Corporate Head Shots - Casual or Formal? Which is best?

A formal portrait or a casual portrait. Which is best? 

Well it really does depend on your business type and what you are hoping to achieve from having a business portrait or head shot. 

I have photographed managing directors, lawyers and tradesman. Each profession can have a different approach, but it also doesn’t have to mean that the styles can’t be mixed up a bit. 

I would like to think that any photo of a staff member should come across as someone being approachable. What do I mean by that? Well, ultimately you are portraying an image to a prospective client. Whether or not the portrait appears on your web site, in a magazine or at a trade show. Your image should convey something welcoming and knowledgeable - and importantly put the viewer at ease and have a good feeling about you. If you are a lawyer, then your prospective client might be dealing with a lot of emotions and must feel confident that you are the expert to help them through it. They probably don’t want to see gruffness or smarmy. A welcoming empathetic look is going to work well – the cheesy grin is out! 

When planning your corporate photography portraits of your staff members I would recommend a series of casual photos that have the person looking away from the camera’s viewpoint. This can be easily staged with the help of an interviewer chatting to the person while I am photograph them. It’s best to talk about things that are non-work related.

Another method for this is to set up a few people around a table and get them chatting about their holidays, hobbies, family or just about anything that makes them relaxed and not even consider once that a photographer is in the room. 

With a mixture of portrait styles you are going to have a lot more options for when and how you use the photos.

Alan is a corporate and commercial photographer at Media Imaging Solutions