Amanda Duncan Photography | Five ways to make a standard portrait shot anything but standard

Five ways to make a standard portrait shot anything but standard

August 31, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Five ways to make a standard portrait shot anything but standard

What do you think of when you think of a professional portrait or a profile photograph?

Probably this.

White background. Head and shoulders. Slightly turned towards camera. Suited and booted. Corporate looking. Like it belongs on a gallery of executives in a Boardroom.

For some professionals, this might be perfect. Exactly what is needed given the purpose of the photograph (for clear identification); for consistency (if part of a firm-wide project); for brand (if corporate, formal is the appropriate image).

But a professional profile image does not have to be this style. Indeed, for many professionals this approach could be all wrong. As a commercial photographer, here’s just some of the many reasons why a more creative, individualized, interesting portrait may be required;

The subject is not relaxed or comfortable being photographed. In this situation, a ‘standard’ posed shot may simply not work. If you’re not comfortable (despite the best efforts of your photographer to put you at ease), your photograph could look strained, unnatural and uncomfortable.

The subject has a particular feature they are self-conscious about. Very few of us are wildly confident about our looks. But perhaps there’s a specific issue that you can’t get past, and you need a photographer to be flexible and creative to get around it.

You have a big personality and you need your portrait to reflect and capture this. If you’re known for being creative, quirky, funny or any other personal attribute, people may not relate to the posed corporate style image. This is especially the case if your business proposition centres around your personality and personal attributes. You need existing and potential clients and customers to recognise, connect and engage with the real you.

Your job or business is far from a formal corporate based one. Perhaps you’re a pest controller. A public speaking expert. A hairdresser in a creative, contemporary salon. Working in the arts. Your professional image needs to capture your industry, profession and business brand, all in one shot.

You want to stand out. You don’t want to look the same as everyone else, because, well, you’re not. Perhaps you’re an entrepreneur. Maybe you’re starting a new business or growing your existing one and you want people to know you’re going places. A new, interesting portrait could attract attention and engagement from other professionals and prospects for all the right reasons.

The question is how can this be achieved? How can one professional portrait to be used on a personal or company website, LinkedIn and other networking platforms, really encapsulate personality, business brand and desired professional image.

Well here’s how it can be done.

Background. Amazingly enough, this does not have to be white. It can be dark. It can be a colour. It can have a relevant object or scenery behind. Or course, to work with these non-standard backgrounds will take some skill and expertise with lighting, staging and post-production, but it can result in a truly stunning, stand out and unusual image.

Environment. Very often a studio is best – enabling tight control and management of the background. But it could be that based on your profession or personality, a working site based image is more appropriate. It could also make you more comfortable. Or it could be based somewhere else relevant and appealing that adds a touch of creativity to your brand.


Pose and expression. You do not have to be perched on a stool, slightly angled, for a head and shoulders shot. You could be looking face on to the camera. You could be gesticulating in a way that is recognizable to you. You could be standing, looking relaxed and happy. You could release the inner actor in you (if there is one) and use some expression or action shot – so long as your face is still clear. This is your opportunity to get across your personality and a good photographer will be able to work with you to bring out your best features.

Clothing. Don’t feel that you have to wear a suit, or any kind of formal attire. That’s not to say look scruffy and unkempt. Of course, you need to look smart and professional, whatever your business. But if customers and clients are most likely to see you in branded uniform with your company logo, this might be the right look. If you generally sport a more casual but stylish and distinctive look, stick with this as it’s how you’ll be most identifiable and comfortable. The key to this is to be smart and be yourself.

Props. There may be occasions when a relevant prop may add an interesting, useful, amusing or creative dimension to your portrait. It may help to convey what you do. It may add humour and help raise curiosity and interest. It’s another aspect of photography though which needs careful planning, thought and management. Don’t risk looking silly, cheesy or odd. Let a professional artistic photographer get the look right.

So for all these reasons, a standard portrait need not be standard. A professional profile shot can be both professional and personal.

A professional photographer, particularly one with artistic and creative talents, will get to know your personality, objectives and preferences. And then, a suite of photographs can be created that reflect the real you, add value to your business and make you proud.

If you’d like to find out more about portrait/profile shot photography, please call me for a no obligation chat on 07767 776839.


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