Exceptional Business Portraits: Part 3 – Design

When it comes to business portraits, design is all about using the professional photographer’s toolbox to communicate your message.  As we discussed in the previous post, your message should be informed by and demonstrative of your brand.

Design Decisions

The colors, textures, settings, etc. in your portrait give subliminal social clues about your relevance to your audience, so they’re definitely worth considering.

With each design element, we ask the same question: How can this be used to best represent/ communicate your brand and/or message?  Below are few examples of how this plays out:

Setting – Maybe your creative space is a great place to represent the energy that goes into your work. Maybe you’re a serious, focused attorney who gets it done for your clients… a traditional in-studio portrait could be a good option because it communicates seriousness and prestige.

Background – Choosing a background is about choosing colors and textures that are congruent with your brand.  Let’s say you’re a marketing company – by choosing a colorful background you could communicate creativity and fun.  Or if you’re an attorney, choosing a mottled grey background could communicate traditional professionalism.

Color Choice – Different colors have different connotations.  It’s important to make sure the colors in your portrait are consistent with your brand, target market, and message.  A CPA might be well represented in blue – a color representing stablity and trust.  While a politician may select to incorporate a touch of red into their portrait as it can represent strength and power.

Lighting – Obviously, a business portrait needs to be well lit.  You need to be clearly portrayed in a flattering manner.  However, lighting style can also impart different moods into an image.  The use of low lighting ratio, with a short lighting composition, for example, is flattering for most subjects; it’s a great go-to if nothing additional is needed.  However, if there is a need to communicate power, or impart additional energy into the image, higher contrast ratios and more complex lighting set-ups are appropriate.

Posing and Expression – Just like everything else, posing and expression should be based on what you need to communicate to your audience.  However, posing and expression are also key tools photographers use to make you look your best.  The pose should be congruent with the selected setting, background, and lighting, but it also must be flattering.  An outdoor portrait typically warrants a more casual, open pose, while a formal studio portrait may require a more formal pose.


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