Your complete guide to corporate portrait options and terminology

So you’re looking to book a corporate photographer? Hiring a corporate photographer can be a fantastic way to get new business headshots and portraits for you and your team. But where do you start?

This is a problem that a lot of people come up against when they’re thinking about getting new headshots. Most people aren’t familiar with the process and the different options available.

Luckily, you’re in the right place.

We’ve put together this handy guide to help you understand your options and terminology for corporate portraits. By the end of this guide, you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to pick the best corporate photographer for your needs and also brief them like a pro.

Let’s dive in.

* Featured image by the excellent Lee Christiansen, an Uxbridge based professional photographer.

Types of corporate portrait

One of the most important elements of a corporate portrait is its style. The type of portrait you choose has a significant effect on the look and feel of the photo and how it comes across to others. There are two main types of corporate portraits: headshots and half-length portraits.

(Full-length portraits are an option, but you usually don’t need them (unless you have shoes you simply have to show off.)

Corporate headshots

Headshot & Portrait Photographer Ealing London
Clean and natural business portrait by London-based corporate photographers Ellamax.

Corporate headshots are close portraits showing the head and shoulders with a strong focus on the face.

Headshots are popular for professional settings where the photos could appear as small thumbnails. You can still see a recognisable face even when they’re small.

One of the benefits of headshots is that they remove any potential distractions. If you don’t want to show much of your body or clothing and prefer to focus on the eyes and a confident gaze into the lens, a corporate headshot is an ideal choice.

Half-length corporate portraits

Corporate & Portrait Photographer Islington London
London-based portrait photographer Michael Donald really captures his subject’s character and personality.

Half-length of waist-up portraits show the upper part of the body.

Half-length business portraits are great when you want to bring a bit more personality to the photos. They can show body language and dress choices, and if you’re not shooting against a plain backdrop, they also have room to show a bit more of your environment.

Getting a mixture of headshots and half-length photos in a single corporate portrait sitting is common. Having a variety of shots means you can use them on various platforms and for different purposes. 

Corporate portrait background options

Much like the type of portrait you choose, the background has a significant impact on the end result. When you’re organising your shoot, try to think about what you’re looking for in your portraits and how the background will affect them.

Here are your main background options:

Plain background portraits

Corporate & Headshot Photographer Stratford-upon-Avon Warwickshire
100% focus on the subject and what a great portrait by Warwickshire based photographer Lorentz Gullachsen.

Many corporate photographers will set up white, grey or black backdrops and photograph everyone against this.

Pros of plain backdrop corporate portraits

  • There are no distractions, it’s only the sitter (the person being photographed) with nothing distracting around them.
  • Consistent. It’s easy to photograph dozens of the team with similar-looking results.
  • Relatively easy to replicate. You might need portraits of new employees in a year from now. If you previously had business portraits showing an environment around sitters, this might be hard to replicate with changes that are beyond your control (weather, change of office, etc…)

Cons of plain backdrop corporate portraits

  • Plain backdrop shots can look a little bland and similar to any other corporate headshot, especially on white, where there’s “nothing” around you.
  • They often need to be photographed in a studio or with a portable studio set up.

Corporate portraits showing the office or location around you

Corporate & Headshot Photographer Stratford-upon-Avon Warwickshire
Another business portrait by Lorentz Gullachsen, this time on location.

If you’ve got a nice office, your building’s got some nicely designed spaces, or the area around your office looks good, you might prefer to show the environment in the photos.

Business photos that show a nice work environment around you often give an editorial portrait look and say a bit more about the person. You’re not alone in a white space, you’re part of a bigger story.

Having shots incorporate the environment around you and your team can help you look and feel relaxed in corporate portraits, too.

Mobile studio for corporate portraits

Sometimes, you’ll want to have studio-style corporate portraits taken, without having to travel to a dedicated photo studio.

For example:

Your company is running an event, and you want to use this opportunity to capture headshots of the whole team in the venue. A good corporate photographer will be able to set up a simple studio with a backdrop and lighting.

This type of studio can be set up in your offices, too, saving you the logistic nightmare and loss of time if the entire team had to take a few hours off to visit an actual studio.

Corporate portrait orientation options

The photo orientation is a result of how the camera is held. Landscape orientation photos are wide, and portrait orientation images are tall.

Portrait orientation

Corporate & Event Photographer Islington London
London-based photographer Marcello Simeone expertly captures headshots in the studio.

As most corporate portrait sitters (the people in the photo) will be standing or sitting upright, their shape will fill a portrait orientation image nicely and leave more space in landscape orientation images.

Landscape orientation

Headshot & Portrait Photographer Wandsworth London
Headshot photographer Edward Mitchell captures a natural portrait in the studio.

Landscape orientation (not to be mistaken for landscape photography) for corporate photos is great when you want to leave ‘breathing’ space in the image. This can be handy if you want to overlay the image with text and need space on the left or right of your sitter.

Landscape orientation is also good when you want to show a bit more of the environment around the sitter to help tell a story about them.

Of course, there are also layout considerations. Portrait orientation images fit nicely on a mobile screen or social feed.

Outfit options for a corporate portrait or headshot

Commercial & Portrait Photographer Ipswich Suffolk
This out-of-office personal branding portrait by John Ferguson shows just how effective it can be to take photos out of the working environment.

Depending on how many shots and variations you need and your time and budget, you might want to have corporate photos taken in more than one outfit or combination.

Typical examples of this on corporate shoots are :

  • With or without a jacket
  • With or without a tie
  • With or without glasses
  • Smart or casual (depending on your industry)
  • Trying out a different top

Each change can take time but also give you more options to choose from. Sometimes, you’ll want one look for your LinkedIn profile and a different business portrait for your website.

If you’re looking for a bit more guidance on outfits for your shoot, check out our guide on what to wear for your corporate headshot session.

Shoot options for corporate portraits

Commercial, PR & Corporate Photographer Truro Cornwall
Cornwall based professional photographer Paul PR4Photos is a master at capturing natural, authentic and professional shots.

As you can see, there are a few choices you’ll need to make when booking a corporate photoshoot.

One of the best ways to make the most of your shoot is to have an idea of what you want before the shoot. Take a look at corporate photography portfolios for inspiration. Looking at a variety of photographers’ work will give you an idea of what will work for you and your business.

But while looking at portfolios will help, there’s nothing better than discussing your options with your photographer. Experienced corporate photographers will have some fantastic tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your shoot.

By knowing what you want and finding the best photographer, you’ll get company portraits and headshots you’ll be eager to feature on your website, LinkedIn, social media pages and loads of other places.

Have a fantastic photo shoot!