Conveying mood, style or emotion with subject pose.

One of the most overlooked aspects of business photography is pose. Unlike fashion photography, where “Pose” is often treated as “primary” to the composition, in business photography pose is often given formulaic or cursory attention.

Is the lighting right? Is the person standing straight? Is the pose consistent throughout the set of portraits? That is often the entirety of attention given to the subject. But taking this approach is significantly short-changing the process, and the client.

In my opinion, there are actually three important things that a subject’s pose needs to accomplish during a photo shoot. First, the pose must be comfortable and attractive. People in business are (usually) not models and aren’t accustomed to standing in front of a stranger with a camera.  A huge part of my job is to put the subject at ease, which I do with suggestions about how to stand, what to do with their hands, etc.  This is a learning process for both of us as we discover what works for each individual.  Sometimes some unique positioning, such as arms akimbo, can make a subject more grounded and relaxed. For others maybe its hands in pockets..  Everybody is different but when they’re comfortable you can see it in their face.

Second, position/pose must encompass as much messaging as possible. A picture is a picture is a picture. But is this picture worth 1,000 words, or just five? Does it support the brand image? Does it amplify the message that the “business use” needs it to convey? Does it evoke emotions consistent with the brand? This is the aspect of pose that I use for the most positive impact. I take the time to look more holistically at the subject in the frame, considering the final intent of the end product.  Subtle changes, like a slight twist at the waist and neck…or a minor shoulder drop and slight raise of the chin can convey a vastly different attitude than just standing still, looking at the camera. I find this aspect of finding “the right pose” the most challenging and most rewarding.

The third characteristic of pose is memorability. I look for a pose that conveys uniqueness and marry it with background environment and facial expression. Not only does this help with messaging, it creates a distinctive impression that makes the image last, as you can see from the photo in this blog post.


Telling a story throughout a series of different shot.

A lot of the work I do includes taking a variety of different types of shots.  Sometimes I also am required to shoot video as well. When I accept a project like this, I understand that I’m signing up to “tell a consistent, dynamic story” that embodies the persona and core values of the client.

Assume that I already have obtained the key information I need to understand the core messaging and identity points for the company. I take that information and pack each separate shot with elements that weave that consistent story throughout the entire set of images. I use lighting, color palette, facial expressions, perspective, positioning, clothing, etc. as separate levers to produce “unique uniformity.” That seems like an oxymoron, but each image I take has a different purpose and subject, and accordingly, has to be distinctive.  At the same time, the corporate messaging must remain constant throughout the entire series.

Consider the images in this post. This client is a law firm and I wanted to project utmost professionalism without stuffiness. Inclusion. Openness and positivity. Individuality. Action.  With each image I worked to instill visual cues that evoked these traits into the shot … whether it was for a more relaxed group shot, a work session or individual portraits. Clothing, positioning and perspective, as well as bright lighting and a mature but bold color palette throughout the series all helped to maintain the story throughout the set.

Even when my assignment is not for an extensive mix of photographs, I work to familiarize myself with the existing corporate imagery so I can fold the ongoing story into the new shots I take. Doing so is good business, and it’s the way I work. Looking to make any shoot the most effective I can deliver for the client.


Functioning as part of your design team with a clear design aesthetic in mind.

I never could identify with photographers who come into a project like a laser guided airstrike, or those who exert total, unwavering control of a shoot since, “They just know better.”  Because the reality is, that a good photograph takes time and the knowledge of key, relevant corporate information. There’s no way I could know more about a company than the people who live in it every day.

It doesn’t take a village to build a successful photo shoot, but it does take a well-coordinated team effort.  My responsibility is to bring everything I know about the art of creating appealing, goal-based photography to the table.  I need to contribute my expertise, control of lighting, framing, exposure, composition and everything else about the mechanics of taking exceptional photographs. But to do that, it’s also my responsibility to incorporate my client’s corporate persona, design aesthetic and core values into my process to get the best shoot possible.

Therefore, it’s crucial that I understand and work closely with the people in charge of the client’s corporate identity. I become a part of the corporate design effort to the extent that the corporate design standards, identity and messaging are preserved and clearly displayed in the final products.

Let’s face it. When you are looking for a corporate or business photographer, or a photographer to capture your executive team’s portraits, you aren’t looking for someone who can create a unique, stand-alone piece of art. If I work with your company, that’s not what I do. I work for you. I support your design and marketing team. I come fully prepared to take direction from your team because that is the best way to create the images you can use and that will be the most impactful.

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