Lately I find that corporates want to be seen as not too well, corporate, And clients are tending to opt for more “lifestyle” portraits in and around the office using natural available daylight. This is brilliant as I am primarily a natural light photographer. So I thought I’d talk about how I use natural light as a business portrait photographer.
Having said that, finding natural daylight in offices can be tricky as I find most offices are on an automatic lighting system with strip light. Which in most cases can’t be turned off and can create “panda eyes”, dark circles under the eyes. Obviously, this is not the best look for great portraits!
So if possible when doing an office shoot with natural light it’s great if it can be turned off. But in most cases it can’t but in some cases, very occasionally, I take offices into darkness! (When there is no option, I occasionally will use on-camera flash or set up my Profoto B1 550 AIR flashlight).
But as a business portrait photographer I like to work with natural available window light because it acts as a giant soft box. So ideally. I like to place my subject facing the window, which creates a beautiful even light on my subject and also brings out the colour of their eyes.
I also like to place my subject to the side of the natural daylight. Personally I find sometimes this suits men more than women, but does work for both. I find these two forms of natural daylight the most flattering. But it’s also possible to place the subject directly in front of the window. Though you’ll need to overexpose in order to see the subject or they will end up very dark.
Direct sunlight, however, can also be tricky to work with and ideally when I am using natural daylight I look to place my subject away from direct sunlight. A north facing light is generally best in my opinion. So shooting on the east side of the building in the morning is more favourable than west and vice versa in the afternoon.
And how a business portrait photographer might use light outdoors
When I take my subject on “walkabout”, I tend to look for shade, perhaps with a textured background, away from the direct sunlight. Unless it’s the golden hour, early in the morning or just before sunset.
Summer can be trickier for photography as the sun is higher in the sky. If you face the subject into the sun they can end up squinting horribly. And the sun can also create harsh shadows across the face. My style is for even light across my subject’s face. So I try to face my subject away from direct sunlight.
An arch or doorway is perfect and creates a beautiful even light. So I’m always on the lookout for a great one. Perhaps with an interesting feature. While shooting under a tree can also be a great spot for lovely dappled shade.
Some clients opt for studio lighting which is a lot easier to control but personally I find it static and less versatile. However it is great for working with when there is no available light or in office conditions. This is because it can help to override the strip lighting. And when the shot I want is facing into the window I use Profoto as the main key light.
If you are a photographer, you may wish to read my blog on what every corporate photographer should know.
And if you are looking to have some professional business portraits, whether in your office, on location or in my West London studio, I would love to help. You can email me on email@example.com, ring me on 07958511819 or click to book a Zoom or telephone conversation.
“Photography through the lens of a storyteller”
LONDON HEADSHOT AND CORPORATE PHOTOGRAPHER