This year has been unlike any other. In 2020, the world has been challenged and changed, and in the face of adversity, we’ve seen some truly incredible perseverance.
While much of the world began working from home and events were cancelled, marketing teams had to rethink their creative strategies.
Visual storytelling has become a challenge in itself, and the creative teams at universities, sports teams, nonprofits and cutting-edge brands have shown us time and time again that they are up for the challenge.
We asked our creative community to reflect on the last 12 months and share the one photo that tells the story of 2020 through the eyes of their organizations.
What’s your One Photo? Tag @psforbrands on Twitter or Instagram and use the hashtag #OnePhoto2020 so we can see your work!
Yellowstone National Park
“This photo of the Upper Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone at Uncle Tom’s Point was taken shortly before Yellowstone National Park closed briefly due to COVID-19.
It’s a meaningful photo for our nonprofit because it reminds us of why we do our work. Our goal is to support the park through fundraising and education, and it’s even more critical now after the park experienced a financial deficit due to this closure.” – Erin Fitzgerald, Yellowstone
United Nations Relief and Works Agency
“From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) was a front-line responder in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus among the Palestine refugee communities and adapted its service delivery to distance-learning, telemedicine and home-delivery of food. In an effort to keep Palestine refugee children safe and healthy as they went #BacktoLearning in the Fall, UNRWA implemented innovative modalities to adhere to the principle of social distancing for some 535,000 students in its over 700 schools, including in-classroom and self-learning modalities.
This photograph shows two young Palestinian refugee boys wearing face masks and greeting each other with their elbows as they return to a UNRWA Palestine refugee school in Alliance in Damascus on September 14, 2020. Unfortunately, critical UNRWA services such as these are under threat and #PalestineRefugeesAtRisk due to an unprecedented funding crisis faced by UNRWA.” – UNRWA Photo Desk
Feeding San Diego
“Due to the pandemic, thousands of people across San Diego County are facing hunger, many for the first time. Feeding San Diego, a hunger-relief and food rescue organization, has been working around the clock to help connect people facing hunger with nutritious food, because no one deserves to go hungry—during a pandemic or otherwise. This picture was taken at a mobile pantry distribution in Campo, CA in August 2020. It is one of hundreds of distributions Feeding San Diego hosts, in partnership with over 320 local non-profit partners.
Photos like this one capture the impact we are having on the community. We share it with our supporters to thank them for the role they are playing in our mission fulfillment. This holiday season, we have been using it in advertising to inspire giving. Without the community’s support, we would not be able to fulfill our mission to end hunger. And the need has never been greater than it is today.” – Dana Williams, Feeding San Diego
“This moment occurred on March 13, 2020 on Olin College’s campus – right as the pandemic and subsequent confusion and anxiety was hitting the country. Everyone, including our students, faculty and staff had just come to the stark realization that Commencement for the Class of 2020 was probably not going to happen, or at the very least, not as it always did. Students, aka Oliners, therefore seized the moment and in 40 hours time, planned and held a ‘Fauxmencement’ ceremony. Dressed in a lively mixture of regalia—a mixture of genuine cloth robes and some crafted from black trash bags, origami mortarboards and colorful yarn tassels—the future Olin graduates processed to the oval through a throng of cheering and bubble-blowing students, faculty and staff. This smiling photo is of the procession.
It was an inspiring and wonderful moment for the College and our Marketing Communications team. It meant to me, our team and our brand that Olin is different – we do Olin-y things. We have a sense of humor and make the best of an unusual situation in innovative and emphatic ways. Which in that strange moment in March, was just what was needed.” – Adam Coulter, Olin College
“Thousands of Special Olympics events around the world had to be postponed and canceled due to COVID-19 impacts, especially due to people with intellectual disabilities being at higher risk to the virus. However, once safety protocols were in place and there were a drop of cases, Special Olympics started to host smaller in-person trainings and competitions. In this photo captured by volunteer photographer Marco Catini, a Special Olympics New Jersey athlete shows his Genuine Jersey Pride while standing on the podium, giving all who sees this picture a moment to celebrate together not only his athletic accomplishment, but a glimmer of hope for the future.” – Tara Baker, Special Olympics
Speed Skating Canada
“With all national and international speed skating events cancelled and many rinks across the country closed, our community hasn’t had much to cheer about these past 10 months. The Canadian national team’s training centre in Calgary was shut down in October due to a mechanical failure and our athletes have had to adapt their training plans as a result. With colder temperatures upon us, our skaters made their way to the nearby Canadian Rockies in search of ice and found a breathtaking rink on Gap Lake, just outside of Canmore, Alberta.
These photos captured by Dave Holland (@davehollandpics) have blown up on our social channels, sparking interest and debate on the best and most unique outdoor skating locations. With so many beautiful lakes, rivers, canals and outdoor rinks throughout the country, we’re excited to see where the members of the Canadian speed skating community will lace up their skates this coming winter.
We would love for the rest of the world to see just how beautiful speed skating on a frozen lake can be!” – Alain Brouillette, Speed Skating Canada
University of Michigan
“Without a doubt, 2020 has been a difficult year. We’ve had a front-row seat to all the disruptions that the pandemic has wreaked on our society and of course, our campus. I’ve had staff on voluntary and involuntary furlough and yet despite all this, we have worked to try and document what has been going on in and around our campus. For this, I am focusing on a positive that arose out of the pandemic.
Because students were sent home early in the spring and all but research classes moved to online instruction, it opened up an opportunity for us to do some drone photography. Our campus has very tight restrictions on who can fly drones on campus, where they can fly and the circumstances under which flights can be made. With so few people on campus this summer, the campus drone committee who must approve all flights, gave us a 30-day window to get the shots we needed. We flew 12 different days over a month’s time, shooting b-roll and stills over all three of our Ann Arbor campuses. We routinely do campus aerials, but from a helicopter that is a couple of thousand feet high when we make our photos. The drone allowed us to shoot from angles we’ve never been able to get to before. This shot of The Big House, our football stadium, is one such example.” – Roger Hart, University of Michigan
“On October 9, Loras College held its 181st commencement ceremony where graduates were welcomed back to campus for the celebration that had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring. Wearing face masks and socially distanced across the Rock Bowl field, the newest alumni of Loras College walked across the stage to mark the achievement.
‘As a class, they are not only accomplished in their academic and co-curricular successes, but they have demonstrated the resilience of great Duhawk graduates after having missed out on the final three months of their last semester.’ – President Jim Collins (’84)” – Trent Hanselmann, Loras College
San Jose Sharks
“This is a photo of the San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane touring the NHL Black Hockey History Truck, which is a mobile museum that celebrates black achievements in hockey. Kane is doing his part in helping grow the sport and show that people from all types of backgrounds from all different places arounds the world can be a part of hockey.
While this might not be one of our go to ‘action’ or ‘celebrations’ photos, this photo always stood out to me because you could see how proud Evander Kane was to be a part of this movement to educate others and help add diversity to the NHL.” – Brandon Magnus, San Jose Sharks
Salve Regina University
“Christmas at Salve Regina University is a special time. It is a time when tradition and our Mercy heritage come together on our historic 80-acre campus, in Newport, Rhode Island.” – Lindsey Turowski, Salve Regina University
Utah Valley University
“This photo encapsulates the year 2020 for me. A pandemic that forced us to wear masks to help us and others be safe. And although there was a lot of bad that happened, This young couple who just graduated moving forward with their lives wrapped in warm sunlight gave me hope for the future and all the promise that it brings.” – August Miller, Utah Valley University
Audubon Nature Institute
“On September 9, 2020 Audubon Coastal Wildlife Network and Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, with assistance from National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement, rescued a female bottlenose dolphin that was trapped in a pond nine miles inland in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.
The dolphin was presumed to have been out-of-habitat due to coastal flooding associated with Hurricane Laura. Conservation is part of the core of Audubon Nature Institute, and we are thankful that these agencies came together for the common goal of making a positive impact on the natural world.” – Heather Stanley, Audubon Nature Institute
University of North Georgia
“I work as the sole staff photographer at the University of North Georgia. We serve nearly 20,000 students, across five campuses. Our students, faculty and staff have all rallied to keep moving forward and serving the mission of education.
Major kudos go out to our events team which now has produced two socially distant commencements in which graduates and guests were staged in their own family ‘bubbles’ spaced 6 feet apart for a personalized. In our recent December ceremony nearly 600 students walked across the stage in 52 mini-ceremonies spread over two days. Consistently, the students and families have thanked our team for coming up with a way to share their special day with their families.” – Peggy Cozart, University of North Georgia
Thank you to our passionate community for sharing their stories with us, and for inspiring us as we look toward the year ahead. Want to share your One Photo? Share your work on social media using hashtag #OnePhoto2020.
Up Next: Watch our on-demand strategy summit to see how creative teams are planning for 2021.