I'm sure there's plenty of questions you'd like to ask about corporate portraits, here's some frequently asked question - call me or email me if you have any others - I'll add them to the list below
Everything's a niche market - and corporate portraits are no exception. The high street - family groups - weddings - babies - etc photographer is targeting their niche and I'm targeting mine.
Technical issues are a relatively small part of photography - you're paying for experience: the ability to help you to relax and feel comfortable in front of the camera, the ability to direct you into a perfect pose - even if you're world class business exec or celebrity who doesn't take orders from anyone. I have the knowledge and understanding of what the viewer sees in an image.
Are you serious about your business?
In the back of my wardrobe is a guitar, in the back of my head I'm Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan rolled into one - somewhere between my mind and the guitar strings something goes awry. Owning a camera doesn't make you a photographer! But, who knows, you may get lucky, though chances are you won't. Consider the time you'll save - I'll get it right first time. Consider the fees I charge, not excessive for an expert - in fact I'm great value.
It doesn't have to be corporate and serious, but it does have to be you and it does have to appeal to the audience your business is targeting. Humour can miss the point, but there's no problem with being a little 'unbuttoned'. Biggest mistake I see, and I see it more often than I should, is the 'Make-over' images used by some business women, c'mon guys what are you selling? But I produce corporate portraits for artists and musicians not just 'business' people - it's not about being serious and dull it's about being relevant.
Generally, I'll talk to you about the image we're looking for, I'll suggest two or three locations/poses, then I'll get the expression and body language right. We're working towards something special, the first shot isn't always right, and you don't see the images that don't work. If I think there's several images that could work for you, I'll show you a rough proof and we can choose together. Sometimes I'll deliver two or three different images - but I'm only committing to one.
Absolutely not! Look at the business it can bring your way, look at the goodwill it can engender for your business, look at all the ways you can use your portrait photography. It's possibly the best value business investment.
The vital decision - whether to buy from you, or not - whether to hire you, or not - whether to trust you, or not - is made before a word is spoken - in the off-line world it's made the moment you walk into a room and it takes just 8 seconds, or less.
Sometimes, in the press, in a brochure, on your website your corporate portrait represents you, only in these situations the decision's made even quicker. Right or wrong first impressions count.
I'm a location photographer, I find a studio restricting and uninspiring (for corporate portraiture) and it's intimidating for those not used to it. I much prefer working in your business, or close by, it captures you and the feel of your business - everyone's more relaxed on home turf - it's more time efficient for you too.
I usually carry a green/blue backdrop so I can alter the background you wish - It works very well if you need to be seen at several locations throughout the country, or the world. It can incur an extra cost if I need to digitally manipulate the image to create a natural look.
Of course, you should use the same image everywhere - you are your brand! Would you keep changing your logo? I supply all your images in web and print resolution.
Generally I like to talk to my subject for 10 or 15 minutes before I take my camera out of its bag, then another 5 or 10 minutes to get the shots. The finished files are delivered about two or three days later. If the images are required urgently I can process them onsite (give me a desk and a plug socket) this needs to be pre-arranged and is an extra cost.
No problem. I can discuss your photograph with you PA or another member of your team and set up the shot so I'm not wasting your time, but I do need to talk to you so I understand exactly who you are, we need to build a relationship, I need 15 minutes of your time - un-interrupted. However, just like yourself, I don't like to waste my time, I'll wait for you to finish a call or finish a meeting, for 10 or 15 minutes, but after that you have to pay (£90 per hour or part), which seems entirely reasonable.
Well my feeling is: the fact that I'm not based next door to your business is my problem, not yours; so why should you have to pay for me to get there! I have a minimum fee - currently £180, so sometimes my traveling cost reduce the profit to a few quid if there's just one or two images to capture. I do, of course, charge travel expenses after I arrive at your first location, if I need to travel to numerous sites to photograph you and your team.
Yes, if you're really sure you want me to. Corporate portraits should portray you as you really are. If nature conspired to give you three noses, it's better for your portrait to show that. I believe Henry VIII once fell for an 'over enhanced' image but the unfortunate Queen ended up losing her head. Be yourself!
Well, it's about being yourself. Do you usually wear make-up? If you do then wear it, maybe take a little extra care. For those who don't, very, very, very occasionally I'll powder a 'hotspot' if there's some uncontrollable light source.
If you don't like your image I do offer a money back guarantee, but I do expect a valid reason other than (basically): "I'm not as handsome/beautiful as I imagine I am/want to be. I guess I have to tread carefully here, but the only clients I've photographed who haven't been happy with their image are the ones who have a problem with themselves anyway.
Of course, there's a rising discount for three or more portraits (continuous shooting at same location). I also provide an hourly rate service for your support staff, rates vary depending on numbers, let me know the numbers and I'll provide a fixed price quote.
Fees under £250 - payment due when the photographs are taken.
Invoices to be settled within 14 days.
If an image requires excessive digital manipulation there will be a charge - agreed before work commences.
Travel expenses between locations.
Processing and outputting images on locations - £90 per hour or £25 per image whichever is least.
I own the image, you have permission to use the image freely for business and promotional use with the exception of advertising or distribution by/to a third party, fees for this will be negotiated on a individual basis.
Here's a list of ideas - Corporate portraits will build your business if you use your image effectively you will soon realise a good quality portrait is an positive investment not a cost.
My personal passion for portrait photography, my vision, my virtuosity, my practicality - everything that makes me an individual is poured into my photography - you're buying a piece of me and my whole life experience. Basically I'm a damned good corporate portrait photographer - I honestly don't believe there's anyone better (that's not a conceit, I just believe in what I do) - and I deliver on time.
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Alan Howarth - happy answering corporate portrait questions on the Web & for the Real World
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