I had an interesting phone call recently, a very professional gentleman was asking if I could take some new portrait photos of himself to use on his website. He mentioned that he had had the photos taken before by another photographer but that he looked rather ‘haggard’ in those, so I must admit I went online to have a quick look. And the photo of him on his website was to say the least, very unflattering. The photo had been taken outside a rather dull looking office building in Southwater near Horsham. The weather during the original shoot had been wet and cold, which is clearly visible in the photo with the heavy jacket and water drops on his glasses and with wet hair and a tie he simply looked uncomfortable, which when you are representing yourself doesn’t look great on your website.
So I agreed, and as it was an urgent matter for him, and for me as I simply couldn’t leave him with that image on his web site, we arranged the photo shoot for that same afternoon as the weather was good for an outdoor photo shoot. We chose exactly the same site in Southwater near Horsham as his previous photo was taken, I had already decided that I wanted some greenery in the background to break up the strong vertical and horizontal lines of the office block as well as make the whole image look more friendly an inviting. I also knew that in the original photo, the background was too distracting, so I wanted to reduce the background to be simply a haze of colour. We also chose to loose the tie and go with a light jacket, which is his normal attire.
We arrived on site for the photo shoot at 2pm, and my first priority (with temperatures reaching 30C) was to find some shade which kept us both cool and helped to reduce glare off the gentleman’s fore-head. All in all we tried a few different combinations of outfit, with tie on and off, dark jacket and light jacket after which we decided we both liked the light jacket with no tie. The photos were being transmitted directly to my iPad for previewing which made the decisions of choosing the photos a quick one, camera screens are simply too small to really make a good decision from.
So by the time I got home from the photo shoot we had between us chosen six photographs which he wanted to use for his professional portfolio and the job was all but done. A few tweaks in photoshop to remove some marks on the jacket and adjust the levels and the image was, as they say, in the bag.
I fortunately managed to grab a copy of the original photo before it disappeared off his website for comparison purposes. And I think you’ll agree, the new portrait photo is much better.