Spring Marketing Campaign | Portraits for COD

Spring Marketing Campaign | Portraits for COD

It has been way too long since I’ve had a chance to swing by the blog to do some updates.  Lucky me, I was asked by a client to do some traveling to various cities south and east of Chicago to shoot corporate lifestyle in the last months of 2016 so that kept me super busy though December (fill you in on those travels on a blurb to come). By the time I came up for a little air, I needed some time to binge on Netflix and check off some novels on my Good Reads list.  But now it’s time to get to it.

The last thing I shot prior to this travel assignment was for the College of DuPage, which is the largest community college in the state.  I’ve been working regularly with their marketing and communications team for the last 2 years or so and am always happy to get their call.  The assignments normally revolve around a series of environmental portraits of students who have made the most of their time at COD and then we catch them doing what they do.  We’ve worked in the computer labs, architecture classrooms, welding facilities, professional kitchens, hospitals and local fire departments.  Incorporating the students’ work space into the shots helps to tell their success stories more than a standard headshot and a few lines of text. 

It’s always a pleasure to meet with the students and talk to them about their plans, especially those who are returning to school in hopes of making a career change as I can relate.  After years of working at a staffing agency, I decided it was time to try to do my own thing and I thought photography would be a challenge and continually keep my interest.  I was enrolled at Columbia College in Chicago for a few studio lighting classes, learned as much as I could and started assisting around town.  Getting myself back into school was the first step in making the big change and kudos to anyone who takes those same chances.

Chicago-Portrait-Photographer

Here we are working in the nursing lab at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.  Every day, every location, every subject looks a little different than the one that came before it which definitely keeps us on our toes. This project took us from the COD campus in Glen Ellyn to Elmhurst Hospital, over to Old Orchard Mall where we were treated to a fantastic lunch at Roka Akor and back to the campus library.   Looking forward to more of these kind of assignments in 2017 for sure.

Corporate Lifestyle Photography | Integrity Payment Systems

Corporate Lifestyle Photography | Integrity Payment Systems

There is a lot of planning that goes in to a corporate lifestyle photography shoot.  When I received an inquiry from Integrity Payment Systems regarding a two-day location assignment just west of Chicago, the brainstorming began.

Claire, the Marketing Director was working closely with the design team to rollout a new website to replace the one that had been running as it heavily relied on stock photography and was becoming obsolete.  The plan was to design a more interactive and people-centric site that emphasized the role of the team behind the company, from the CEO to the customer service representatives.

By incorporating custom, corporate lifestyle photography, IPS would have the chance to show their clients not only who they are working with but how they work and the end result of their unique approach, thereby helping the company to stand out in an incredibly competitive market.

We would be concentrating on doing environmental portraits of the companies’ Principals in a variety of locations around the office as well as a few scenarios in the board room, customer service and fulfillment departments in order to paint a broad picture of the inner working of IPS.

A few things I have learned in doing assignments like this that requires us to move our lighting from one location to another is to always be prepared with external battery packs, remote controls for the lighting and always use at least two Assistants.  First, when we are working with a tight schedule, the last thing we need to be doing is hunting for power outlets or messing with extension cords.  A great remedy for this is the Paul C. Buff Vagabond Extreme which recycles the Einstein lights just as quickly as being connected to a wall outlet and they can last us through the day.  We always have 2 Extremes with us along with a Vagabond Mini to make sure the laptop has enough juice as shooting tethered to Lightroom drains the laptop battery incredibly quickly.

Chicago-Corporate-Photographers

Another gear game changer for me has been the Cybersync Commander.  Rather than directing my Assistants to adjust the lighting, I can do this all from the camera, controlling up to 16 lights and all of their functions with this powerful, little tool.  This has saved so much time especially when our lighting is positioned higher on the stands.  Rather than having to lower the stand and put it back into position, I can control that channel while behind the camera.

You might think this leaves the Assistants with so much less to do but there are so many moving parts on our corporate lifestyle shoot that the more hands you have, the better.  Typically, I have an Assistant driving the laptop, checking focus and framing while the Second Assistant monitors the lighting to make sure all is working as it should.  Just another bit of insurance.

Over the two days on location, we managed to complete shooting scenarios in more than 12 locations and pulled off close to 20 individual, environmental portraits.  Not bad for two days of work and most importantly, our client was really pleased.

Retouching for Corporate Headshots and Environmental Portraits

These days, it’s critical to have an awesome portrait that reflects confidence.  With social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as LinkedIn and company websites, the on-line profile essentially replaces the business card.  We have one chance in the online world to make a fantastic, first impression and having a stellar portrait is a great start.

Corporate headshots and environmental portrait photography are commercial assignments I do with regularity so it helps to have a system in place for retouching the portraits as the post-production process can be very subjective.

Typically, if time allows, my subjects have a chance to select their hero headshot immediately after their session and give me a heads-up on any specific retouching they would like me to do and the requests, as you can imagine, are always pretty consistent.  Make me younger and thinner.  Of course, I’m more than happy to oblige though I do tend to believe that we earn those grey hairs, the few extra pounds and the lines that show that we have been living our lives to the fullest.

When we have multiple portraits to do and are running low on time, I edit the images and upload between 3 to 5 of the best headshots of each person into a web gallery where the client can take their time in making their final selections.  Once I receive their picks, it’s showtime and I have a process that is incredibly effective and produces portraits that are engaging, confident and clean.

Take a look at the before and after samples below and move the slider to see the improvements that are made with retouching.  

  • Before-
    After-
    Before After
  • Before-Whiten Eyes & Remove Shine
    After-Whiten Eyes & Remove Shine
    Before Whiten Eyes & Remove Shine After
  • Before-Skin Smoothing & Teeth Whitening
    After-Skin Smoothing & Teeth Whitening
    Before Skin Smoothing & Teeth Whitening After
  • Before-
    After-
    Before After

As seen in the samples above, the changes simply enhance the image as opposed to completely changing it except of course in the last example where the background color was modified to match the subjects’ suit jacket.

The retouching for corporate headshots and environmental portraits that I apply are for the purpose of making each subject look their best so I do stay away from making drastic revisions that we see so much of these days.  Simple fixes make us look like our genuine and best selves.

Keep in mind also that although there are plenty of fixes that post-production can provide, there are also a few simple things you can do to look your best for your corporate headshot or environmental portrait as well.  This previous post was written with corporate portraits in mind however many of these guidelines apply to environmental portraits as well so check them out.