Company Website Headshots

A very large percentage of our commissions are for company website headshots. These are normally requested if the client is doing a new or refreshing their business website. The ‘About Us’ or ‘Meet the team’ page is as important as any others on their site so it is critical to keep the headshots looking professional and consistent. Even now I am asked to look at a new corporate website and see that the profile photos are taken on a phone and have no consistency at all. This does surprise us as the business owner has spent time and money in other areas of the site but just deemed the profile photos as not important. As we are still in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis it is even harder to maintain a good range of staff headshots on the company website. But we do have a few suggestions to help clients as they are currently unable to commission a corporate headshot photographer.

Our first tip is to make sure that a new employee when taking a new headshot gets a friend to take it and not take their headshot in a mirror. Position themselves in an area of soft light away from direct sunlight and any harsh overhead lighting. Capture the portrait from the waist up so that anyone working on the headshot in post-production has enough room to crop and match the current team photos. Secondly, make sure you are using the highest quality resolution your phone or camera will allow. We receive some amateur portraits that are so pixelated that we can not improve them. Lastly, think about the background. The best solution is to take your headshot against a plain light wall. This allows you to avoid any distracting shapes or colours behind the subject. This is the advice we give to our clients and we then have plenty to work with if they want us to clean and tidy them up in photoshop. We often add backgrounds to make the company website headshots consistent or we add location backgrounds for international clients.

Company website headshots with consistent backgrounds

Company website headshots with consistent backgrounds

Reviewing Past Corporate Headshot Commissions.

Before Covid-19 took its terrible hold on the UK, we would write articles about recent corporate headshot commissions. These usually followed if we had a very successful or rewarding shoot and had interesting points for the reader. As we move into another lockdown and no sign of our work coming back soon, we are looking at past corporate headshot commissions. The one we are looking back on is a shoot we did for Harrods. We were asked to capture their management team’s corporate headshots at their offices in the Harrods building in Knightsbridge. Their marketing director arranged a large office for us to do the shoot in and plenty of coffee to keep us going. We had agreed to do the headshots on a dark background which is not usually used for corporate headshots as 90%are taken against a white background. Sometimes the dark background can look a little overpowering and not as clean and crisp and a white one.

Prior to the commission, we always send over some wardrobe guidelines to give people some ideas and suggestions regarding what works and what does not. The Harrods team were very professional and very well presented, and we knew directly that placing them in front of the dark grey background would be a great match. When it came to the lighting, we decided to keep the lights soft and direct to avoid any harsh shadows. We photographed ten people on this commission, and with plenty of different poses and expressions, we were sure the client would be happy.

The feedback was very positive when we sent over the preview images. A couple of headshots were selected for retouching and airbrushing, and we really pleased with the results. The two samples below show how the monotone clothing and the dark grey background lift the person’s skin colour and give a striking corporate headshot. The ironic thing was that the client later asked us to convert the colour images into black and white as they had changed the website design.

Professional corporate headshot on dark background.

Professional corporate headshot on dark background.

Executive Headshots

Samples of executive headshots captured in our studio or at client’s London locations.

Sample of an executive headshot in London on white background

Above is a classic style of executive headshot with a soft diffused side light and a reflector thinning any shadow.

Framing is tight and white web friendly background makes this headshot usable in any media.

Sample of a executive headshots London 1

The above is an executive headshot with a wider crop and a London City background. The stance is less formal and this gives a portrait feel to the image.

The background gives the headshot a sense of place and suggests it was taken from a boardroom or high level office. This works well as all these subtle elements enhance the corporate headshot.

Sample of an executive headshot taken in London street in black and white

This last sample above shows an executive headshot captured on location in London. This gives the headshot a ‘real’ quality and suggests an approachable and professional business person.

Making the photo black and white also strips any opulent colours away which might distract from the natural corporate headshot.

If you decide to commission a business headshot to help your online profile and your general marketing then we suggest you look at a few elements you can control prior to the shoot.

First suggestion is look at how you can subtly introduce your business sector into the headshot. Obvious options are corporate logo or reception signage but these can look less subtle and often look like PR photos for the local newspaper. Try have the business element out of focus and therefore recognisable but not too blatant.

Sample of an executive headshot taken at a wine importers office in London

The headshot above was for the director of a wine importing company and we used a painting in his boardroom as the background. This was very understated and we positioned the subject in a pose that allowed wine bottle to become a feature element of the portrait.

Second idea is that think about the personality of the executive who features in the headshot. Try and instil aspects of their business character and lifestyle in the image.

The lady below ran a successful company from her south London home and we photographed her on the balcony looking down a leafy London side street.

Sample of an executive headshot taken on South London road in Battersea

A third option is to look at the style of headshot. Look at how it should be composed and how the subject should be posed and what attire should they be wearing.

The gentlemen below ran a large data centre in north London and we felt the best place for the headshot was amongst his servers. We suggested it would look better if he did not have a jacket on as he was a technical expert about his business and the executive headshot showed he was often hands on in the workplace.

Sample of an executive headshot taken in a data centre in north London

Final suggestion is to get creative and really go for it. In this instance you can give the headshot plenty of thought and create something memorable.

Once again you do not want it to look like a press release but more of a publicity portrait. Use props, interesting situations, different angles and pretty much most ideas will work if they are executed well and by a professional corporate photographer.

The person below photographed by us for The Sunday Times magazine and was being featured as he had worked out a mathematical formula for assisting pension funds. We utilised a perspex sheet and a marker pen and created this executive headshot in his London offices.

Sample of an executive headshot taken for the Sunday Times in London offices.

© Corporate Photographers London.

Retouching Corporate Headshots

The pros and cons of retouching corporate headshots and portraits.

Since the arrival of quality software to enable digital photography manipulation we have seen some remarkable examples of what can be achieved and also where it can go very wrong. I believe the main reason there is such a wide range of differing standards with photo retouching is that editors, designers and photographers have varied opinions as to when to stop working on an image. This also applies to clients as they sometimes have a different idea as to how much retouching you should do to their corporate headshots.

In the past we have had clients ask us to do more and more retouching to headshot commissions and we have always tried to explain that less is more and that you should never be able to see where the retouching has been done as that defeats the object. I liken it to the fact their is nothing funny in male baldness but their is a funny aspect to males attempts to cover it up. So our stance is that the viewer should never be able to see where we have retouched the headshot because if they can we have failed as the headshot then has the viewer looking at the retouching rather than the original purpose which was to convey the professionalism of the business person.

A common mistake when working on retouching a headshot is to not keep a reference as to the original and keep comparing as you do the retouching. The original is the starting point and therefore this should be referred back to through the process. Sometimes retouchers only refer back to the last version and the danger here is that if you are submitting it to the client and you are adding/detracting stuff each time the headshot is moving further away from the original and rendering the headshot unrealistic.

You have to take each headshot on the work required and in general we tend to removes spots/skin blemishes and scars. We are very careful to only reduce wrinkles and bags under eyes as these are part of the natural ageing process and a corporate headshot of a person in their 40s or 50s without any skin of their skin ageing can look very odd and therefore unrealistic.

Clients often ask about make-up artists and we tend to suggest that subtle retouching is preferred as it can produce better results than heavy make up especially on men who feel uncomfortable with unfamiliar make-up. We also get asked about airbrushing which pre digital photography was blowing a fine mist of paint over a printed headshot which masked any original skin defects. This process can be replicated digitally but as with the original process you have to be very careful not to overdo it and not allow the vanity of some people to encourage a retoucher to do more than they normally would.

Below are some samples of three retouched corporate headshots that we feel have worked extremely well. The do not look like they have been retouched at all and you could only spot the retouching if you had the original headshots to compare.

Light photo retouching on corporate headshots and business portraits in London

Light photo retouching on corporate headshots and business portraits in London

Light photo retouching on corporate headshots and business portraits in London

Currently we are including free retouching with all our corporate headshots commissions. We usually request that after the shoot the client selects between 2 to 4 headshots with varied expressions so we can retouch and spend quality time working on the headshots you will use for your online LinkedIn profile photo and traditional marketing requirements.