11 Corporate Portrait Photography Tips

Taking a corporate portrait can be tricky business for amateur photographers. In this article, we will be going over our top 11 corporate portrait photography tips to getting the perfect shot and make your photos stand out. We will go through basic technical details like like lightning and exposure, as well as location, backgrounds, and how to encourage your subjects to be comfortable and have the right attitude for a corporate portrait.

1. Decide on a Location

You’ll need to shoot at a place with plenty of light, but also shade to deflect the glare of the sun. For a better photo, you should look for spots where there is soft light, where there are gentler transitions and fewer shadows. You can use an umbrella to deflect natural light to your subjects. If the customers decide they want portraits taken outside, the best time of day to shoot your corporate photo is an overcast day; when the sun is highest in the sky, look for a shaded location where you can place your photo’s subject.

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Hubert Joly corporate portrait
Hubert Joly, the Chairman and CEO of Best Buy. Source.

 2. Schedule the Photo Shoot in the Morning

After deciding on the location, you should decide on the time of the photo shoot. One of the best corporate portrait photography tips we can give you is to plan the shoot early in the morning. This is when your subjects are fresh and their hair or makeup is at their best. By the end of the day, they’ll most likely be tired, their clothes may be more wrinkled, and even their hairdo won’t look as good as in the morning. It would probably be best to  schedule the shoot about half an hour before the office opens to avoid interruptions.

 

3. Focus on the Background When Placing Your Subject

Now that you have your location’s setting prepared, pay attention to the background, since this will play a large role in your corporate portrait. Make sure there is nothing distracting in the background that will take the focus away from your subject, even if you will focus on them and blur out the background. This is another of the most vital corporate portrait photography tips.

Jenny Chan photographed by Matt Greenslade
Jenny Chan, Executive Recruiter at Heidrick & Struggles. Source

4. Determine the Exposure of Your Shot

Now that your subject is in place, next for your corporate portrait photography tips is to determine the exposure of your shot. Mainly in portraits, you should be concentrating on the overall exposure of your subject’s face. The easiest way to do this is to fill the entire frame of your camera with the face and body of your subject. Don’t be afraid to zoom in and out to get the best shot. Plus, make sure that there are no bright spots in the background that can take the focus away from the subject.

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5. Review the Shutter Speed

The next step in the guide on how to take business portraits is to check your camera’s shutter speed and make sure that it is quick enough to handle minimal camera shake. This usually depends on the type of lens you are using, but you usually need 1/100 per second or quicker. Some higher-tech cameras have image stabilization or vibration control that can help you limit camera shake as well. Before taking a corporate portrait, always consult your camera manual to make sure you are using its features to the best of its abilities. This is one of the most important corporate portrait photography tips.

Rishi Khosla corporate portrait
Rishi Khosla, British-Indian serial entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of OakNorth Bank Limited. Source

6. Review the Aperture

The other thing you should check on your camera is its aperture. The best way to shoot your subject is to keep their faces in the focus of your shot, keeping the background blurry. To perform this on your camera, you are going to want to choose a wider aperture for your shot; r/4 or 4/5.6 will usually get you the focus you desire. However, you may need to change it a few times and take a few test shots to make sure you’ve got the settings right.

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7. Bring a Handheld Mirror to Set

Though this does not have to do with taking your photos, it is still one of the best corporate portrait photography tips. It’s not uncommon for a photographer to bring accessories, such as a mirror, on set for their subjects. After all, everyone wants to look their best, especially for a corporate portrait; in addition, most people usually are and look confident when they look their best. Always remind your subjects to bring other accessories such as hairbrushes and makeup.

8. Make Your Subject Comfortable

Once you have your shot set up, be sure to let your subject know that you are ready to go. Your goal is to make them feel as comfortable as possible. Find a position where they feel the most comfortable so they can feel natural on set. Talking to them during the photo session can also help them to feel more relaxed. Direct them to look straight into the camera and smile. This is one of those corporate portrait photography tips that is going to make the difference between a good shot and a great shot.

9. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Close

Remember, this photo is all about the person, the background is unimportant. Take close up shots of your subject. Set up your shots so that the person fills up the frame. Line up the top of their head with the top of the frame. The bottom of the frame should hit somewhere near their chest. The majority of the background should be unseen. You may even decide to get closer, crop the top of their head, and simply exhibit their face.

Angela Kunwald corporate portrait
Angela Kunwald, Director Corporate Communications at Fink & Fuchs. Source

10. Be Careful when Taking Group Shots

Sometimes when you are booked to take corporate portraits, you may also be asked to take group shots. These are a little bit more difficult to take since you may need more space and different lighting. First, we will discuss a few general tips and then go into how to take corporate photos for different group sizes.

  • Consider taking your group shots outside. This way, you will not need to worry about setting up your lighting.
  • Try to get the group to act naturally with each other. The last thing you want is for everyone in the photograph to look uncomfortable with each other. Try cracking a joke to make them smile naturally.
  • Don’t tell them to say cheese. You will either end up with fake smiles or gaping mouths. Neither are good for a group shot.
  • Put your camera in burst mode. This way, if someone blinks, you will still have shots to work with.

If you have a small group (three to six people), you may be able to take your photo indoors in the area that you have already set up. Consider using just one softbox or umbrella for your lighting. Simply ask the group members to stand close to each other and try to make the background bigger.

If you have a medium sized group (seven to twelve people), you can usually still get away with using your existing setup. Arrange the people in two rows and try to keep them as tight together as possible. You can still use a single flash so long as there is a white ceiling above you. The flash will bounce off the ceiling and create enough light for your shot. Otherwise, you may need to move outdoors.

If you have a large group (thirteen or more), it is unlikely that you will be able to accommodate them indoors unless there is a generous space at your disposal. If there is a large enough space inside, you will need to increase the amount of lighting you have or use more powerful light sources. Again, arrange the people in rows so you are still able to see everybody’s face.

If your client wants a group portrait, don’t forget to also visit our collection of group photography tips.

 11. Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot Outdoors

Outdoors portrait photography is not that different from regular portrait photography, but what’s great about it is that you’re not often confined to using flash. You can use the available light and maybe a few light reflectors to eliminate shadows. You’ll most likely don’t need to set up side lights or rim lights because of the abundance of ambient light, so all you need to do is use your camera on manual mode and meter the exposure off the background. If you have to use a light source, be sure to move it as close to the subject as possible to make it stand out against the darker background.

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Conclusion

Though taking corporate portraits may seem intimidating at first, if you focus on setting up your shoot and making your subjects feel natural, you will be a pro in no time. Do you have any experience on how to shoot business portraits? Share your thoughts, questions, and corporate portrait photography tips in the comments section below!

2 thoughts on “11 Corporate Portrait Photography Tips”

  1. Thanks for pointing out that a large group of thirteen or more will usually work better outside unless there is a large amount of space available. I would like to try and do some large group shots, but have been having difficulty trying to figure out the best place to do the shoot. I think working with a corporate photographer would help me if I do end up going for large group shots.

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