Corporate Portrait Photography

The difference between corporate headshots and corporate portrait photography.

I have been a corporate portrait photographer for longer than I care to remember and have noticed that over recent years we are receiving less commissions for corporate portraits and more for corporate headshots. The majority of clients require a profile photo on a white background and often their request asks for something simple and without too many studio lights. This gives us very little to work with as they are basically wanting a passport photo but taken on a decent camera. This seems a real shame as a decent corporate portrait can portray your personality and suggest success and professionalism.

The term headshot originated in the US and was originally associated with actors. These were sometimes very creative shots that used lighting and background to create powerful portraits. Early website pages with ‘meet the team’ headshots were often taken against a bright blue or mottled studio background and did nobody any favours. These were often the colourama rolls which studios had lying around and after a while became standard for plenty of large US corporates. To this day I still get sent sample headshots that I need to match which feature these backgrounds.

In the past corporate portrait photography was commissioned mainly for magazines, annual reports and company brochures. People had the perception that this was required for this media but a website headshot could dispense with the quality and creativity associated with a portrait. Their has been a gradual change to using a corporate portrait. We have seen an uplift in requests recently and the understanding that your LinkedIn profile is your professional online CV and the photo will be the first thing people look at.

Here are some samples and we can look at how they benefit the individual.

Corporate Portrait Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Striking corporate portrait using natural and studio lighting to great effect. Great use of reflections and The City skyline to suggest a  confident professional in a modern London office.

Corporate Portrait Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. More subtle corporate portrait using natural light from a side window and a interesting boardroom background. Little hints of modern corporate interior design help show her business success.

Corporate Portrait Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. You could never convey this type of confidence and pride in a basic headshot. The stance and location bring a sense of leadership to the corporate portrait.

Corporate Portrait Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Wonderful corporate portrait using the office corridor lighting as a diagonal which adds visual interest. The pose again is very relaxed and the individual looks in control and at the top of her game.

Corporate Portrait Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Informal or reportage corporate portrait photography is visually interesting as it gives a sense of purpose in the working environment. People are focused on talking about their business and therefore look unposed and very natural.

Corporate Portrait Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. The crop is tight which is similar to a headshot but the addition of a subtle outline of St Pauls suggest a young London professional ready for business.

Corporate Portrait Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. We shot this for CEO Magazine and using shapes and lighting this is a good example of corporate portrait photography.

 

Looking at these samples you have to take into account where they are going to be used. LinkedIn profile photos are very small and therefore a tighter crop is required to feature well. Company websites have enough room and scope to widen their ‘About Us’ headshots and their is marketing potential in being creative with their corporate portrait photography to make the website page of interest to the viewer rather than a standard corporate staff gallery.

 

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