OK, admittedly this is not an accurate representation of my setup when I am on location! Nevertheless the fact is that all of my corporate portrait photography is shot on location, often in central London.
There are key benefits to this. One is getting multiple people together at the same time in a convenient location. Another advantage is that it allows for environmental corporate portraits where I can incorporate elements of the workplace into the photographs.
However there are some misconceptions with location shooting, particularly when it comes to space requirements. So if you’re considering arranging a shoot in your office but are unsure of whether you have sufficient room, this post is for you.
How much space do you really need?
I’m not going to tell you that less is more. When it comes to location shooting, more space is better. And by that I don’t mean it will make your photos better, but it does give you greater flexibility and options.
But let’s be realistic for a moment.
Offices are working environments, not studios. It is completely understandable if, when you look around your office, you feel it is impossible to host a portrait session.
So let’s cut to the chase. The reality is that the minimum amount of space required is surprisingly small. In my experience I would say that an area about five feet wide by ten feet long is probably sufficient.
A boardroom is usually the best option for location corporate portraits because it has the length. This allows for putting up a backdrop, shooting against a plain wall, or using the room itself for an environmental portrait.
Another recommended option is the reception as this often has the benefit of being light, uncluttered, and it will likely include elements of corporate branding.
But I have also shot location portraits in small, serviced offices and shared work-spaces with the subject in one room and me in the corridor. On one occasion I was effectively stood in the stairwell outside the office shooting through an open door into the reception. It might be unorthodox but in smaller spaces be prepared to get creative to solve a problem!
At the end of the day all that matters is the final image. No one will care about how it was achieved.
The space / output relationship
There is a correlation between the amount of space at your disposal and the type and range of shots achievable.
Generally speaking as the space gets smaller the tighter the portrait will need to be framed and the likelihood of an environmental portrait reduces.
In a large (and clear!) boardroom with high ceilings it is possible to achieve anything from a tight headshot to a three-quarter or even full-body portrait using multiple lights and reflectors. Environmental portraits will also be an option.
In a smaller room with minimal space you will likely be restricted to a head and shoulders portrait against a plain backdrop or wall.
The importance of planning ahead
I have written before about the importance of planning corporate portraits and space should be another part of those considerations.
If possible I will try to arrange a visit to your premises beforehand to assess what we have to work with. I can then advise accordingly.
It is also worth stressing that in all my years I haven’t yet found a premises where I have been unable to set up a successful headshot or half-body portrait session due to a lack of space.
The key thing is to plan ahead, discuss the options with your photographer, and be realistic about what can be achieved in the space available.