Point and click: how to get a great corporate shot with a smartphone
By Josh Hall, filmmaker/photographer
From adverts to case studies, social media to internal comms – there’s not much that can’t be improved with with a high quality corporate photo!
The best case scenario is that you’ll have the time, space and budget to hire a professional photography team to capture some great shots, but in the real world sometimes that’s just not possible. And when half your team only has half an hour to spare, then a good iPhone shot is a lot better than no photo at all.
Luckily there are some simple pointers you can use to make sure your smartphone shots look as good as possible.
Lighting is everything (and it makes your shot)
For this helpful titbit, we’re going to presume you don’t have access to a fancy lighting rig, so you’re going to have to scout the right place to get the best light on your subject.
Ideally, the best place for a portrait is outside on an overcast day. It’s important to make sure your subject’s face is in equal brightness to the background, as to not make the photo inconsistent.
This was taken on an overcast day, meaning there are no strong shadows across the face, and the background is in equal brightness to the face.
If you’re shooting on a sunny day, try to avoid making the subject squint. In this case, it’s best to find a shaded area, or wait for the sun to go behind the clouds. You can shoot with their back turned towards the sun, but this can cause problems with the face being underexposed.
If it’s rainy, or just typically horrible British weather, you’ll need to shoot indoors. The best places are those with natural daylight, and white (not that nasty yellow) lighting. Also, try to get as much natural light as possible, so look for a window with light pouring through. Even on a grey day, you can create subtle shading that makes your headshot much more interesting!
Also, be wary of using flash. If a subject is wearing glasses or reflective clothing (such as high-vis PPE), using a directional flash from your phone will often result in some nasty lens flare which not only looks distracting, but also has an impact on the details of your surroundings. It’s best to avoid flash where possible, unless you are using a DSLR with a hotshoe flashgun.
Plan where you’re shooting (and make it relevant)
Think about what you’re shooting. Is it a headshot for the website? Is it for a social media post promoting one of your products? Is it a team shot? What if you need to be in the shot?
You need to ask yourself these questions before you shoot. What would help to promote your brand image? Is there somewhere well-lit with branding in the background, such as a banner or signage? If you can incorporate these things, you can come out with a shot that does more than show off the person you’re photographing; you can create a picture that showcases the brand identity of the company.
A useful tip: if you’re shooting headshots, make them consistent. Head and shoulder portraits, shot with the person looking straight-on into the camera appear very natural and personable. Also, colourful backgrounds help, or images with activity in the background.
One simple improvement you can make to your photography is to create what is known as a shallow “depth-of-field”. To do this on an iPhone, bring your subject close to yourself, but far away from the background. Then focus on your subject’s face – you’ll create a much more dramatic, interesting photo. You can do this on a DSLR or with manual mode by using a lower F-stop.
Here, Jim has been taken far away from the building behind him, creating a dramatic out-of-focus effect to the image behind.
Be heavy on the trigger (because more is more)
It’s always best in photography to have too much, rather than not enough. When you’re taking portraits, it’s a good idea to take more than you think you need. When taking the photo, keep talking to your subject; engage with them and make them comfortable.
Sure, you may get a lot of shots with their mouths half-open, but you’ll also get much more sincere, honest photographs, representing better the attitudes of the people that work with you.
Also choose a couple of different shots for your locations, then nicely back them up in a place where they won’t be lost and can be used or the future. It’s always good to organise your files where you can dig them out easily when you need them in the future. After all, if it’s a good photo, you’ll definitely want to use it again!
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