Case Study: Jim Ryce Design & Direction goes 'behind the scenes' with Annual Report for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Case Study by Jim Ryce RGD, Jim Ryce Design and Direction

Nearly 40,000 people work at Toronto Pearson airport who, together with the airlines, help millions of passengers travel smoothly and comfortably to and from every corner of the globe. In creating the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA)’s Annual Report, the goal was to highlight the impact of the airport beyond take-off and landing, showcasing the various events and initiatives that take place every day and recognizing the various roles within the organization.



This project was created to reach employees, local governments, airlines and airport customers.



We worked closely with the GTAA to identify what should be highlighted most prominently in the report. Based on the client’s goals, we developed a concept around the theme ‘We’re here to help’, showcasing the people behind the scenes who contribute to the smooth and efficient operation of the airport. The idea was to create a ‘did you know’ experience for the audience, telling the story of the airport through the people who work there. To achieve the desired result, the report featured a cross section of individuals with various roles at the airport.



Design Process

The biggest challenge of this project was finding the right jobs to feature. Part of the client’s goal was to highlight the activity that people don’t see on a regular basis. The report needed to go ‘behind the scenes’ and show the public something different.



To gain a strong understanding of what the client wanted to convey, we did research into the daily activity of the airport. This involved a 2-day scout of the location, from which we identified a list of about 20 potential roles to feature. The list was eventually narrowed down to the 12 individuals featured in the report.



For this particular project it was necessary to plan a few back-ups. As a perpetually busy and constantly changing environment, the airport had activities happening on the day of the location scout that weren’t necessarily happening on the day we had clearance to shoot. In some cases this actually worked in our favour – we were able to get some shots we hadn’t planned on, which ended up being used in the report as graphics for statistics and call-outs.



After the photo shoot, the final selections were made based on what would best illustrate the story being told, with input from our writer and the client.



"We tasked Jim Ryce Design & Direction Inc. with developing an Annual Report that went beyond simple recitation of the previous year’s operational and financial highlights. The task put to Jim was to feature how the successful operation of the airport is undertaken by more than just the reporting company - the first time GTAA has taken this approach. Featuring messaging that touched on key operational events in 2012 with imagery of employees to illustrate the theme 'we're here to help', the design approach was successful in highlighting the positive airport experience for our guests in 2012 and beyond." - Jason Ritchie, Manager, Creative Services, GTAA



Designer Takeaways:

  1. When relying on a specific photographic style, set up your shots to make sure you get what you're looking for. When dealing with an environment that changes quickly, having a loose idea of what you want might not be enough.
  2. It is easier to achieve a successful result when you collaborate with the client throughout the design process to get direction and buy-in on image choices.
  3. Keep the imagery simple - let the message come through clearly and speak for itself.


Client Takeaways:

  1. Involve your creative partner right from the start of the project to help ensure a smooth process.
  2. Don't be afraid to try something different - tell your story in a unique and compelling way that will engage the reader.


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