Shooting Engaging Lively Corporate Portraits

ACC Aviation recently launched an excellent new website. I was fortunate to be asked to take the corporate portraits of their staff which feature on the new website. Taken over 3 days at ACC Aviation’s new HQ the results are lively and fun and reflect well the very friendly staff.


The brief was to capture a spontaneous and natural shot of each member of staff member including the senior management. Simple lighting and dark background.


After an initial scout of the offices. It was decided we would shoot in the always dependable meeting room. I went about the photography by using a single strobe light with a fast recycle time and short duration. This meant that I could keep taking shots while the conversation flowed, capturing the lively and naturally engaged moments. The light itself was modified using a 6 ft Octa soft box with grid. I chose to use the grid because the space was tight. Using the grid avoided light spill onto the background and other surfaces close by, this often results in unintentional fill of the shadows and a flat looking subject. These particular shots were helped with great banter from Marketing Manager Emily Nesbitt.

Lively Corporate Portrait Engaging Corporate Portrait Business Portrait Fun Corporate Portrait Responsive Corporate Portrait

ACC Aviation specialises in aircraft leasing, charter and the supply and refurbishment of aircraft seating. The Headquarters are based in Reigate just outside London.

2014 Roundup

2014 has been a wirlwind year. My duaghter Eleanor was born in May and she is a beautiful joy to spend time with. Between power naps and nappy changes the last year has proven especially busy with lots of travel both abroad and in the UK. Photoshoot trips to regions of the UK I would not otherwise have visited and journeys further afield to Barcelona. I have been privileged to meet some amazing healthcare staff and see them at work. It’s been a pleasure to continue to collaborate with my long standing clients, producing creative work for annual reports, websites, marketing and advertising. I am looking forward to producing and developing more creative output in 2015.

I have also upgraded and added new equipment to my kit. The Nikon D810 and D800 currently the only DSLR 35mm cameras capable of producing 36 megapixel files, the largest digital image files available from a camera in this class. In conjunction with this I have upgraded my computer and storage in order to maintain an efficient workflow that can handle the larger files sizes produced by the D800 cameras.

Below is a small sample of photography completed during 2014.

Corporate Portrait Photography for LinkedIn and Social Media.

LinkedI Social Media portraitWith the abundance of portrait images on the net, from selfies to super corporate LinkedIn profiles, images for social media need to stand out from the crowd and project the professionalism and confidence you have. Often a linkedIn profile is the first impression you make or it will reinforce your personality after that first contact. It is surprising how many professionals on linkedIn still use holiday or family photos as their profile image.  While this is fine for Facebook. The images tend to all look the same. By this I mean that the lighting, the colour and ambiance are all very similar and are usually  quite flat, lacking contrast, or with unnatural colour tones. These type of images can present you as down to earth and approachable, but do not suggest that you follow through with the same attention to detail that perhaps you have given to your CV or profile.

This is where a professional photographer’s portrait can really make a difference. By creating a flattering, approachable and confident headshot, that presents you uniquely the way you want and with attention to your target audience, it will stand above the abundance of selfies or friends snaps.

Whether you choose a pro photographer or not, when it comes to taking your profile portrait there are few guidelines you can follow to improve how well the final results works. From your clothing choices, grooming and the food and drink you choose to eat beforehand.

When I undertake this type of assignment, whether for an individual or a group session, I will use lighting which is complimentary to each subject, and select a background appropriate to the intended use. I will also ask the subjects to follow a few simple guidelines:

  • MEN/WOMEN – Clothing should be neutral and coordinated. Its better to opt for darker tones black/grey (Reds, blues, yellows area Acceptable). Avoid stripes and busy / loud patterns. Including clothing with patterns on the inside lining or inside collars etc.
  • MEN/WOMEN – Try to get hair done as close to the shoot as possible or at least within 2 weeks of the shoot.
  • WOMEN – Bring hair clips / bands, ties brush etc in case needed.
  • MEN – Shave on the day of the shoot if you don’t wear facial hair.
  • MEN/WOMEN Bring a choice of jacket, shirt/blouse and tie. Clothing should be ironed and if possible bring a fresh shirt to avoid creases. If you usually walk or cycle to work and the weather is windy and wet try to arrive in time to sort out any hair or clothing issues which might result because of the weather.
  • Without sounding like an overzealous health guru. Try to get an early night, stay hydrated but avoid caffeine and hot drinks on the day, before your photographed as this can make you sweat and look flustered. Eat a light meal before the shoot. If your travelling to my studio space in Surrey then I’ll happily reward you with fresh tea/coffee after the shoot.

During the shoot its advisable to apply the same body language and postures you would adopt when meeting colleagues or clients.

  • Maintain eye contact with the camera.
  • Keep expressions close to neutral without exaggerating emotions/expressions. Its ok to smile.
  • Keep your posture upright but loose, lean towards the camera without slouching. Try to keep shoulders straight.
  • Its often the case that crossed arms is a defensive unwelcoming posture. However in some sectors this can be interpreted as the posture of someone who is confident and control. Research your target sector and inform the photographer who will be viewing you portrait.

If you are going to upload images yourself to LinkedIn below are thee current guidelines for images.

  • You can upload JPG, GIF or PNG files.
  • File size – 4MB maximum.
  • Your photo should be square.
  • The ideal pixel size for your photo is between 200 x 200 to 500 x 500. If either width or height exceeds 4000 pixels, your photo will not upload.
  • Select who you want the photo to be visible to.Click Save Settings.


Example LinkedIn Portraits

Looking Back at some of the highlights from 2013

Looking back over 2013. Lots of ground has been covered this last year both professionally and personally. With travel to Poland to photograph the Doosan Way and with my own relocation from Cambridge to Reigate, Surrey. As always corporate and healthcare has been a primary focus for my work. I had the pleasure of working with the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust Hospital taking photographs for their Annual Review and a visit to the Brompton Hospital by the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt. I have begun to focus more on portraiture and in particular environmental portraiture, working with the Financial Times on a Business Life feature and the Netherlands largest medical school Erasmus MC.


Simple Corporate headshot Lighting Setup

Simple corporate headshot diagram. The is a typical lighting set up I use when space is limited and I need to travel with minimal equipment. The back light usually a lastolite umbrella softbox allows for the choice of either a rim highlight with lighting on the background as well or just a rim light if the umbrella is swivelled 180 degrees and feathered away from the subject and background.


Will Video Kill The Photographer? Hasselblad vs Red Epic

This is in an interesting video I came across via fstoppers blog, Comparing the 14mp Red Epic with a Hasselblad H3d-22. The video shows headshot photographer Peter Hurley shooting a model with the Red Epic and then pulling stills from the footage to be printed and compared to stills shot with the Hasselblad in the same setup. The comparison is interesting not so much for the printed results but how Peter had to change his approach to working with the model and the time spent editing the footage. Read the full post here.

Tearsheet – NHS Nursing Recruitment Brochure

Lots of portraits taken over two days for the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital’s new nursing recruitment brochure. Great job, loads of fun meeting some very nice people. The brief was quite open with guidance to take approachable, happy portraits with neutral backgrounds. I chose to shoot with available light where possible and fill shadows evenly.

Cover Portrait Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital Nursing Recruitment Brochure

Cover Portrait Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital Nursing Recruitment Brochure

Nursing Recruitment Brochure Portrait

Nursing Recruitment Brochure Portrait

Relaxed Corporate Portrait: Lighting & Posing Example Part 1

I have posted the examples below and in part 2  to give an idea of how a very simple and relaxed corporate portrait can be taken on location with minimum fuss but with lots of variety. Both examples use the exact same location and a lighting se tup which did not need to be moved. Using this set up enabled a variety of shots to be taken without taking to much time to reset lights and location. This was a necessity as I was confined to just one room.

Relaxed Corporate Portrait lighting examples

Relaxed Corporate Portrait lighting examples

The first image on the left above was set up as follows:

One Bowens Gemini 500 with wafer softbox positioned on camera right close to subject and with a white reflector on the opposite side to provide fill. A second smaller light a Nikon Sb800 was placed on top of my lighting case low down behind the subject aimed up towards the wall behind. This provided a formal set up but with some separation with the background. The pose and lighting is quite standard but was a good starting point to work from. It also allowed the subject to begin to relax and get an idea how things were looking by seeing the image on the back of the camera.

The set up for the second image was a matter of turning the softbox used in the first image around so that it  pointed towards the wall behind the subject, raising the level from a dark grey to almost white, no adjustment to the power output was needed. A second Gemini 500 with umbrella was used as the key light  placed on camera left and feather slightly so that light would not fall onto the glass partition immediately on the subjects left side. The pose was adopted by the subject and I only asked her to turn slightly more both left and right.

The third image from the left was changed only by moving the subject to a different part of the room where I could use a glass partition wall as background. Using as my key light the soft available daylight through a window behind camera. I left the softbox in place but rotated it again so that this time it was aimed at the glass wall behind the subject. Even though the ambient daylight level was quite high the background remained flat and dark. I wanted to keep the high key level created by the daylight and so used the softbox to create some fall off behind the subject. The pose this time was set up only by asking the subject to stand and lean on one hand toward the camera. Although the pose felt a little awkward to begin with, this soon changed as we chatted and laughed. The pose begin to take a more intuitive and natural feel.

The fourth image was lit in the same way, except this time I asked the subject to sit (a different portion of the wall behind could be used as background now) again leaning on the table with one hand, the subject adopted a version of this position when she sat down and I could see she was comfortable with it and so I asked her to continue but I refined some the shapes and position of her hands. It is always enjoyable to  be photographed when you are not aware of having to think to much about posing,  allowing subjects to find an intuitive position always works well and means you can continue to keep a dialog flowing.

In total shooting time for one subject was between 20-30 minutes. There were more variations taken but not included in this example.