Several of our London based clients have flagged a problem with getting consistent corporate headshots when they are commissioning shoots with their international offices. We have noticed this when looking at our client’s website after we have photographed their London staff and directors. We visit their about us page to see how the headshots have been used and notice that their international offices headshots look out of line with ours and therefore make the page look less professional.
One of our major clients has offices in nearly every major city and when revamping their corporate website asked us to come up with solutions to this potential problem. We decided the best way forward would be to create a style guide which could be sent out to photographers and could be followed with the minimum of photographic direction. This is an important part of the process as we are often approached by US clients asking us to photograph their London staff and we receive a very detailed brief from their US photographer.
This might seem straightforward but often these briefs contain specific lighting makes, types of reflectors and degrees that the subject should be looking at the camera, the chances of finding several international photographers all with the same set up or with the ability to shoot in a different many to which they are used to working are pretty slim. We suggested that if we looked at the photographers portfolio we will be able to tell if they can shoot in a style we can suggest. A good photographer should be able to look at a sample photograph and be able to mimic the lighting and pose. With this in mind we drew up a set of photographic guidelines that we knew the photographers would be able to follow.
Our client asked us to select a colour background and then order a large batch so they could dispatch these to each office. This was a good solution but had a major flaw as backgrounds colours change when photographed unless the lighting is identical each time it is photographed. With this in mind we suggested that we could create a background in photoshop and then add this to each international and London headshot to give a perfect consistency to the commission. This has been a successful project with over thousands of international staff now photographed.
Another client has a similar problem but in their case they required the headshot to feature the international city in the background of the their headshots. They had tried to get different photographers to take the shoots on location but they tended to look more like holiday snaps as they were taken at ground level and this created an awkward angle trying to get the height of recognisable buildings in as well. We looked back at some of our London corporate headshots and came to the conclusion that it would be better to shoot in a studio with standard diffused lighting and then drop a cityscape behind each person. We blurred the city view a little to replicate the long lens depth of field effect.
Now we have perfected these methods we sometimes suggest this to our London clients even if we are only shooting in the UK. Reason being is once we have the headshots taken it is easier to add the right background then trying to create the perfect background in camera. We were recently commissioned by an New York corporate photographer who had a financial sector client who had an office in London. The photographer sent us over samples of the shots they wanted us to match and we asked if we could shoot some backgrounds at the offices and add them later as this gave us greater control.
The shoot was planned over the space of a day in February and we were concerned that the style they wanted, which was headshots with office views across the city behind them, would be hampered by the short daylight and poor weather at that time of year. They were adamant they wanted to keep it real so we shot as they required only to have our fears confirmed and we had to add some backgrounds in post production.
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