Running a shoot: corporate headshots for a firm in London

This blog post features a selection of photographs from last week’s shoot with the founders and select staff at Melcrum publishing.

The term corporate headshots leaves me a little cold; I prefer to think of them as a series of mini quick-fire interviews and I like to make them last for up to 15 minutes each, depending on how quickly we get the shots. In most cases it only takes 5-10 minutes.

As always, the kit used for a photo shoot often determines the style of the photographs that come out, and in some cases where I want the diaglogue to be snappy, I prefer to go as natural as possible and use a single off-camera flash with a shoot-through umbrella.

During such photo shoots, I sometimes like to engage the sitter in a fast-paced conversation about the exact details of the work they do on a day-to-day basis. I love getting little slices of people’s lives.

In smaller business commissions, it’s often the case that there is not enough room – or time – to use your own backdrop or set up studio lighting.

As soon as I arrive, I look around for a space where the reflected light will be as white as possible, and assess the usability of a wall for a backdrop. Sometimes the backdrop may be too reflective, but in the case of most white walls it’s possible to manage the reflections.

The plus side of this limitation is that you are without the constraints of seating, free to allow the subject to stand and make conversation whilst snapping.

I like to inform the subject that the best photos come just when you are about to laugh or when you are about to sound-off about a colleague I have never met, and so I keep chatting from behind the lens. If this makes the subject a little self-conscious, that’s great, because I can then poke fun where appropriate, which in turn gets a laugh.

Without posing the subject too much, I will experiment with a variety of facial expressions. It’s usually towards the end of the 10 minute slot that the subject feels relaxed enough to look good for the perfect headshot.

The photographer must keep moving the light stand around, however. And this makes post-production that little bit more difficult, as the light varies so much between shots, and people’s skin reflects light differently.