Along with other types of commercial photography that I’m hired for, I photograph a tremendous amount of executive portraits, including this recent one of a company’s CEO. This particular project had me traveling to their headquarters to photograph not only the CEO but all of their upper management staff. This seems to be a common practice in the metro Detroit corporate arena, as I receive headshot bookings frequently, both for photo sessions in our Troy studio as well as the convenience of having me set up shop at corporate facilities. As in this case as well as many others, clients will add retouching to the scope of work.
I photograph numerous executive portraits each year, both in studio and on location. Each subject has their own personal reason for having their portrait captured. Some hire me to replace an older portrait that no longer represents them properly due to age or stature. Others need a professional portrait because of new employment or job promotion. And many feel a need to have a quality portrait for their social network such as LinkedIn, to stay competitive in the business world. The environmental portrait displayed above is of the famed Detroit chef and restaurant owner, Joe Muir. Joe needed a professional portrait for a completely different reason; he was producing a new cookbook. Bon Appetit !
I photograph portraits of executives frequently, on location at client’s facilities as well as in studio at Blue Sky Photography in Troy. I enjoy photographing both location and studio portraits, although shooting against environmental backgrounds can often be more challenging. There is a fair amount more involved than just a standard portrait lighting set-up against a paper backdrop.
In the above photograph, the art director preferred a limited depth of field which required shooting through neutral density filters of three stops, even with the flash heads output to their lowest setting. To complicate matters even worse, the conference room had two walls of glass that I had to contend with their inherent reflections. But that’s why I enjoy shooting within environmental backgrounds; bigger rewards come from bigger challenges.
I’ve been photographing executive portraits for quite a number of years at my Troy, Michigan studio, as well as on-site at client’s facilities. The deciding factor as to where to shoot usually is determined by how many subjects need headshots for their business. Typically if there is only one or two from a company, its more economical to come to my studio. Situations where a business needs a half-dozen or more of their executives photographed, it is much more advantageous for me to come to them.
This woman executive I photographed (shown above) came to my studio on short notice. She works for a New York IT consulting firm, but is based out of the Detroit area. As is often the case, she was to have a press release published regarding her work and needed a professional photographer to capture her portrait. Although I’m a bit biased towards having a corporate portrait done, I believe it is money well spent.
I receive quite a few portrait requests from executives to photograph them for their Linkedin social media page. I was originally surprised by these assignments as most people tend to use an informal portrait of themselves, usually taken by a spouse or friend. But as I started booking more and more headshot sessions, I realized that these corporate execs needed professional looking portraits in order to compete on a world wide stage.
The headshot portrait shown above was a truly enjoyable collaboration. My subject had just been hired to be the Creative Director for a California high tech automotive start-up company. He came to my Troy, Michigan studio with several ideas of what he was looking for in a portrait, and we experimented with an assortment of backgrounds and different lighting setups. He was thrilled with the results, which of course validates my photographic efforts.
I was recently commissioned to photograph an executive portrait for an automotive technology company from the United Kingdom. The Advanced Propulsion Centre helps to fund green technology companies as they embark on getting their vehicles to market.
For me, it was a chance to embrace a somewhat different directive than a typical executive headshot. The client was looking for a black and white portrait, something that I lacked in my portraiture repertoire; plus a very tight crop of the subject. Any assignment that breaks the mold is a photographer’s delight; this was one of them.
Photographing executives on location can often be challenging, primarily due to limits on time. Add to the mix finding a suitable setting for your client’s portrait, one can feel a bit of stress creeping into the photographic process. Fortunately most clients realize that giving their commercial photographer the time he or she needs, will reflect well on their final image.
My recent assignment with Morgan Stanley was a testament to cooperation between client and photographer, resulting in an executive portrait we could both be proud of.
When I’m not photographing products for commercial clients, I can usually be found shooting executive portraits. Asked recently by an executive during his portrait session how many portraits I’ve done in my career, I quickly responded “hundreds”. I thought about that for a moment, and then changed my answer to “thousands”! Not that I really have the time or the inclination to research the exact number, I do find it to be a fascinating amount of people that I’ve worked with over the years.
A company out of Dallas hired me last week to photograph these three attorneys for a feature article. Its not often that I shoot against a true black background but it was a good exercise in lighting and separation, and it fulfilled the client’s requirement design. This legal trio was a treat to work with; consummate professionals! Here is a link to my Blue Sky Photography “Lifestyle” site: http://www.blueskyphotographyinc.com/html/lifestyle-people-portrait.html
Most commercial still photographers will receive a client request at least once during their careers to shoot on a motion set. I can remember even as an assistant when I first moved to Detroit, that this type of assignment, although somewhat rare could be gratifying and profitable in its own way. Like everything else in the commercial world of photography, there are positives and negatives to this sort of gig. On the plus side, there is very little photo gear to haul since you’re working on someone else’s set. On the negative, you’re working on someone else’s set! That means of course, you’re second fiddle for the day. But you know that going into the project so its really just a matter of creating the best possible photography you can, under situations that you have very little control over.
I was hired by an agency to shoot on a Chrysler motion set for Dodge Truck. Much of the work was keeping a low profile and shooting when I could without disrupting the film/sound crew. But on occasion, usually between “takes”, I could create my photographs such as the corporate portrait shown above. I had to work quickly, directing my subject, knowing that I had only a short window to work within. Would I shoot on a motion set again with the limitations I know it brings? Absolutely! Working under pressure and lacking total control is often the norm when photographing on location. Its what brings us back time and time again.
Not all headshots require a suit and tie. I photograph a lot of company headshot portraits, and I mean a lot! Most do wear the usual corporate garb but it really depends on what the subject wants to say about himself, or herself. I really like this particular portrait I created because it carries an attitude with it; an attitude of self-assurance, both in wardrobe, style and stance.