Professional services firms are finding that environmental portraits are becoming more important as they look for ways to connect with clients and recruit talent.
Head shots, the term most frequently given to business portraits, have become something of a known commodity. Frequently, they are vertical 8x10 photos, evenly lit, with the subject photographed against a neutral background. Of course, a quality classic portrait still requires technical skill and the ability to get the subject to relax in front of the camera.
Several years ago, I created a product/service called In Your Space™ portraits. The term is a take off on the phrase, "In your face." As conceived, it was intended to illustrate people at work, engaged in doing the work they normally do. They could be engaged with co-workers or clients, or simply placed in the environment representing their work place.
The goal of this type of photography is to create images that communicate authenticity, spontaneity, having a candid feel. It's a better way to illustrate a subject's sense of humor, playfulness, thoughtfulness, or even intensity.
The photograph becomes more "real" whether the subject is looking off camera or directly into the lens.
Shooting on location in a semi-controlled environment can be a challenge for many photographers who are used to the safety and security of a classic portrait/head shot setting. Previously, environmental photos were criticized for being grainy (noisy or pixelated) and for having odd color distortion. Since the introduction of professional level cameras with extremely high light sensitivity, shooting without any kind of stroboscopic flash assistance is now easily within reach. Fast, sharp professional lenses also make it possible to shoot most environmental photos hand held rather than from a tripod. This helps make the subject more relaxed.
Many office settings are flatly and evenly lit. This makes for a good work environment but makes creating interesting photos a challenge. I use broadcast quality LED lights to add both highlights and contrast. Because LED's are a continuous light source, the popping of light from flash is less obtrusive and has an obvious calming effect on the subject. They become less aware that I'm actually shooting.
Eliminating the infrastructure of the camera tripod and flash also allows the shooting to be much more portable. LED's are battery driven (no power cables) and portable. Moving around the office to different locations is quick and easy. Moreover, the variety of locations adds to the authenticity of the photos rather than having everyone plastered against the same background.
Environmental photos also open up the potential for unique cropping and different aspect ratios. No longer confined to the traditional vertical 8x10, horizontal aspect ratios like 16:9 (movie screen) are becoming popular. Shooting "outside the box" also creates the possibility of using more body, especially hands, in the photo which incrementally adds to the authenticity of the photos.
Of course, in some cases, a publication or some other application may require the submission of a more classic head shot. Environmental photos can often be cropped if needed (below).
In Your Space™ portraits of people in business. A great way to better connect to clients and recruit new people.
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