Retouching Corporate Headshots

The pros and cons of retouching corporate headshots and portraits.

Since the arrival of quality software to enable digital photography manipulation we have seen some remarkable examples of what can be achieved and also where it can go very wrong. I believe the main reason there is such a wide range of differing standards with photo retouching is that editors, designers and photographers have varied opinions as to when to stop working on an image. This also applies to clients as they sometimes have a different idea as to how much retouching you should do to their corporate headshots.

In the past we have had clients ask us to do more and more retouching to headshot commissions and we have always tried to explain that less is more and that you should never be able to see where the retouching has been done as that defeats the object. I liken it to the fact their is nothing funny in male baldness but their is a funny aspect to males attempts to cover it up. So our stance is that the viewer should never be able to see where we have retouched the headshot because if they can we have failed as the headshot then has the viewer looking at the retouching rather than the original purpose which was to convey the professionalism of the business person.

A common mistake when working on retouching a headshot is to not keep a reference as to the original and keep comparing as you do the retouching. The original is the starting point and therefore this should be referred back to through the process. Sometimes retouchers only refer back to the last version and the danger here is that if you are submitting it to the client and you are adding/detracting stuff each time the headshot is moving further away from the original and rendering the headshot unrealistic.

You have to take each headshot on the work required and in general we tend to removes spots/skin blemishes and scars. We are very careful to only reduce wrinkles and bags under eyes as these are part of the natural ageing process and a corporate headshot of a person in their 40s or 50s without any skin of their skin ageing can look very odd and therefore unrealistic.

Clients often ask about make-up artists and we tend to suggest that subtle retouching is preferred as it can produce better results than heavy make up especially on men who feel uncomfortable with unfamiliar make-up. We also get asked about airbrushing which pre digital photography was blowing a fine mist of paint over a printed headshot which masked any original skin defects. This process can be replicated digitally but as with the original process you have to be very careful not to overdo it and not allow the vanity of some people to encourage a retoucher to do more than they normally would.

Below are some samples of three retouched corporate headshots that we feel have worked extremely well. The do not look like they have been retouched at all and you could only spot the retouching if you had the original headshots to compare.

Light photo retouching on corporate headshots and business portraits in London

Light photo retouching on corporate headshots and business portraits in London

Light photo retouching on corporate headshots and business portraits in London

Currently we are including free retouching with all our corporate headshots commissions. We usually request that after the shoot the client selects between 2 to 4 headshots with varied expressions so we can retouch and spend quality time working on the headshots you will use for your online LinkedIn profile photo and traditional marketing requirements.

 

Corporate Photography in London Offices

A large percentage of our corporate photography commissions take place in client’s offices in London. We capture corporate headshots with our studio set up and generic office imagery. Headshots clients often prefer that we shoot at their office as this saves arranging for their staff to come to our studio. We bring our professional lighting and background set which is very compact and can be constructed by the photographer. The mobile studio can be set up within ten minutes and this allows for top quality high end corporate portrait photography.

 

Corporate Photography in London Offices

Corporate Photography in London Offices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some clients prefer to have a more relaxed style of corporate headshot which incorporates the environment they work in. This we can supply by using the same style of lighting set up but incorporating their office as a background and using the ambient light to feature the offices. We feel these work well as they show the client in a more corporate environment and make their headshots much more individual. Each person can be photographed against the same area of the offices so all the headshots have the same background or we can photograph each member of staff with a different area of the offices behind them giving a variety of locations but all having the same theme as corporate backgrounds.

 

Corporate Photography in London Offices Corporate Photography in London Offices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another option we can supply is our favourite reportage style of corporate photography. This type really has to be captured at client’s offices as they rely heavily on the seeing the sitter working and communicating in their offices. These we try not to light with professional lighting as you are trying to keep the portrait as natural as possible so we rely on a higher ISO and ambient light. It is a good idea not to try and over pose these images and create a meeting situation in an area of the office you find photogenic and then let the clients talk business and really focus on what they are discussing rather than the fact they are being photographed.

 

Corporate Photography in London Offices Corporate Photography in London Offices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last corporate headshot option we can capture at London offices is the same as our studio set up process but we then can add a cityscape background. This is popular for clients who want to be associated with The City as a financial hub. It is also popular with international companies who have several offices across the world and wish to highlight their employees working in different capitals. We have a photo library of important financial cities and we can create the illusion that the photographer has travelled to each office to compile all the companies headshots for their about us website page.

 

Corporate Photography in London Offices Corporate Photography in London Offices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally we sometimes get asked to shoot a few shots around the offices to be used on company websites. These can often be for banners and as backgrounds on company LinkedIn pages. We do have to recce the offices and set people in to the staged shots so we can contrive to capture natural corporate office imagery.

Corporate Photography in London Offices Corporate Photography in London Offices

All content and photographs © Corporate Photographers London.

 

 

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.

 

How do you work out your corporate photography rates in London?

A question we often get asked by other photographers and we find it hard to give an answer. Not because we do not want to divulge this information as for many years we had it on our website, but you have to come to this decision based on your situation and many other factors that are involved in corporate photographers undertaking a commission.

We have always quoted our rates which include the rights to all the headshots and corporate images with a full licence to use in any media over an unlimited period. Many other photographers retain control over their photographs and stipulate terms of usage and periods of licence. This is clearly another way to gain revenue and therefore these photographers could reduce their corporate photography rates and making their quotes more attractive at first glance.

Another factor which comes into play is charging for post production. We include airbrushing and retouching with our headshot and corporate photographers rates but do put a limit on the number of photos included. Post production rates vary and the quality certainly can vary but when setting out their stalls photographers look at the complete service that is being offered to clients and corporate photography rates are not the only factor businesses take into account when choosing who they will use.

We get a least four emails everyday (weekends included) from retouching companies in China and India. Prices are so low you wonder how they ever managed to afford the computer to do the work on. We do not outsource our post production and with all the data protection laws being tightened are very unlikely to do it in the near future. I do most of our headshot retouching and airbrushing and find it a real pleasure these days. In the past when I was working alone I found it a chore as I was always having to tag it on at the end of the day and clients would be needing their photographs the following day. These days I have block periods during the working day to complete corporate photography post production and have began to get better and better at it. I find the trick is to make sure you can not see that the headshots have been retouched. Subtle is the best word to describe our post production and people look better but not overworked or false in anyway.

Our corporate photography rates are charged out by a combination of people and time. We can photograph X amount of people in X amount of time. So we structure our costs in hourly, half day and day rates all plus the good old VAT.

Should you put your corporate photography rates on your website? A few photographers do and many do not. We used to display them but got feedback that we were either undercharging or being undercut. Several times we lost work due to people charging just a little less than us. Also I had a call once from a leading London corporate photographer who left a voicemail saying that we were not charging enough as they had picked up a job we could not attend and the client had told the photographer what we had quoted. I suppose at the end of the day it all boils down to what your costs are, against what profit you need to survive or prosper.

Recently I have began looking at what other photographers charge and it varies greatly for the same sort of service. My research saw headshots in London studios for as little as £50 (not sure how that is possible with London rates) going up to £500 for a top London studio. It must work along the lines of the first studio doing 10 shoots a day and the top London studio doing the one per day as I can not believe they would be booked out at that price. But my point is they are making the same amount per day and that is why corporate photography rates can vary so widely in London.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss our corporate photography rates and different package options.

Corporate photography rates in London

 

 

 

Grantly Borrett-Lynch

Corporate photographer and editor.