A Day In The Studio.

A Day In The Studio

At lunch last week with some old work friends we talked about whether social media marketing actually generates sales or is more a brand awareness activity?

Their businesses are B2B so therefore online channels such as LinkedIn; their own websites; industry portals and other SEO strategies are more relevant than say consumer online channels such as Facebook.

Like most businesses they are trying to refine their niche offering and determine the most effective way to connect and engage with potential new customers.

At the top of their marketing funnel they are just about to do some PR activity and one thing we agreed on was the need for professional portrait photos to be included, you see, a key point to understand is that there’s also competition for PR, that is, Editor attention – your article has to connect with their readers and a good photo can get help get attention and make life easier for the Editor.  

Creative Concept

We’ve a couple of different shots to do – some standard portraits and then some creative advertising shots. The big difference between these types is lighting setup and the subsequent effect of lighting on post production processing needs.

From a creative perspective the composite type images are inspired by Dave Hill‘s outstanding work.  I love these images – they tell a story and push the whole digital photography thing to a new level (beyond the Instagram filter mindset).  Mastering these techniques, or a least having some of the skill set, should help evolve my own client service offering.  There’s a whole discussion on long tail learning investment which I’ll have to write about later.  

Note: I’ve found great YouTube photo manipulation technique tutorials by Andrei Oprinca from PSDbox 

Two days later the studio is booked, well actually just one of the rooms at the local Sailing Club where I will setup all my gear for the day.  (I like my setup to be portable so that I can shoot anywhere around the country quickly)

Shoot day 

8AM – setup takes about an hour before our talent arrives – green screen; I’m testing some constant LED lights; my strobes and assortment of diffusers; cameras and computers. 

I’m going to shoot some of the portraits against green screen which will then be used to create composite images – this is where you combine photos that otherwise would be very difficult, if not impossible to shoot.  The main reason for shooting this way is that we want to create something unique for the advertising shots and also, it’s been impossible to get all the Directors in the same place in such a short time.  

Corporate PortraitPhoto by Scott Maxworthymaxymedia
Note: We shoot on green (or blue) background as the green is not found in skin tones and therefore the most easiest to key out or extract the image from.

For the standard portraits then you want to do most of the lighting variations in the studio (reducing post processing) whereas the composite shots you want to shoot very flat lighting and add the lighting (shading etc) effects in post production (maximised post production processing).

For standard corporate portrait shots then here are a few tips

  • Who is your audience?  In general your look and wardrobe should mirror your target audience – if your clients are wearing suits and ties – wear a suit and tie – it’s about creating trust.
  • Smile – a 1/2 smile usually works best but again it depends on your audience – I don’t want to see someone in banking laughing with my money – it’s about establishing a connection. 
  • Sadly no to black and whites – this is not a Adore Noir 1950’s Hollywood film set (I love shooting these type of shots but they’re not for corporate profiles)
  • Shoot shoulders up and closer – the eyes are the most important.
  • Uncomplicated backgrounds – it’s about reducing distractions.
  • Keep photo effects to a minimum.  This means keeping it as real as possible.  By all means remove that pimple but let’s leave the heavy skin softening and glow effects for the glamour shots.

Next well look at the composite shots.


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