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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.