5 steps for better business portraits

executive portrait casual male

How to make sure you look the business for your next photoshoot!

Let’s look at some of the things to consider before your next meeting in front of the camera.

The recipe for a successful business portrait isn’t complicated, a few simple preparatory steps before the shoot and you can be assured of a professional image that will represent you and your business.  

These tips will ensure you look professional, authentic, approachable and friendly. Most of all you will feel confident that you are looking your best, which will reflect in your expression and demeanour as well as help the photography session to flow smoothly.

Here are 5 tips to success for your next business portrait.

business portrait of designer stood in front of a machine

1. STYLE

Consider what you want your portrait to convey, a formal or more relaxed look, editorial magazine style or lifestyle chic, etc.  It may help to collate some images together and create a mood board.

  • You’ll need to be congruent with your company brand, think about the sector your business is in and the type of customers you deal with, this will guide you to the style of portrait that will best reflect your business. 
  • A lifestyle shoot in and around your working environment can convey you as a hands on kind of person, great for creatives to convey they are on the button with the latest trends. 
  • A more formal shoot in an office or with a plain background can suit a business that might not have any creative or physical objects around that give an indication of the type of industry they are in, they could deal with serious issues, maybe health and safety or public awareness, government, etc.
  • In larger organisations it’s okay to mix and match styles relative to tier structure or breakdown the styles according to department activity.  Whatever you do keep it consistent over multiple photoshoots, your customers will come to identify the style with the brand.
full length business executive portrait in reception area

2. LOCATION

Location, location, location as they say in the property business is also important for your portrait, there is no hard and fast rule to where you choose to have your portrait taken.  

  • For a sole trader or freelancer who might work from home, shooting around your home workshop or office and using other parts of the home can lend an air of authenticity and is a great way to empathise with your customers. Remember to clean up your workspace and remove clutter, chat through the locations you’d like to use so that an assessment of lighting and other problems can be anticipated before the shoot. Preparation is key so you don’t waste valuable time on the shoot.
  • Office locations are great if you have a contemporary interior, they are stylish and give a modern look to any portrait especially if you have a lot of natural light flooding in, try to avoid cramped rooms which are cluttered with filing cabinets, paraphernalia and vintage technology.  If you don’t have a suitable office space it would be better to seek an external location, renting a contemporary space just for the shoot would be a great way to achieve this.
  • If you want to go for a clean nondescript style then a studio setup within your workspace can work amazingly, setting up a backdrop and lighting in a spare office or boardroom can offer consistency and repeatability and is ideal if there are a lot of people to photograph at different locations.
  • Portraits in the outdoors offer up a great opportunity to use a huge variety of backgrounds and take advantage of using the quality of natural light.  Having a clear idea of the style of portrait and the industry you work in will help determine the type of location to use.
  • When you opt for an outdoor location be mindful of the time of year and the weather, cold and blustery weather will not be a comfortable experience and will reflect badly in your portrait unless it is the style you would like to portray. Allow time to scout a suitable locations and arrange the necessary permits and travel arrangements.
executive portrait casual female

3. CLOTHING

Clothing for a business portrait is simple, wear that which makes you feel comfortable!  The type and style of outfit will partly be dictated by the message you’d like to portray.

  • If you dress for your shoot in an outfit you’d not normally wear then you will feel and look uncomfortable and it will show. 
  • With regards to colours if in doubt steer towards neutral tones that compliment your skin, avoid distracting graphics and motifs, remember it’s your face that needs to have the attention. 
  • Cleaned and ironed and well fitted clothes go a long way in your overall appearance, if you are going to be sitting for your portrait do a trial run with your outfit, sometime clothes just don’t have the slack or stretch in the right places to make them hang well when you sit down.
  • Simple and elegant jewellery for ladies works well and for men usually a wristwatch is enough but can be complimented with body jewellery if the style is in keeping with the message. 
  • Spectacles can sometimes cause problems with reflections, try to have a pair with an anti-reflective coating or alternatively ask your optician if they can remove the lenses for the photoshoot, they may even have a sample pair for you to borrow.
business headshot female

4. PERSONAL CARE

Make some time to look after yourself, a little bit of self care can do wonders to freshen up your appearance 

  • Keep yourself hydrated starting at least a week before your shoot, it will help to prevent pimples and toxins from clogging up your skin and give it a natural and healthy glow.
  • For men have a haircut a few days before your shoot to avoid that fresh barbered look and for ladies if you are not confident in your hairstyling skills you may want to consider a professional hair and makeup artist on the day of the shoot.  
  • If you are having facial hair trimmed or plucked do it a few days before the shoot, plucking will leave your skin red with little pimples so give it time to settle, the camera will pickup every nuance on your skin and those pimples may need excessive retouching.
  • Although it can be tempting on summer days to catch as much of those vitamin D rays as possible, avoid excessive exposure to the sun as your skin will dry out and make you look tired, save it for after the shoot.
  • If you have stained teeth it might also be worth booking an appointment to have them lightly polished, don’t go over the top as excessively bright teeth can be distracting.  On the day of the shoot either brush your teeth beforehand or chew gum prior to your shoot to remove any gremlins of food that might be stuck in your teeth.
executive portrait casual male

5. IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA

The most daunting part of your business portrait will invariably be in front of the camera, inexperienced people often freeze and become stiff worried about how they look.

  • Don’t worry about how you look just take a deep breath and relax, the photographers job is to make you look good and they will guide you to the most natural and complimentary position.
  • It will often take several shots before your photographer starts to see how positioning and moving around the lighting starts to compliment you. This is perfectly normal and is a process of discovery for both of you, the first few frames are used to work out what does and doesn’t work to get the best from your shoot.  The benefit is that you will naturally become more relaxed which is the ideal state to be in for the best portraits.
  • Props can be useful to give hands something to do, bring along a stylish pen or maybe an instrument/ipad that you might use in your business.  Hand positioning plays a big role in your body posture and is difficult to look natural, having something to hold can make for a more authentic stance.
  • Have fun and enjoy the experience, state of mind will play a big part in the subtle expressions in your face.  Try not to come to the photoshoot with the pressures of work demands looming in your mind, leave it behind and focus only on the experience at hand.

  • It’s tempting to want to see the pictures straight away on the back of the camera or on the laptop, don’t be hasty to make decisions on those raw previews, it’s often best to leave a gap of time before seeing the final proofs so that you can approach them with a fresh set of eyes.

Having your business portrait taken should be an enjoyable experience, follow some of the guidance above and it will help towards creating a professional set of images that will compliment your business brand.

If you would like to discuss a potential photoshoot for your business you can contact me on 07973 159 390 or from the contact page here: Contact

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