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FREELessons: 15Length: 1.8 hours

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2.2 Corporate Headshots

Corporate headshots are very different from actor headshots. In this lesson you will learn why speed and mobility are so important for a corporate headshot photographer.

2.2 Corporate Headshots

Hi, I'm Scott Chanson. Welcome back to Headshot Photography. So, now that we have covered actors' headshots, it's time to talk about corporate headshots. Once again, corporate headshots is a great way to start making money with your camera, with the added benefit that you don't have to live in a city with tons of actors. There are basically two different kinds of corporate headshot jobs that I get. The first kind of job that I get is when I'm hired to come to the corporate office and photograph one to five high powered executives. These are typically CEOs, CFOs and other people whose job title begins with a C. The other scenario that I often encounter is when I'm hired to come to the office and spend several days photographing all of the employees in that company. I've had jobs where I've photographed over a hundred employees over the course of several days. I also have some clients who have me come back every couple months to take pictures of all of their new hires. The biggest similarity between these two kinds of headshot gigs, is that you have to be quick. Corporate executives are extremely busy people and they don't have time to sit while you're fiddling with your camera or messing with your lights and trying to get your settings just right. I would say that for many of the executives that I've shot, they start to get antsy after about five to ten minutes. And after that, you're only gonna have a harder time getting anything great out of them. If you are not completely confident in your ability to nail your exposure and your lighting in the first minute, then I would recommend that you get some help. When I was starting out, and even today, I often bring along an assistant to use as a sit-in for my client. This allows me to take my time getting everything just right on my assistant, like my lights and my camera settings, so that I can set it and forget it once the executives come out. Not only will this save you time, but it will also allow you to interact with your subject more. You can become friendly with them, and look at them in the eye as you're shooting, instead of looking at the back of your camera and freaking out. It's important to remember that as big and as powerful as these people are, they are still very self conscious about their image. And they need you to encourage them during the shoot, and to help them be confident. For these bigwig headshots, it's important to do your homework ahead of time. The person who contacted you about hiring you for headshots is probably the person in charge of marketing for the company. And will be your main point of contact throughout the process. It's imperative that you get a solid grasp on what it is they are trying to accomplish with these headshots. Look at what is already on their website and find out if they are happy with those images and they just need to be updated, or if they want to go in a different direction altogether. Find out if they want an environmental portrait, like this, that shows your subject in his or her element. Or if they want a studio look, like this, that highlights the person with a simple background and studio lighting. You will also want to know a little bit about the company. If they are an emerging tech company, their CEO might want a headshot that looks something like this more friendly, cool, and casual. On the other hand, if it's the CFO of a large bank, you'll probably want something that looks more like this. More of an established and reliable look. Someone that you would trust your money with. You also want to know how the images will be used. Are they just going to be small thumbnails on a website or will they be using them for billboard ads? The more you know about the job before you show up, the easier the day will go and the better your photos will be in the end. So, once you've gotten that all taken care of, and the day of the shoot comes, the most important part of your job is to make your subjects look confident and friendly. You want the people who see this head shot to think that this person is a confident and competent leader. And someone they can trust. You also want to convey an attitude of friendliness that means that people can approach your subject and interact with them in a business setting or in real life. In my experience, you are generally going to have a person in a professional outfit, probably a dark suit with a power tie or something along those lines. My personal preference for a shoot like this is a non toothy smile, or even a slight smirk. You don't want them laughing and looking funny with a big old toothy grin. That's just silly and it doesn't really give people the feeling of trust. But you also don't want a lifeless, hard-nosed Scrooge face, either. Somewhere in between is the sweet spot and this can be adjusted depending on the feedback you get from your pre-shoot meeting. Once again, your people skills will come in very handy as you try to encourage, direct and manipulate the expressions of your subject. That should get you going when it comes to executive headshots. So let's move on to high volume corporate headshots. When you get a job shooting 50 or 75 or even 100 headshots for a single client, the name of the game if you wanna make any money is speed and consistency. And the way to accomplish this is through automation. Once again, you can bring an assistant to help you get your lights and settings just right. Or you can take a few extra minutes with your first subject of the day. Once you have your lights and settings right, try not to change them at all throughout the day. I generally set up my lighting as loop lighting from a 42 inch umbrella, about 2 feet away from my subject's face. This is the most versatile lighting set up, and that it looks good on men and women. So you will get the best results without having to change lights back and forth. If you have a really tall or really short subject, then you might have to move your light up or down, but make sure you put it back when you're done. This makes sure that there's a very consistent look from person to person all the way through the shoot. And when all the photos go up on the website, they will have a very cohesive feel to them. This also means that your processing time will be much faster. If all your images are the same straight out the camera, then you can batch process the photos in Lightroom. This is a huge time saver when it comes to post work, and in a later lesson, I'll show you exactly how I do this. Here are two more tips that will also save you a ton of time and will make you look like a hero when you're photographing tons of people. The first is to have a stack of paper and a sharpie on hand, and then I have each person write their name on the sheet of paper. The first photo I take is of them holding up their name. This helps the person who hired you immensely to match up the names with the faces that they are updating the website with. And it will make you look like a hero to them. And probably get you hired when it comes time to photograph all of their new hires. The other thing that I often do is I shoot tethered. This means that every image I take on the camera is automatically loaded onto a laptop sitting nearby. After I've taken about five to ten shots that I think look good, I invite the subject around to take a look through them and help me pick out the best one. Sometimes he or she isn't quite happy, and we have to shoot a few more until we get it right. This works so great, because I want everyone to be happy with their headshots, and if you're not, we can change some of the things to make them better. On multiple day shoots, I've even had some people decide they hated what they were wearing. So, they came back the next day and tried on a different outfit and we did it again. Once again, you get to be a hero and that is awesome when it comes to getting rehired. The other great thing about this is that, instead of uploading all of the photos to a proofing site and then waiting around for weeks or months while everyone picks their favorite shots, so that I can then retouch them and deliver them which takes forever. I can actually start the retouching process right there, while I'm waiting for the next client or during any down time I have during the day. It is not uncommon for me to shoot 100 people over several days, and then hand over a flash drive with fully processed and retouched photos ready to go before I leave on the last day. Now, that is a great feeling as a photographer. One again, my final delivered product is usually one or two fully retouched high res digital files of each subject that I photographed. With executive headshots, I may deliver a few more of each person depending on their needs. These files are then sent to the marketing team to put on their website and in their printed materials. On some occasions, the client wants prints of the photos to hang on the walls in their office. It may be a larged, frame print of the president of the company, or like one of my current clients that has a wall covered in eight by ten black and whites of each employee that works in that office. Either way, you should be ready to provide prints when needed. That pretty much covers it for corporate headshots. In a future lesson, I will go into some detail on a mobile studio that I use for corporate headshots, and also show you the detail of the post production process that I go through with each of these kinds of images. In the next lesson, we're going to be learning about the most basic form of a headshot, and what I like to call everybody headshots.

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