Corporate Portrait Photography for The CEO Magazine Europe
In July I received another corporate portrait editorial photography commission from The CEO Magazine Europe. This time I would be photographing Scott Dodds who at the time of the shoot was Vice President of channels and alliances for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at VMware. As usual I have had to wait for the magazine to first publish the photographs before I could show them publicly, hence the delay in this blog post.
Photography Behind The Scenes
I had been allocated one hour of Scott’s time to complete the corporate portrait editorial photography shoot. Most publications I work for have a regular shoot list that they require but I always try and deliver something extra too. Invariably I find these “extra” images are used in the final published article. They tend to be unique to each location and subjects’ personality.
I arrived nice and early at VMware’s new offices in Staines, Surrey to complete a recce before the photography shoot was scheduled to begin. In fact these offices were so new that there was absolutely no corporate branding anywhere to be found apart from a single small sign outside the building. Having a few images with corporate branding as a background is always a safe bet for a corporate editorial shoot like this.
Once I had selected my photography locations for the shoot I then revisited each location and completed some test shots using my assistant as a stand in for Scott. These tests are to confirm lighting setups and possible poses for each location. This saves a huge amount of time when actually photographing my subject which means I can create more images in the allocated time. Ideally I don’t want my subject standing around waiting while I fiddle with equipment.
I started with a very simple working at desk image. I find these images are a good way to ease the subject into the editorial photography session. People in general feel more relaxed and less “exposed” sitting at their desks. I also try and build conversation and some rapport with my subject at this time. It helps them relax and I get a better understanding of their personality which in turn helps me decide on which poses and locations will work best for them. Lighting was a combination of floor to ceiling window light from behind the subject with the addition of flash modified with a softbox positioned camera left.
We then moved to the main atrium area of the building and used a location three floors up and on a open sided walkway right next to the main lift doors. The walkway handrail gave my subject a prop to lean or rest hands on which always works well. This area was bathed in natural light from a floor to ceiling glass wall and roof. I decided to underexposed the ambient light just a little and use flash modified with a softbox positioned camera right to light my subject.
Our next location was on the ground floor and made use of an off white perspex semi reflective wall opposite a very large floor to ceiling window. Yet again the wall gave my subject a prop to lean against and I liked the soft reflection in the final images. These images worked particularly well in monochrome. No additional lighting was used, just the natural daylight coming from the windows to camera right.
The next location was perfect for one of my “extra” images that I try and create during every corporate portrait photography session. During the recce I found a staff breakout area that consisted of a small round table with a matching round LED light hanging directly above it. This location was perfect for a wide angle symmetrical image. I positioned my subject central in the frame and went for a number of different expressions from warm and friendly to strong and powerful. Lighting was predominantly from the overhead LED light with just a little diffused flash positioned camera right to lift the shadows in the face.
We next moved to the staff rest area which had on one wall a large panoramic cityscape. I position my subject leaning forward onto a worktop with the cityscape image behind him. With just the right amount of subject depth of field the cityscape background is recognisable without being too in focus and distracting. Ambient light for the wall and flash modified with a softbox positioned camera right lighting my subject.
In the same area we had a really great chair which once my assistant and I had man handled across the room and positioned in front of the cityscape wall, made for another little extra image. I don’t normally have my subjects leaning back into chairs as this tends to emphasise double chins and waistlines but in this case my subject had neither so it seemed to work well. Lighting again was ambient mixed with flash modified with a softbox positioned camera right.
I finished this editorial shoot with some mock meeting images which the magazine required. The meeting room had no natural light and was lit by down lighters in the ceiling and whatever little illumination the projection screen was throwing back into the room. I needed to balance these two light sources with some flash bounced into a large white umbrella. The goal was to record a natural looking room scene but still record the projected image too.
As usual, Scott like most of my subjects, was a joy to work with and very cooperative. With only an hour to work with I feel we created a great set of corporate portrait editorial photographs.