At some point in your career as a marketer or advertiser, you will need to take photographs of people at your company. It could be for your website, at an event, for your annual report or corporate brochure.

A good portrait will contain at least one element that reveals the person’s personality, attitude, unique mannerisms or any other features or traits that form the individual nature of the person. It will tell us something about the subject.

The following are some tips to consider when taking portrait photography for work.

1. Lighting
Use soft, diffused lighting – cloudy-day lighting or indirect window light is perfect, such as a large north-facing window. This type of lighting will help to reveal your subject’s features in a flattering way. You should also try to avoid harsh shadows.

2. Background
Keep the background simple to avoid distracting elements. Pick an appropriate background that will not wash out your subject’s features. Your goal is to achieve a distinction or contrast between the person and the background. Having the background out of focus is another technique to use that can soften and enhance the focal point of the subject.

3. In Close or Full Figure
Move in close for an above-the-waist or head-and-shoulders composition. For a less traditional approach, move back to show the entire figure. Take a few of these different positions; this will give you a few options to choose from when making your final selection as to what photo to use.

4. Perspective
For a traditional effect, position your camera at or slightly below your subject’s eye level. For a more dramatic effect, try an unusual angle or perspective.

5. Hand and Head Position
Pay particular attention to the position or hands and the angle of the head. In a portrait, hands and head can easily look awkward.

Angling the shoulders slightly gives your shot balance and helps stop your subject seeming out of proportion and lessens the width of the shoulders slightly. It also helps lead the viewer into the focal point of the face and may help with awkward head positions.

Pay attention to your subject’s hands and encourage the person to keep their hands relaxed and fingers separated. If your subject can’t seem to relax their hands – consider composing shots that don’t include the hands, or consider giving them something to hold onto.

6. Clothing
Have your subject wear neutral-colored clothing. Solids rather than prints and stripes work best. Contrast is important, especially in black and white photography.

It’s a good idea for the subject to bring a few different outfits so that you can have a little variety to work with. Collared shirts are flattering for many subjects, especially men; in the way the collar frames the face.

7. Makeup
Make sure your subject’s face and hair isn’t too shiny. Advise women to apply makeup that works well for the person, and not overdo it. Have your subject use color that adds just a little more definition.

Finally, don’t forget to take several pictures of your subject. With photography now digital, taking more pictures is quick and easy. Your end result will be much better, giving you more options to choose from to use in your marketing materials.

Remember: Make sure that you get all employees to sign a release form that gives you permission to use their picture on your marketing materials. This is particularly important if they should leave your company.

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