How To Take A Good Corporate Portrait?
The serious business of corporate photography for Business PR and Marketing
If you work for a large company or an international corporation, the chances are that at some point you’ve been asked to provide a headshot for the company newsletter, corporate report or for the marketing department. And how often have you looked at the picture that’s been used and wished it portrayed you with more gravitas, looking more professional or simply better groomed?
Corporate photography: why it matters
Think of the last corporate newsletter you read or the last executive profile you scanned. Your first impression on any page comes from the photos: a good photo can awaken your interest and draw you into the article; a poor picture might put you off reading it altogether.
So don’t let your photo let you down. Asking a colleague to take a quick shot with his mobile phone isn’t going to produce the image you’re looking for, even if he does have the most up-to-the-minute smart phone with the best camera. The technology may be advanced but too many people think that this means all you need to do is point and click. The chances are that the resulting picture will show a dishevelled executive with a messy desk; you face will either be in shadow or, with the sun blasting in through the window behind the picture will be over-exposed. That relaxed pose you adopted will actually look as if you’ve slumped in the chair after a particularly long lunch…
Out of focus, badly lit or ill-composed corporate photos can do more harm than good to your professional image but there’s a lot you can do to ensure that your business portrait is sending out the right message. Take some tips from a professional corporate photographer who has learnt his trade through years of experience.
Top professional tips for corporate photography
• Decide on how you want the image to look and choose a suitable location. For example, if you want a simple head and shoulders shot with a plain background, think about what colour will work best. This depends upon whether the picture is to be used in black and white or colour, and on your hair colour and complexion. Or you might want to choose your office for the information or gravitas it can add; however, a busy background can lessen the impact of the foreground subject.
• Think about lighting. Daylight is more flattering than harsh electric lights, so an outdoor shot can work well. But you still need to pick your background with care – the last thing you want is a passer-by stepping into the picture just as the shutter clicks. And think about where the sun will be; you don’t want to take a picture looking into the sun, but equally if your subject is facing the sun, they’ll end up squinting. If the sun is too bright, position yourself in the shade so there are fewer contrasting shadows and a softer light. If you’re taking the photograph indoors, be careful of glare from sunny windows or the reflection of lights or the flash on windows and mirrors.
• Make sure you’re familiar with how the camera works, especially if you’re taking the portrait with someone else’s camera. If you’re not an experienced photographer, use autofocus and take some experimental shots with and without the flash. If it has a setting for taking portraits, try this it and compare the results.
• Position your subject against your chosen background. For a more professional image, plain and simple clothing will work best. Bright colours look less business like, which may the image you want, but patterns will generally look fussy and are to be avoided. Sitting or standing up straight with shoulders relaxed will look best; stand at an angle to the camera and then turn your head to look at it – this is often a more flattering position than standing straight on. Take a variety of shots in different positions, both smiling and not smiling – then choose the best to use in different circumstances.
• Think about the composition of the shot. For a classic head shot, fill up the viewfinder with your subject’s head and shoulders. Zoom in close – after all, it’s a picture of them, not of the blank wall behind.
• Chat with your subject as you set up the shot. If they’re relaxed, the portrait will look more natural. Wait for a great smile and then – click – you’ve got your shot!
Part science, part art, capturing the perfect corporate portrait can take time and practice but a good result can speak volumes.
Headshot London has many years’ experience taking business portraits and is one of the UK’s leading corporate photographers.