It was a beautiful Wednesday morning, the sun was unusually warm for this time of year and the mood in the photo studio of Stefan Schmidlin in Basel was cheerful. White paint on the concrete walls, lots of technology and lighting and lots of wooden boards. Different lengths, different widths and some generously sized. The photographer needs these boards to bring the models to the same eye level, an important detail of today's shoot. 

The marketing consultant of KUCK UCK – Agency for Communication and the photographer stood relaxed with a coffee in their hand at the massive brown work table, munching on a fresh croissant from the bakery around the corner, exchanging ideas and thoughts. Croissants, small cakes, Basler Läckerli, fruit and mineral water were served. A relaxed start to the day.

The work for this seniors@work The project began much earlier, with a lot of thought and creativity. The platform for retired talents over 60 years of age needed a new website and, in this context, new photos showing how generations are brought together in the world of work. 

Seniors stand for trust and seriousness

How could the generational exchange between seniors and active workers be staged? What symbolism could best convey the idea of “complementing and not replacing”? After careful consideration and a few discarded concepts, the marketing consultant had an idea: how about a simple handshake? A handshake connects, shows trust and strength. The handshake demonstrates the interrelationship between the generations at eye level, within a second and very strikingly

The idea was born: let's shake hands. The working world would trust seniors to do their work, freeing up time and benefiting from their experience and knowledge. And more importantly, to show seniors that we are happy to make use of them. The handshake would create a powerful dynamic. The idea was that this would be a more precise way of expressing the benefits for society in the image.

How should these photos be taken? Outside, at work, at home? No, best against a neutral white background. If the photographer succeeds in emotionally charging an encounter between two generations, then the strict, hard image form allows the people portrayed to confidently convey the symbolism. We needed an atmosphere and an expression that would capture more than just the specific moment.

These images are meant to reach people: entrepreneurs as employers and seniors as employees. It was obvious to us to create very simple portrait photography: showing people as they are. There was no make-up, people were meant to imagine how they are in real life. In addition, there were no complex instructions for these close-ups, other than: shake hands. There was a lighting setup, a camera perspective and a very simple portrait. Straightforward, honest and so spectacularly unspectacular. However, showing this lightness can be exhausting. 

Senior citizen as photo model

Kathrin, who recently became a senior citizen, parked her bike right next to the entrance. She entered with a relaxed aura and her presence filled the room for a moment. The team greeted the beginner model with a friendly handshake and after a sip of coffee, the first shots in everyday clothes could begin. The photographer coordinated the setting with the marketing consultant for the last time, the lighting was switched on. The smile is perfect. The camera flashes. Kathrin's eyes light up. Alexis, founder of the platform seniors@work, laughed back, accepted the senior citizen's handshake confidently and the camera clicked. In the second run, Kathrin was patiently photographed several times with the young entrepreneur, and in the third with a young mother. The little girl who accompanied her mother was spontaneously enthusiastic about the photos, and so these pictures were also selected for the project. 

Our team made quick progress. The senior reached us on time at 12 o'clock on his bike and first examined the pictures taken before standing in front of the camera to take pictures with the founder. The senior smiled skillfully and calmly for the camera, trusting and serious. In the second set he shook hands with the young entrepreneurs and was finally able to convince them with mother and child. The productive day was a lot of fun for everyone involved and was a simple experiment with spectacular results. 

In the afternoon, things got a bit more creative; the selection of images was to represent a series of generational transitions and reflect the emotion of connection. This took surprisingly little time and the team was very satisfied. If you look at the photos, you can see how the idea is internalized by those involved. The handshake is a gesture of non-verbal communication, a sign of equality and respect. A sign of accessibility, trust and exchange. A simple idea of the handshake to connect generations on an equal footing. 

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