Posted in Head Shots, Corporate Portrait Photography, Tips and News from Piranha
Thinking of Some Corporate Head Shots for your Company?
Portrait photography comes in all shapes and sizes, do you need it with or without a background? Have you considered a lighting style, that is should there be no shadows on the face or more contrasty? It’s worth giving it a thought before commissioning new photography.
There are many options but read this short article to help you choose a successful style for your company.
A White Background
The old chestnut head and shoulders white background is often requested and consideration needs to be given to how the photographs will be achieved.
Does the final image need a background as white as driven snow? That funnily enough will require quite a bit of kit, a pop up background, the lights to illuminate this background, lights to illuminate the subject and the camera on a tripod in front of all of it all, and a burly assistant to help carry it all in. It will require a bigger room with little or no furniture. As this large studio type room is rarely available, another solution often needs to be found.
Using a Grey Background
An alternative solution to achieve a pure white background is to photograph the subject against a grey or off white background and then in post-production, ‘cut’ the subject out and place against a pure white or pre-shot office background created in Photoshop. The cutting out procedure is now extremely accurate so any type of frizzy hair poses no problem and each hair is retained before cut-out.
This allows for using a smaller room and is therefore much easier to organise, and any room can be used on each successive visit. This often provides the most practical solution for portraits.
An Office or Outside Background
It may be felt that a portrait shot with a background would be more interesting. A picture that is usually to be run slightly larger than its white background cousin. The scene behind the subject can be the view through a window to illustrate ‘we have a city location’ or a blurred office backdrop can illustrate as being part of a larger team.
Another style is the ‘discussion’ or meeting format, often used in the service industries to convey that the person being photographed is in mid conversation with a client. The photograph can incorporate the blurred shoulder of the person nearest the camera whilst focussing on the subject who is speaking animatedly. This style shows a busy, active company.
Portraits for Press Coverage in Publications
A popular PR shot which is picked up by newspapers is one that illustrates and enhances a story.
The photograph below was taken by Piranha to encapsulate the accounting firm’s story. The picture caught the eye of the newspaper editor and so was published with a short article about the problems of mounting legislation.
This photograph taken by Piranha for an accountancy firm ran in several national newspapers and business titles. The image highlighted the recent increase in tax legislation.
The dramatic lighting for this industrial pipe company assisted in getting the companies story published by catching the eye of several national newspapers.
The Contemporary, Creative Solution
There are many possible creative styles for websites and annual reports – these involve shooting a meeting through a glass panel, or walking down a corridor or in an open plan office. A creative look works well to show an integrated team, a busy office and is often used in a profile document about a company.
A contemporary look like this can offer a cohesive style to the company’s portraits and be used to tie in creative direction of all their website designs.
The Photographic Brief
Before starting new photography, it is important to think about what is needed and discuss the brief with the web designer and photographer. The nature of the business will lend itself to a certain style, to convey a message to the clients looking at a company’s website or reading the article, there are lots of interesting and effective options to choose from.
Please do drop us and email or call 020 7193 9446 if you would like more information or to discuss a project.
Posted in Head Shots, Tips and News from Piranha
Many companies commission head shots of their staff members photographed against a white backdrop so that this can then be used as a PR photograph for websites and LinkedIn. In this short piece, I am going to touch on the white background head shot, and how it can be achieved. I will touch on the snags, and why deliberately choosing a grey or off-white colour instead, might be a better option than pure white.
OK so you have decided as many clients do, that you would like a portrait with a pure white background so that it blends with the pure neutral white of a website, well that is MUCH easier said than done for a number of practical reasons.
To achieve a pure white background headshot
- The size of room allocated for the shoot would need to be BIG, it is important that the white background is evenly lit independently of the subject, this is done with good effect with two lights at 45 degrees to the white screen (even this may not guarantee a totally even light).
- The subject a few feet in front of the backdrop will need to be lit too, preferably with a large soft box to achieve a soft flattering light.
- The camera should be in front of the subject (of course) with a mid tele-photo lens for a pleasant perspective and to reduce flare.
Diagram showing set up to achieve pure white background head shot
- The snag with that arrangement above? It requires an assistant to help carry and setup additional lights etc, it requires the room to be quite large and free of heavy furniture. I’m not sure how many companies have this on offer (most have a large table in the middle of the room for meetings not unexpectedly).
Photograph the head shot with a grey background and then ‘cut them out’ in PhotoShop
Deliberately photograph the subjects against a grey or off white background and then cut the head shot out afterwards in PhotoShop. This method has a number of advantages over the first method –
- The size of the room can be smaller and the background does not have to be lit at all
- The subject can be closer to the background, maybe even casting a slight shadow – it doesn’t matter
- The camera is in the same place for the same reasons as above.
If the staff members are wearing white shirts/blouses etc then it’s a much easier extraction from the background if its grey or similar.
Diagram showing set up to achieve head shot with white or grey background
The software these days is remarkable in its accuracy and precision, do you have frizzy hair? No problem every hair is identified and retained allowing your new background to come through, looking very natural.
I recommend having a clear idea of the type of background you would like to see in the final head shot image. Can it be off white or an elegant grey? Or would you rather photograph the person and cut them out later? This would achieve a pure white background. A conversation with the photographer and discussion about the meeting rooms on site at the office would be a good starting point.
Posted in Corporate Video for Companies, Tips and News from Piranha
Here is a showreel of the corporate videos Piranha has carried out for a variety of businesses both in the UK and abroad. Some of the pieces were talking heads when company directors described what work their organisations were carrying out. Other footage is from company events and parties, and sometimes conferences in London –
Piranha Video Showreel
If you would like to hear more about how we can help you with your video or to discuss your ideas for filming, please do get in touch.
Posted in Tips and News from Piranha
The Leica Noctilux lens on M240 rangefinder camera
The incredible Leica Noctilux lens
OK this post is about an insane lens, insane in more ways than just its huge cost of nearly £8K. This is a lot of money for small amounts of glass and brass, so how can it possibly justify the hefty price tag? Perhaps its neutron star density?
Well, like the volume control in Spinal Tap, this lens goes all the way up to ’11’. In photographic terms its top setting is f0.95, making it the fastest production lens yet made by man. Its light gathering abilities are better than the human eye, which means there isn’t a shoot yet devised that requires available light that cannot be tackled by this lens.
It doesn’t end there. This lens renders images that border on the magical, with sharpness even at its top setting as good as many other lenses at more sober apertures, yet still producing superb colours and contrast.
The image above was taken in very low light and is pin sharp.
The holy grail of all lenses
The expense is down to a meticulous, hand-crafted manufacturing process. Each lens is repeatedly checked by technicians during production, to ensure the highest possible quality of image.
It has long been considered the holy grail of all lenses, so where does this leave my clients?
As recently demonstrated to corporate clients, I use it at for events or conferences where I need discreet but comprehensive coverage using available light only. It’s also fantastic in board room situations where I can use the lens’s incredible razor thin depth of field to isolate individual directors even when they are seated close together.
What this lens allows is corporate photography that is much more interesting and elegant. It offers new solutions to photoshoots, and in the hands of a pro, makes the images for websites and annual reports more attention-grabbing and able to stand out from the crowd.
Of course not every shoot requires available light or shallow depth of field. In normal shooting conditions when used with studio lighting, its colour rendering is unsurpassed. Unlike other lens makers, Leica do not rate ‘sharpness’ as the sole criteria for a lens’s construction and design. For example, the lens is designed to give skin tones a tactile realism, in addition, colour, contrast and even the out of focus areas are extremely important to the overall way an image looks. This applies to all lenses in the Leica range; they are incredible quality and built to last a lifetime. But it’s just as well given the price tags.
This lens is fantastic in board room situations, where I can use the lens's incredible razor thin depth of field to isolate individual directors even when they are seated close together. - Douglas, Photographer
Posted in Tips and News from Piranha
To contact – Helen and Douglas House
Posted in Tips and News from Piranha
The above photographs were taken by Douglas Fry in Soho over one afternoon.
If You Frame It They Will Come
In the documentary ‘In No Great Hurry’ – photographer Saul Leiter discusses the importance of being slow. He talks about how the chances of a great photograph are rarely thrust upon you. Instead, he believes they come by waiting, by being patient, but most of all by being ready to take the picture at the right time.
Leiter’s pictures were regularly in demand for the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar but he was far from a fame seeker. He enjoyed most his quiet photography, which of course went on to become his most sought after body of work.
These images today are displayed in galleries the world over and command many tens of thousands of pounds.
Leiter lived on the Lower East Side of New York in the same flat for more than 50 years and walked the streets unobtrusively, seeking out tranquility in the busy hustle and bustle of the city and opportunities to capture these moments on film.
I had Leiter’s dictums very much in mind while on a one day course organized by The Photographers Gallery in London. We spent the morning discussing his methodology, style and trigger points. He looked for something that caught his eye, such as umbrellas, bad weather, glass etc). Theory over, we set off into the wilds of Soho to see what we could find, followed by a pleasurable afternoon reviewing pictures and critiquing each other’s work.
Leiter shot nearly everything in the vertical or portrait format, which was new for me as most commissioned photography is in landscape. This technical requirement forced me to slow down while framing images and also waiting for various other elements to fall into place before finally pressing the shutter.
For example in my image above, I mirrored the rungs of the ladder with the slatted barrier in the foreground, and the barrier itself with the orange bucket carried by the window cleaner.
With the barber shop image I ensured the customers car was reflected in the frame at the same time as he had his hipster trim.
I found it a very healthy exercise and gained a lot from the day. It showed that good street photography takes considerable amounts of time, but the benefits are a much-enhanced perception and observation of colour and composition. I have included some of my favourites from the day. And if I am lucky, they too will be available in the not-too-distant future to buy from galleries both here and abroad.
I had Leiter’s dictums very much in mind while on a one day course organized by The Photographers Gallery in London. Douglas Fry, Photographer
Posted in Private Equity Company Photography, Corporate Portrait Photography, Tips and News from Piranha
Piranha was commissioned to photograph the new team members for Equistone and the below image was featured in an article in the publication – Private Equity International.
Posted in Tips and News from Piranha
Black and White Film Photography
A few weeks ago I decided to shoot exclusively on film and give myself a short break from digital photography. I dusted off my two Leica M6’s and a Hasselblad medium format camera and loaded them with good old-fashioned film.
Both types of cameras were, and indeed still are, of excellent quality, highly reliable and built to last.
My main motivation was to have some fun. I wanted to take a pleasurable trip down memory lane by once again handling film.
Before digital took over, I had happily used film for years and only switched full time to digital cameras once the quality was good enough for professional work.
However, despite all the digital advantages, there are things that film can still teach a photographer, and it’s instructive for any professional photographer to take a refresher course every now and then.
The first lesson is one of speed. Film doesn’t give second chances so it demands one thinks about exposure, composition and timing before pressing the shutter.
The Decisive Moment
One of the surprising pleasures of working with film is that there is no instant feedback from the camera to distract while shooting. The ease of use of digital can often encourage photographers to take loads of pictures and sort out problems later in Photoshop. Quality gives way to mass production.
In short, it means the time you think you’ve saved during the shoot is lost later to wading through through dozens of remarkably similar images which soon start to fatigue the eye.
The irony of taking loads of digital pictures is that you tend then to miss this important ‘decisive moment‘ anyway.
Communicate with the Subject
Another lesson from film is it doesn’t distract me when working with subjects. I spent more time actually communicating with them while taking portraits, rather than being tempted to keep glancing at the camera reviewing work in progress. I don’t think it was my imagination but they were able to relax more, which I think actually produced better results. I will definitely bear this in mind when using digital again.
The Analogue Advantage?
Unsurprisingly most of the fast batch film processing facilities have closed down all over the UK. Conversely the few that remain are doing very well and offer hand processing and exhibition quality prints instead of mass processed output, appreciating that it is serving a quality niche market. The surviving film laboratories recognise that they are serving similar needs to people who want vinyl records, reel to reel tape decks, or mechanical watches.
The Quality of Film
Without being too esoteric, with film there is something that communicates more completely with the human spirit. Perhaps it’s that the medium comes with flaws and slight imperfections that forms much of its appeal, like the crackle and hiss on a vinyl record, it’s so much more authentic.
And it’s not just single image photographers who appreciate the difference. Hollywood blockbusters such as Star Wars, Interstellar and the popular art house film The Grand Budapest Hotel were all shot on film for its ‘hard to pin down’ aesthetic quality, despite the not inconsiderable processing costs.
The Final Results
The experiment was a success. It only took a few days to readjust to a more considered contemplative approach. Assessing the results, there were more ‘winners’ by the end per roll than on a typical digital shoot.
I had to remember to pack my camera bag with film before setting off for the day, which was strange as one small robust SD card is all I need these days. But I soon was once again in 120/35mm film mindset and quickly became adept at changing a roll of medium format film in near gale force conditions and putting it back on the Hasselblad without losing any frames.
As well as the pleasure from the technical challenges, I’ll remember to slow down, think more carefully before shooting and maintain a more continuous dialogue with my subjects, and this way I hope to spend a lot fewer hours on Photoshop this year.
The slower process of shooting photographic film forced upon you by the total lack of visual feedback is a healthy lesson in getting exposure right, composition and shutter speed too. - Douglas Fry, Photographer
Posted in Tips and News from Piranha
To find out more about Helen and Douglas House please visit their website – http://www.helenanddouglas.org.uk/