5 Answers You’ll Need When Hiring A Corporate Portrait Photographer

5 Answers You’ll Need When Hiring A Corporate Portrait Photographer

For many of the clients I work with, it may be the first time they have had to do the leg work of finding and hiring a corporate portrait Photographer.  Being new to the process, they may not be ready for the multitude of questions I ask that help me understand what the assignment entails and how to exceed the expectations of my clients.  Whether the project includes corporate headshots or environmental portraits, there are a few questions I consistently ask and if you’re looking to hire a commercial Photographer, you’ll want to have the answers to these questions ready.


1.) How Will The Photographs Be Used?

There is a huge difference in pricing between using images on a website and in internal communications as opposed to using those same images on a multi-state, billboard advertising campaign.  An environmental portrait that is done for a cover story of a magazine is also going to be priced differently than the same portrait photographed to decorate the walls of IKEA.  Although it’s the same photograph, the image itself carries different value for different uses.

2.) What Is The Schedule?

It’s critical for the Photographer to know the timeline of each project.  This includes when the estimate is needed by, the days that you’re looking to schedule the shoot itself and when the final images are due.  This gives us an idea of how much time we have to plan for the shoot, line-up our crew and process the final images so they are in your hands even before the deadline in case any modifications are needed.

3.) Corporate Headshots Or Environmental Portraits?

Of course you can do both options and it’s actually a good idea to do so if the time and budget allows.  I have seen clients use the corporate headshots for their company LinkedIn profiles and use the environmental portraits on their websites for variety.

However, if it needs to be only one of the options, you’ll need to know:

  • How many people will need portraits
  • The time that you have to accomplish all of this in
  • How many final images of each person you would like to be retouched
  • If you are doing corporate headshots, what backdrop color would you like to use
    • Keep in mind, for this set-up, it’s best to have access to an empty conference room that has plenty of space for the seamless paper and lighting set-up.
  • If the plan is to go with environmental portraits, will they be done in one location or several locations within the same office


4.) What Look Are You Going For?

In some cases, even with corporate headshots, I have clients who want to go with a very casual feel.  So, the subject is still photographed against a backdrop, however the cropping may not be the typical 3/4, there is more room for a greater variety of expressions, the images may be converted to black and white and the subject may be looking off camera.  There are so many options so make sure you have in mind the feel that needs to be conveyed and the branding that must be matched.


5.) What Is The Budget Range?

For each proposal that I work on, there are three factors I take into consideration.  The complexity of the assignment, the time it will take to complete the job from pre-production through image delivery and finally my clients’ price range.

In many cases, when I ask about this the answer has been that they are in the process of collecting bids which is totally understandable.  However, I always try to narrow this down to gain a better understanding of what the client has the budget for and then inform about what is possible within that range.  This transparency ensures that the expectations are not only met but exceeded.

Granted, not every Photographer you speak with may go into details such as this to quote a corporate portrait session however the more details and information we have before we even walk in the door, the more value we can provide.

On Assignment: Environmental Portraits for the University of Phoenix

On Assignment: Environmental Portraits for the University of Phoenix

Afew weeks ago, I received a call from the University of Phoenix as they were researching Chicago portrait Photographers and had found me through the ASMP.  They were looking to do a feature story on one of their recent graduates for the Alumni Associations’ publication, Phoenix Focus and sent me on assignment to capture a few environmental portraits.

The subject of the story, Ted Barrett had been in the corporate world for several years, working in business development and account management when he decided to make a major change.  Returning to college, he studied Psychology, received his certification as an Autism Behavior Interventionist and now provides therapeutic services to kids who fall within the autistic spectrum.

Because Ted works with his clients in their homes, the Art Director was hoping to do something outdoors which of course is always a gamble as the weather gods like to toy with the nerves of certain Photographers such as myself.  After speaking with Ted, who may possibly be one of the nicest guys on the planet, we scheduled for a 10am shoot with the next day being our back-up in the case of rain, hail, tornados, etc.   It is Chicago after all.



A few days prior to our shoot, I took a drive just west of Chicago to the the very charming town of Oak Park.  Within the main part of town, there is the Frank Lloyd Wright Historical District and this is where I found the perfect spot for our shoot.  Looking south, there was a row of super cute houses with just enough color to add dimension to the background.  And across the street, the sidewalks were lined with huge oak trees and white picket fences.  Finally, right around the corner was a shaded park that would work as a great alternate for our more casual environmental portrait.

For lighting, we went with a 48″ octobox for the main light and a smaller softbox with an egg crate modifier as a back kicker.  The beautiful thing is that I had just exchanged a few external battery packs for the Paul C. Buff Lithium Extreme pack which has proven to be an absolute powerhouse.  The recycle time, even at 800ws is lightning fast and completely reliable not to mention that it is just heavy enough to function as a light stand weight so no need for additional sandbags.



After about two hours, a plethora of questions from curious passerby and three wardrobe changes in the back of Teds’ car, we called it a wrap.  And I have to say, I do love the challenge of walking into a different “office” on a daily basis and having a plan but also always being ready to adapt to the changing circumstances of light.

And of course, it’s always a pleasure to meet such interesting people who choose to take a chance and do something different because as my favorite On Golden Pond actress, Katherine Hepburn once said “if you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”