Planning a company photoshoot but don’t know where to start? Read our step by step guide
Employee photos are a great way to enhance brand image and show off your company to prospective clients. Headshots of the CEO, action shots of employees on the shop floor or office shots of top professionals all help give a professional and dynamic company impression.
The downside of company photoshoots is that someone has to organise them. You. And it’s not as easy as you might think. Pulling off a great company photoshoot takes planning, persistence and flexibility. It also takes a great photography team.
Luckily, Retratos Barcelona has put together a few tips and tricks to make sure your company photoshoot goes off without a hitch.
Plan the photoshoot strategically
First off, discuss the objective of the company photoshoot with marketing/public relations departments. Do you need these images for a new company website, brochures or sales materiales? Or maybe you just need headshots to run on an About page or in bios.
Whatever the objective of the shoot is, make sure everyone is in agreement before looking for a photographer.
Some key questions to ask yourself are:
- What is the purpose of these photos?
- What impression do we want our photos to give to our clients? Do we want to come across as friendly and fun loving, or more serious and trustworthy?
- Do we want to use an environmental background in our office (perhaps you have an interesting space that is essential to your business), or should we go for a plain coloured background?
Once you have answered these questions you’ll be ready to discuss your ideas with your photographer, and they will be able to advise you on the best way to get the perfect photos for your company’s vision. After all, a young tech startup will require very different photos than a serious law firm.
Finally, make sure you know exactly what format, size and style of pictures are needed: knowing whether they’re for the company’s social networks or for a technical brochure will make a huge difference to how you organise and carry out the shoot.
Decide if you need to call in the professionals
Taking the photos yourself is always an option, as long as you have a top-level DSLR camera, photo editing software, lighting equipment and time to prepare. Besides this, you’ll also need to know how to pose each staff member to make them look their best, and make them feel relaxed in front of the camera. Not every company has access to that kind of equipment (or the know-how to use it!), so most tend to work with professionals like Retratos.
Pick the right photographer
Focus your search on photographers who specialise in headshots and portraits. After all, you wouldn’t hire a food photographer to take wedding snaps!
Make sure the photographer has experience with on-location company shoots. They should feel comfortable chatting with CEOs as well as floor staff and be able to make everyone feel at ease. It’s essential that they are able to work well under time pressure.
Make sure your chosen photographer works your geographical area. For example, Retratos focuses on Barcelona but our photographers travel as well. Make sure the photographer you pick is available in your area and has a portable photo studio (plus backup equipment) which they can bring to your location.
Lastly, a good photographer knows the worth of having other professionals on the team, such as a makeup artist, to ensure that you get the highest quality results. They should have their own contacts so you needn’t worry about finding the rest of the team members.
Start making lists
We hope you like making lists, because company photoshoots require a lot of them! You need to break out each person and group of people who will be photographed. You also need to list each location and object that will feature.
You might also want to divide these lists into formal and informal categories. You might want an array for formal headshots mixed with some casual at-work photographs. Make sure you know who’ll be posing for what.
Why the list-mania? Because later on you’ll need to schedule availability for these people and locations and ensure they’re ready on the morning of the shoot. Best to get organised now than waste time and money on the day.
How long does a portrait take?
Ideally, we love to spend at least 15 minutes with each client. Capturing a portrait that you’ll be proud of is very different experience from having your photo taken at school. Besides discussing any personal requests with the client (do they have a favourite side?), we fine-tune the lighting and work through different poses / expressions that flatter each individual. We then review the images with the client to see which poses / expressions they like best.
We firmly believe that the most important element to a successful portrait is the connection between the subject and the photographer. Making the client feel at ease, natural and relaxed can sometimes take a little time.
However, if your company schedule doesn’t have the luxury of 15 mins per person, we can (and have) produced amazing company portraits with just 5 minutes per person with our Mobile Portrait Studio. Here are some examples:
Make a photoshoot schedule and (try to) stick to it
What time of day is best for your company to do the photoshoot? For example, if mornings are a busy time it might be best not to interrupt people then. Consider holding some of the the shoot out of normal working hours, or at least be aware of important staff member’s schedules before you assign them a time slot.
Now comes the hard point – coordinating everyone’s busy schedules. Send out scheduled slots to everyone who’s going to be photographed. Follow up with reminder mails a week before, and then a couple of days before. Include any special information in the reminders, like location and clothing recommendations. For our top tips on what to wear for your photoshoot, click here.
Once you’ve got a schedule mapped, try to stick to it. There will be unexpected changes on the day, but making people wait hours for headshots or stay away from their desks for long periods is not advisable.
Do your preparation
If you opt for photos that show your office’s background, taking rough test shots on your phone will really help speed things up on the day. Try out different locations, poses and backgrounds to get a general idea of what works and what doesn’t – it won’t be perfect but it will help.
Don’t be afraid to show these shots to the professional photographer you’ve hired. They’ll be a great way to estimate time and total cost for the shoot.
Do your legals
Do you know what kind of contractual agreements you might need for the company shoot? If not, the photographer should be able to orient you here.
Ask for advice on model releases and getting employees to sign them. Plus make sure that you have a legal agreement with the photographer that states your company have the correct licenses for the photos.
It sounds complicated but a good professional photographer will be able to help you out.
Send out photoshoot instructions
You want everyone to be in the right place and the right time. So send emails and reminders with the following information to relevant employees:
- Time and date of photography session
- Objective of the shoot
- Instructions on dress or make-up (for our advice on what to wear, click here. For advice on makeup, click here).
- Instructions on preparation (ie, do they need to clear their desks?)
- Location of shoot
And don’t forget about Security! Notify the building’s security team that there’ll be a photographer on-site and possibly some disruption. They’ll advise you if you need to sign off on any special paperwork.
It’s a nice touch to let the cleaning team know as well. That way they’ll be prepped for any extra cleaning they need to do.
Stay on track throughout the shoot
Our team at Retratos Barcelona arrive typically 1.5 – 2 hours before the photoshoot starts, as we need time to set up our studio, do test shots and perfect the lighting. Now would be a good change to meet with the photographer to give them a printed schedule of the day (if you haven’t already emailed it to them). This is your last chance to clarify exactly what you need from them, so give good instructions.
Monitor the photoshoot in progress and don’t be afraid to keep everyone on track. Professional photographers need time and space to do their best work, but they’ll appreciate you taking care of the scheduling and logistics on the day.
Planning a company photoshoot – that’s a wrap
As you can tell, there is much more that goes into a successful company photoshoot than many people realise, and we hope this guide has answered your questions.