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Corporate Headshots

5 Practical Tips – Preparing for Location Headshots

By | Corporate Headshots, For Photographers, General Photography, Location Headshots, Uncategorized | No Comments

I love location headshot jobs because of how much I can accomplish in one day. Typically these clients really value time efficiency which means you often only have one afternoon or a just a few hours to load in, setup, shoot the entire office and load out.  Typically I run into a few similar challenges over and over- so here are some tips that I have come to rely on.

Packed uppacked

Essentially my entire studio brought on location. Packed and unpacked.

1.) Make a gear checklist

This seems obvious but it’s really so critical. Forgetting even a single critical item can be a show stopper on a shoot so I do everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen! My list has 32 items on it. Not every job requires every item but having everything down in a checklist ensures that nothing is forgotten. I use a simple checklist app on my iphone- Checklist+.

2.)Pack your gear property

When I started doing corporate headshots on location in Washington DC I didn’t really have the proper gear to transport my studio. Most of my work was in my studio but I didn’t want to turn down location requests so I essentially packed my lights and softboxes into two suitcases and wrapped everything in blankets! Needless to say this solution is less than ideal and let’s be honest- not safe for your gear and doesn’t give a ‘professional’ vibe. I now use a pelican case for my strobes, a Lightware Rolling Stand Bag case that holds my foldable softboxes, light stands, and reflectors and Lowepro Pro Runner 450 AW DSLR Backpack bag for my camera, and lenses. With these cases I can bring all of my equipment up to the ofice myself in two trips. I’m currently looking for a nice folding cart to cut that down to one trip.

Bags on location

These three bags safely hold the majority of what needs to come with me on location.

3.)Bring Backup Gear

Bring backups of ANY critical component. When shooting on location you only have one chance to get it right and if anything fails you need to have a plan b. I always bring a backup camera bodie, additional strobe, multiple lenses, modifiers, additional CF cards, cables, batteries and power cords.

4.)Prepare for less than ideal contingencies

Limited space

I require an unobstructed space of at least 10×20 feet but sometimes the clients either don’t really measure the space, or the meeting room slated for headshots becomes occupied and we have to use a smaller room.  Have a wider lens in your bag for cases like this- you might not have the shooting distance you would ideally like.  The other lifesavers in this situation is the Paul Buff Shovel Reflector. I always bring it but generally only use it when space is tight. This reflector allows you to get a decent gradient or white backdrop with just a few feet of space.

Bad outlet location

Don’t count on abundant outlet locations. I always bring an extension cord and power strip so I can plug into a central location if needed. I also always bring masking tape to tape down any power cables that might be in the path of a client. You definitely don’t want any clients tripping or lights getting pulled to the ground!

5.)Parking and load in

This is important- a bad parking strategy will make you late for the job and cause much unneeded stress! This is especially true in urban areas. In Washington DC it’s common for office buildings to have underground parking. Inquire ahead of time and see what the parking situations is, often you can call the garage directly(google maps is your friend here). Do you need a pass? Is there a service elevator, or elevator that will take you to the floor you need to go to? Is there a loading dock area you need to use? My priority is convenient load in. I want a spot in the most convenient parking lot nearest to the elevator that will take me directly to the floor I’m going to.  As a general rule I don’t park on the street(asking for trouble!) and I don’t charge the client for my parking cost(it’s nickle and dimey and slows down the contracting process)- it’s worth it for me to pay to be as close as possible to ensure a fast load in.

Matching a Look

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Headshot Backdrop Matches

Corporate headshots that have been matched to an existing company look.

For corporate headshot clients I’m often required to match a look that’s been established by another photographer. Sometimes I’m provided a detailed PDF of instructions on lighting and posing from the art department but more often than not it’s all about recreating the lighting based on what can been seen on the company website.

For these jobs I have created a quick mental checklist to get as close as possible.

Lighting the subject

  • What direction and angle is the key light coming from?
  • How soft is the light?
  • How much fill light is used?
  • How is the hair light treated? One side only, both sides?


  • How is the backdrop lit? Evenly? With a light gradient?
  • What backdrop is being used and which backdrop in my collection matches it closely?

More on the matching the backdrop

Matching the backdrop is often the trickiest part. I always try to achieve the closest look in camera but to get a perfect match it’s often necessary to take the final image into photoshop. Even with a simple gray backdrop I manipulate it to match the luminosity and light gradient exactly. Often I need to match specific colors that have been achieved with colored backdrop or gels on the lights. I will gel to get as close as possible and then finalize in the retouching phase. For painted studio backdrops there are simply too many color variations to own them all. In this situation I choose the backdrop with the most similar texture and match the colors in post.

Book in groups and save up to 40%

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Bring a friend…or ten

I was recently approached by a client about to enter a prestigious MBA program. He was on a tight deadline to submit a high quality headshot for the program and oh by the way- he had nine other colleagues interested in getting headshots for the program too! I was happy to accommodate all of them at my group rate for 10 people which is 40% off. We booked an entire day of shooting, had all the retouching done and delivered within 24 hours- just in time for their deadline.

MBA Program

10 headshots for an MBA program

Why such a significant discount for groups?

To acquire new clients there are two costs involved. Time and money. Online advertising, listing services, online services to keep the business running. The time per client beyond the actual shoot is not insignificant. Emailing back and forth, ironing out all the details, getting contracts signed and then the buffer of time I build in between clients(usually one to two hours to handle initial editing and account for any delays). So when clients are able to book back to back it’s a huge savings to me that I’m happy to pass along.

People and Fortune Magazine Portrait Shoot

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Heroes of the 500 – Arnold Harvey

I was contacted in May by Waste Management requesting a portrait of one of their employees for an upcoming feature in both People and Fortune Magazines. Arnold Harvey, driver of 24 years for WM was recently nominated for the Fortune 500’s “Heroes of the 500” for his non profit ‘God’s Connection Transition‘ that supports over 5000 families a month with donations of clothing, food and services. Additionally, he recently started a ‘Let’s Ride’ program that donates used bicycles to low income youths.

Shoot Details

This entire shot was shot, edited and delivered within 4 hours- they were on  a very tight deadline! I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  This portrait was taken on site in Gaithersburg MD with a mix of studio strobes and natural light. Stay tuned for a behind the scenes look at this shoot.

Fortune Magazine

Fortune ended up using the first photo below as a cover photo for the entire feature! The second wider shot was used for Arnold’s individual profile.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 9.00.50 AM

Front page of Fortune.com

WM Arnold Harvey-952-Edit

Fortune ‘Heroes of the 500’ cover image


WM Arnold Harvey-1015

Arnold Harvey profile shot for Fortune

People Magazine

People Magazine ended up going with an alternate portrait seen below.

WM Arnold Harvey-940-Edit

Image featured in People Magazine

It was a pleasure working with the team at Waste Management and Arnold Harvey was just a great person to photograph and get to know. Congrats to Arnold! Take a look at his charity foundation at God’s Transition Connection.

Time Efficient Workflow for Corporate Headshots on Location

By | Corporate Headshots, For Photographers, Location Headshots, Uncategorized | No Comments

More often then not- when shooting corporate headshots on location, time is tight. I’ve developed a workflow that allows me to take and select the best shots in a very short amount of time. Sometimes I will have as little as 5 minutes per person but it’s important that I do everything I can so I’m not fiddling with equipment, the subject is at ease and able to get a great final product.

Know what the client needs and plan the setup in advance

Corporate Headshots on Location

Testing lighting on a corporate location shoot

Planning is key- everything must be setup and working smoothly in advance of the subject stepping into the room. It’s important to know EXACTLY what look your client needs and how to achieve it(lighting, backdrop, pose etc). I always try to setup in such a way that the client has a clear path to his mark(in most cases for me the client is seated) and not tripping over wires or dodging light stands. Bring masking tape if need to both tape down wires and mark exactly where you need the subjects to be. Allow enough time to test lighting and make adjustments if needed. There is almost never time to make adjustments on the fly- so don’t plan on it!

Have a time sheet

When possible have the client prepare a time sheet of when each person will arrive for their headshots. Having a loose time sheet ensures that I know who is walking in the door next but also avoids empty periods where no one is ready to shoot or the opposite- 5 people walk in the room all at once and end up waiting around for their photo. But it’s also important to remain flexible. Inevitably someones schedule might change and it’s important to be able to adapt quickly.

Tether capture

This is a must. I never review images on the back of my camera- it’s just not a good experience for anyone. Tether capture allows you to spot mistakes and areas for improvement and fix them instantly. I typically capture directly into Lightroom during any headshot shoot whether in the studio or on location. Sometimes it makes more sense to use an iPad especially in a fast moving environmental shoot where the client might be moving to a few locations. When tethering to an iPad I have a second wifi enabled SD card that can broadcast directly to the iPad. I almost always try to have the clients select their images on site because it’s easier to compare and select them with the proper software(like Lightroom) and also it cuts down greatly on the back and both emailing and waiting after the session for each subject to make their final pick. Ultimately this allows me to deliver the retouched images much sooner.

Cropping Images for LinkedIn and Other Social Media

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Any time I deliver a retouched image to my clients I always include some crop variations so they can quickly and easily have access to a completely finalized formatted images that they can use without altering.  I offer a few main formats:

  • Creative- usually uncropped Landscape 2×3 aspect
  • Standard Bio Headshot- Portrait 2×3 aspect
  • Social Media- Square 1×1 aspect

Which Cropped Image is More Powerful?

Cropping images

Most people I think would agree that the image on the left is stronger. But often my clients will ask me- why did you chop my head off in my linkedin(or other social media) image? That answer has to do with the rule of thirds.

The Rule of Thirds

Rule of ThirdsIn photography a general rule of thumb is to divide an image in thirds and place important elements along those lines. In the case of headshots- the eyes are important. Not all aspect ratios lend themselves to the rule of thirds but square images certainly do. Bringing the eyes higher in the image creates a more pleasing composition. This also allows a much tighter crop which is important when viewing tiny avatars online- tighter cropped images will show more of your face and not get ‘lost’ when shown at small sizes. .

But don’t worry- if you love the top of your head I always can provide you with both options.


How Often Should You Get Corporate Headshots?

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linkedin Headshot SamplesThe answer to that question is- it depends! The key with corporate headshots is to never let them look dated. Has the technology or prevailing headshot style changed? Have you changed significantly? Probably time to update your headshots. You want your corporate headshots to resemble the best version of your current self.

Ask Yourself- What do I Need This Headshot For?

With the significance of social media, especially LinkedIn, your headshot has become part of your online business card. More and more of my clients first priority is- “I need a headshot for LinkedIn”. This may have seemed odd a few years ago but social media has become an incredible networking tool and that avatar image sets the tone of who you are dozens of times per day- anytime you send an email, share a post or ‘like’ an event.

Another common reason I see for new headshots is- my clients are rebranding themselves. Starting a new job, new career or going into business for themselves. These are perfect opportunities for new headshots and are precisely the time when your image is going to be used to market yourself and your business.

Getting the most out of your headshots

Anytime you get new headshots, you want to make sure that they will serve you in a variety of settings. They need to be shot in such a way that will work well in print, online, as a social media avatar and any other purpose you might need. I strongly recommend neutral and simple backdrops that won’t become dated or clash with your other marketing materials/website etc.

If you are interested in updating your look in the DC area, feel free to contact me.