principles which aims at creating a result that can be considered beautiful, and in which symmetry is key, is common across documentary photography and art photography.

A photographer is also trained in selecting the best camera for a given situation. While digital is a must, the exact camera can vary based on the context of fieldwork and on the aim of the research. For example, a camera that is small in size and performs well in low light, meaning that it can shoot on a high ISO, would be a better choice than a bigger camera, if the research is about clubbing or alcohol consumption. Due to its smaller size the camera would be seen as less intrusive.

Photographers, specifically if they have specialized in street or documentary photography, know how to catch the moment of interaction, and they are able to predict where the following action or interaction is going to occur. Consequently, they can place themselves in positio...