What You Need To Know About Shooting Corporate Headshot Photos

The demand for corporate and business headshots is, and always has been, quite high. After all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and today that often means a photo on a social media website or profile.

Before we continue talking about corporate headshots, let’s backtrack a little and learn more about what it is and who you’re likely to work with if you offer corporate headshot photography services.

Photo by Tim Kossow

What Exactly Is A Corporate Headshot?

A corporate headshot is a photo that shows the face of a person in a semi-close up. Professionals or business people normally request it. In some instances, models or actors auditioning for projects or roles also request for corporate headshots. Compared to a regular headshot, the corporate version is simpler and more formal.

There are different reasons why a businessman or professional would need a corporate headshot. Foremost among these is for use in resumes or portfolios; as well as in company requirements or needs like newsletters, press releases, and annual reports. Corporate headshots are also used in company websites.

Business Woman
Photo by Steve wilson

Some organizations also use corporate headshots for their marketing and promotional campaigns, especially when they want to reach out to their customers and entice potential partners to join them.

Tips For Effective Corporate Headshots

Corporate headshots are not like fashion photoshoots or wedding photography. As previously mentioned, it is simpler and the concept is formal. Fancy poses are not a necessity.

Photo by tmy.

Taking Corporate Headshots

If it’s your first time to take corporate headshots, here are several tips that you might want to consider before going out with your camera.

  1. Days before the shoot, schedule a meeting with your client (or clients). Talk about the project or shoot. Ask questions. Doing this will give you a heads up on what is expected from you, as well as on what the desired outcome of the shoot is.
  2. Additionally, talking to your client will give you an idea of how to compose the headshot. You’ll be able to decide what mood to create, as well as find out what background or kind of background to use for your subject/s. Since it is a corporate headshot, you’ll need more traditional shots with ambient lighting and backgrounds with no frills; just the plain ones.
  3. Go for large aperture lens (i.e. small f number from 1.2 to 2.8) and avoid any wide-angle lens as this will often give off a dramatic or artistic effect, which is not what you want to achieve with corporate headshots. Artistic photos do not appear natural.
  4. Speaking of natural, your lighting should be softer. Softer lighting will help you achieve a more natural effect. It also prevents glares. However, if you find that you’ll need to take care of shadows (depending on your location or shoot area), you might need a brighter light. This will help take away shadows. Position your light from the side and not directly to the subject.
  5. Your subject’s position is important. If you want to achieve the natural pose effect without giving too many instructions, simply ask your subject to move their head towards your direction. Your subject should not face directly at the camera, but should be positioned at an angle to it. A front facing subject will make your shot look like a passport photo.
  6. If you want a corporate headshot where your subject comes out strong, confident and tall, take the shot from a low angle, or slightly focus the camera up. If you need to shoot from the bottom up, ask your subject first as this can result to an unflattering outcome. Women’ eyes appear larger if you shoot down on them. Remember to focus on your subject’s eyes; the eyes can tell you a lot. It’s an effective communicator.
  7. Finally, guide your subject when it comes to facial expression. You need to know how to get the most natural look from your subject. This is why it is important for you to make your subject feel comfortable and relaxed before and during the shoot. Your subject should be able to talk to you freely and comfortably. If you achieve this, encouraging your subject to look natural will be easy. Once you establish good rapport with your subject, the two of you can work together on poses and angles without any difficulties.

Outdoor Corporate Headshots

Headshot 14
Photo by David Spinks

Let’s now talk about shooting corporate headshots outdoors. As is the usual in most outdoor shoots, taking note of the time of day and the weather is essential. This counts a lot when you start considering lighting and composition. Some key points you need to remember are:

  1. Choose a location or area that is a little bit shady and set up your equipment there. Outdoor shoots have a lot of ambient lighting, so you don’t have to worry about things like side or rim lights. Work with a single light and just try to experiment with it creatively.
  2. Yes, ambient lighting can do a lot for an outdoor shoot, but you should also bring with you your off-camera flash, especially if you want your subject to be really emphasized or highlighted. Of course, your reflector will also be needed.
  3. Position your light source as close as possible to your subject.
  4. If possible, your camera should be in manual mode. Set the shutter speed from 1/100 to 1/500 and the f number from 1.8 to 4.0. You can set the ISO to auto mode.

Remember that you are taking a corporate headshot, not a choreographed or dramatic scene. Your subject should appear professional, from the outfit, to the makeup, down to the pose.

Taking corporate headshots can be easy if you know what you are doing. Therefore, it is important to first practice before moving to action. As is the usual preparation of most photographers, practice until you feel you are ready to bring out your best. Practice until you know you are capable of achieving the results you desire. Remember, too, to treat your subject professionally; especially if you want a lasting working relationship with the client.

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