Photography How? Corporate Photo

Photography How? Corporate Photo

As part of my new series of ‘Photography How?’ I present one of my pictures and break it down! Hopefully giving you insight to my approach and technique. Welcome to Photography How? Corporate photo!

 

The Brief

So this is a standard looking corporate portrait for one of my colleagues in the office. The room I used is a typical long boardroom featuring a large window at one side providing a good source of natural light. The back wall was plain white and worked fine as a backdrop.

Photography How? Corporate Photo

 

Equipment

  • Nikon D7100
  • Nikkor 85mm F1.8G Lens
  • Camera Tripod
  • SB-900 Flash (Key Light)
  • SB-700 (Rim Light)
  • 52″ Softbox and Light Stand
  • Flash Snoot
  • Large Light Reflector
  • Grey Card

Photography How? Corporate Photo

 

Subject

To get that traditional “portrait look”, I had the subject is sit upon a chair with his shoulders facing towards the 52″ softbox and the window directly behind it. I asked him to turn his head slightly past the softbox with eyes glancing at the camera.

I find for a traditional corporate photo like this, having your subject seated “staggering” the shoulders, head, and eyes can add a little dimension to the portrait.

 

Posture

At times I had to advise the subject to sit “at the edge of the chair” to promote a better posture and get them sitting “upright”. Some people tend to “slouch” when sat upon a chair with their shoulders forward which doesn’t really promote a positive demeanour.

If your subject starts to “slouch” in the chair, then try not to critique them! I try and put the emphasis on myself instead by saying, “when I was testing the shot I found I was hunched over”, rather than tell the subject outright that they’re slouching!

Photography How? Corporate Photo
Camera on tripod, main key light backed by a large window. Light reflector on floor to help light under chin.

 

Tactful Supportive Empathy

Remember that the person you’re photographing may not be comfortable in front of a camera, so you must exercise a little tactful empathy when directing them! Always be enthusiastic for every shot. Even when glancing at the camera and you’re thinking “oooh that’s not a good picture”, you don’t want to critique your subject and make them feel even more self-conscious!

If you capture a bad shot, either through your own fault or the subject who maybe blinked as the shutter was pressed, just say “yes that’s great,  I just want to try one more”.


“Always be positive and nurture the confidence of your subject.”


 

Light

As I’m using flashes to control the light painting the subject, the quality of ambient light in the room is very important. There’s a huge window to the subjects right, with some decent enough daylight coming in. I’ll use this ambient light as general “fill”, and turn off all overhead lights to stop any white balance issues.

Photography How? Corporate Photo

 

Key Light

  • Nikon SB-900
  • TTL Mode
  • Nikon plastic clear light diffuser attached
  • Firing through a 52″ softbox
  • -1.3 power output on camera

The “key light” is the main source of flash light to paint the subject. I place my 52″ softbox fitted with my Nikon SB-900 in front of the window, and pointing “just away” from the subjects face. Why this slight angle? When controlling the output of the flash power, a flash even going through a softbox can still be a little harsh and bright. The center of the softbox is where the light is most powerful, and so by angling the softbox “just away” from the subjects face, perhaps only a corner of the box hitting them, you get a more subtle and “wrapping” light. Instead of a bright blanket of light hitting them, you get a gentle “wrap” of light around the face.

 

Rim Light

  • Nikon SB-700
  • TTL Mode
  • Flash “Snoot” attached
  • No diffuser attached
  • 1.0 power output on camera

My second flash, a slightly smaller SB-700 is positioned behind the subject with a snoot attached which focuses the light into a sharp beam. Otherwise the flash would blanket the back of the subject and also illuminate the wall behind.

The flash is level with their shoulders, acting as a “rim light” or “hair light”. This harsh undiffused light simply hits the back of them, and separates the subject from the background by putting a tiny “rim” of light around their shoulders.

When photographing the guys I tend to point this flash more at their shoulders, and when photographing the girls, I “raise the direction” of the flash to highlight and accentuate the hair.

 

Flash Firing Mode

Both flashes are set to TTL (Through The Lens) firing mode, which lets the camera determine the best “ballpark” flash power output based on the ambient light in the scene, and the distance/location of the subject. Clever stuff!

Now as amazing as TTL is, I always need to “fine-tune” the flash power output by using the menu in my D7100. This menu allows me to increase and decrease flash power within a few clicks, without having to touch the flashes themselves! Magic!

TTL or Manual Mode?

Now you can slip the flashes into Manual Mode, and literally control the exact power output, again using the flash control menu in the camera. However in this instance TTL was providing a good exposure so I was happy running in TTL Mode. Don’t be afraid to let the camera manage the flash power outputs!

 

Camera Settings

  • Shooting Mode: Manual
  • Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec
  • Aperture: F4.5
  • ISO: 100

I’m using my 85mm F1.8G Nikkor lens which offers a fantastic portrait focal length. The subject is just the right distance from the camera without the lens warping or distorting the persons features. I sometimes use a 50mm if going for a more “full body” shot, but 85mm is my preferred portrait focal length.

I’m shooting in Manual Mode. This allows me to control shutter speed and aperture, and therefore “how much ambient light” goes in through the lens. Flash photography is a game of finding the right balance of ambient light and flash for the photo you want. Run a really high shutter speed, and very little ambient light will make it into the exposure. Slow the shutter down, and more ambient light will appear and give a balanced image. In this instance I went for a nice blend of ambient light using a shutter speed of 1/80sec.

My aperture is set to F4.5 which provides enough focal length to capture the subject in detail and also allow enough light coming in. You can of course use a higher Aperture for a safer plane of focus, but this will restrict the light and force the flashes to work harder.

I’m using an ISO of 100 which will give me the highest amount of image detail. If there was less natural light coming through the window, say for example it was really cloudy outside, then I would be tempted to push the ISO up to 200, or even 400. For a traditional portrait like this, try and find a nice blend of flash light, ambient light, and a safe aperture.

 

Test Shots

If you have a remote shutter release, then don’t be afraid to take some test shots on yourself! If you’re working in a designated room like this one where you’re “bringing clients in for their picture”, take a few minutes before it all starts to take some test photos of yourself to fine-tune your exposure settings.

Photography How? Corporate Photo
Use your remote shutter release to test the portrait before the clients arrive!

Thank you for reading this Photography How? Corporate Photo. Please share and comment below!

My Tokyo Photography Adventure

Hidden Temple, by Pixelglo Photography
For a very long time the city of Tokyo and Tokyo photography has always appealed to me. In 2013 I was lucky enough to travel and explore this totally foreign land, and this post documents my treasured memories of this amazing city.

“If you plan to visit Tokyo soon, then my learning experiences may offer you some useful information!”

In the Spring of 2013 I traveled there with my Wife, intent on exploring this incredible city and to hopefully witness the beautiful Hanami Blossom Season in full effect. Each year for only a few precious weeks, the thousands of blossom tree’s turn Tokyo into a festival of colour and changing landscapes. It really is a sight to behold, and possibly the best time to visit.

“I recommend visiting Tokyo during the beautiful blossom season in early April.”

2013 however was a very unique year because the Hanami which is celebrated and respected so highly in Japan,  started unusually early! We were so afraid we might miss it all, but luckily when we arrived, we were fortunate to see blossom trees still “in bloom”.

Tokyo Photography of a Blossom Tree, by Pixelglo Photography
Tokyo Blossom Tree, by Pixelglo Photography

Traveling from middle England Lincolnshire down to Heathrow Airport, we endured the 12 hour flight half way around the world to the land of rising sun. We arrived in Tokyo, dazed and tired, yet full of excitement to see and explore this incredible foreign land. I couldn’t wait to try my hand at Tokyo photography! We spent the week in the cute, friendly, and welcoming B Akasaka Hotel in Minato. It was the perfect location to call home for the week, and jump onto the Metro and explore.

Tokyo Photography of the Tokyo SkyTree, by Pixelglo Photography
The Tokyo SkyTree, by Pixelglo Photography

Our first landmark to visit was the Tokyo SkyTree. An incredible sight that can be seen night and day from almost anywhere in Tokyo. After being awake for almost 24 hours, we trekked across the city heading towards the awesome spire in the distance… only to find that “trips up the SkyTree” must be book several months in advance! So if you intend to “go up” the SkyTree, book months ahead through the website. Pushing disappointment aside, we stopped at a local Japanese Hawaiian Burger restaurant which was a bizarre experience! Try and picture the scene. We arrived in Tokyo that day with severe jet-lag, and then navigated our way across to the other side of the city only to find the SkyTree was fully booked! So we decided to get some food, and enter a Japanese Hawaiian  Burger Bar. It  was decorated in awesome 1950s apparel, serving American style food, with Hawaiian music playing – but sung in Japanese!? Very surreal! We couldn’t help but smile! A very surreal experience…

“Tired. Jet-lagged. After hours of walking, we ended up in an American inspired Japanese Hawaiian Burger Bar, that played Hawaiian surf music sung in Japanese. Awesome!”

After refueling, we headed to one of our favourite stops of the trip – the Tokyo Tower! Slightly smaller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Tokyo Tower boasts fantastic views within a confined viewing platform, and the staff are so helpful and happy to see you enjoying their attraction. It was a delight to attend this classic Tokyo landmark. If you want a great view of Tokyo, head to the Tokyo Tower.

Many Things At Once, by Pixelglo Photography
Many Things At Once, by Pixelglo Photography

Busy Busy Busy! As with any busy metropolis, there are lots of people in Tokyo. Yet in Tokyo, we were never pushed or “shoved”. The queues were so orderly, and the inner-city traveling so “seamless”, you couldn’t help but be impressed. Tokyo is the safest I have ever felt, in any city in the world. At one point, we saw small children who must have been around 6 years old, navigating the underground Metros alone to make their way to school. It is that safe!

Busy Tokyo Commuters, by Pixelglo Photography
Busy Tokyo Commuters, by Pixelglo Photography

On several occasions we stopped for food at this really cool fast food chain called “Yoshinoya”. Some of these restaurants are tiny, and you literally have to “squeeze” your way in to find a seat. Everyone who entered, “ate fast”, and so did we. Places like Yoshinoya, especially the little restaurant in Shinjuku that we visited, are not designed for luxury dining. The food is awesome, wholesome, and merely “fuel” to keep you moving. Well worth the experience!

“Travel to Shibuya, and walk over the famous Shibuya Street Crossing. We did, several times! Thousands of people make the journey across the road at every green light, yet everything is orderly and calm. There is a nice Starbucks next to the crossing overlooking everything which is a great place to grab a coffee, and watch from above.”

Shibuya Crossing, by Pixelglo Photography
Shibuya Crossing, by Pixelglo Photography

Also, Japan is a “cash culture” country. It’s rare to pay for items and groceries with card, so we took plenty of cash! And with it being so safe, we didn’t worry about the usual “big city” crime fears. I felt quite happy and safe to walk around with my camera “in hand” whilst being immersed in Tokyo photography.

Tokyo Metro Commuters, by Pixelglo Photography
Tokyo Metro Commuters, by Pixelglo Photography

Trains and Metro Trains run like clockwork. But be prepared for the “information overload” awaiting you inside the stations! There are a lot of signs everywhere, but once you know what to look for they’re very logical and useful. For example, the moment you step off a Metro train, you will be confronted with a large sign board with an pointing left, and an arrow pointing right. Underneath these arrows is a list of nearby landmarks and places of interest (in English), with an accompanying “exit number”. Take a minute to read over the sign and locate the best exit. Some trains will give you exit information before you get to the platform using LCD screen in the carriages. The best advice I can give when tackling one of the big “super stations” like Shinjuku, is to simply find any exit – and use it! If you become even remotely unsure of where your exit is, just find any exit and get outside. Shinjuku Station has about 300 exits and 32 platforms, and so it’s easy to get totally lost inside these huge super train stations. We spent 45 minutes lost in Tokyo Station when we first arrived!

Attack On The Senses, by Pixelglo Photography
Attack On The Senses, by Pixelglo Photography

Many Parks. One Panda. We took a trip to Ueno Zoo which is nestled within Ueno Park. Both are well worth a visit. We saw the much loved and adored Panda. I don’t know what was cuter? The cuddly easy-going Panda as he sat down and helped himself to more bamboo, or the masses of onlookers going “oooOOoooohhhhh” in delight, as he helped himself to his lunch.

Tokyo Photography of the Ueno Zoo Panda, by Pixelglo Photography
Ueno Zoo Panda, by Pixelglo Photography

We explored many of  Tokyo’s “inner-city” gardens and shrines. If you visit Tokyo, you must visit some of these incredible gardens. They are so peaceful, and a great way to “process” everything you have seen that day.

Japanese Lantern, by Pixelglo Photography
Japanese Lantern, by Pixelglo Photography

Most inner-city gardens are maintained daily by professional groundsmen, so you can be assured your visit will be delightful and peaceful. You will have to pay a few Yen to enter the gardens, but we are talking the equivalent of a couple of British Pounds, or a couple of US dollars. It is totally worth paying to enter.

Japanese Torii Gates, by Pixelglo Photography
Japanese Torii Gates, by Pixelglo Photography

 

Japanese Lanterns, by Pixelglo Photography
Japanese Lanterns, by Pixelglo Photography

We especially loved Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. So vast and “open”, with numerous blossom trees with admiring visitors in awe of them. It was humbling to see local Japanese, celebrating the beauty of the blossom trees, and treat them with so much respect and admiration. At times, I felt like a welcomed visitor in someones home.

Grand Japanese Fern Tree, by Pixelglo Photography
Grand Japanese Fern Tree, by Pixelglo Photography

Tokyo Photography Gear One of the questions I always get asked, especially when travelling, is “what photography gear do you take with you?” Well, as I only had my trusted Nikon D80 to hand, I had to settle for carrying that around to handle my Tokyo photography. It was a little heavy at times, and perhaps a smaller compact would have been more preferable, but at least I finally understood why we often see our Japanese friends visiting the West, and so enthusiastically “taking pictures of everything”. Over in Japan… everything is so different, and as a photographer, I found myself photographing almost everything. You can’t help but document everything, as it’s such a different world. Back to the gear, I wore a record style “shoulder bag”, which tends to be my choice for carrying photographic gear during city shooting, and used a combination of a 18-135mm (F3.5) and a 50mm (F1.8) lens. I also carried a small “expandable” travel tripod for the long exposure stuff. After the trip and realising a smaller camera may have made life a little easier, I looked into buying a well equipped smaller compact camera and bought the Fuji X20. This little thing could have easily done the same job as my D80, and been a darn sight lighter and easier to carry about! Lost In Translation Being fans of the film Lost In Translation we had to visit the Park Hyatt Tokyo Hotel, the main setting for the blossoming on screen friendship of Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. The hotel itself is located in the upper-story of the tallest of the three skyscrapers in Shinjuku, with the lower floors being dedicated to businesses and shops.

In the Park Hyatt Tokyo, by Pixelglo Photography
In the Park Hyatt Tokyo, by Pixelglo Photography

Taking 2 elevators to reach the New York Bar at the top, we sat in the same “bar” as in the movie. It was quite surreal. The service there (as with everywhere else in the city) was exceptional, and the views across Tokyo were breathtaking. We went for early evening drinks, and stayed there for hours watching the sunset. Watching the night sky as plans crisscross the sky, and the ensemble of red-glowing lights appears on top of the city skyscrapers. If you want to have a luxurious drink and enjoy the city views, then visit the Park Hyatt Tokyo. It’s the perfect evening to conclude your stay there. Yes we did spend most of the days budget on drinks, and had to eat out of vending machines for the rest of the evening, but it didn’t matter! Our trip to Tokyo was the perfect city exploration holiday. We visited knowing “some” Japanese language, and educated ourselves on local customs and behaviors. My theory is, if you can learn some basic greetings including the all important “please” and “thank you”, it will go a long way to show respect to your hosts. In turn, they will greet you with smiles, and make you feel so welcome. If you have doubts about visiting Tokyo, push them aside. Sometimes you have to jump in with both feet and leave your comfort zone behind you. This was one trip we’ll never forget, and I recommend visiting this amazing city and country, to anyone.

“Love Tokyo. Love Japan.”

More Photos You can view more of Tokyo Photography at the following links: My Flickr Tokyo Photography Flickr The Pixelglo Photography Website Thank you for reading =) Please share this page, and leave a comment below!