You’ve seen a million of them before, on websites and accompanying magazine articles, but what exact qualities does an image need to qualify as a corporate head shot?
What Is A Corporate Headshot?
Corporate headshots are portraits often produced digitally and used for engaging in social media, the about us page and industry specialty sites. Generally speaking, it’s a photograph of an individual with the simple purpose of showing what they look like. This then is the classic head and shoulders shot used by businessmen, authors, actors and models on an everyday basis for personal branding. Subjects are often shown head-to-chest or head-to-torso.
Corporate Headshots often used for:
– Annual reports
– LinkedIn personal profiles as well as publisher profiles
– Corporate catalogs, brochures and advertising collateral
– Company publications and websites, internal and external
– Press releases and other announcements
– Marketing materials
– Articles and newspapers
– Author pages
– Annual Company Reports
All of the photographs taken by the photographer are legally belong to the photographer through the copyright laws. The client when hires a professional corporate photographer usually pays for the photographer’s time and not for the image rights. The copyright of the images can be purchased at an additional cost. For more information about image rights and costs please refer to the professional photography association – AOP.
But What Makes a Good Corporate Headshot?
We’ve all seen really bad passport photos—the type which have been taken in one of those automatic photo booths you see at railway stations and post offices. They make everyone look like a criminal or a halfwit. If you need to use a head shot to market your personal brand, something like that simply won’t do. The difference between one of those and a professionally-executed studio head shot is a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon!
A skilled photographer can make the world of difference to your head shot. They’ll be able to select an appropriate background, set the lighting at the most flattering level, angle your body and stage manage the whole process to achieve the best results. And even in something as straightforward and rigid as a corporate head shot, a good photographer should be able to capture at least an element of his sitter’s personality.
Most corporate head shots are taken indoors in either a photographer’s studio or in the subject’s office. Outdoor head shots are beginning to appear, to add interest or to show an individual ‘in the field’, but this is not so usual. Although there is little leeway in a head shot for artistic creativity, technical excellence is still a requirement to achieve a worthy result.
1. The head shot should be a medium close-up (MCU). This means the top of the shoulders should be in the frame, as well as the entire head.
2. Use the rule of thirds to position the subject’s eyes, one third of the way down the frame.
3. Decide whether to ask your subject to look directly at you, in which case you should angle their body to one side or the other, or whether to direct them to look off-centre. In reality, you might want to take a few in each style to see which works best.
4. Diffusing the light will eradicate blemishes and wrinkles, leaving you with less touching up to do afterwards!
5. Use a secondary source of light angled at the top of your subject’s head—this will give them a proper head shape and stop their crown fading into the background.
6. Experiment with the angle of your camera. Angling your camera down as you shoot from above will flatter the contours of a woman’s face. Conversely, men look stronger if you take the picture with your camera angled up from below.
7. Focus on the individual’s eyes and try to capture them as clearly as possible.
8. A head shot is not the place for a wide angle lens as it may distort your result. Instead, choose a lens that will compress and slim your subject’s face.
9. Do all you can to ensure your sitter is relaxed. You need a natural facial expression. No one wants to look nervous in their head shot or appear to be gurning with a cheesy grin!
10. For a natural light effect, stand your subject opposite a south-facing window, while you shoot them with your back to the window, though you might need to apply diffusers if the sun’s too bright.
11. Make sure that you can capture a sharp jawline as this reveals the shape of the subjects face. If necessary, ask them to push their jaw slightly forward for more definition.