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Choosing Corporate Headshots vs. Environmental Portraits

Choosing Corporate Headshots vs. Environmental Portraits

Corporate headshots are a crucial aspect of every companies’ public relations profile. They are both necessary and yes, oftentimes delayed, avoided and occasionally dreaded.   Maybe it’s the oversimplification that resembles our high school portraits we were not so fond of even back then. Remember?  The posture set at 90 degrees, face turned to 6 o’clock, hands in lap and the detached expression.  Just add a power suit and we have the standard corporate headshot…..or do we?  I think not.

It is imperative that the way the corporate head shots are photographed matches the essence of your branding, from the lighting to posing and clothing to expression.  With that in mind, there are a few questions to consider.

1.  What image is your company trying to project?

  •  Are you a part of an established law firm that needs to convey authority?  Or perhaps you are a start-up design firm that would like to showcase its’ creativity?

Once you decide on what these portraits need to convey, it is time to consider all of your options.  Within the last several years, I have found that there has been a move away from the standard head shot with a backdrop to a more environmental portraits.  Here is the difference:

Chicago Commercial Photographer

Keep in mind, in both cases, a skilled photographer can work the lighting and colors to match your branding and capture your personality.  But if you are leaning towards one portrait style over another, consider this:

2. How much time does the photographer have to shoot and how many people need to be photographed?

  • In the case of high volume portraits for larger companies, there is limited time to change the lighting. With the standard headshots, we are fixed in one place, with one backdrop and have been able to complete as many as 40 corporate head shots in one day.
  • With environmental portraits, we can stick with one location.  But we can also change it up a bit and find additional places in your office that make for an interesting background.  This requires us to move our lights and dial in our settings once again.  All of which takes some time.

Always feel free to ask questions of your photographer.  They understand the timing and what is required to move from one location to the next.  In my case, I am always happy to do a location scout prior to the shoot to check out all of the options we have.  This way,  we can create a solid plan for each scenario together.

3.  Consider the budget range you have to work with.

  • Most commercial photographers do not have a set day rate but rather their fees and expenses are unique to every assignment and dependent on the complexities of each shoot.
  • If there are 5 people in the office and you would like 5 standard corporate headshots using a backdrop, this will run less than doing these same portraits using a few different locations within your office.

The most important aspect of planning for headshots is communication.  My job is to make your job easier so always feel free to ask questions, bounce ideas around and ask even more questions.  

Eight Tips on Selecting a Commercial Photographer

Your business is your livelihood and so much more, so being meticulous about your choice in a commercial or editorial photographer is a necessity. You trust someone to help you create your brand, so you definitely want someone confident and experienced.

When you interview a potential photographer for your corporate or commercial photography, you can learn a lot by asking just a few questions. Help yourself out by browsing through the tips below, before you select your photographer.

  • Browse through his or her portfolio, even if they’re well-known or highly-recommended. You must be sure you like their shooting style before moving further.
  • If you like what you see, set up a portfolio showing, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Observe his or her behavior, is your potential photographer’s attitude professional?
  • Ask if your photographer has previously shot an assignment similar to the one you requested. Hiring a general photographer isn’t a bad thing, especially since some are versatile and quite talented. However, when it comes to commercial photography, you want to look for someone who specializes in this field, as there are many things to consider with each shot.
  • Notice the photographer’s plan; see if he or she asks the right questions. These questions will show whether or not your photographer is prepared for your session and requests. It shouldn’t be a one-way interview. Your photographer should ask you a myriad of questions as well.
  • Pay attention to your photographer’s priority. Some photographers may address  concerns by saying “we can fix that during post-processing”. While post-processing does touch up and fix some photos, nothing replaces a perfect shot in the perfect location done right in the camera.
  • Ask about his or her backup plan. Every seasoned photographer will have back-up equipment in the case of camera failure and other technical issues.
  • Do your research! Read reviews and ask previous clients if they were satisfied with your photographer’s work.

Commercial Photographers Tips for a Successful Shoot

A successful photography session must include communication and organization. Regardless of the style or theme, most commercial photographers can adapt according to a client’s needs. For larger shoots, the demand for details increases, and the need for organization and logistics increases as well. Clients love a versatile, prepared photographer that can handle their requests.

Meet up with your photographer before the session, in person or via internet, but work together to get a clear understanding of the goal. Have a list of  questions, and obtain as much information as you can; use this information to make a shot list. The goal is to ensure that we produce beyond your expectations and to make this possible, it helps to:

  1. Create an outline of the overall plan. Visualize the end result.  If possible, ask for a sketch or a well written description of the photos you need to see.
  2. Think about the variations like color change, location, angle, and lighting. Consider a few options so that you have multiple options from which to choose.
  3. Ask about the wardrobe! You may need a stylist to help with the clothing. Whether it needs to adapt to the scenery or change, a stylist will know how to match the wardrobe styling the theme of the shoot.
  4. Confirm. Confirm. Confirm.