As a corporate shooter specializing in annual report photography, the CEO portrait as well as senior executive portraits are common subject matter we need to deal with.
In my mind, the CEO portrait could be the most important photo you'll take for the annual report. If the CEO hates his or her photo, the chances of you shooting the following years annual are slim. When it comes to the CEO portrait, don't take any unnecessary chances with their portrait. Your not going to win any awards with their portrait so play it safe.
I try to get as many preliminary arrangements taken care of before I arrive on location. Those arrangements may include: making sure all light fixture have functioning light bulbs in them, having a ladder available for me or my assistant should we need one of lights or what ever. I like knowing what my subject looks like, are they tall, over weight, do they have hair on their head or not. I also like to receive some personal information about my subject, does my subject have family, children, where does he or she like to vacation? All of these preliminary arrangements and personal information makes for a more successful portrait shoot in my mind.In most cases,
Typically, I arrive on location at least 90 minutes prior to the actual time the executive will be photographed. This give me enough time to scout all the possible locations for the photo as well as designing the lighting for the portrait. I'm given anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to photography the CEO. All my lighting is set well in advance of the executive showing up for their portrait. The director of communications or the IR representative is more concerned about not taking up the CEO's time than with the final image.
My number one goal is to put the CEO at ease! I want to project a sense of confidence in my abilities and to show my concern about making my subject look great. I am often asked what the CEO should wear for their portrait, what color shirt or suite. I want my subject to wear what ever makes them look their very best. Extra ties or a shirt are always a nice option as well.
I try to schedule their portrait as early in the day as possible. Scheduling an early portrait session insures less wrinkles in their clothing and helps prevent the 5 o'clock shadow in the case of men. When it comes to posing the CEO, I usually show them exactly how and where I would like them to stand. The CEO portrait denotes a different message than others that might be photographed for the annual. The CEO should look like he or she is confident, smart, in control and powerful.
Lighting of course in important, the image at the top of this post shows the use of light to contain the viewer eye as well as direct them to the two subjects in the photo. I was asked to incorporate the company seal in the photo which meant have a high prospective in order to do so.
For the lighting, I used a large softbox camera left for the key light as well as a fill card on camera right to open the shadow side of the faces. For the background light I used a bare head with a full CTO gel and a set of panels in order to shape the light in the "V" shape.
The angle was so high I actually needed to put my tripod in the drop ceiling and reverse the center column. This allowed me the opportunity to get my camera as high as possible, looking like I was sighting through a periscope on a sub.