We have all seen business photography done wrong. You know, the head shot of the CEO of the company that looks like he should be holding up a number and being admitted to some dread penitentiary. Or the fake smile or unfriendly look on the face of the company manager that would put anyone off doing business with that organization.
Professional business photography is a subdivision of professional portrait photography which is becoming increasingly necessary in this world of point-and-shoot, have-camera-will-photograph world where everyone is suddenly a pro because he or she has a digital camera and a copy of Photoshop. There is know-how and there are techniques to business photography. They include correct lighting, styling, composing, choice of background and, above all, the ability to portray a person in such a way that their personality comes across and the person viewing the photo wants to do business with them!
The art of business photography is based on an ability to rapidly grasp the personality of the business person you are photographing, to understand the image they wish to portray (a reliable and steady doctor seeking to attract retirees has a very different image from a hip young web marketing guru). Then the task is to set up a shot that includes proper dress for the image that is being portrayed, has an appropriate background and is correctly lit. Finally, if you are going to set yourself up in business photography, you have to have the ability to talk to all kinds of people and bring out their personality in their expression.
Remember that people don’t necessarily see themselves as the world sees them, and what you may consider a perfect portrait of a business woman may not meet with her approval. She doesn’t like the smile or the wrinkle or whatever. Give her several excellent portraits to choose from because in business photography it is the subject and client who must be satisfied. He or she is paying your fee!
Business photography can be done in your own studio or it can take you to the subject’s location. Backgrounds can be plain, such as a seamless studio background, or they can show the subject’s usual setting, the office, the clinic, the artist’s studio, whatever it may be. Some photographers who specialize in business photography are experts at conveying a great deal about the subject by photographing in their own environment, surrounded by the tools of their trade. You can take a photo of an engineer in a suit and tie with a plain background and get a very nice portrait. But if you can get him in a hard hat onsite with plans and so on, you might portray more of the person. These are the kind of decisions that must be made in business photography and they should be made in liaison with the client and the designer who is going to use the photos for print or web or other purposes.
David © Phillips is a professional writer and photographer living in Seattle, WA. You can find out more about him and his work at www.dcpcom.com.
Photograph(s) in this article are © David C Phillips, All Rights Reserved.