The key to great portraits – work quickly
Over the past ten years I seem to have spent a fair chunk of my working life in warehouses. I mention that as this particular job, shooting PR shots of the three brothers that run this tile retail company, have possibly the cleanest warehouse I’ve ever set foot in!
But I digress.
Sometimes you know that a job is going to be good fun, and easy, the second you book it in. This was going to be one of them. First of all, it resulted from a phone call from John at JWC PR. I’ve known John for a while, and he only works with great clients – always a good start. Secondly, his description of the clients assured me they’d be easy going, dead relaxed and happy for me to wander around and take shots as I wished. Thirdly, it was booked for a Friday afternoon – which always affects the mood of a shoot. There’s a real difference between turning up somewhere first thing on Monday morning and arriving after lunchtime on Friday afternoon. And usually by Friday afternoon people are starting to get into the weekend mood; which is pretty helpful for creating relaxed portraits, and worked well with the brief, which was to shoot portraits that were definitely not corporate, were to include the warehouse and to give a sense of the growth of the company (which including a big warehouse does pretty well).
This is the kind of commission that I enjoy – out on location, being asked to make decisions about setting, style and background, and having to work quickly. In a situation like this, it’s about speed. Find the best light in the building (actually, pretty easy in a warehouse like this one – see those skylights in the first picture? They’re a Godsend to portrait photographers). Don’t dwell too much on getting posing right – I want the guys to be relaxed, so it’s ‘stand over there and spread out a bit’. People tend to naturally stand a certain way; hands in pockets, weight on one hip, cross their arms, etc. Work with that, and then hit them with chat (for which read, bad Dad jokes) to stop them thinking that they’re actually being photographed. That’s what leads to natural smiles and expressions.
These photos will have a pretty long shelf life. The individual portraits would work as profile pictures (cropped in), or to accompany interviews and articles. And the group shots are the same. They could be used time and again for a few years, until they move to an even bigger warehouse, or the guys change appearance in some major way (like grow a beard, or shave one off). Which for any company means great value for money.
Finally, these kinds of images can be shot observing social distancing and Covid-19 compliance rules. You don’t need to be right on top of someone to get a great portrait of them. In fact, a good working distance of 3-4 metres works brilliantly. So, if you’re thinking of updating business profiles, or need some great PR shots, feel free to get in touch.