Corporate headshots… boring, right? Those endless rows of half-smiling, suited people in your LinkedIn connections are so similar, they might as well be the same person. I know a lot of my network  on LinkedIn personally and they are complicated, diverse, multifaceted characters - not cyborgs with an awkward grin.

A corporate headshot, profile photo, business portrait or ‘Meet The Team’ page can be so much more than just a reference, they can say something about your brand and show the person behind a company. We talked to some specialist portrait and headshot photographers from Freelancer Club about how they extract personality from their client as well as top tips for photographers and sitters to inspire your next corporate headshot shoot. 

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Corporate Headshot

When is a headshot not a headshot? When it’s an incredible portrait, of course! This is a great example of a portrait that really captures personality, poise and integrity. This doesn’t look like a stuffy, posed shot - that expression is all natural and the detail is pin-sharp accurate. A lot of the time, the best portraits are the ones that come when the subject is relaxed and unreserved. An honest shot like this says a lot about the sitter. I mean, just look at those trusting eyes. Of course you’re going to work with this guy! 

Photographer’s Tip

Try something simple like making a joke with your sitter early on in the shoot. Ask them to do strike a few strange poses to begin with and then tell them you were only joking - it's not that cringe-worthy. Another technique to relax your sitter is to take your face away from the camera so that they feel like they’re chatting with a friend and not under pressure to pose for the camera. So long as you’re set up on a tripod with the right framing, you can fire off a quick shot when they laugh or smile at you. Invest in a remote clicker to capture those natural moments without the sitter getting too uptight. 

Sitter’s Tip

If the idea of sitting for a photo is as appealing as a root canal surgery, you’re not alone. However, the more relaxed you are, the better the photo. Talking to the photographer will help calm you down and hopefully elicit some real reaction. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture or expression - just think of the enigmatic draw of the Mona Lisa, who has a thing or two in common with this gentleman’s half-smile. Talking and fidgeting often shows the 'real' you! The skill of the photographer is to capture a moment so don't talk too much!  



Business Corporate Headshot

I realise everyone comes to a project with a different view, so I quickly understand what they are capable of and make sure they know I believe in them. I watch, learn and listen to the client and the subjects. Whether they are trained actors, models or business people, I view how they react in a setting away from the camera, waiting having their coffee, talking to their colleagues, etc,” James told us.

“It's all about treating everyone with equal respect… prove it with sincerity. I've had a great time on corporate shoots and live events, everyone wants to be represented well. I try to never make it mundane or just another corporate shoot, the energy you put out you get back in return 99% of the time. It’s not about me, it’s about the subjects, the production and the final results.”



Business Portrait Alternative

Once again, those unguarded moments are king in Filip’s work. Here we can see the extremes - from the subtle bashfulness of the third portrait, right through to the full-on head-back laughter in the last. What they all have in common is a high-quality finish. A great corporate headshot or business profile photo is a combination of capturing the moment with a technical ability to produce professional-grade photography. 

Profile Photography

Photographer’s Tip

Corporate headshots are not passport photos - they don’t need to be emotionless and flat. In fact, they can be most effective when they are the opposite. They can convey someone’s sense of humour, whether that be quiet amusement or over-the-top drama. This might tell the viewer a little bit about whether that person would fit in with a given company’s culture, too, making them ideal for CVs and professional usages.

Sitter’s Tip

A typical shoot takes a couple of hours. This may seem excessive for a headshot but, believe us, you won’t want to use the first pic! The first 30 minutes often involves a conversation with the photographer to establish the type of shot you’d like. Their job is to convey this. Your job is to give them the material to work with. Try to relax. Being in front of the camera might not feel natural to you, but being at ease will make a huge difference to your results. And there’s nothing as beautiful as a genuine smile or laugh!



Business Headshot

“I find out about the business and their role,” Clive said. “And talk to them about it and what their ‘customers’ look for and their approach to ‘customers’. They soon, unknowingly, drop into their customer ‘look’ and the personality they adopt. For me it’s about capturing the individual’s business face and the personality that goes with it.”

Even when the client wants something more traditional, you can work to capture the personality behind the business person. Just look at how those sharp eyes and slightly tilted head portray a compassionate but no-nonsense individual.  



Profile Headshot

Incorporating the client’s environment is another great way to convey personality as well communicate more about the client’s brand. JC not only places the client in their natural location but he gets creative too. It’s a powerful shot that really conveys a sense of fun and passion. 

Photographer’s Tip

Whether in the studio or shooting in an alternative environment, incorporating your surrounding can give the profile shot a whole new dimension. 

Sitter’s Tip

Bring elements of you and your brand to the shoot. If you own a cafe shop, bring coffee, beans, ad cups. Props, when shot well, can make a real impact. 



Corporate Businessman

Headshot Business Profile

Here, Nathan uses location settings to convey everything we need to know about the person - not a studio backdrop. The subjects appear more relaxed in their natural environment - and this translates into a power and authority which can be felt through the lens. Shooting in someone’s natural environment also gives the viewer a narrative and insight into the individual's brand. 

Photographer’s Tip

Try placing your subject in their natural setting to create a narrative. Even going to a location where a recognisable area, such as the Gherkin, is visible in the background of your shot can tell the viewer more about who this person is and where they work.

Sitter’s Tip

Is your office cold and uninteresting? Head outside and put London, or the city where you work, into your field of view. Where in your local area speaks about you and your business? 



Alternative Headshot

Natural Headshot Business

These portraits probably break all of the rules we’ve discussed so far: they aren’t in any particular setting, and the subjects don’t appear to be giving us a totally unguarded moment - if anything, they appear posed. But that doesn’t matter, because we can still get a strong sense of personality from these beautifully simple headshots which make us want to know more.

Photographer’s Tip

Part of the reason why these shots work is the strong and unflinching gaze both women throw out at the camera - they are obviously both comfortable with the person behind the lens, and able to deliver that natural look. Getting your clients relaxed enough to show you something real is another important factor.

Sitter’s Tip

Don’t be afraid to be real. You might be a bubbly, happy sort - or you might feel more restrained or refined. Don’t put on an act in your shots; let your true self speak.

So, there’s your list of tips for getting great corporate headshots: whether by changing the setting, relaxing your subject, or waiting for an unguarded moment, you must capture something real - and not just another stuffy, posed stock shot.

And if you’re the one in front of the camera, make sure to relax, stop posing, and let your real self shine through.

Now there’s no excuse for yet another boring profile picture or company headshot.

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