Examples of natural light staff portraits taken for corporate and private clients in London and locally within Surrey. Shooting with only the available light can be difficult to master. There are many considerations to account for such as time of day, light direction, reflected colours, background, choice of lens, iso and shutter speed /aperture.
The beauty of working with only the available light without adding supplementary lighting, is the ability to setup quickly with minimal and lightweight equipment which is always good if you have to haul gear up stairs or a long way from a parked car. More importantly it allows you to focus on the subject, is less distracting and intimidating for the subject and is very flattering if the ratio of shadow to highlight is balanced well.
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.
ACC Aviation specialises in aircraft leasing, charter and the supply and refurbishment of aircraft seating. The Headquarters are based in Reigate just outside London.
Since November 2013 I have been working flat out taking portraits of store managers for the Co operative Food across the South East, including London, Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Essex, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire travelling some 8503 miles in 6 months visiting 181 sites. The portraits have been taken on location inside the store during normal opening hours, forming part of the ongoing marketing for the refitting of stores. Working alongside the excellent team at Refinery Marketing the images have been used to produce A1 posters for store windows and leaflets.
Google maps have been very useful in planning schedules for this assignment. The map below shows the extent of coverage across the South East. Each point represents a portrait taken on location at a Co operative Food store.
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.
Over the last twelve months the NHS National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) undertook a large photography project to update its library of clinical healthcare images for use across its nationwide network.
The NIHR commissioned me to work on this project which involved photoshoots at 8 locations across the UK. With more locations and photo shoots planned for the coming months ahead.
All the locations were operational clinics or surgeries within hospitals and general practice surgeries. All the models were consenting members of the public and staff. Photography was undertaken during the course of real consultations or examinations. Here are some of the results.
The brief was simple, capture a striking portrait of a staff member with their award for leadership, for an internal company publication. The person in question worked across a department involved in creating maps from geological data. I settled on creating two different images. The first a simple headshot of the subject with award and the second a portrait involving other staff members and some action. For the purposes of this post I am using the example of the basic headshot portrait with award to show how using lighting and background can create an effective and engaging image, of what is usually a fairly standard shot of someone holding an award.
With this type of assignment it is preferable to be able set up without causing to much disruption and to be able to do this quickly, especially if planning multiple shots. As such I travelled light for this assignment I had with me x3 SB800 flash guns, x 2 stands, 1 softbox brolly, 1 translucent brolly
For the first shot, the headshot I new I needed a background which I could either blur using a long focus lens wide open to isolate the subject or I could create a backdrop which was tied in a little more to the story of where the subject worked and could also serve as a background to the second shot involving some action. After a quick scout of the open plan office I settled on the option to create a colourful and striking backdrop using the many maps found in the office. The map we selected was pinned up over other maps already covering the wall to create a large area of map and colour which would provide a large enough background to fill the frame.
I made sure that the space I was going to use would provide enough depth to allow me to light for both the background and the subject as well as allowing me to throw the background out of focus slightly. I set up 2 lights on stands one with the Softbox and the other with a shoot through brolly. The softbox was placed high and close to the subject on camera left so that light would fall on background, as well as creating quite hard shadows on the subjects face. I took the first test shot to see how this looked.
Award Portrait for internal publication - lighting test
This has created quite a punchy image, but I felt that the shadow created on the subject’s left side was little dark and needed fill. I also noticed the background seemed a little dull. To overcome these issues, I placed a light with shoot through brolly on camera right, close to my position and high. For the background I placed a 3rd light on a box low down behind the subject on camera right. I left this third flash bare without a gel or any light modifier. The other 2 had green and orange gels, the purpose of which was to match the flash light with the white balance setting on camera and the ambient overhead flourcesnt of the office and also contrast with the bare background light. Shooting with my chosen white balance setting with the bare SB800 meant the background took on a subtle bluish colour. After some tweaking by aiming the light away from the background slightly the light fall off was enough not to be distracting and gave the maps more life.
Award Portrait for internal publication - Final shot
Cintra’s new website is now live. The cambridge based translation and interpreting company asked me to photograph their staff over 2 days in August to provide assets for a new website. Due to the high number of calls made to the companies booking team and the different staff available on any given day. It was not possible to shoot all of the staff together at one time and so we decided to shoot the group of about 20 staff in 4 groups which were then comped together using photoshop. An example of the result will be posted soon.
Spire Healthcare commissioned Alex to take photographs for a new image library. The photo shoot took place in Manchester, Leeds and Hull Hospitals on 3 consecutive days during October 2009. Resulting images are to be used across the Spire group for all corporate marketing and PR.