Corporate Headshots on a White Background.

The most popular style of corporate headshot with the subject looking to camera with a white background.

For many years we have been capturing these for clients and it is only recently that we have seen a common problem occurring. Shooting headshots with a white background seems a pretty simple set up and it always was in the past. Clean crisp white Colourama and a diffused light to make it nice and blown would give you and the client exactly the effect they were after. The problems now arise with businesses and individuals putting these headshots onto company websites where they assume the white background on the headshot will match with the white of a webpage. The background will retain some element of tone and hue as the digital camera sensor will always try and level out any colour to give an average recording. You cannot get around this even by flooding the background with white light. Now we try to make clients aware of this but it does sound a little daft to the average person who says they just want a headshot on a white background. We always try and establish the end use for the headshot now as we want to prevent the problem before it arises.

In post-production we remove the headshot from the background and add a white web friendly background in photoshop. An easy process once you know how but as with all photoshop work it really depends on the workflow you use. There are a few tools that allow you to do this but some give much better results than others and one thing is for sure there is no way you can automate the process.

We recently did a shoot in London for a company with their HQ based in Hong Kong. When we sent them the original high-resolution images they were very pleased and we mentioned about the post-production work if they were going to be used on a website. About a month later we received an email noting that the Hong Kong office had flagged some problems with the shots as they were showing some marks on the white background and could we check what we had done incorrectly. After looking at the website screenshots we could tell that the headshots had been cut out incorrectly and this was the problem. The photoshop tool they had used was not that accurate and left pixels in on the white area. We have since gone on to do the cutouts for the company and the problem has been rectified. Describing this problem to clients is not an easy task and telling them it will cost extra in post-production to get the right result tends not to go down to well. We now send samples out so that they can see for themselves that you have to go through with the process.

Sample 1. Standard corporate headshot captured in camera with a white background. Technically correct but flawed for use on a white webpage as it is still retaining tone on the background. You would think that the simple solution would be to add more light to the background but this does not work as it starts to bleed through into the edges of the person and messes up the exposure.

LinkedIn headshot with a white background unedited

Sample 2. Headshot after photoshop post-production. Headshot cut out with a white web friendly colour background added. Clean and crisp and as on this webpage the background matches the white of the webpage.

Corporate headshot with a white background edited

 

If you have had this problem or need any more advise please get in touch and we can talk you through our process and improve your companies headshots. Please see also our previous article on tips for corporate headshot photography

 

Corporate Team Photography in London.

Things to consider when you are commissioning a corporate team or group photograph.

In our opinion the team photo is the most tricky photography commission as unless you plan it correctly there is a real risk that the shoot will not go they way you imagined.

Minster Court for London team corporate photography

Minster Court for London team corporate photography

Corporate team photograph at Smithfield Market.

Digital marketing company team photo at Smithfield Market.

Corporate team photo in St Paul’s Churchyard London

Corporate team photo in St Paul’s Churchyard

London corporate team photography in Westminster London

Commissioned for the retirement of the IMO chairman this group photo was taken on the rooftop of the IMO building with The Thames and Westminster in the background.

Team photograph of Mclaren Engineers at London landmark

Team of Mexican Mclaren Engineers at London landmark

Director team photograph on The Thames London

Director team photograph on The Thames.

Director team photo in London offices.

Director team photo in London offices.

Corporate team photo on Eastcheap London

Corporate team photo on Eastcheap London

Team photograph on London roof with The City in the background.

Small team photography on the roof of the Blue Fin building on Southwark Street.

 

Over many years we have been involved with plenty of corporate team photographs and the more people involved the harder it becomes to arrange it properly. Small team shots are much easier to get right as they have fewer elements. One of the main problems that can ruin your team photo is getting everyone who features to be looking at the camera and smiling all at the same time. Fine if you have three people to arrange but when you anything over double figures this becomes a problem as you are unable to see everyones face at the moment the shutter is clicked so you have to make sure you take a series of shots to be sure that at some point all the people have right expression and are looking to camera.

If we go through the process of a large team photograph. The corporate photographer arrives and will recce the offices to suggest the best location for the photograph. This is normally decided as the largest area available and where the photographer can get an elevated view of the group or team. This is essential with large groups as you can not have fifty people lining up like a football team as the photograph will be a very wide format and not suitable for their website or as a printed hard copy. The next stage is the really important one as we have witnessed repeatedly that if you do not organise people and tell them where to stand they will drift into a random shape and once they have formed this shape it is very hard to move people around. The expression ‘like herding cats’ springs to mind. The best plan is as people emerge into the area you are using for the corporate team photo, break them into groups of 10 approx and then have areas you want each group to occupy. That way if you want a triangular or circular shape to your team photo you can control where people stand.

One of the largest group photo we have worked on was for IMO whose HQ is near the Thames in London. As this was going to be a very large team photo we budgeted to recce the offices prior to the day of the shoot so we could work out where to situate the people and our best vantage point. The IMO had a large auditorium which would have suitable for the shoot but it did not utilise the fact that they had wonderful views of London from their offices. An external shoot was suggested and after finding a fire door out onto their roof we decided to capture the team photograph outside. This involved the photographer on the roof and then the team of people standing on a courtyard area with the London backdrop behind them. We had to plan a day where the sun was not too bright as this would be too contrasty at the time of year we were planning to do the shoot. We arranged to have a member of staff with a megaphone on the roof with us and five members of staff in the group ready to move the smaller groups into position. You can see from the sample team photograph that we needed to get the group into a triangle so we used security tape to create the shape and then moved people in. Once everyone was in position we removed the tape. We captured around 30-40 images of the group on two cameras to be safe and knew that we would have to do some photography post production work in photoshop. One of the problems is getting everyones attention and keeping it. Large groups take time to arrange and people start to chat with each other and often if they do not want to be in the photo will stand directly behind a taller person in front of them. Having to sort all these problems out takes a while and then when you feel you are at the best point to take the photograph you need to get everyone looking at you. We took around 20 images of the team looking at the camera and then to pep things up we asked them to wave to camera as well. The shoot went very well and I made sure that in some of the photos we had a red London bus and a black cab in the background. The shot that was chosen did not feature the red bus so we dropped this in photoshop and had to adjust 10 people expressions by pasting them in again from other group photos where they had a correct expression.

With this particular corporate group photograph was printed and framed as it was a present to one of the directors who was retiring. The photograph was also made available for all staff who appeared in the shoot as momento of the day. Many were ordered as prints large and small and this serves to prove that  people like to be part of a successful team and a great group photograph is an ideal way to record unity, pride, scale of success and your friends.

Of course not all corporate team and group photography commissions are on this scale but the rules apply as the number of the people get smaller. For press releases we often photograph a team of directors who have just formed a company or won a large contract or pitch. These are normally taken in London offices and need to show the team looking professional and successful. Always think of the composition of the corporate photo. The background plays an important role in framing the group and a good background will be the difference between an average team snap and a professional team photograph that all those involved in are proud to be associated with.

Large team corporate photograph at the Gherkin in London

Group photograph at the top of The Gherkin London.

 

 

 

 

International Corporate Headshot Guidelines

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.

International corporate headshots Japan International corporate headshots Washington

International corporate headshots India International corporate headshots Germany

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.

corporate headshot New York

Corporate headshots London The City

Corporate headshots St Pauls

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.

© Corporate Photography Agency

 

 

The Advantages of Corporate Photography Post Production Techniques.

Post production techniques can benefit the marketing impact of your commissioned corporate photography.

Our headshot photographers undertake hundreds of commissions each year and as I get more involved in the post production side of the industry I can see how clients do not see the potential of what is on offer.

To give some examples. The first case is a company will approach us and we will agree to capture their staff and directors headshots. Within our quote we include airbrushing and retouching to selected images. After we do the shoot we send all the high res versions and the client is happy. A week later the headshots are on their website and the next time we will hear from them is when they have new starters to be photographed.

The second case is several other companies we work with and we go through the same process but after the shoot them come back with a list of images they require being retouched and asking if we can do anything to improve the overall impression of the headshots. The answer is always yes.

We are beginning to see that what the photographer can capture in camera is only half of the process. Post production gives a whole new dimension of what can be added to the original corporate headshot.

Traditionally business headshots were on a white or sometimes blue background. This was due to these being the most popular background paper rolls that were sold by Colourama. This trends continues to this day and there is no reason for this. Good quality cut outs in post production means that you can literally have any background you require. As it is now impossible to tell that a headshot has been cut out and placed on a new background this opens up great possibilities. We work with large international companies who want all their worldwide offices to have headshots with the same background. We have guidelines for foreign photographers and we then create a corporate branding in post production. Another client again with international offices was having real problems trying to capture headshots of staff in their offices across the world. Again we wrote guides for the photographers and then purchased library shots of the world capitals and very carefully created a set of professional headshots for them.

Another option to look at is that if you have a headshot you are pleased with and feel confident using then get more from it by adding backgrounds, cropping and tailoring it to work in different situations. These are some samples we put together to help clients understand what is possible in post production.

 

Corporate photography post production techniques.

These two samples have been captured in clients offices and we have subtly retouched them. The worst thing with post production is the ease with which the client or the photographer can over work the headshot. Retouching should never be noticeable on the final version. You would be able to see differences if you compared the original headshot with the retouched version but the final product should and must look natural. Our subtle retouching and airbrushing includes lessening lines and wrinkles normally around the eye area. We also remove any spots or blemishes as these are not permanent features. Scars and moles are a person’s preference wether we remove them or not. Shinny skin can be reduced and any discolouration reduced to look healthy.

 

London business headshot with office background added

At this stage we have now added an office environment background with gives the headshot a new dimension. It makes perfect sense to me that a corporate headshot should have a corporate background. Gives the person a sense of where they work. It is instant that the viewer knows this is a person at work and it is a business profile photograph. I have been creating LinkedIn headshots in London for many years now and I am still amazed at some of the profile photos I see. Snaps of company directors half up a mountain or on a sailing boat. The person is usually so small in the picture they are barely recognisable. If you get past this amateur mistake you then see they have spent a great deal of time writing content for their profile but the first thing you look at as a potential employer or client is the photo and you really need to look professional at that point.

The benefits of adding a background in post production really come into play at this point. You can have your headshot captured in a studio utilising the professional lighting which would be a difficult option if you wanted to do it on location. After this you can add a background that perfectly reflects your business sector.

 

corporate headshot with London skyline added in post production

Being based in London with most of our clients they require a City background added as this reflects their work location. I mentioned earlier about the benefits for international companies but another point to look at is that it is very easy for us to apply the London cityscape as a background but if you try and recreate this on a shoot you will have to gain access to a high building as trying to capture this type of headshot at street level is not possible due to the height of the building which create a steep angle. We have a library taken from many of the skyscrapers in the City purely for the purpose of being added as a background.These are carefully shot to allow for the person standing and blocking most of the view and gently put out of focus to replicate the shot if it was captured in camera and the use of a long portrait lens and the point of focus.

 

Corporate photography post production techniques.

Corporate branding colours can be sample from your old headshots or created and added to your companies headshots. These are also made web friendly and feathered in around hairstyles. It might be suggested that this can be done with a colour background roll and save the post production work but that is a mistake. In the past we had clients buying background rolls and sending them all over the world for different photographers to use. This was in the hope that the background and therefore the headshots would remain consistent. The main recurring problem with this is lighting varies and therefore the hue, colour and brightness of the background changed in different photographers work.

If you want the background and the your headshots to perfectly consistent the only sure way to guarantee this is to add them in post production.

You might be interested in our last post on corporate photography tips.

Please get in touch if you have any questions or additional benefits to corporate photography using post production techniques.