The Art of Business Portraits
One of the most underrated marketing tools a business can have is commercial quality business portraits. Business portraits, when done correctly, showcase who’s behind your brand. They put a face to the contact info on your website, and can be a deciding factor when someone is deciding whether or not to call you. So why is it that most businesses have low quality portraits on their website and marketing materials?
There’s a number of reasons. First, there’s the cost. One commercial quality business portrait can cost you $500. When a company has to pay that per employee, it can get expensive. another reason is priorities. Law firms, doctors offices, insurance companies, etc. have people knocking on their doors because customers are forced to be there by necessity, so businesses in those types of fields are fine with pretty much any mediocre pictures that represent them online. Just now these businesses are starting to realize their brand has fallen far behind. The last, and maybe the most important, reason businesses have bad photos is because of the people in charge choosing bad photographers to take their company photos.
An in-studio business portrait we did here at Spectacle Photo.
Business portraits are an art. They’re more than just a headshot, they should truly be worth a thousand words. Someone who’s been taking photos for six months won’t have the skill and experience it takes to capture you and what you stand for correctly. It takes years of research, fine-tuning, and practice to get it right. There’s so much that goes into a great business portrait, things that you would never even think about beforehand. First off there’s the lighting. Lighting will be a critical deciding factor when it comes to the quality of your photo. Your photographer needs to know how to use a minimum of three lights, ambient light, gels and diffusers, backgrounds, and more to make the vibe of the portrait spot on. Do yourself a favor: the next time you think you’ve found the photographer that’s right for you, ask him/her what the term “photography” actually means. If he/she doesn’t know, don’t hire them. The definition of photography is “the process or art of producing images of objects on sensitized surfaces by the chemical action of light.” If a photographer doesn’t even know their own job title is a term for a lighting process it will go to show the low level of research they’ve actually put into their craft, and they won’t know how to light your portrait correctly.
Location portrait done by Spectacle Photo. We did a series of these portraits for a welding school.
There’s also color theory. Colors play a huge part in the art of photography, and it especially comes into play with business portraits. Brands, logos, icons, products; all of those and more will need to be reflected in your photo, so it’s important for a photographer to know how to work with the dominant colors that represent them. If a photographer is working with yellow as a dominant brand color they need to know that a purple background, or a purple gel as a highlight, is going to be a really bad choice. If your company color is red, your photographer needs to know that any green he throws into your portrait is going to make it scream “I LOVE CHRISTMAS.” Most photographers don’t realize that color and design theory is even a thing, so they don’t study it. But the professionals do.
A location portrait we did for Erin Blanchard, a stylist at Twisted Scissors. A business portrait can have more than one subject if you do it right.
Framing is another crucial component when it comes to a business portrait. A tight vertical shot is not a business portrait, it’s a headshot. Also, what’s in the frame will determine how messy or clean the portrait is. Should your photographer make you large or small in comparison to your surroundings? That decision is up to them, depending on what mood your photo needs to reflect. Framing will make or break your portrait. Your eye-line, give or take a centimeter, will determine how to frame a shot, and it takes a great photographer to be able to pick the right options in an instant. The ability to command a frame in any given scenario is a skill that’s held only by photography masters, so choose wisely.
If you hate a clean desk, run with it! This is a portrait from a shoot we did with Shea Glenny in Sanford, FL.
If you own a business you should look into getting business portraits done. Having them shows dedication to quality, and will take your brand to the next level. It’s such a simple and underrated investment, yet it will set you apart from your competition in more ways than one. Just make sure to do your research; choosing a photographer that treats portraits as an art is an art in itself.