Corporate or executive portraits are becoming more and more important in a world where communication plays a big role in the success and wealth of a company. Creating a visual identity for a company by photographing the people who work in it, will give it the human dimension which can help in getting new clients. Corporate photos can range from classic and environmental portraits to be used in a company’s website, to the creation of photo stories and more fun shots for a company’s publications and for many other purposes. Corporate photography doesn’t come without challenges. In order to succeed in this area of photography you need to know exactly what you are doing and you have to be prepared to work in any kind of condition. There is usually only a small amount of experimentation allowed, as you need to give your clients exactly what they need.
Most of the time, you will be required to take the photos in a short time. So, you have to be well prepared. You will be dealing with people for whom being photographed is the least of their concern and who would rather be concentrating on their jobs. So you should assess the situation you will be shooting in very well, in order to get descent results while keeping your clients happy. Before the shoot, scout the location you will be using and examine the available light, the space and what kind of shots can be created in it. This will help you determine which gear to bring and where to set your shoot exactly. After, scouting the location, the second part of the preparation stage is talking to your client. It might be the person you are going to photograph or it can be someone else like an assistant. In your meeting with your client, determine exactly what’s needed of you and direct the subject on how to prepare himself or herself for the shoot (clothes, hair, make-up, etc.). If you are both prepared, then the actual picture taking stage shouldn’t be a problem.
Gear, light and camera
Let’s face it, although you can take beautiful portraits with a compact camera, corporate and executive photography is more demanding on the gear side. You need to guarantee to your clients that they will get the best quality possible, and for this reason you need at least an SLR camera which will provide you with big and clean files. Being a natural light shooter, I managed to get great result with an SLR with a 105mm F2.8 lens, a reflector and diffused window light. But, you might find yourself in conditions where it’s impossible to shoot using natural light, so it’s wise to invest in a starter lighting kit. You can get great results with an off camera flash, a softbox and an SLR equipped with the kit lens. What matters most is light and how to control it. You can also get some backdrops to use when the space you are shooting in is too cluttered. And don’t forget your tripod, as it’s the only way to prevent camera shake when the light gets a little bit too dim.
Talking with the clients thoroughly before the shoot will help you in knowing what kind of shot you need to make and it will save you a lot of time. Depending on your clients’ needs, there are a lot of options when taking corporate portraits. You can take some classic portraits with a plain background and some soft light. You can also make some environmental shots which show the employees of the company doing their jobs. And if time allows it you can take some shots which are a bit funny to loosen up the atmosphere and to help everybody relax. When taking the photos, try to always talk to your subject and try to get them to be more comfortable in front of the lens. If you don’t work on making your subjects feel relaxed, all you will get is lots of portraits with tense people in them. Don’t hesitate to take as many frames as time and resources allow you. You will have more freedom for selection after finishing.
Some further Tips:
-Be confident. Showing self confidence and knowing exactly what you are doing will get your subjects to trust you more quickly, which will make your job easier.
-Dress Smart. Your dress code should be adapted to the place you are shooting in. If you are taking portraits of a CEO of a company, you should dress as if you were an employee of the company. In the same logic, if you are shooting in a factory or at construction site, then you should wear something more suited to such environments.
-don’t overdo editing. Corporate portraits are not like fashion, glamour and other types of portraits where you can have more freedom in editing and altering the image. Your corporate photos should be authentic and post processing should be kept to a minimum. It’s OK to remove a blemish or a pimple, but you shouldn’t exceed that, and make sure to let your client know of any extra editing that you did.
-Don’t get underpaid. Don’t accept to get paid less than the norm because you are just starting out or because you are doing it for fun. Accepting to work for a cheap rate or for free is only unfair to all the other professional photographers who devote their time and energy to this job. So ask other photographers, or do a little internet research to get an idea on how much you should charge for your services.
Examples of corporate photography: