How to produce shining in-house corporate photography

By Joe Bell

Corporate photography is essential for creating the best possible image for your organisation. Find out how to create professional results in-house.

Images can have a range of meanings. The best images communicate precisely the meanings you intended. It’s important to consider corporate photography as a window into your organisation, to create a good representation you need to provide a clear window and have all your best assets on show.

Finding a good Photographer

Before finding a good in-house photographer, it’s important to consider whether or not you want to commission a professional photographer. Choosing a professional photographer is usually a more expensive option but it does maximise your chances of ending up with the best photographs for your needs.

If cost is a consideration, finding an in-house photographer can be a great solution. The most important rule is to find someone who is good at photography. There is bound to be someone in your company who does photography as a hobby. One way to find your hidden photographer is to hold a photography competition, displaying the winners in the foyer or company newsletter. Potential photographers can then be asked if they would like to take photos for the organisation; talented amateurs will often jump at the chance.

Before making your final choice, ask your photographer to provide a small portfolio of their work. A good photographer will have a range of different shots; from portraits, weddings, landscapes to abstract. Choosing the right photographer will save your organisation time and money.

Choosing a corporate style

Choosing a corporate style is important for maintaining consistency in your brand, as well as looking great. Before starting to choose a style, it may be worth checking if your company has a Style Guide, which should provide guidance on the size and style of photographs.

Currently there are many popular and successful trends in corporate and business photography, notably shallow depth of field techniques, long exposure abstract shots and natural shots of employees. Other things you should consider in relation to your corporate style are colours, clothing and objects.

Abstract photo example from the Crown Prosecution Service website

Taking the photos

Portrait photography is difficult to get right and there’s a simple checklist you should follow to ensure optimum results:

  • Are you using a shallow depth of field? Perhaps consider using Aperture Priority mode which automatically determines the perfect shutter speed to suit your aperture, creating perfectly crisp portraits with blurred backgrounds.
  • Are you using lighting? Try not to use the inbuilt flash because it can often flood the image with light. Use a three point lighting method to mimic natural light or a reflector. Think in terms of contrast and shadows.
  • Are you using a background? A plain coloured backdrop is easier to light whereas a natural backdrop such as a window may require a reflector or further lighting to contrast the strong light coming in at the windows; otherwise your figure might become a silhouette.
  • Are you using a head shot or body shot? Keep the positioning consistent.
  • Are there rules on clothing or personal appearance? Ensure the subject conforms to company clothing guidelines to avoid any difficulties.
  • Always take two or three photos of the same shot.

Most of these rules can be implemented when photographing objects but you also need to take into account framing and whether or not you want to use the object on a transparent background. A lightbox is a relatively cheap method (and can even be homemade) of isolating an object on a coloured background, also making it very easy to remove a background in post-production.

A DIY lightbox

Abstract photography doesn’t really have a set of guidelines; try experimenting with different shutter speed times and camera movement.

Editing

Editing is a crucial part of the photography process and can make incredible difference to your end result. Before you start the editing process, it’s important to determine which kind of photo editor you’re going to use. If you’re not very experienced at editing, there’s a range of simple and effective web editors available at little or no cost. For professional editors, there are more expensive desktop solutions such as Photoshop, Lightroom and Paintshop Pro.

One of the more basic techniques is to ensure the photograph has a balanced contrast; which is best achieved through “levels” or “curves” features where a graph illustrates the range of tones. Colour control can also be used to strongly influence the mood, with warm tones creating a more joyful mood and cold tones creating the opposite. Over-saturated photos can come across as unprofessional; consider carefully whether or not to reduce your image’s saturation.

A before and after example of using the levels feature to edit an image

Exporting images correctly is essential for providing the best possible results. For websites, you may want to consider making the image at least 250 DPI (Dots per inch) and compressing the image to increase website loading speeds and reduce bandwidth costs. However, compressing the image too much may cause the image quality to deteriorate. When printing photographs, compression isn’t necessary and the image should be at least 350 DPI for the highest quality printing.

Copyright

Establishing copyright ownership for your company’s photography is essential; preventing theft and manipulation of photos without permission.

The best method of ensuring the correct copyright for your images is to add author and copyright information to your image’s meta data (extra data about your image in the form of text), more specifically through Exif (Exchangeable image file format) on software such as Photoshop and Lightroom.

Some social media websites strip this data and claim ownership of your content. For example, Facebook announced in their “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” that:

“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

Twitter and Google+ follow similar techniques. Although it may not affect the intellectual property, it is sometimes worth putting a small copyright logo in your image to prevent unauthorised use. If you would still like control over copyright, Flickr provides a range of Creative Commons licenses.

By following all the steps above you'll ensure that your organisation will be represented in the manner you intended it to be; profesionally, whilst at the same time making the most out of your team and potentially reducing costs.

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Joe Bell of Ecru Joe Bell of Ecru

This article was written by Joe Bell of Ecru. If you have any questions regarding this article or would like to discuss your next web site project please call us on 0800 0433 963 or get in touch via our contact form.

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