Corporate portraits are much more than selfies

The corporate portrait has become an important asset for people at all levels of business today. From LinkedIn to annual reports, the corporate portrait describes a individual’s corporate persona – sometimes called a personal brand.

For business, the corporate portrait positions the organisation’s leadership and talent as part of the brand. The corporate face of a person is more important than ever, as the power of image authenticity has risen.

Executing a great corporate portrait has more to it than most imagine. As with most situations, the purpose of the picture forms the foundations of the brief.

Working with a trusted professional achieves the best results, has the minimum impact on your business’ productivity and is cost effective.

What makes a great portrait?

A great portrait tells a story and it says so much more than just the likeness of the individual.

You’ve possibly experienced this yourself when you have see a picture of someone you know well. On occasions you’ve likely said, “that’s a great photo of Caroline”.

So why have you had this reaction?

  1. The picture showed Caroline as you know her. Somehow, her true character was communicated through her facial expression. Through this, the image became authentic
  2. It showed Caroline in her best light. As a friend, you know what this and it’s good to see her this way
  3. Her emotion in the photo was likely to have been positive
  4. The environment in which the picture was taken was in tune with your image of Caroline.

That’s why it’s so much easier for most people to determine a picture they like than be able to capture that photograph themselves. As human beings, we are able to read more into body language and facial expressions than we are immediately conscious of.  Researchers have identified 21 emotions that can be accurately assessed by looking at images.

Yet despite this knowledge, most people are no more able to take a selfie or shoot a portrait of a friend that shows you or your friend in their best light.  Why? Because it stems from the emotion, not the conscious exercise of certain facial muscles.

A skilled photographer will almost always engage a person in conversation prior to taking the picture. What they are doing is learning more about the person. They then combine this information with their skills in generating positive emotion and their technical photographic skills to create a great portrait.

What makes a great corporate portrait?

  1. The experience of having the portrait taken. To be dealt with professionally and be shown respect
  2. A great corporate portrait tells the story of the person’s corporate character and their relationship with the brand? Are they a senior leader or a customer service specialist?
  3. It communicates what what matters about the person. It could be leadership, interpersonal skills or reliability, for example.

What makes a great corporate portrait professional?

  1. Professionalism
    The ability to show up, present appropriately, interact professionally, get the job done to a high standard and get out of the way
  2. Experience
    The professional and interpersonal abilities to deal effectively with all levels of the organisation
  3. Participate in the brief
    The best professional photographer will help the business to decide what matters most about this portrait. They will seek information that helps set expectations, understand who they are photographing, their roles and the purpose of the pictures
  4. Cost effectiveness
    The photographic business will be able to work within your budget and/or provide sound advice on the right amount of effort and therefore budget to apply
  5. Productivity
    The efficiency of the photographer in working with the business to minimise impacts on staff and business productivity.

How to be your best in a corporate portrait

While the best photographers will be able to help you be at ease and get the best from the moment, what individuals bring to the portrait session is usually seen in the image.

  1. Bring a positive and open approach
  2. Think about what makes you most confident in your work and what’s important to those who see your photograph
  3. Trust the photographer’s ability and respect that the location and style of images has been agreed with the person that has commissioned them.

How to select the right photographer and brief them effectively

A skilled professional photographer with experience in corporate portraiture will be able to show you examples of their work across a variety of industries, positions, usage purposes and other contexts.

Helping a photographer to understand the person in a business context will make a big difference to the results:

–      What does your brand represent?

–      Who is the person being photographed?

–      What does the person do?

–      How does the business and its customers want this person to be portrayed?

Furthermore, assessing how this photo will be used and therefore, how important the image is to the business, will help decide the right investment. 

Of particular importance is determining the implications of the brief. Clearly a different amount of time and effort is required to shoot every individual in a location aligned to their workplace than it is when using a consistent background.

A skilled and helpful photographer will be able to guide their customers with advice to achieve the best results in line with their business needs and expectations. 

In summary

The corporate portrait is ubiquitous and plays an important part of any business’ image library. Capturing a photograph of a person at their best involves much more than meets the eye. Those responsible for commissioning corporate portrait photography should consider the purpose and importance of the photograph when briefing the photographer.

Your brand will benefit from a well-considered approach.


Images for Business exists to visually inspire people through perfectly crafted visual content. We are commercial photographers that specialise in still, motion and time-lapse photography for businesses.

We offer quality, creativity and solutions, with an easy to deal with approach and results that add financial value to our clients.


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