Scroll through LinkedIn and it would seem that indoors continues to be the default decision when it comes to corporate portraits. But don’t let that put you off the idea of having your next corporate portrait outdoors.
Shooting indoors certainly has its benefits. The environment is more controllable, more secure, and you don’t have to worry about the availability of power points.
Outdoor corporate portraits require more planning and (in the UK at least) carry a heightened risk of being called off due to bad weather.
But they can be very impactful and a sure-fire way to stand out from the competition. So before you book your boardroom for another session, here are some things to consider if you are curious about venturing outside.
This is the biggest decision you’ll have to make as, ultimately, wherever you pick will be visible in your portraits to varying degrees. It needs to be be easy on the eye, not distracting and in keeping with your brand.
A local park with plenty of greenery is a solid choice. The background does not distract from the subject but at the same time adds a splash of natural colour. For an accessible and approachable feel to your corporate portraits this is a winning location.
If your business (or clients) is based in the heart of the city consider shooting in the streets around your office. Or if you want something more identifiable try an iconic location in the city – a particularly good choice if you have offices in different locations and want each set of portraits to have a unique, local touch.
And if you are fortunate enough to have an office with a rooftop don’t overlook this gem of a location! A city-based office with city-wide views is a perfect place to cement your corporate brand in a contemporary way.
The greatest risk to an outdoor corporate portrait shoot is bad weather. Rain is the obvious offender but also wind. It may be nice and dry but if the wind picks up and is blowing your clothes out of shape and your hair in front of your face then the shoot will be extremely challenging. An extra note of caution: the wind might be a particular issue if you’re shooting on a rooftop.
Contrary to what you might think, a bright sunny day is not ideal either. Unfiltered sunshine can cause harsh shadows to fall across your face and will require additional reflectors to counter. And remember: the world doesn’t stop turning during the shoot so if it is a long day you will have to consider the constantly changing position of the sun and direction of light.
The best conditions are dry, not too warm and with light cloud. A thin layer of cloud is nature’s diffuser. It reduces the harshness of the sunlight and helps make the light appear more constant throughout the shoot. Plus there’s no risk of squinting!
There’s no controlling the weather so you will need to plan carefully as to the time of year you choose to have your shoot and even the time of day that will work best.
When I first started out shooting corporate portraits in London I quickly came to learn that just because it is a public space doesn’t necessarily mean you can rock up and hold a shoot. London is especially tricky as there are plenty of green spaces that appear public, because they are indeed open to the public, but are in fact privately owned.
So once you have decided upon a location do your checks and make sure that: i) you don’t need permission to hold a shoot there; and ii) if you do, that you have any necessary paperwork well in advance and preferably a contact and phone number, just in case.
Don’t assume that it will be OK, even if it’s just one quick portrait. It’s not worth running the risk because if you are caught out it will reflect badly on your business, waste time and potentially rule the location out for future photographers.
Need any other advice on shooting outdoor corporate portraits? Drop me a line and I’d be happy to help!