What is corporate photography?
Corporate photography is the use of photography within large businesses and to promote their businesses in a positive light and to show what they have to offer. Corporate photography can be split into different categories depending on the images. Corporate photography covers a range of different images from Event Photography to Professional Corporate Portraits, each with their own uses.
Corporate portraits are much more than just men in suits. They cover a wide range of different styles.
- Outdoor Portraits
- Indoor Portraits
- Editorial Shots
- Group Shots
The above styles cover a range of different needs for the corporation to which they are being shot for. Each style can be used in many different ways. It just depends on how the corporation wants to show themselves and how they want to use the images.
The above image is of a typical corporate styled headshot. Headshots can vary completely depending on the organisations preferences. Some headshots can be taken on a lighter background or with a blurred out environment. The key areas of headshots that are carried through each portrait is that the face and features are all pin sharp as well as eye contact and a positive character being built up in the photograph. The photographs are all taken to a high standard. Some may be studio based however a lot of corporate photographers work on location and use speed lights. A portable studio.
Corporate photographers face many challenges when photographing as there is so many light sources to battle with. Studio is easily controlled however out on location has its own set of skills required to take such high quality portraits.
The above portrait I find is successful. Beautifully lit with bright eyes and a good catchlight. No harsh shadows on the face or features. Wearing a black jacket against a black backdrop could have been dangerous as details may have been lost however there is a slight rim light to rescue the jacket from the darkness helping the sitter stand out. The image is in focus and sharp with no color casts. A very well taken and simple corporate headshot.
The above image is a great example of a corporate outdoor shot. Breaking the rules slightly as women shouldn't be photographed from below however, in the context of this photograph it works very well. The young woman looks to be in power and the backdrop works incredibly well as it looks as if this is her empire. Unfortunately the building is not quite straight thanks to lens distortion however that is something that could easily be fixed.
Again the image is softly and evenly lit. Possibly reflectors and a speed light have been used here. to evenly lit the model and stop any harsh shadows. As well as the lighting, the subject is again in perfect focus and the image is nicely sharpened. Not much processing has been done on top. Nice warm tones throughout the image and clever use of space. I like that there is a lot of space to include the background. With the angle, the focus of the foreground and blurred effect of the background gives off the effect that the subject is powerful and owns the image and everything in it.
Unlike the headshot the subject is not making eye contact however the image speaks for itself and there is plenty character in this image.
Unsurprisingly Editorial Styled portraits fall into the corporate bracket. Editorial styled images are one of the best ways of telling a story through an image as so much is incorporated into the one image.
For example, the above image is clearly showing a man happy at his work in a brewers. You can see the style of work as well as work space and an atmosphere to pull you in.
Editorial photographs are very well thought out before they are shot. What does the photographer want to portray in their photograph as well as what is the message that the sitters want to send out. It is team work and a connection between the sitters and the photographers.
The above image is in full focus with some nice contrasts in the shadows and highlights to give the image a boost. The colors are strong and the sitter has been nicely illuminated to pop out of the background. I feel this image will have been taken using a speed light with a soft box as there is a nice flood of light over the image yet controlled.
I like the pose used as it gives a nice relaxed feel to the image as well as showing that the job itself isn't stressful. The subject looks at ease in front of the camera as well as being in perfect focus. The use of backlight is also effective as it separates the subject from the background.
After looking at some contemporary works in the corporate sector of photography, I felt it only right to look at some historical works. starting with the famous August Sander whom I feel is a great starting place.
August Sander was a photographer that was active at the beginning of the 20th century. Famous for his book 'Face of our Time' which showcased different sectors of society through photographs.
The image above is one of a chef. Very different style to what would be taken today. The style at the time was very straight up and down portraits. The sitter not smiling and looking straight on and serious towards the camera. Where if we look at the image of the Brewmaster by JVL Photography, it is a similar idea however more relaxed.
Historical image still have the same technical standards. Well lit, sharp composed correctly etc... However, todays society is more relaxed and prefer more vibrant and relaxed images which can be seen in the contemporary examples.
Fast forward to the 1940s. Still a historical image however, looking more like an image you would see today. A young woman looking more relaxed at her work, making a connection with the photographer and smiling. Not the straight up and down portrait that we saw earlier in the century.
The image was taken to demonstrate how women had taken up 'mens' jobs when the second world war broke out. A very important documentation of the time period. A time when women were now more accepted into a working role rather than being the stay at home mothers and wives.
I like the composition of the image, sitting on the rule of thirds. The woman posed nicely, looking relaxed and said before it is nice to see the connection made with the photographer. The image is looking a little darker in the background however, the foreground has been lit nicely with nice lighting over the subject.
Factory conditions would have been poor but this image promotes the working lifestyle positively, in a successful environment portrait. Just like todays images of people smiling and happy in an office environment where we all know that office work is laborious and boring.
One thing that is becoming more common in corporate images is the 'fake' look. Most group and team portraits in the work environment promote extremely happy and smiley faces and very posed. Much different the the industrial environment group portraits seen by the likes of Charles C Ebbets with his iconic image of Lunch Upon a Skyscraper.
The historical image, although relaxed and men enjoying lunch still doesn't have the fake feel to it that can be seen in todays images. Todays images are clearly posed and forced. Ebbets image looks natural and the men all look relaxed and natural and not forcing themselves to look a certain way for the photograph.
The contemporary group image looks bright and airy, something that would be expected in todays work places. Each of the models attention is diverted to the camera and they are posed and standing in certain places to balance the image. The models all look like they have been hard at work and only been distracted by the instance that a photographer has wanted to take their photographer however it is also clear that this is a very set up image.
Corporate photographers need to think on their feet. Know how to balance group shots as well as working with all different types of light. I feel that there is now a higher expectation to corporate photographers as businesses and corporations wants to sell themselves to people and do that through photographs that only show the best and good side. Not showing any negative aspects and the real stress of the job.
Also many images used in brochures are stock images, these images can be of any office and not using any trained staff but models. This then sets a standard to photographers doing work for certain corporations. To get the same fake yet natural happy feeling into images that are bound to that one company.
AD production line at Douglas Aircraft Corporation.
(U.S. Navy photo)
I think it is important to step away from portraits. A lot of corporate images you see used in brochures and magazines are not just of people but a wide shot of the actual environment they want to promote. For example, colleges and schools will show a wide shot of a class room.
I really like this image and it is one I have enjoyed viewing. The repetition shows the grand scale of the production and the first plane that is in focus gives off all the details that are missing from the planes in expanding background. You can see everyone at work.
The angle creates leading lines that make your eye follow the never ending line of planes as well as a series of shapes within the image reinforcing it making it strong and one you want to keep looking at.
A learning environment in use. Not the best example however much like the previous image of the planes the image shows you everything you need to see about the learning environment. This image looking less set up than many others I have viewed.
Corporate and Event photography photographs aren't always just about people. Environment and detail shots are just as important. For example at larger events, photos of the set up rooms before being wrecked by the guests are important.
The above image is incredibly well shot. The simple symmetry works great, the main attraction dead center in the image as well as using the colored lighting to the advantage here to give the image a little edge. The image is just breath taking, vibrant and you can already feel the atmosphere. A great image for a brochure for the design and lighting companies or simply for the corporation treating their employees to a well deserved night out.
Looking back at headshots. It is nor surprising that these are a very common type of photography. Seen almost everyday. They haven't changed much over the years. The early headshots such as this one from above look very much like the paintings from monarchs from even earlier times. Serious not smiling, uniform or important details such as possessions present to indicate status. Other than the longer exposure times in early photographed that pretty much prevented people from smiling.
I like the old set up very simple and does the job it was intended to do. My favorite thing about the above image and other older photographs is that incredible sharpness. You see every detail of his beard, and details in the skin. this is before the incredible technology today in the expensive professional lenses. I also like the clarity, the darker blacks against the whites. The image pops and looks almost 3D.
Overall Corporate photography is little simple things done well to create a series of images fit for the corporations needs. As seen not much has changed over the years. Just the environment in which the photographs have been taken.
The most complicated aspect of the job would be the competing with different light sources and learning your equipment inside out so you know exactly what you need in any lighting situation and how to control it.