Even after all these years shooting corporate photography I still love the challenge of capturing a good portrait. Fashions and styles have shifted greatly since I started working as a professional.  Thankfully we photographers have more freedom than ever.  When I first started, the prefered style was sat down, on the phone, suited and looking serious. The resulting photographs were often not very exciting.  I think mainly because the corporate industry preferred to project this safe, traditional image.

I shot these images for Taylor Wessing, one of the worlds leading law firms.   They sponsor the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize and the idea was to shoot the recruitment brochure in a style similar to that of the competition entries.  They were art directed by Peter Bayer from AIA.  Prior to the photography we spent some time touring the building looking for locations and backdrops for the portraits.  Their offices are stunning, which made the job easier.  Lots of glass, metal, interesting ambient lighting. It is worth spending some time reccying the location as the background contributes greatly to the final shot.

Portrait photography is indeed an art.  I started my career working within the PR industry, shooting people across a huge variety of sectors.  I might have been photographing the chairman of a huge multi-national company one minute, a supermarket trolley dash winner he next!!  And I rarely had much time to shoot as normally I was duplicating the shots in colour and black and white!!   That meant two cameras around my neck, an array of fixed focal length lenses to choose from (as zoom lenses were not up to much back then).  I had to be very, very fast, accurate, efficient, polite, creative…………….it was hard work!

I eventually went freelance and targeted design and advertising agencies, hoping to secure assignments that would allow me more time and enable a more considered approach.  It worked!! Twenty years on and I am still snapping!   More time, working with creative directors and utilising sophisticated lighting set ups etc meant I could shoot more options and more variety, ultimately producing a higher quality shot!

Diplomacy, tact and patience are the key skills required when photographing portraiture, particularly corporate photography as the sitter is usually in a hurry and would rather be anywhere but with you.  I would say the technical aspect of photography occupies about 5% of this process, 95% is successfully interacting, connecting and communicating with your subject resulting a shot that they and the client are happy with.  I always try and spend a few minutes chatting to the subject.  I introduce myself, explain what I am trying to achieve and generally put them at ease. It might only be a couple of minutes but once you have won them over it makes the session run smoother.  Once shooting, if an angle or position isn’t working, move on straight away.  It is always better to concentrate on a pose that is working and looking good.  This is where the most obvious advantage of digital photography comes into its own, the ability to see the shots immediately!  You can see the successful and unsuccessful images as you work enabling you to change elements straight away.

I see my role as a professional portrait photographer is about geeting a great shot, as quickly as possible with a minimum of fuss.