How we take our own corporate (but not too corporate) headshots
We put quite a lot of effort into our company headshots. It’s one of the most popular pages on our website – everyone loves a gawp at what we look like. We like to have headshots with a bit of character that aren’t your usual stilted 30 seconds shoved up against a white background. Here’s what we’ve learned over the last few years.
1. Get the most out of your time
Like painting the Forth Bridge, taking company headshots is a year round process. People join over the course of the year, so we need to have a system in place to get our shots efficiently. As we learned at the start, photographing everyone in large batches in a single day is just not practical, so we try to do it little and often. As we have a small team of people who have photography backgrounds, it makes the most sense for us to do it.
We tend to do groups of two or three people at a time. This gives everyone a look at the process of shooting the portrait and lets them relax a bit more once they’ve seen how it’s done. It’s also a good excuse for newbies to get to know their new workmates and see parts of York they may have never been to. A session usually lasts 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how we’re doing and how busy the location is.
2. Get the most out of your location
Our office is very busy and space is tight, so, as we’re bang in the centre of York, we use the city itself as the backdrop. We’ve built a set of routes around the city which give us access to some nice, quiet locations in what can be a very busy, tourist-filled city (especially towards the end of the year, with hordes of shoppers and stag / hen parties). These tend to be small side roads or alleys that we can shoot from several different angles.
Having more than one location means that we have some variety for backgrounds and everyone isn’t just stood in front of the same wall. However, we’ve been doing this for nearly three years now, and while we can make the locations we use varied up to a point, because they can still end up a bit samey, we make small changes on the route. Every so often, I’ll have an amble through the city to see what new places we can use and see how busy areas get.
Same location, different looks
3. Be brutal in the editing
The ideal edit would be getting it down to having less than a handful of images across a variety of locations. This means we can quickly change the photos on the Our Team page, so there’s less chance of a row of people in the same angle and spot. Plus we can also use them in proposals and marketing.
90% of our edit is done in Lightroom, with the occasional bit of tweaking in Photoshop. I’ll quickly sift through any images that are too similar or have captured things like people blinking out of focus. I’ll then organise them into Smart Collections and Folders using tags, and whittle them down even further until we end up with about five to seven nice ones. The rest get binned IMMEDIATELY which prevents you from holding on to those not-quite-there photos you think you might use further down the road, but never do.
We’ll usually have a quick sort again, then we’ll email the chosen few across to the subject to see which is their top pick. Once we’re given the thumbs up, they’re then resized for our website using ImageOptim and uploaded with a biography.
So many Joshes. Time for some whittlin’.
We’ve also got a Sony A7R which is mainly used for filming but gets the odd day out for portraits.
We try and keep kit to a minimum, so just using the camera with a 50mm works fine for us. At the start, we tried using off-camera flash and a reflector, but it was a pain in the neck to carry around in the wind all the time.
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