Location: Richmond, VA
Photography Type: Environmental Headshots
Photography Technique: Reflected natural light
Capturing Authentic Portraits
First impressions are huge, and these days they usually come in the form of photos on a website. Many potential customers will look at someone’s portrait online and make a snap judgment about whether or not this person would be a good fit. Do they look approachable? Do they seem like someone who will care about me as their client? It’s my job to make sure I capture portraits in a way that conveys approachability and authenticity.
One of the best ways to do this is helping people feel more relaxed. 99 out of 100 people are super uncomfortable having their photo taken by a professional. I often refer to myself as the travelling dentist. Finding common ground with my subjects is step one of helping them to become more comfortable; taking their mind off the camera, and focusing instead on me as a person.
I also try to take the pressure off by reminding them that they don’t have to love every single photo of themselves. All it takes is just one that they are “kinda OK with.” I’ve learned to show them their images throughout our session so they can get used to what they look like.
I explain that there are generally several reasons why people hate photos of themselves. The obvious are aging, weight, teeth, yada yada yada. In my opinion, it is because we are all used to seeing ourselves in mirrors, which oddly enough, isn’t as “mirrored” as you would think. Mirrors actually show us a completely flipped image of ourselves; the part of our hair, freckles, lopsided smiles are now all BACKWARDS. Similar to reading a known word backwards, you know the right elements/features are all there, just flipped. Seeing ourselves flipped immediately gives us the sense of “that’s not me.”
Other factors like posture, smiling and eyes are big factors. A lot of times the reality of how they’re coming across doesn’t align with what they think they look like in their heads. Reality is, a camera doesn’t lie, editing does.
Photography Lighting & Location
Of course lighting plays a huge part in capturing a flattering, authentic and natural portrait. I typically only bring a small camera kit, a small stand, and a reflector so I can do most portraits without an assistant. The key is to find a shaded spot, but one that has a single light source nearby like a bay of windows or an open doorway or even a skylight. If there’s not that source of light hitting the subject’s face from a single direction, it tends to appear really flat and unflattering. When I can control the ambient single-source light, a reflector can be used to prevent that “flat” look by balancing out the shadows or even blocking light to cause shadows.
So much of a portrait is how the background interacts with the subject. Creating balance and capturing lines that draw your eye to the subject is key. I actually have terrible eyesight, and what might seem like a handicap for a photographer has actually become one of my greatest assets. When I’m not wearing contacts or glasses, everything is EXTREMELY blurry because I’m extremely nearsighted. I can look at a potential location and know exactly how it’ll look blurred out in the background of a photo. I like to think it’s a superpower and I have background-x-ray-vision that allows me to see into the pictorial future.
Part of the fun of capturing portraits for local companies is tracking with them as they grow. It’s always really fun to get called up for another round of portraits because a company is thriving and their team is growing. I want to keep the look of the portraits consistent, so I keep this in mind when choosing locations. It should be easy to replicate at most parts of the day and when I get to come back down the road to take photos of new team members.
Contact Us for Corporate In-Environment Photography
Take a look at more portrait photography in our portrait portfolio. If you’re interested in refreshing the portraits of your company’s people, look no further, Casey Templeton Photography is happy to help. Contact us to see how we can work together to help your team’s photos make a stellar first impression.