Friday, April 10, 2015

Headshot or Full Length?

#5 Headshot vs full length

Full Length
Today it is very popular on bio pages to use a full length image of the person with in the article or off to the one side.  It creates an interesting modern approach. Since we see the entire body, it has more of an active look. The downside though is that it is kind of like seeing someone on the far side of the room.  It is not a good distance if we want to connect or feel connected to the person. Some photographers like the look because they are quicker to take, just having a person move around and take a lot of photos and then let the person pick one out on their own later.  Also little photoshop work is needed because the face is smaller. Some people look good full length, but if a person is over weight they may not feel comfortable and the impression could just be that that person is overweight. 

Head and Shoulder

This has been the standard business portrait for many years.  It has more of a traditional look and is not as “active” as the full length. Since it is much closer to the person’s face, the photography is far more critical.  The body position and in particular the head position is far more important.  If the nose is up a 1/4 inch too much it can look snobby,  off center it can look suspicious.  Too much smile they can look silly and if the head is bent the wrong way, weird. It takes more time to do a really good head shot and photoshop is critical.  However if you want to really connect with you client, this is ideal.  Again it is like looking at someone across the room who will not go over, and having a personal conversation face to face. Several things are needed.  Time:  It normally takes more time to get the head pose just right and experiment with smiles, and non-smiles (a warm look though).  Selection consultation: Next a good photography will not leave the selection up to the person but will take the time (sometimes it takes more time to select the right photo than to take the picture) to give the client the professional assistance to find the best photo and also discuss any concerns and needed photoshop work.  Photoshop:  Everyone needs it. And the photographer will do whatever it takes to make the person look good.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chapter 25: Head-shots on Location

At times a company will request a large number of headshots done of their employees on site done quickly to keep the expense down.  Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

A “professional portrait”: Not all professional portraits are the same or even really professional. A headshot is up close and personal.  If done right the person can look confidant, professional and connected.  If not, they can look just the opposite. This is really a speciality in the photography field.

Location:  A studio location always is the best environment with perfect lighting, dressing room, large monitors, and all the time available for the subject.  It might be compared to having a dentist work on your teeth in his office or in your living room.  Both could work but it can make a difference.  Also for all those who have the portrait taken in my studio, I guarantee that if for some reason they go home and don’t feel comfortable about the final result, I will redo the entire session at no charge.

Location “studio”:  Ideally in doing head shots on site requires, at least three lights brought in, special background with a stand, a posing bench and posing table.  Simply having the person stand limits the ability to pose the person (ability to reduce a double chin, etc) and results in a rather stiff impression.

Amount of time spent:  Doing a large group in a fixed period of time rushes most people and many feel even more self-conscious getting the photo taken.  In the studio we spend as much time as the person likes. I normally spend the most time helping people to choose the very best professional portrait.  Even then, if they like we can still go back and take some more.

Photographer:  Photographers are not all the same.  Some are better in one area than another.  Some outside photographers are literally “shoot and run”.   Others are better with children than executives.  Almost anyone today who has a camera considers himself a photographer.

“Photoshop”: Most use some type of editing software, but when you start messing with retouching a person’s face it is far more complex than just a filter some will use. A tooth might need fixed, or a tie might have to be re-set.

What do you need?:  In some cases, all a company wants is a “face book” group of half decent images, for internal use only. Then going for the best price is probably the best.  However,  if this is a professional group and these images go on the internet or brochures where clients will see them, the portraits will not only reflect on the person but the company overall.  This can be good, or bad.  In that case get the best photographer who specializes in this area of photography.

Monday, July 8, 2013

#3 Portrait options

Business portraits can be broken down into four areas:

    1.Traditional Head and Shoulders Portraits
This is the standard in the business world. This formal portrait is normally used for web bios, news releases, magazine articles, brochures, etc.
     2.“Character” Portraits
This type of portrait shows more of the body. By showing more of the arms and body, “body language” can be used to convey greater personality and activity. For example: A man in a business suit sitting behind a desk can give the impression of a conservative long-standing institution. A man with rolled up shirtsleeves working at a desk can portray a hard working active representative, ready to serve your potential client.
     3.“Environmental” Portraits
These are portraits that use the background to help communicate your message. Backgrounds can be done in the studio with a set, digitally, or on location.
     4.Group Portraits
At times, it is necessary to show a larger group, such as a staff or group of directors. This can be done in a large studio, on location, or even digitally with each person photographed separately
     5  Digital backgrounds
Not only does digital photography allow a quick preview, fast turn around time, more opportunity to take more shots and almost unlimited ability to do photo retouching, it enables us to have an unlimited and varied number of backgrounds.
Normally, backdrops would include seamless paper, muslin, canvas, hand-painted as well as studio sets. However, by using a neutral backdrop, the backdrop can be “erased” and the subject “extracted” digitally. Then a background photo of choice can be inserted behind the subject. This photo background can be a courtroom, street scene, office and endless other choices.

Another use of an “extracted” background system is that individual people can be grouped together and inserted on a background. This allows the individuals to have their photos taken at different times in the studio. It also allows us to later remove or add someone to the group and rearrange the layout.

A good business photographer should be able to do all of the above. What type of portrait you choose will depend on your specific need, whether it is a web page, bio, brochure, billboard, etc. Good communication with your photographer will facilitate receiving an effective portrait.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

#2 Choose the right photographer

There are many good photographers available who are true artists. However, there are perhaps hundreds of photographic fields. While many like exploring all of the different fields, and may need the work, it is unrealistic to expect them to be an expert in what you need. For example, some photographers are best at working with children and babies, or weddings, but working with corporations and law firms is not the same. Someone who does boudoir photography might not be the one to photograph your CEO.

I would suggest visiting the studio and interview the photographer. See what their speciality is. What is your impression of the studio and the examples? What will the photographer be like to work with? Some photographers are really good with the camera, but may lack in people skills. Get references.  While pricing is always an important issue, an extra amount of research can pay off in the long run. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

#1 Good photography is critical

       “A picture is worth a thousand words” and “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”.  With websites, face book, linked in and more, these expressions are more true than ever.
Poor portrait photography can give a bad impression of you or your business.  It can make the company look careless or struggling and it can send the wrong message about the person presented.  
As a corporate and business photographer in Pittsburgh, I have learned the importance of effective executive portraits, headshots or group photography to send the right message.  They really are a form of advertising. 
Take time to think the project through and plan well.  I hope these articles will help. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call for some free advise.
Good corporate portraits involve more than simply nice pictures. They need to  send the right message about you and your company...