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How To Take Corporate Headshots | Business Photography Tips

Believe it or not, trying to find the perfect pose for your next headshot is harder than you think. While corporate headshots could look easy to do, there are actually a lot of other dynamics to them.

So, if you’re going to take your first corporate headshots, then you are on the right page because we at HayotFilms also conduct corporate photography in Prague. We will be dissecting all the details you would need to know to nail your first business photoshoot.

But first, what are corporate headshots?

It’s a semi-close-up photo of a person wearing corporate attire. Corporate headshots are supposed to be simple and formal.

They are widely used for resumes and portfolios. It could also be a company requirement upon hiring. Other common uses are for newsletters, websites, press releases, and annual reports. 

Try to remember how did your last corporate headshots look. Did you like your photos? Was your photographer professional? How do you like your poses and your posture? 

Some might cringe because of not liking their recent photos, and some might smile because their photographer was great. And in this guide, we’ll help you provide your customers to experience the latter. 

As a business photographer, we will walk you through a couple of tips for taking better business portraits and what are the things you should consider before you start shooting, during the shoot, and after the shoot

Let’s begin. 

Tip #1: Schedule a Meeting Before the Shoot

Schedule A Meeting - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Meeting Prior to Photoshoot

It’s always best to talk about the project before it even starts so you would have an idea of what your client wants to achieve. That way, you would be able to lean towards what they want and adjust to that. 

Ask a lot of questions. Be clear on what you are expected to do. Your client’s desired outcome should be something you are capable of and comfortable doing. If they are asking for too much, let them know of that as well and educate them with realistic options. 

For corporate headshots, talking to your client will also give you an idea of how to compose their headshots. Ask them to decide what mood they like and what background they want for their subjects. 

Tip #2: Show Them Some Sample Corporate Headshots

Provide Sample Images - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Sample Images

Of course, it’s great to be prepared when you first meet your client. Show them some business portrait samples so they could get an idea of what they would like to decide on. From there, you’ll also get a hint on what direction they would like you to go. 

If you have done corporate headshots before, you can also show them your portfolio on how you do things. You can also take this opportunity to get to know your client better. So can even show them your other portfolios such as that of your previous corporate events.

It would not just make you look more professional when handling the job, but it’s also a way to earn the trust of your client.

Tip #3: Remember that these Images Represent the Company

Company Representatives - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots Represent the Company

Similar to filming corporate events, this is specifically true in corporate headshots as well. Always keep in mind that your images will represent the company and not the individual.

It’s a fact that almost everyone doesn’t like their photos taken. Well, not unless they’re a supermodel of some sort, of course.

But generally, it’s best to always follow through with the company guidelines and not what the individual wants. What counts here is what the company’s marketing team would want to have as a result. Trust me, it’ll save so much of your time if you stick with this. 

Of course, please still do your best to satisfy the individual but just always remember that they will not be the decision maker. 

To set expectations, you may follow these:

  • Tell them the structure and image guidelines that you need to follow based on your client’s needs.
  • Clarify the expectations and what you require from them before the shoot.
  • Remind them of the purpose of the images, which is for the business.

Tip #4: The Faster You Can Shoot, the Better

Shoot Faster - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Shooting Faster

Most people in the business world are often busy. And for sure, they also have a limited time to accommodate having their photos taken for corporate headshots. You have to shoot fast, but still not lose any quality. 

Always remember, quality is very important! Learn to put this as a priority. Minimize mistakes as much as you can. 

Some people would only have around 15 minutes for you before they go to their next appointment. Make sure you utilize this timeslot to provide them with the best result they can expect from you. 

Once they get in the room with you, make sure you know what you are doing because their time is very important, and so is yours. 

 Tip #5: Make Them Appear Confident and Approachable

Look Confident and Approachable - Corporate Headshots
Confident Corporate Headshot

When taking corporate headshots, this is very important to remember. You don’t want your subject to appear anything else other than these two adjectives. 

But the twist is: Not everyone is confident.

Especially when they are having their photos taken, some people would look scared, too happy, too neutral, or sometimes even grumpy. Talk to them and give them tips on what they can do to be better in their photos. Show them samples. Make them trust you as their photographer. 

The last thing you would want to have is unapproachable-looking employees on their corporate headshots. That’s definitely not good for the business.

Tip #6: Give Your Subjects Time to Relax

Relax Your Subject - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Relax Your Subject

Let them breathe in, and breathe out. 

This is very helpful for subjects that aren’t very confident, as mentioned above. 

Give them time to assess themselves. You don’t have to give them an hour-long timeframe to do that, but at least give them a couple of minutes for themselves.

You can try having a small chat with them before you touch your camera. Ask them how their day went, and just some random little things that would make them comfortable with you. 

Talking to them is the best way to have your subject relax and get into their comfort zone. And guess what, relaxation leads to great images!

Tip #7: You Have to Relax, Too

How are you going to make your subject relax if you cannot relax yourself, right? 

This is a pretty obvious tip but people usually overlook it. Always see to it that you also relax properly before you start taking corporate headshots. 

Don’t just clench your fist in nervousness while standing. Avoid just holding the camera immediately once your subject comes in. Never avoid eye contact as well. Be as friendly as you can. 

You don’t want to send a message to your subject (or worse, to your client) that you are not approachable and you are not easy to deal with, where in fact, you are just crazy nervous. 

Practice showing confidence, and they’ll probably show confidence back to you in their shots. 

Tip #8: Adjust the Posture of Your Subject Accordingly

And since we are already talking about confidence, let’s now dive into proper postures when taking these corporate headshots. 

Here’s a quick video on how to practice posture:

If they’re standing, make them stand straighter. They would automatically appear more confident by just this minor adjustment in their posture. This is something you should never forget to do when taking your shots.

A better posture also allows your subject to look more attentive, and even slimmer than they actually are in real life. Plus, it also helps remove the wrinkles in their clothing.

Tip #9: Emphasize their Facial Features

Emphasize Their Features - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Emphasize Their Features

In the previous tip, we had mentioned straightening up the body. That’s important, but please do not overdo it because if you do, your subject’s shoulder will go back. And what’s next? Their chin and neck come up as well. 

It’s best to still emphasize their facial features while getting the right balance that is needed on their posture. As they say, too much of everything isn’t good.

The rule of thumb is to push their forehead out. Let their chin come down so that their neck stretches. You can also try a head tilt if they gave an extra chin. These variations will alter the look a lot more than you anticipate. 

Tip #10: Angle their Shoulders Well

Angle Their Shoulders - Corporate Headshots
Shoulder Lean

Shoulders might not look like they’re an important part of taking corporate headshots, but they actually put the tone for the entire image.

They are the widest part of your subject and it’s connected to the head, which is your main point of focus when taking these shots. 

Try to have your subject lean in one direction or another. You can also have them turn their body in the direction you prefer. Showing their front shoulder also gives you a cleaner jawline. 

Angling your subject’s shoulder will provide you with a balance in your shots that would be beneficial for the eyes of the viewer. At the same time, it also prevents your subject from being out of proportion. 

We also recommend reading Best and Worst Things To Do in Prague | Czech Republic In Winter, as well as Amazing Bollywood Movies Shot in Europe.

Tip #11: Be Careful about Where They Put Their Hands

Awkward Hands - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Assist with hands

Yup, make their hands look comfortable too. If their hands are just hanging everywhere, it looks unprofessional and awkward. 

You can also have them hold a coffee mug or even a pen. Just any incidental prop would actually make a big difference. Give their hands something to do. 

If the props aren’t allowed, you can try putting their hand in one pocket and leaving the other one out. Or have them hold their coat in a manner that would make them look more confident. There are actually a lot of ways to experiment with this.

In the end, it just all boils down to achieving the most natural look for your image. 

Tip #12: Have a Professional Background

Professional Background - Corporate Headshots
Professional Backgrounds on Corporate Headshots

Okay, so let’s talk about the surroundings this time. 

If you want to be a professional photographer, having a proficient background in shooting corporate headshots is essential.

Always know that background for a business portrait should be neutral and not distracting at all.

If you have no choice but to have a busy background, then it should be decluttered and your depth of field should be reduced. A neutral gray background with a gradient light is a good example unless, of course, if your client requests something else. 

If the location is part of the background, so move the background accordingly to what you need. Just make sure to put them back in their correct places when done. 

Tip #13: Your Lighting Should Be Softer 

Have a Softer Light - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Have a Softer Lighting

This will give you a more natural effect on your corporate headshots. At the same time, it also stops glares from showing. 

You can follow some tips on how to get softer lighting for business portraits. Or you can also try learning the triangle arrangement by placing one light in front of your subject and two lights on their sides. Then, aim all these lights at your subject.

With this, you will be able to get balanced lighting in front and the other two lights and it would show a nice edge around your subject that could separate them from the background.

Tip #14: Get a Lens With a Low Light Capability

Low Light Lens - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Low Light Lens

Like any other shots, corporate headshots also lend themselves to wide-open apertures. See to it that you keep things as minimalistic as possible and do everything that you can so you can stop any distractions.

Prime lenses of at least f/1.8 are flawless. Midrange focal length would also provide you with great results. For example, 35mm or 50mm is a widely admired range.

The scope and versatility supplied by a zoom probably won’t be required for corporate headshots, so it is logical to opt for the lightweight durability and intense focus delivered by the prime lenses out there.

Tip #15: Tether Your Camera To Your Device

Tether Your Device - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Tether Your Device

If you’re able to tether your camera to your laptop, then by all means, do it! This would make you able to directly connect your camera to your device while it is in use. It would also add up to your overall professional look, so we really recommend this.

This isn’t needed though. You can still take great corporate headshots without tethering. But if you’re planning to level up your photography tools, then consider investing in this as it’s a great addition to your overall system.

An advantage of a tethered camera to a device is that your subject can easily see the shots on the screen, so they would know what needs to be improved right away. 

And as the photographer, you would swiftly know if your lighting is set up correctly, if the focus is correct, and if the pose of the subject is what you’re trying to achieve. This is absolutely ten times better than looking at the small LCD screen on your camera.

Tip #16: Get An Assistant If You Can

If you are serious about having a career with corporate headshots (or anything photography-related in general), then hiring an assistant is definitely an asset for you. 

Your assistant will be able to help you in carrying and setting up everything from one location to another. They could also pose for your test shots while you perfect your lighting to eliminate wasting your subject’s time.

By getting one, you would be able to do more of your business and less of the things that make photography dragging. You can utilize the time you save by getting more clients and more work, too. 

Tip #17: Prepare a Mirror for Last-Minute Touch-Ups

Prepare A Mirror on Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Have a Mirror

You’ll never know when you’ll need a mirror, so make sure to have one ready just in case the situation calls for it.

It’s also essential so that you can see the littlest of details that need to be corrected. In fact, attention to detail is vital in photography. Even though those details cannot be seen in the final shot, it’s still best to be mindful of them when you can. 

A portable mirror should be fine to bring on corporate portraits. Also, the mirror could also act as a safety net for the subject and the photographer. Of course, the subject would love to look good, and you as the photographer would definitely need to satisfy your client, too.

Give them to your subject to finalize their look in the mirror. You can also ask them to practice some poses. There’s certainly a lot a mirror can do on any shoot!

Tip #18: Take Control of Your Shooting

Control Your Shooting - Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Control Your Shooting

You are the photographer so be sure you take care of your own shooting.

Some new photographers would often make the mistake of always relying on a supervisor to control their photoshoot, where in fact, they don’t even know a lot about shooting corporate headshots. 

You are the boss of your own shooting. You have the camera with you. Own it respectfully and it will be so much better and more fulfilling than relying on someone else. 

The subjects that you are going to work with probably don’t have any experience in front of the camera anyway. Get this chance to guide them. After all, it is you who know better than your client or subjects.

Tip #19: Retouch Your Corporate Headshots

Retouch Corporate Headshots
Corporate Headshots – Retouch Your Shots

Always give time to retouch your corporate portraits for a more professional final look on our pictures. Clean everything that you can on your shots such as stray hair, wrinkled clothing, or non-permanent skin blemishes.

We don’t recommend removing their permanent features like moles or scars unless the subject specifically requests so.

Make sure to correct these details as much as you can while you are still doing the shoot. Take the time to get your subject to straighten their clothing or fix their hair while on the shoot. Again, having a mirror is essential.

Tip #20: Deliver Your Images Suitably

When delivering the images, your client would not probably need huge files. We recommend you deliver the original huge files but have a web version as well that they can use without going into the trouble of resizing it anymore. 

We recommend the 4000 x 2500 JPEG photo size for print and web use.

You can also send them the photos with a watermark of your logo if you’re worried they won’t be paying on time. That way, they will see the final product and will be prompted to pay for them to get the clean version right away. 

Have them choose a photo right away during the shoot so you wouldn’t have to sit and retouch all the photos anymore. Just deliver them what they chose. Remember that your time is gold.

BONUS: High Volume Corporate Headshots

High Volume Corporate Headshots
High Volume Corporate Headshots

If you will do high-volume corporate headshots such as school portraits or company employees’ photos, then we also got some suggestions for you. If you’ll end up having to take photos of 300 people, then it could be intimidating at first, but it’s actually very doable!

Just keep in mind these tips:

  • Ask for a list of every single person that needs to be photographed. Get their ID numbers, too. 
  • Request it to be in alphabetical order to keep things simple and easy.
  • Request an assistant from the organization if they can provide one.
  • Expose properly according to their uniform, if they have any. Then just tweak the exposure setting so that you have great exposed images of everyone no matter what their look and color are.

Final Thoughts

Shooting corporate headshots isn’t as simple as it looks. But it can be mastered with the right tips and techniques. 

Always remember that the key to having great business portraits is to be confident in what you do and to always believe in yourself as a photographer. Continue learning and honing your craft. Bring that confidence to your shoot and pass it over to your subject. 

After all, you’d probably be working with subjects that are uncomfortable and nervous. Make sure you don’t do the same thing to yourself as it can break your client’s trust in you. 

Instead, be the guy who shares confidence with the people around him. That’s exactly what a professional production team does, too!

Taking corporate headshots is painless if you know what you are doing.

So yup, just practice your craft skillfully and prepare well before your shoot. Always bring out your best personality as well and everything else will follow. 

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