Apart from the largest companies, who physically publish Annual Reports, the main requirement for new Business Portraits is normally when businesses and organisations – of all sizes – decide to update their websites.
The “About Us” section of a website is almost always the second most-read section of any website and that is where you will usually see a collection of Business Portraits.
In this section, the photograph of you will be viewed by people who could be thinking about:
- applying for a job with your business
- becoming a supplier to your business
- becoming a customer
- investing in your business
- lending money to your business
- or even offering you a new job
So, with all the above in mind, if you were thinking about allowing just five or ten minutes per person in your office for photos, think again, especially if you are wanting some group shots as well.
This is the first part of a two part guide that will help you get the best results out of a Business Portrait shoot. Even if a professional shoot isn’t in this year’s budget, there are enough practical tips here to dramatically improve how you could appear on your website and on social media.
Planning your Business Portrait Shoot
However long you initially think that a business portrait session is going to take, allow for double that time. A photographer will want to take a lot of photos of each person and the group. Groups and sports teams are always difficult to photograph because you can guarantee that there will always be a “blinker” amongst them.
When I’m photographing groups or sports teams, I normally shoot about 12 to 15 photographs of the same pose, knowing that at least one of them will have everyone looking at the camera, eyes wide open.
Getting all your staff together for a photo shoot can be a good team building exercise and most staff enjoy the process. Be aware, however, that some people really don’t like having their photo taken and may have a very poor self-image. If their only experience of having their photo taken is in a photo booth or via a smart phone, it’s no wonder they feel this way.
Take time to speak to your team and warn your photographer in advance if any members of staff seem genuinely nervous about having their photo taken. An experienced photographer will take the extra time needed to get these members of staff relaxed and will pose and light them in such a way that they all look good. You will be amazed what this can do for someone’s self-esteem.
The best time of the day for a business portrait shoot is first thing in the morning. Everyone looks at their best – no crumpled clothes or smudged make-up and no five o’clock shadow on the men. If you are shooting outdoors, the light is also better than in the middle of the day, when you will get dark shadows on peoples faces if it’s a sunny day.
Avoid school holiday time for group shots. Invariably, one of the team will be away. Also avoid the first few weeks of September if possible, as many of your staff will be sporting Mediterranean tans and shiny faces from having spent two weeks in the sun. It is possible to tone down a shiny face but, sadly, some photographers who do business portraits don’t bother to do the extra work required in post-processing to make people look their best. I do because I care about the people I photograph.
Make sure that your staff have a similar dress code. Decide in advance whether men should wear ties or not. Think about how formal or casual you want everyone to look and then make sure that everyone sticks to that code.
Discuss this with the team in advance and get everyone to describe what they plan on wearing. Then send the list over to your photographer in advance as he or she will be able to advise you on any potential problems.
If you do decide that men will be wearing ties, bring a couple of spare ties for the chap who turns up without one. Having a similar dress code helps project a “team image” in both the collection of individual photos and in the group shots.
Background / Location and Style
The plain white background is still seen in business portraits but I think it is a bit past its sell-by date and does little to help tell the story of you or your organisation.
I hate the phrase “Head Shot”. We all have to use them for passports and ID passes but a white background head and shoulders shot tells the viewer nothing about you or your business. It’s a missed opportunity.
Given the choice, I prefer to use an outdoor location whenever possible because people relax much more quickly outdoors. It’s also a good opportunity to give your business a sense of location by using well-known landmarks in your town or city. If I can’t use an outdoor location, then an indoor location with a view still works well.
The photograph at the beginning of this post was taken in Liverpool. It is a group shot of a team who formerly worked for one of the most prestigious banks in the UK and who set up their own firm called Modus Wealth Management
Coming from a banking background, they were only used to having photographs taken against a plain white background. Having discussed the “story” that they wanted to tell, we agreed that we would use what was obviously a city centre location, but without making it specifically Liverpool, as they have clients all over the country. We also discussed the image they wanted to convey of themselves – friendly and professional.
More examples of our Corporate and Commercial photography can be seen here.
Taken with a Canon Eos 1Dx and a Canon 24mm – 70mm f2.8L II lens at 47mm. Exposure 1/160 second at f5.6. ISO 200.