How to Make Business Stories Look Cool: A Conversation With Bloomberg Businessweek's Jane Yeomans

How to Make Business Stories Look Cool: A Conversation With Bloomberg Businessweek's Jane Yeomans

How to Make Business Stories Look Cool: A Conversation With Bloomberg Businessweek's Jane Yeomans

by The Luupe

We speak with the acclaimed photo editor about her vision, career, and the craft of finding the right photographer for the story.

When many people think of business stories, their first thought isn't always groundbreaking photography. Stock photo handshakes and stale corporate headshots are just a few of the tropes that come to mind.
Yet, over the past decade-plus, Bloomberg Businessweek has been publishing some of the most compelling photography from some of today's most creative photographers to keep their stories warm, unexpected, and visually fresh.
Enter photo director Jane Yeomans, whose sharp and curious, yet sophisticated eye for new photography keeps the magazine current.

We spoke with Yeomans to learn more about her career and insights into visual storytelling and creative collaboration. We've also included some of her favorite tear sheets along with the story behind what makes them so inspiring.
" I had long tried to find an assignment for Brea Souders, this was a great photo story and materials for our annual tech issue. I love these as they are super abstract, almost painting-like. She traveled to various places from London to NASA in DC to photograph these materials."

The Luupe: We remember being really inspired years ago by Bloomberg Biz Week's unique approach to illustrating business stories. Breaking free from business photo cliches, you were hiring and commissioning photographers like Amy Lombard, David Brandon Geeting, Michelle Groskopf, and countless others with unique personal visions and fresh takes. It was and continues to be so encouraging to look at.
Jane Yeomans: After Businessweek was bought by Bloomberg, Richard Turley was brought in as the creative director. He was responsible for creating a team that re-invented what a business magazine could aspire to be. Businessweek was a very established publication at that time.
It was exciting to be part of an art and photo team which was reinventing visuals with each issue and worked so collaboratively. Businessweek has continued to evolve over the past ten years and the art and photo teams continue to push what the visuals can be.
"This, all historic photo research, I include not just because I love these photos. I am often doing deep photo research in addition to assigning a story. I gathered these photos when we did our special “What is Code” issue. When we were publishing Emily Chang’s book excerpt (Brotopia) I pushed to have these used for the story."
The Luupe: Love that! Backing up a bit, one thing that’s so interesting about your own career is that your early days were working in stock, from Photonica to the more art-focused Swanstock. How did your vision and creative approach evolve over the years?
Yeomans: My career in photography has evolved from those early years of being the Director of Photography at Photonica, where I worked with hundreds of photographers editing and directing their work for the agency, along with curating exhibitions within the space.
Currently, I approach each assignment and story I work on as a curation of sorts. I try to always consider who would both get the best visuals out of a situation, and the best possible assignment being one where the photos go on to be a part of the photographer’s larger body of work, work they exhibit, publish, etc.
▲ "I often use this story as an opener for talking about pitching ideas to photo editors. Anastasia Samoylova had recently moved to Miami and pitched a story to me on flooded areas/development, which we had covered extensively. The writer Chris Flavelle suggested she re-pitch a story talking about the drinking water being affected by the flooding. It was a great match for our annual cities issue. I sent them up in a helicopter to really see what the water/ mining/ overbuilding looks like (as a native Floridian I knew she would not be able to capture this from the ground/FL is so flat down that way). I was happy to see this work live on for her, as it’s become a part of her body of work on Florida, appearing in her first Steidl book and on gallery walls in Miami and beyond."
The Luupe: "Collaboration" has become a key word over the past few years when talking about the creative process, especially within the photo industry - how do you distinguish between collaborating and simply hiring or commissioning photographers?
Yeomans: A true collaboration begins with the team I work with – editors, writers, and art director, as we talk thru the story and the ideas. Once I hire someone they bring their vision and skills to the assignment.
I hire photographers that I feel are best suited for the story, have a different way to approach the subject, or simply have the best experience for what the story/subject is.
The range of stories I assign each week is so varied, which gives me the opportunity to work with photographers doing a wide range of work.
▲ Jane Yeomans photographed by Christaan Felber
The Luupe: Are there any recent collaborations you’re especially proud of?
Yeomans: This is tough as I assign often, and I don’t want to leave anyone out! The best collaborations are when the subject and the photographer are both inspired and excited about the images.
Rita Harper recently photographed a family and land in South Carolina for our annual Heist issue. As with many sensitive stories I work on, the collaboration with subjects is with the photographer so I am always happy to see when someone is able to do their best work and be inspired by a story.
"When Rita Harper reached out and shared work with me, I was hoping to have the perfect assignment for her. This story for land theft in SC, for our annual Heist issue, was a great match for her, and we had enough time to have her shoot this on film. The subjects need someone to help put them at ease as the story was quite emotional for them, Rita was able to be reassuring and coax them to the land to make these wonderful photos."
The Luupe: That's great. Can you tell us about the Irina Rozovsky assignment? We recall there was a really moving story associated with it.
Yeomans: Irina Rozovsky recently photographed a single mom in Georgia for a story on the economics of used cars. Irina was touched by the subject’s plight and ended up selling some of her prints on Instagram with all funds going to this single mom. This is a powerful use of photography.
The Luupe: Ok, one more...
Yeomans: During the early days of COVID, I pitched a photo essay on food delivery and taxis in NYC. I collaborated with a Bloomberg writer and was able to hire Don Brodie, whose work I had admired for years. He shot on film and it was a great collaboration with him, the writer, and myself as the photo editor.
The Luupe: It seems like so many aspects of your job and career continue to inspire you. What excites you most about photography right now?
Yeomans: I am most excited about the range of work that is being made right now. I feel like this is a great time for photography as there are opportunities to stay true to your vision and get hired for what you love to do, whether it is a large format portrait, collage work, etc.
I get inspired by the range of work being shown right now, from the Bechers to Wolfgang Tillmans. I love seeing work on the wall, in galleries, and in museums.
▲ "I met Kiliii Yuyan at PhotoNola reviews, he had pitched a very large and ambitious story on Navajo Nation/Greenland Uranium mines. I asked him to re-pitch just Greenland's rare earth mining. We sent him to explore who would be affected by this mining and to find the rocks which hold these minerals."
▲ © Kilii Yuyan for Bloomberg Businessweek

The Luupe: What's one piece of information every photographer should know, that not enough photographers actually know?
Yeomans: Photograph and show what you love and want to get hired to do. I do reviews often and find that people try to curate what they think I want to see/would hire them for. This is actually not the case, I usually ask people what their personal work is, what projects they are working on, and what they are most excited about.
Also, I would say do portfolio reviews. Getting your work in front of a variety of people is very helpful, for me I love seeing new work and meeting a photographer face to face (although recently that often means virtually).
"For our annual Equality issue, we had a few subjects around the globe to photograph for this photo essay, I had been wanting to work with Stephen Tayo, I love everything about this portrait."
The Luupe: We couldn't agree more. By the way, thanks again for participating in yesterday's Luupe portfolio reviews. We received some great feedback from the photographers you met with! On the flip side, what's one vital piece of info for anyone who hires, commissions or collaborates with photographers?
Yeomans: I always try to remember what it was like when I was freelance many years ago, I spent a lot of time knocking on doors to have no one answer. I try to not ignore emails.
I think we as people who commission work sometimes forget one kindness is just to be present. While we may not be able to hire everyone, we can look, can offer suggestions to help move the work forward, to be constructive.
The Luupe: Have you received any creative advice over the years that's stood the test of time you hold with you today?
Yeomans: Always ask, the worst someone will say is no. I think that helped open doors for me. I often tell photographers to be persistent, this has led to licensing and assigning photographers for me.
"I met Kelda Van Patten at the Photolucida reviews this spring. A few weeks later I had this story on CPI, which I thought would be great to try and have her make a piece of art, after convincing her and the art/edit team we were able to have a great artwork to tell this story."
The Luupe: You were quoted via Photolucida a few years ago that Instagram is one of your primary sources for finding new talent. Is this still the case and where else are you looking?
Yeomans: I look everywhere for new talent. Sometimes my email inbox is a great place, Instagram is where I go to see where people are and what they are working on (as I assign often and globally I find this super helpful). Also galleries, reviews, and blogs. I like to stretch and hire unexpected photographers when I can.
"Hands down my favorite issue/project I have ever worked on. This was a special issue, the entire periodic chart in our ”Elements” issue. We covered every element, this was a true collaboration between editors, writers, art, and photo teams. I went thru many pitches I receive throughout the year to see which one had elements in them, turned out a few did. We ended up doing 5 separate covers, this first one was shot by Tommy Trenchard, who had pitched a story on the last days of neon in Hong Kong. Neon is one noble gas in the periodic chart, so we assigned him to this story."
The Luupe: Thanks so much for your time and insights! Is there anything on your creative horizon/ projects you're working on/excited about that you'd like to talk about?
Yeomans: At the moment I do have things I am working on but cannot reveal. My very favorite projects have been our special issues over the years including What is Code, The Space Issue, and The Elements Issue. These are true collaborations between our edit, art, and photo departments.
The Luupe
The Luupe is a one-stop production company that is raising the bar for professional brand imagery on a global scale. With a highly curated and diverse network of professional women and non-binary photo and video creators across 80+ countries around the world, we are reinventing how brands produce original, local, and authentic visual stories that connect with a global audience. Our mission is to champion and amplify diverse perspectives from around the world — in front of and behind the lens.
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