When I meet a person for the first time to take their photograph I try to get to know them a little bit. You can learn a lot about people just from how they communicate with you and their body language. I then try to put them into an environment and mood that best aligns with their personality. Here is a small sampling of headshots / portraits that I have taken over the last few months.
I recently photographed 37 executives at a Chantilly, VA technology firm. They wanted both studio portraits and environmental portraits. The studio portraits were to be shot on a white background so they could easily extract the executive from the photo and put them into marketing materials. Many of the executives give presentations and speeches to various trade associations and customer forums and are asked to provide a photograph to go along with each persons bio. So it is nice to have a large variety for everybody so that they don't keep using the same photograph over and over again.
We setup a studio in a conference room on the first floor and we shot the environmental portraits right outside the conference room. We budgeted 15 minutes per person. We photographed some with and without ties and with and without sport coats. Depending on the nature of the use of the photograph the client can choose a more formal shot with suit and tie, or go for the photograph with a more casual look.
The project was done over three days, two days one week and another day three weeks later to accommodate everyone's schedule.
The studio photographs were done on my Nikon D4 with a Nikon 70-200MM F2.8 with Paul Buff Einstein strobes providing the light. The environmental photographs were take with a Nikon D3S with a Nikon 105MM F2.8 lens. I used the 26 inch Westcott Rapid Box Octa Kit with Beauty Dish Deflector Plate for my environmental lighting. It was powered by my Nikon SB800 and controlled by my Nikon SB900 on my camera. I was in manual mode the entire time with both my camera and the SB800.
I was contacted by a new company that works with developing countries' leaders to strengthen the cultures of their societies so that their political units adapt better to threats. They needed a photographer to take environmental photographs in an urban setting. Living in Washington, DC provides a lot of options. The one executive takes a lot of walks around Washington, DC and was struck by one neighborhood that he felt was the perfect backdrop. We met at around sunrise and walked the neighborhood. Every block presented us with new and interesting backdrops and lighting. We wanted the images to be very earthy with little or no retouching or fancy lighting. We wanted the executive to be approachable, but still somewhat serious. So getting just the right expression was key to a successful shoot.
The second executive was from Colorado and we scheduled his shoot one morning the Georgetown area of Washington, DC. We stayed primarily around the C & O Canal area which provides the urban brick look we were looking for. Here again, simple lighting, approachable expression, and somewhat raw.
PHOTOGRAPHER INFORMATION: Both photo shoots were shot primarily with my Nikon D4 with my Nikon 24-70MM F2.8 lens. Most images were shot with natural light and/or a little fill flash. I used my Fuji X100S camera a few times just to see if it gave me a different look from my Nikon at about the 35mm focal length.
I used my Olympus OMD E-5 with the my Olympus 75MM F1.8 lens for a few of my tighther head shots like the first shot below. The Olympus 75MM lens is one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used. The depth of field and bokeh on this lens makes your subject seem almost three dimensional.
I received a call from Regis College asking if I could take a series of photographs of one of their alumna, Fran Murphy, around the National Mall, and preferably around the Lincoln Memorial. Fran has won an Emmy award for her documentary called "The Dream Began Here." The Dream was a special about the contributions African Americans made to our Nation’s Capital. The special, which was produced by Fran and was aired on the Tribune television affiliate in DC, highlights the impact Blacks had on Washington, DC.
The editor was very specific in that they didn't just want a photographer to take a photograph of Fran standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The wanted a photographer to give them something different and dynamic. The pressure was on. Because of schedule conflicts Fran and I were not able to meet until September 29th. We initially scheduled the shoot for mid-September. It was a gorgeous Sunday morning. We met right at sunrise to beat the crowds and to take advantage of the morning sun. If we had waited two more days the Lincoln Memorial would have been fenced off as a result of the government shutdown on October 1st.
The photo that I am most fond of is the one with Fran standing next to where Martin Luther King stood when he gave the I Have a Dream speech on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.. We were done with the shoot and we were leaving when I saw the inscription. I asked Fran to stand there I went down to the ground and took a few frames. I have learned to never stop looking for another photograph because sometimes the best one can be the last one when you least expect it.
Fran and I must have done a decent job because what was suppose to be an inside story became the cover story for Fall 2013 Regis Today alumni magazine. You can read the entire article by clicking HERE:
About two out of three executive portraits that I do are in an "environmental" setting. That is they are photographed in or around the executive's office. Many times clients don't think their office environment is suitable for a background. Using selective focus you can take light, lines, and color to make some very interesting backgrounds out of some pretty mundane environemnts.
Professional, unique Executive Portraits / Head-shots can significantly raise the professionalism of a client's website. Photographs of executives that look like they were taken photograph a point and shoot camera, or dated pictures that look like they were taken a decade ago, can reflect poorly on a company.
Clients are looking for fresh and clean style, quite often in a location setting, to set themselves apart. The following photographs were taken over the last month. Some of the photos were taken outside the client's office building, in a "borrowed" law office, inside the client's office, and some in my studio.