Peter Manseau on Photography.

Article from The LA Times by Peter Manseau on photography.

We might look back on 2017 as the year we argued about images.

The Trump era began in earnest when the White House contested aerial photographs showing diminished inaugural crowds. The fight over football players kneeling during the national anthem has played out, in part, through Photoshopped memes of NFL stars burning American flags. After Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, social media users passed around jpegs of sharks swimming along a freeway. Just how much distance was there between Sen. Al Franken’s fingers and Leeann Tweeden’s flak jacket? Did Sarah Huckabee Sanders really bake that Thanksgiving pie?

These debates reveal that the relationship between seeing and believing is rarely as simple as the old saying suggests. Even as we strive to maintain a tenuous grip on objective reality in this truth-challenged time, we tend to see what we want to see — and perhaps it’s best if we all acknowledged that fact.

After 180 years of living with photographs as part of human experience, we’re still not quite sure how to treat them. The estimated 1 billion photographs we collectively take every day have perhaps taught us to recognize, when we pause to think about it, that all images are framed, composed or selected. Yet we still hold them up as the ultimate documentary evidence. (“Pics or it didn’t happen,” goes the online mantra.) The emotional power of photographs to serve as, in the words of one early observer, “mirrors that remember” causes us to forget that, at best, images are never the whole truth; at worst, they can tell dangerous lies.

“Nothing can be so deceiving as a photograph,” Franz Kafka once said, and the technology of photography has been complicit in this deception from the beginning.

The earliest known photo depicting human activity was itself a work of inadvertent obfuscation. When the man usually credited with inventing photography, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, pointed his camera at the Boulevard du Temple in Paris one morning in 1838, the image he developed showed two figures — a shoe-shiner and his client — standing among trees and buildings beside an otherwise empty road. It’s a striking image. The view it provides is so bereft of movement that two men present could be the lone survivors of a plague.

Mandé Daguerre Boulevard du Temple in Paris Photography

That boulevard was in fact bustling when Daugerre took his picture. In the infancy of the art, exposure times were measured in minutes rather than fractions of seconds, and so the horses, carriages and pedestrians going about their business cannot now be seen. Only those subjects that remained as still as the trees or buildings would be recorded by history. Like any photograph, the scene it shows is proof only that a picture had been made, not of what it seems to portray.

As photography became commercial, the deceptive possibilities of this theoretically objective art became a feature rather than a bug. Some enterprising 19th century portrait artists offered to make stereoscopic blended images of young lovers, supposedly providing a glimpse of the faces of their future children. Others promised to touch up their photographs with paint to remove blemishes or make appearances more appealing. When the renowned photographer Mathew Brady took Mary Todd Lincoln’s picture in 1861, he allayed her fears that she looked too matronly by making her hands more dainty and shaving a few inches off her waistline.

Not long after, Brady helped photography find its most potent realm for deception on the battlefields of the Civil War. He and other chroniclers of the conflict, including Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’Sullivan and Peter Weaver, are now known to have staged photographs of the dead at Gettysburg. The very men rightly heralded as the progenitors of photojournalism were also pioneers of fake news.

In many cases, their intentions were honorable. As the New York Times reported on Brady’s and Gardner’s work, they succeeded in bringing home “the terrible reality and earnestness of war.” Their less scrupulous contemporaries, however, preyed on the widespread belief that photographs provide true depictions of reality. They fed American hunger for a final look at lost relatives via a booming post-war market in ghost pictures, including an infamous image of the alleged spirit of Abraham Lincoln himself.

The inescapability of photographs in our media-besotted and advertising-saturated times makes it difficult to appreciate just how miraculous they must have seemed when they were novelties, and how utterly convincing they were as a result.

Yet insofar as we are now more savvy in our relationship with images, it is only relative to those who saw them with uncomplicated eyes.

Even now, photographs remain beguiling enough that we are only selectively suspicious — and thus selectively naive — inevitably interpreting images through the lens of preexisting beliefs. The possibilities for altering and sharing images far surpass our capacity for detecting deception, and we are left only with our gut feelings and biases to separate fact from fiction. We remain desperate for photographic evidence while unable to trust what we see.

Peter Manseau is the author most recently of “The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost.” Follow him on Twitter @plmanseau.

Contemporary Event Photography

We recently covered an event for Confidence Capital Ltd at the Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane. Jason was the photographer on the day and his work reminded me of how far event photography has moved on since I first started covering corporate events in the mid 90s.

Back in the day all photographers were still shooting on film and this had restrictions which light levels would dictate what could be achieved at most events and especially evening events. The standard and accepted way to photograph corporate events was to use medium format cameras with a on camera flash system and try and balance out the low level ambient light within the event location. This method meant most results were posed due to the size of the camera and the need to pose people so the flash lighting was direct and did not cause to many shadows and that it lit people in an even way. I was never a big fan of flash lighting and even less when it was on camera. In my opinion flash is a very harsh light and daylight balance which is never the best source of light when photographing people.

My preferred way of photographing people was using ambient light and catching natural poses with 35mm camera and a fast long lens. I had been using a fast B&W film for many years and by pushing it several stops I was able to shoot in most low level lighting conditions and get unposed photographs at corporate events which clients preferred as this method of working was much less intrusive without large cameras being moved around with flash lighting firing off during key points in the event proceedings. When I went out selling my event photography portfolio most corporate clients were very impressed with the photos and would ask me to quote on upcoming events.

This is where my style and process hit a problem. To shoot in an informal and reportage manner at events you had to shoot lots and lots of film. As it was 35mm you had not polaroid proofing system so you had make sure you had the shots the client needed by covering all aspects and all angles and basically shooting all the time with the knowledge that when the whole commission was edited down at least 10% would be great stuff and fulfil the clients needs. Shooting lots of film meant my quotes/budget were higher than the traditional method so I was only commissioned for key events within the business calendar and this restricted the growth of my event photography service. This brings me back to our recent event that Jason photographed and how the creation of high end professional digital cameras with very high quality file capture and pro software have allowed the contemporary event photographers to cover commissions in reportage way within the same price bracket as any other style of event photography.

Here are some samples from Jason’s commission and we can see from these three images how the camera’s digital sensor and the post production software has managed to level out the contrast caused by the harsh down lighters often found in commercial halls. The most common form of lighting are these small tungsten spotlights which are recessed in the ceiling and give out small pools of direct light in little patches around the building. These make taking photographs very tricky as a person under one of these lights has a very bright light coming directly down on them and this can cause harsh shadows on their face and especially under the eyes. These samples show how Jason has managed to cancel out this unpleasant lighting and come up with photos which have a good range of tones and thin shadows.

contemporary event photography in London

london-event-photography-commission-3

contemporary event photography in London

These next two sample images show that the contemporary style of reportage corporate photography in London can be captured by using a minimal amount of photographic equipment. No need for flash lighting and even using fast long lens with the aid of high ISO setting that no longer cause noise in shadow areas of the image. This allows Jason freedom to move quickly into positions to photograph key moments within the event in a non intrusive way.

contemporary event photography in London

contemporary event photography in London

This last image really brings home how good current software is at levelling out contrast. If you had been at the event the screen on the right of the person would have appeared much brighter and the speaker would have been in semi darkness as this would have allowed the projected screen image to have been seen clearly. We have levelled out the contrast so that the shadow and bright areas are visible and still look natural.

contemporary event photography in London

For further samples of Jason’s and our other corporate photographers work please visit our contemporary corporate photography page.

Corporate Photographers London Website Review

Having worked as a corporate portrait photographer since the early 1990s I have gained plenty of experience from shooting commissions and also marketing and promoting my services. I recently asked for my new corporate photographers London website to be reviewed on a business forum and received some interesting feedback. On the whole the advice was positive and I took these comments on board. One comment lead me to think about my services in a new way for the first time in over 25 years.

The comment was simply ‘what will the client get from commissioning you’? At first I thought that would be fairly obvious from the website that was full of sample portraits I had spent ages selecting as my best work and sure that anyone in business would simply fall over themselves to commission and use for their marketing. Thinking about it again, I realised that my potential clients needed more information and direction as to the processes in capturing their portraits and to their end uses.

My experience had allowed me to know how to get the best result in the quickest time from any commission but unless I can convey that to potential clients who are totally unaware of my experience then how much work could I be missing out on. The more I thought about this the more samples came to mind on several questions that kept recurring when I was talking to clients about future commissions. The most common was ‘We can’t do the shoot here as our offices are a mess’. When clients say this I quickly reassure them with samples of offices we have shot in and made them look great by being selective in what we get in shot and by blurring backgrounds so that office shapes are all you can see in the portrait photos. But this left me thinking if past potential clients had not raised this question with me, how many commissions have I missed out on?

Another query which often comes up is ‘Do you offer make-up services’? And as before I explain that this is an expensive extra and we can retouch in post production to a very high standard included in the cost of the shoot.

These simple and repeated queries are swiftly dealt with but it makes so much more sense to have the as part of my marketing and clear to see on my website. It could be said that the site might become to wordy and nobody likes to wade through lists of information especially on the internet but that is where good website design plays a major factor in getting your services across in a way that is simple on the surface but all the information is easily to hand if a client wants to find it.

The more I looked into these factors the more sense it makes. lets face it most people do not like having their photo taken. In fact I would go further and say 90% of my clients say that they need to get it done but would rather be doing anything else. So we have a client in a position where they need to get their headshot taken normally for business marketing. They don’t know the processes involved and I now understand that it is better to hold their hand with practical guidance rather than to bombard them with a portfolio of our wonderful headshots!

This leaves me in the position of having to redesign our corporate photographers website to accommodate these findings.

We supply the full range of corporate photography services but on the whole most of our work is corporate headshots. Our clients range from individuals who may want a professional LinkedIn headshot to large corporate companies that might want thousands of staff photographed in office locations all over the world. Within this service we offer a selection of five different styles of headshots.

1. Business social media profile photos. These are mainly for LinkedIn and when clients first approach us it is normally with a vague enquiry that they need to get one done, but they have not really given it much thought past the point of what it will cost. I would normally give them a price and send them a link to our corporate headshots page which has a range of different styles. What is interesting here is that they will agree to the cost but not give me any feedback on which of the styles they prefer. I can see now that this is a area where my attending to their needs and explaining the benefits of what we offer is being lost and it is an area I need to address.

LinkedIn profile photos London LinkedIn profile photography Mayfair financial sector corporate headshot

2. London location headshots. This is service we introduced about 3 years ago and was aimed at clients who wanted to show they worked in London and we would subtly feature elements/views of London in the background. These have become popular with individuals who might not have office in The City but often work in London as consultants. We have also seen interest from overseas business people who want to show they also work in the UK financial sectors. The interesting factor with these is that we have had clients who have large numbers of staff and they have requested this service. This is not always ideal as it can mean the client has to arrange the logistics of getting all their people out of the office and this can be impractical.

Corporate headshots with St Pauls by London photographers Business portrait with London backdrop Corporate headshot by The Thames

3. Photoshopped London background headshots were offered this year to get around the problem that faced large offices of people who wanted the London backdrop. It also meant the client could choice the from our range of backgrounds and the headshots would be shot in their offices against a plain wall and we would photoshop in the London views in post production. This process is visible on the site but needs to be better in the way we expalin to potential businesses the benefits of the service.

City of London headshots by corporate photographers City of London business headshots

 

4. Studio headshots. These we offer if the client wants the ‘studio’ effect with and the benefits of controlled lighting. Many of our clients assume that to get a professional photographers headshot it must be taken in a studio. This really is not the case and we often advise against this style as it is not contemporary in our eyes as we prefer to capture a flattering headshot in a real business environment. Here again I need to explain the benefits of us attending the clients offices with our pro lighting set up. It is less time consuming for the client as we can set up in a empty office and the sitter only has to attend the shoot for approx 10 -15 mins and incurs the same charges as they would if they were to take a couple of hours out of their busy day to attend our studio.

corporate headshots in London studio London studio corporate photography London studio corporate photography

5. Reportage or natural headshots. These are proving to be very popular with start-up companies and clients who like to show an open door to potential business. We have a formula that works very well and allows us to capture very natural and also known as ‘action’ shots of business people going about their day to day work. This looks simple but is in fact time consuming as the photographer is waiting for the natural moments to happen and not able to control the session as easily as posed headshots. Again this is a process I need to explain to clients as it is often assumed these take a couple of minutes to capture and that they have been staged.

reportage corporate photographers London reportage business headshots London

This leads to me to the redesign of our current corporate photographers London website. I need to site to showcase our portfolio and I need to be able to get all of the above points as well a pricing, our team of photographers, my role in the company, how commissioned shoots proceed and complete.

Let me start with the team of photographers. There are eight in total and all have the ‘in house’ style for shooting our headshots and corporate events. In the past I have had a page for the photographers with sample portfolios for each photographer. This did not work as at no point did a client request any particular photographer. I feel now that clients coming to our site do not have the time to go over eight portfolios and therefore this has to be changed to showing that we have a great team with strength in numbers and able to cover all commissions on any dates, but also not swamp the client with portfolios of individual photographers.

Pricing is a difficult area as 90% of our competition do not show their rates on their website. Currently we do not display our fees but we need to give the client an idea of pricing structures, how we charge our time, what is included in the quote and what extra expenses will or maybe charged. Then there is post production rates which need to be explained as often clients will not be aware of what can be done and how much it will cost.

Although I still undertake corporate photography commissions my role is now more handling quotes, assigning photographers to jobs and handling post production and invoicing.

This is a simple process of a single commission.

Pre shoot procedure.

Please wear something you are comfortable in and avoid wearing white shirts if you are not going to be wearing a jacket as they appear too bright in the final images and can look washed out.

Please advise us if you have a certain style or background you require for your headshot and if it has a particular usage. Unless otherwise directed we will replicate the style found on our website.

Shoot procedure.

It takes 10 mins to set up equipment and normally 15-20 mins per person for a portfolio of approx 20 images. Within these 20 photographs we will do a variety of poses and expressions so you have a good choice to select from.

Post shoot procedure.

We will email you a full portfolio of preview images with our invoice. Once the invoice is paid we will email a high res image download link.

After you have made a selection of 2 images from the high res please email the original file numbers to us and we will standard retouch the images and return them.

I am currently looking and working with website designers to restructure our current site and interested in talking to any web designers who have ideas and processes that could assist me with my new aims. Past experience with working on photographers sites is not important but an understanding of my aims and creative input to some of the areas I need to address is required.

Please see our client reviews on our corporate photographer London page.

Corporate Action Photography

corporate-photographer-Jason-1 Photographer Jason
Reportage corporate photography commission for Lean Construction at their event meeting in Moorgate. They asked us to capture some action photos of their team in discussion for their partner profile pages on their website.

corporate office action photos in London

corporate meeting action photos in London

corporate meeting action photos in London offices

corporate office action photos in London

corporate office people action photos in London

© Corporate Photography Ltd.

Contemporary Office Photography

Photographer Dan Photographer Dan
Commission for HighQ Solutions Ltd at their offices in King William Street. We incorporated their modern offices and working images of their people to reflect HighQ as a contemporary London business.

office photography staff King William Street, London EC4R 9AD

Trendy office photography in King William Street, London EC4R 9AD

modern office photos King William Street, London EC4R 9AD

Modern offices London King William Street, London EC4R 9AD

Bright modern business photography London

King William Street, London EC4R 9AD offices photography London

Director young modern offices King William Street, London EC4R 9AD

© Corporate Photography Ltd

Corporate Management Photography

Photographer Dan Photographer Dan
Recent shoot for Penna who are a London based global management business with offices across the UK. These images were captured for their website at their London offices in Gracechurch Street and Fleet Place. We spent several days sitting in on meetings and attending training sessions with a result we collected a wide selection of corporate reportage images for their company library.

London office management photos

London corporate management photos

London corporate company photography

London corporate consultant photography

London corporate management photography

© Corporate Photography Ltd

Contemporary Reportage Office Photography

Photographer Dan Photographer Dan
Reportage Office Photography
Recent shoot for Henry Wiltshire International at their offices in Vauxhall. They have recently opened a new branch and asked us to capture some contemporary reportage office and staff images for their new website and PR campaign.

London reportage office photography in Vauxhall London SW8 1SJ

London reportage office photography in Vauxhall London SW8 1SJ

London reportage office photography in Vauxhall London SW8 1SJ

London reportage office photography in Vauxhall London SW8 1SJ

London reportage office photography in Vauxhall London SW8 1SJ

London reportage office photography in Vauxhall London SW8 1SJ

 

Generic Corporate Images.
These were captured on a recent commission for CEO Magazine. They asked us to take some generic corporate photos at the offices where we were shooting the portraits for their large magazine article. This out of focus style of photography, known as bokeh means that the image only suggests ideas and locations and does not illustrate as a normal photograph would. We have been asked to shoot these for various London clients who have used them on websites as backgrounds and on business social media as corporate banner images.

corporate generic imagery for websites

London corporate generic images for websites

corporate generic photography in London

corporate generic photos for websites

© Corporate Photography Ltd