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Now that you know you have sufficient space, in this second part of my behind the scenes mini-series I want to talk about time. Not a glamorous subject but still an important consideration when booking a corporate portrait session.

Over the years I have discovered that if there is one thing that clients underestimate on location shoots, it is the time involved.

In this post I am going to explain a bit more about the realities of a photographer’s schedule, how much time is required, and where exactly that time goes.


OK so this is the starting point when anyone thinks about the session: the physical time the photographer spends with camera in hand taking photographs. Which is fair enough. It’s a logical place to begin.

When I shoot corporate portraits on location there is a very good chance I will be photographing more than one person. There is an equal chance that their time will be very limited. This is why it is important to plan carefully.

As a rule of thumb, I suggest allowing for around 15-20 minutes per person when on location. This allows sufficient time to try a few different poses, review some images, and generally not feel that the whole process has been rushed.

That for me is the sweet spot. I feel that any less time and things feel too hurried; any longer and you begin to become conscious that your lovely subject has to get back to work. So plan for 20 minutes per person and please stress the need to be punctual.

Setting up and packing down

The time it takes to set up / pack down can vary considerably depending on the complexity of the setup. For a typical location setup – two lights, a backdrop, and a reflector – I would allow for about 30 minutes.

This time is not just spent positioning and plugging everything in. It is also spent rearranging the room (if necessary), assessing the best shooting position, ensuring it is safe environment by taping down trailing cables, and taking test shots.

Packing down the same setup usually takes half that time.

Contingency time

On location it can be difficult to keep everything running perfectly on time – especially in a workplace.

If someone turns up late for their session time or a slot overruns by even five minutes, it can be difficult to make that time up.

This is why I recommend that every 60 minutes allow for a 5-10 minute contingency window. It is not so essential if I’m only photographing four people but if it’s a half or even full day of shooting it is imperative, otherwise you’ll be playing catch-up all day.


So when it comes to booking a location shoot, here’s a quick scenario to help you plan your corporate portrait session.

Let’s assume you need four people photographed and the earliest the first person can attend is 9:30am.

  • 9:00am: this is what time the room being used needs to be vacant from. It will also be the time I arrive to begin setting up.

  • 9:30am: commence the first session.

  • 10:50am: conclude fourth session and begin pack down.

  • 11:05am: pack down complete and room vacated.

As I said from the outset: not a glamorous subject but it is extremely practical! Knowing exactly how much time the photographer needs and what is being spent in that time will ultimately ensure that your corporate portrait session runs as smoothly as possible.

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