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


International Corporate Headshots

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.

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