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.
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.
There’s an old adage that says you only get one chance at making a good first impression. There are variations to that theme, but as a professional portrait photographer, I am whole-heartedly in agreement with it. With the proliferation of inexpensive digital cameras along with decent quality camera phones, there seems to be a tendency to use what I’ll call “grab shots” in lieu of professionally photographed portraits. It’s probably fine for one’s FaceBook headshot, but I find more and more business executives hiring Blue Sky Photography to photograph them for their LinkedIn page, company bios, business cards, and websites.
These businessmen and women have a desire to stand out from their competition and are willing to invest a bit of their time and money to achieve those results. They realize hiring a commercial portrait photographer may give them an edge, and more importantly, they know that in the competitive business world we live in, it is essential to make a great first and lasting impression.