Corporate Portrait Photography Tips
The Wizarts Photography has extensive experience in corporate portrait photography. Here are some of our top tips.
On the whole, photography sessions tend to go for short periods of time, so you will have to be well prepared.
Before you even begin, it is a must to know where and what kind of location you will be dealing with. A meeting room with plain background, an office with or without windows, an out door work place… knowing the location of the photo shoot will help you to prepare light setting.
Talk to the client to find out what exactly the client wants and if possible, direct subjects on how to prepare themselves (clothing, hair make up, etc.). If both parties come prepared, the actual photo shooting shouldn’t be a problem. Shooting in the morning is ideal not only for the natural light but also because subjects tend to look fresh with nice, neat and clean clothing, with styled hair and make up – they won’t look tired like in the afternoon.
Figure out the Exposure
After setting the lights and subject in place, it’s time for a sample shot. Sample shots are good to figure out the proper exposure of the image. For a portrait, we are mainly concerned with the exposure of the person’s face. For most current cameras, metering is as simple as depressing the snap button half way. However, you should fill the frame of the camera with the important areas of the image while you are doing that. We might need to move or zoom in to do this. Make sure there aren’t any really bright areas in the area that we are metering (for instance, if the background window is really bright and subject are in the shade, make sure none of the bright areas in the background are in the frame). Take the shot.
Check the preview to see how it looks. Is the face properly exposed? If it isn’t properly exposed, we have to adjust a shutter speed or aperture setting to get it to the correct exposure. We will probably only need to tweak it slightly to get it just right.
Now let our subject know that we are ready to start. Find a comfortable position for them where they look good and natural. For a portrait, having the subject smiling at the camera is usually best. A good tip is to talk to your subject as you’re working so they feel comfortable and natural. As we are taking pictures, keep an eye out for good moments. Watch your subject for the times when their smile looks genuine and natural.
Finally, make sure we take plenty of images–the more the better. Get various expressions from coworker. If they get tired of smiling, have them relax a bit and then smile again. Then take more images.
Processing the images afterwards can be almost as important as taking the images themselves, which is why we may probably spend as much time processing as we do taking the pictures. Post processing helps fine tune images to their best by adjusting settings such as tweaking the white balance, boosting colours, or cropping. Finishing touches and quality control checks are made in this process. It is important to note that although so much can be done in post processing with todays technology, it is always best at first to get good shot. A good photograph can be made better, but a great photograph will become exceptional.
A plain background is easily set up in a meeting room or suitable space. If the set up area has plenty of light, we will not need need to use flash photography which is optimal as using a flash can create harsh and unflattering light. Softboxes with light settings is the ideal.
In the case of an office or other workplace set up, soft boxes or flash lights working together with existing or ambient light to get a great result. If your workplace is outdoors, avoid extra sunny days as they work similar to a harsh flash. An overcast day is the best, perhaps in the the shade with subtle flash lighting.
Usually for a portrait, you want the face in focus while the background becomes blurred with a shallow depth of field. To do this, we pick a wider aperture. A wider aperture (such as f/4 or f/5.6) will give you an in-focus face with an out-of-focus background. You could pick an even wider aperture (if your camera lens has it), such as f/1.4, just realise that getting the face in focus will be harder. An aperture such as f/4 or f/5.6 is easier to work with.
When shooting a plain background with studio light set up and the camera in manual mode, a shutter speed must be fast enough to reduce any blur caused by the camera and/or subject in motion. How fast is that? Well, it depends on the lens that we are using, but we usually want a shutter speed of at least 1/100, or slightly faster.
The following list outlines some typical combinations of aperture value and shutter speed settings for portrait photography:
- Aperture Value f/1.4 – Shutter Speed 1/2000
- Aperture Value f/2.0 – Shutter Speed 1/1000
- Aperture Value f/2.8 – Shutter Speed 1/500
- Aperture Value f/4.0 – Shutter Speed 1/250
- Aperture Value f/5.6 – Shutter Speed 1/125
The Aperture Priority Mode is a good go-to when we don’t have studio lights set up, or can’t control the lighting. For example, shooting in an office room with window, or out door work place. We select wide aperture and the camera make decisions about shutter speed (to ensure well exposed images).
Another thing we have to set is the ISO. The ISO setting that we use will vary depending upon the lighting situation that we’re faced with. In most cases where a studio is set up with plenty of light, we decrease the amount of grain or noise in the shot by selecting a low ISO (usually between the 100-200 range). The main thing to watch when selecting an ISO setting is what impact it has on the shutter speed. Sometimes choosing a very low ISO will mean your shutter speed is just too slow for sharp images If the shutter speed is too slow at the ISO you’ve selected you’ll either need a larger Aperture or a higher ISO.
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