Techniques #7 – Handy Corporate Portrait

Corporate portraits are something you almost have to do as a professional photographer.

I recently shot a portrait for a client that wanted a very specific looking style.  They’ve been running a series of ads for a long time that have a consistent look to them.  Basically, one of their art directors must have come up with this brilliant, easy way to get consistently-styled photographs from different photographers.

The brilliance of this portrait is that it has style and is easy to reproduce…

Here’s how you can do it:

The client’s instructions to me were:

  1. Shoot a horizontally-oriented portrait with lots of empty space to one side (for logos and slogans).
  2. Keep the facial features sharp but with soft edges around the head.

They sent me some samples and I realized that I needed:

  1. A plain white or light gray wall for a background.
  2. Two strobes.  One mounted to a soft box or shoot-through umbrella.
  3. A 50mm f/1.4 or a 85 f/1.4 lens (or something close) to blur the edges of the subject’s head.

I called the subject and asked him to reserve a conference room in their building with a plain white wall for about an hour.  The set-up took about 20 minutes and the shooting took about 20.

Check out the diagram:

I turned off all the lights in the room because to soften the edges of the subject’s face I shot at f/1.4.  This caused the rare problem of my strobes having too much power, even set at their lowest power.  I solved that by putting a -1 neutral density filter on each strobe.

Start by setting up the background strobe pointed at the wall in the background.  I held a flash meter to the wall to over expose it by about 1.5 stops.  This insured a bright white background without blowing it out too bad.

Next I set up the small softbox and took a few test exposures while shooting tethered into Apple Aperture. I didn’t have an assistant with me, so I held my fist out and took a few test shots to get the exposure about right.

When the subject came into the room and I took a few test pictures I could tell that he really liked seeing the big pictures on the computer screen.  I think this helped loosen him up and made the whole experience more enjoyable for both of us.


Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Portraiture, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Post navigation

8 thoughts on “Techniques #7 – Handy Corporate Portrait

  1. Good, simple instructions and a good result. David Tejada has some good vids on YouTube about corporate portraits – have you seen any?

    • Thanks Craig. The only one of his corporate videos I’ve seen is the latest one on his blog. A while ago, I watched all of his location “hard hat” videos, but I need to poke around his stuff again.

  2. Thanks for the informative post Neil! I look forward to finding some people to let me try this method with them (minus one strobe) in the next few days.

  3. thanks for the lesson really helpful as corporate photography is an area i’m keen to get into. Also enjoying your WP blog – i’ve added you on my blogroll lol


  4. Terrific post, Neil. You’ve got some really great tutorials here. I love your hand drawn notes, too.

  5. My friend was right – your blog is really good

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: