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How to take better photos of office staff

No matter what kind of business you’re in, having a visual element is essential. Virtually every business has an online presence and with that comes an “About Us” page. People do business with people, so having images of the team is an important part of nurturing relationships with customers. When customers see that you have professional looking photos of your team, it gives a sense that you take what you are doing seriously.

Important “don’ts” when thinking about staff photographs for your business

When deciding on the types of staff photos that you will use for your business keep the following “don’ts” in mind:

  1. Don’t use personal photos

    Don’t use photos from that cruise you took or a snap shot from last year’s Super Bowl party. Images that appear personal are unprofessional. It’s better to have no photo at all.

  2. Don’t use images that are inconsistent

    One coworker has a photo from a family wedding of them in formal attire, another has a cap and gown photo from their college graduation, while another has a headshot wearing a polo shirt. This creates a disjointed look when you want to present a cohesive team.

  3. Don’t think that showing who you are is not important

    Showing the team makes you more relatable to your customers.

Important “do’s” when thinking about staff photographs for your business

When deciding on the types of staff photos that you will use for your business keep the following in mind:

  1. Determine how the images are going to be used

    Whether you are hiring a professional or will be taking images of the staff at the office yourself, it’s important to first determine how the images are going to be used. On a billboard? On your website? On printed promo materials? On your business cards? For something as large as a billboard, hiring a professional is recommended.

  2. Decide on what you want the images to convey

    It’s also important to decide what you want the images to say about the business, and keep that feeling consistent throughout all of the images. Are you a laid back company? Do you want to convey a sense of humor? Do you want everyone to dress a certain way (uniforms? business casual? professional?) Whatever look you decide on, it should be consistent throughout the images.

  3. Use the right equipment

    Now that you know how the images are being used and have decided on a consistent look, it’s time to decide on equipment, location and lighting. Using a DSLR camera would be ideal. DSLR cameras can produce higher resolution image files and, when used correctly, can increase the quality of the images.  Check around the office and see if you can borrow one (the Canon Rebel or Nikon D5600 are great). There are some smart phones now that are equipped with amazing cameras, but they are not recommend for producing images that will be large on a website or printed material.

  4. Use the best lighting

    The most important factor of taking a nice portrait is lighting. You could have an amazing location with the best equipment, but if the lighting is bad then it won’t matter. Typically, indoor offices have notoriously bad lighting for portraits. Florescent lighting that is directly overhead would make Cindy Crawford look bad, so finding good light is imperative. So, what is good light?

  5. Take the portraits outdoors

    What if you don’t have a large window in the office? Take it outside. An area outside the building in full shade near some trees would be a great place to take staff photos. You may need to pay attention to what areas outside the building are shaded and when, and schedule the photo shoot for those times. Direct, overhead sunlight can produce harsh shadows on the face which is not very flattering for portraits. Or, if it’s an overcast day, you can take them anytime. Also make sure none of your subjects are wearing sunglasses. Seeing someone’s eyes can create a feeling of connection.

  6. Reduce background distractions

    Now that you have determined the location that has the best lighting, what about the background? If you have an office with a busy background, there are a few things you can do. If you are shooting with a DSLR camera or smartphone, put it on automatic portrait mode (usually indicated on your DSLR camera as a person’s head or silhouette), which will tell the camera to blur the background. Then, make sure your subject is separated from the background with as much space as possible. If you want a cleaner look to your photographs, you can always use something from around the office (large poster board) or from home (an ironed sheet) that would work. Your best bet is to choose a solid, neutral color (blacks and greys) that is not distracting. Remember, the focus should be the team member and not the background, so it’s best to have as few distractions as possible.

  7. Edit your photos

    After you’ve taken some great photographs, what’s next? Editing! If you have great lighting, your images will require little editing. But good photographs can be made better with a little brightening up and slight color saturation. Use free editing software like Canva or Picmonkey. Some desktop computers will have simple photo editing software also.

Example of what not to do when taking portrait photos for the office

staff photo do not

In the image above, there are several issues that need to be corrected:

  1. Bad lighting

    There are two different light sources here: natural light and artificial light from overhead. The natural light and artificial light have different color temperatures, causing competing color casts. Also, overhead lighting is rarely great for portraits, as it casts unwanted shadows under the eyes

  2. Distracting background

    The subject is too close to a busy background which takes attention away from the subject.

  3. Poor posing

    The subject is facing head on to the camera. This can make a person look stiff and wide.
    Soft, natural light coming from a large window would be the ideal situation for taking staff photos in the office. Make sure it’s not direct sunlight, and that your subject is facing the window or slightly angled. Turn off all other sources of light in the area so the window is the only light source.

Example of what to do when taking portrait photos for the office

staff photo do

The image above is much better than the first example. Here’s what is done right:

  1. Quality lighting

    Window light is wonderful for portraits, and that is the only light source in this example. The subject is facing the gorgeous window light, which is evenly lighting the face.

  2. Simple background

    The subject is positioned far away from a simple background, causing the background to be blurred out when shooting in portrait mode on the camera.

  3. Better posing

    The subject is engaged and facing the camera at a slight angle, creating a more relaxed and flattering pose.

    When photographing your subject, make sure they are engaged. Talk to them as you’re shooting to make them feel comfortable and smile. (Please don’t make them say “cheese.”) Don’t be afraid to take many photographs of a single subject, because it’s often those moments right after they laugh or are talking about something that creates a genuine expression.

    People tend to stand straight to the camera when being photographed. This makes people look tense and uncomfortable. So how do you pose your subject? The short answer is, angles. Shoot people at an angle to the camera. The camera should be at eye level to the subject. There is so much more to know about posing, but for our purposes just remember to not photograph people dead on.

If you aren’t getting the look you are going for with DIY photos, or have a big marketing campaign planned and need lots of quality images, invest in a professional.

You only get one chance at a first impression, so make it a good one!

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